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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips, Software and Tools

Search Engine Optimization
Software, Tips and Tools

If you'd like to embark on a project to optimize your Web site for the search engines yourself, you're going to need the right information, the right software, and the right tools.  WSE's SEO experts have been specialists in search engine optimization since 1996.  Over time, we have collected a list of best-of-breed tools and software that can assist the SEO do-it-yourselfer or the seasoned search engine optimization professional. These instructions and tools will help you select the right keywords, build optimized Web pages, and track your progress in the search engines.  

Step One: Select the Right Keywords

The most important step in search engine optimization is one that many SEO newbies, small business owners and Webmasters don't even consider - what keywords should I target?  What words or phrases are my potential customers actually typing into Google, Yahoo, MSN, or AOL when they are looking for my products or services?  You might think you know the search terms that are related to your business, and you may be right, but how can you find out for sure?  

Let's say you run a real estate brokerage in New York City and you want to know what search is more popular - "apartments for rent in New York City" or "New York City apartment rentals."  Would it surprise you to know that one of these phrases is searched nearly 4 times more often than the other?

Wouldn't it be great if there were a tool that would allow you to see how often any search phrase or keyword is actually searched, find out how many competing pages there are on the Web that feature these phrases, and get a list of related search terms?  This is exactly what you can do with Wordtracker.

Wordtracker allows you to type in phrases or keywords related to your business, then it shows you exactly how often these terms were actually searched, along with the number of competing pages for each term.  It also suggests related terms that you might not have considered but which are also related to your business.  Ideally you want to pick a term that is searched often, is specific to your business and has very few competing pages.  These terms are out there for every business just waiting to be found in Wordtracker.  Wordtracker offers a free weekly report on the top 500 keywords as well as a free trial of their service.  Click here to find out more - and enter promotion code "us-annual-15" to save 15% on your annual fees (offer expires November 30, 2007)!  

Step Two: Optimize your Web Site         

Once you have chosen the right words, now you need to optimize the pages of your site to feature these words.  It's not just a matter of adding the "meta keywords" tag to your pages.  In fact, the html meta tags are among the least important elements in attaining high search engine ranking.  For example, Google, one of the top search engines in use today, ignores meta tags completely in determining page ranking.  Meta tags are still important for search engines like MSN, Hotbot and Alta Vista, but there are many other factors that count more heavily in your page ranking, and these factors actually vary from search engine to search engine.

Getting a sense of how to design pages so that they will feature highly in search engines is an art form, and this is one reason why good Search Engine Optimization firms command such high prices.  But there is hope for the budget-concious search engine marketeer and that hope comes from a product called WebPosition Gold.  

WebPosition Gold includes an ingenious piece of software called the "Page Critic" that examines your page exactly as a search engine would and gives you specific suggestions on how you can make your page more "search-engine friendly."  The critic has different run options for all of the most popular search engines, and is truly an invaluable tool in optimizing your web pages for the search engines.  WebPosition Gold is available in a free trial version or is available in its fully functional standard version for just $149.  It may be the best investment you ever make in your Web site.

Step Three: Submit your Site... or Not?

Some folks will try to convince you that getting your site into the search engines is simply a matter of paying some low cost (or even free) monthly service to "automatically submit your site to 1,000,000 search engines!" Then you can just sit back and wait for the visitors to come.  And wait... and wait...  There are a few problems with this approach:

  • Automated site submission tools can cause your site to be penalized as SPAM.  You should always submit your site manually in order to not get penalized 
  • 14 search engines account for more than 95% of all search engine traffic. Concentrate on getting your pages high in the search engines that matter as this will have the biggest impact on your site traffic.
  • Some search engines will rank your Website even higher if you don't submit it!

Site submission should always be done manually and should be one of the last things you do, after you select the right keywords and properly optimize your Web pages.  In fact, search engine submission is sometimes something that you should not do at all! Some search engines, like Google, for example, will rate your site higher if they find your site on its own and you do not submit it yourself. Other search engines, like Alta Vista and AllTheWeb do encourage you to submit your site manually, but they recommend that you submit just one page and let them find the rest by following your links. Be patient as it may take several weeks or more to see your pages start to show up in places like Alta Vista and All The Web.

So how does Google find your site if you don't submit it, you may ask?  Google, like many other search engines, sends out little agents called "spiders" or "bots" that crawl the Web looking for links to new pages  This is how they add more and more Web sites to their index.  Google's index alone is over 3 billion pages and growing! If Google finds your page linked from a site that is already in the Google index then it will mark your site to be "crawled" and it will add your pages to its search database automatically.  One way to speed things up a bit is to submit your site to the "Open Directory."  If Google finds your site listed in the Open Directory, then it will eventually add you to its directory and index as well.  

If you can't wait, or if you're looking for directory sign-up pages, then here are a few links to some of the more popular search engines' and directories' Web site submission pages:

Step Four: Track Your Progress

It's a good idea to track your results - to see if your efforts have resulted in higher ranking in the search engines.  And unless you want to spend all your time doing manual searches to verify your listings, you should definitely find a tool that will automatically report on your search engine placement. The tool that we recommend for this is the same tool noted above for page design suggestions - that's WebPosition Gold.  WebPosition Gold will allow you to automatically track your standings for dozens of keywords across all the major search engines.  Download a free trial or find out more.

Step Five: Links are your Friend

Links are the currency of the Web.  The more complementary sites you can find that are willing to link to your Web site, the  more potential traffic you will get.  Also, some search engines will rank your site higher if they find links to your site from many other sites.  Reciprocal links cost you little but can gain you a lot!  Set up a links page on your site and include links to other sites that are related to your site, but not competitive.  Then e-mail the Webmaster and ask for a reciprocal link.  As long as your sites are complementary, it's a win-win with increased traffic and increased link popularity for both sites.   

Step Six: Sit Back and Watch Your Traffic Grow!

If you follow all of the above tips and techniques and become a master of these recommended tools and services, you will create a site that is on top of the charts for the words and phrases that matter most to your business and you will be successful in attracting new highly targeted visitors and customers to your Web site.

If this sounds a little intimidating, or if you'd simply prefer to hire a professional firm for your search engine optimization, then please fill out our Information Request form and we'll get back to you with pricing and other details about our service.

Good Luck!

Related Links:

WebPosition Gold - the premier software for do-it-yourself search engine optimization.
Wordtracker - An essential tool in determining the most effective keywords and search phrases for your business. Use promotion code "us-annual-15" when signing up to save 15% on annual membership (expires November 30, 2007)
Yahoo Search Marketing - Sign up and get a $50 credit.

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