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Sunday, October 15, 2006


SEO advice by Brad Callen

For those of you who don't know Brad, this guy is the "marketing expert". I'll feature a number of his columns of the week. Read, Learn, Enjoy! - Michael Fleischner

If you're anything like I was when I first began online, you've probably created a brand new website. Then submitted it to a few search engines and hoped that people would mysteriously show up at your site and buy whatever it is you were selling.

After a couple of weeks go by and only a few stray people show up at your website, you decide to try and "optimize" your website around your main keyword in hopes that you just might rank well in 1 of the millions of search engines. Another couple of weeks go by and still no luck.

At this point you probably give up and decide to either build another website around a different target market or just lose all hope and quit. Well, news flash, as you've probably figured out by now, this is not the way to go about doing things.

Let me give you a specific example of what your very first steps MUST be when creating any website... no matter what the subject matter.

In our example, let's create a weight loss related website. Before we start creating and collecting content for the website, we need to do a little keyword research. This is VERY important and should not be skipped. To do our keyword research we need to visit a few websites.

The first of which should be http://www.goodkeywords.com/.

They have a very good keyword tool, and best of all it's free! Once we've downloaded this software, we can enter the most generic keyword for our website into the software. In our example, our keyword would be "weight loss".

You'll notice that in the screenshot below, Good Keywords will return a list of related terms. The "count" column will then show us how many times the specific keyword has been searched for the previous month within the Overture.com search engine. Generally, you can multiply that number by 8, in order to estimate the number of times that keyword has been searched within Google for the previous month.

You'll notice that weight loss was searched 817,038 times during the previous month.

Do NOT start off by optimizing for the keyword "weight loss"

Why, you ask? If a keyword is searched that many times in Overture, then 100 times out of 100, the competition you will have to outrank will be extremely fierce. This is not something you should try to take on right away. For a brand new website, or one you're just beginning to optimize, it's better to select more specific keyword phrases. I'll talk about this a bit later.

Let's take a quick peek at Google so I can show you exactly how many websites are competeting for this keyword.

If you were to optimize your website for this keyword, you'd be competing against over 66 million other websites(web pages)! I don't know about you, but that's an aweful lofty goal to start with.

By the end of this course, you will be able to eventually target HUGE keywords such as "weight loss", but it's always best to start off on the keywords with less competition. Get some traffic with those keywords, and THEN you can focus on the larger keywords.

Ok, so back to finding which keywords we want to target.

If we scroll down, we can find some more specific keyword phrases like "weight loss story", "weight loss picture", "free weight loss plan", and "safe weight loss".

These could be possible keywords we should target to begin with. Once we have our list of 3 to 4 keywords, we need to go to Google and check out the competition to see exactly how hard it will be to optimize for the specified keyword.

We'll begin with the keyword "weight loss story"

You'll notice that the #1 ranked website for "weight loss story" is: (Side note: rankings can change in the search engines, so if this site is no longer ranked #1 when you view this yourself, chances are their competition simply has optimized their site better, and passed them up.)
http://www.runwalkjog.com/weight_loss_success_story.htm which is not a top level webpage, meaning it's not simply http://www.runwalkjog.com/

This is good news for us because, typically, if a website's subpage is ranking well in Google, we have an immediate advantage if we choose to target the same keyword with our homepage (i.e. www.domain.com). For now, just take my word on this, as I will go into more detail why it's usually easier to rank well for your homepage than any other webpage on your website.

You'll also notice that the website has a Google Page Rank of 5.

Note: Here's a quick definition of Page Rank. Page Rank is Google's way of giving a specific value to how popular your website is. It is based on the number of "votes" other websites cast for your website. A "vote" is simply when another website places a link on their website that is pointing to your website. Generally, the more "votes" or links you have pointing to your website, the higher your Page Rank (PR) will be. Page Rank is 1 of the many factors that Google takes into account when ranking websites.

In order to see your own Google Page Rank, as well as others, you must have the Google Toolbar installed on your computer. You can get that for free here: http://toolbar.google.com/

Seeing that the #1 ranked website for this keyword only has a Page Rank of 5 is also good news for us, because a Page Rank of 5 should be reasonable to obtain. Remember, the ONLY way to increase our website's Page Rank is by getting other websites to link to us. Later, I'll teach you the right way to get thousands of links pointing to your website in a matter of a few days... and I'll go into more detail about Page Rank.

View The Source Code

Next we need to view the source code of this website by clicking "view", then "source" within our web browser as shown below:

Note: Source code is simply the code that was used to create the webpage. You don't need to know html, which is the prgamming language used to create most websites, so don't worry. You just need to know a few things to look for when viewing the source code.

This will open up a text file for us to have a look at and see if this website is actually optimizing their "Onpage Optimization factors".

Note: There are 2 types of optimization, onpage and offpage optimization. We'll cover offpage optimization in the following lessons.

As we view the source file from this website, we need to look for a few things.

* Whether or not they are using header tags and are placing the keyword "weight loss story" within those tags. In this case, they are not... AND they aren't even using header tags at all! Another great thing for us!

* Whether or not they are using their main keyword in the

* Whether or not they've bolded, underlined, or italicized the words "weight loss story" anywhere in the body of the webpage. In this case, yes... they have. They've actually bolded the keyword "weight loss stories" 4 different times throughout the webpage. At first glance, it looks as though this is another one of the major reasons they've managed to grab the top spot for this keyword. Bolding is something we can do right away, so now we know that we should also bold some of the keywords throughout our copy. Notice I said they've bolded "weight loss stories" 4 times, rather than "weight loss story" (singular). You should always look for both the plural and singular form of the keyword, as the search engines view them as "almost" the same word.

* Whether or not they are using image tags and placing the keyword "weight loss stories" within that tag. In this case, that answer is easy because they're not even using any images at all! This is definitely something we can do when optimizing our website. And another thing we can do to "one-up" this #1 ranked website. It is best to add images that are actually named after our main keyword. For example, we could insert an image and call it weight-loss-stories-graphic1.jpg and so on.

* The final thing we want to note is whether or not they've placed the keyword once at the very beginning of the copy, and once at the very end of the copy. In this case they have placed it near the beginning and also at the end. Not to worry, we can do this as well.

We should now know how to out optimize this #1 ranked website

... Atleast for all the onpage optimization factors that Google deems as important. The reason we know we can out optimize them is because of the following things we've found out by analyzing their website:

* The website is not using the keyword "weight loss stories" in an header tag.
* The website did not use image tags containing the keyword "weight loss stories".
* The website has a Page Rank of 5, which can be beaten. We can easily achieve a Page Rank of 5 or better. I'll show you the exact steps for this in the coming lessons.
* The website is ranked with their subpage (weight_loss_success_story.htm). By optimizing our index page for this keyword, we can one up them.

* Remember, the main idea behind ranking well on Google is to analyze the top ranked websites and then do those things that they're doing, BUT just a little better to one up them, which will lead to a better ranking.

We'll continue to go through the same process for the other 2 keywords we've found. It is best to analyze the top 5 ranking websites for each keyword. If the top 5 websites for a specific keyword have a Google Page Rank of 6 or higher, it's probably not best to shoot for that keyword until we build some momentum and get some initial traffic from the easier ranking keywords with less competition.

Earlier I mentioned that keyword research was very important in building traffic. Some other very good resources for building keywords and finding niche phrases include the following:

* http://www.keywordelite.com (This is being developed as we speak)
* http://www.wordtracker.com
* http://inventory.overture.com (This is the same as goodkeywords.com but is web-based)
* http://www.adwordanalyzer.com/

Posted with Permission from Brad Callen

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