SEO (search engine optimization) is a critical part of any online strategy. While it seems like building your site was a lot of work, to be found amongst to millions of sites, a concerted SEO effort must be employed.
But SEO may seem like a deep, dark black whole of “what the heck am I suppose to do?” While there are a lot of reputable companies helping with excellent search engine optimization campaigns, many small businesses do not have the funds to hire an SEO expert.
Keywords are key
A lot can be done with search engine optimizing methods, but if you do not pay attention to your keywords, then your efforts may be for naught. Choosing keywords is the first step towards optimizing your website. Once you’ve chosen your keywords, analyzing your pages to determine if you have the right keyword density will help you make certain you are on target for SEO.
What is keyword density?
Keyword density indicates the percentage of frequency a word appears on a page and in the meta data. For example, if you have 100 words on your page, and you have the keyword “design” 10 times on that page, then the keyword density for design would be 10%. SEO experts say you shouldn’t go over 15% keyword density on a page because then it appears to be keyword stuffing. The search engines will see this as a negative, and may not index your page.
How word clouds help
Word clouds are a graphic representation of keywords on a specific site or page. Words that appear more frequently are larger within the word cloud, while words that are less frequent are smaller. A word cloud gives you a quick, visual snapshot of the keywords on your site, and dense they are in comparison to each other.
Keyword density analysis tools
The following tools we have found do an excellent job of analyzing keyword density on your site. They are all free and simple to use. You just have to input your URL, and the site does the rest. You do not have to sign up for anything, or even tell them your name, so you can use the tools anonymously and as often as you like.
What tools do you like to use?
What are you favorite keyword density tools? Have you found some commercial tools that are worth the price? We’re always open to new ideas, so let us know in the comments about the tools you like to use.
One of the easiest ways to help you get on page 1 of Google is to get your company listed in the Google Business Directory. When people are searching for services in a specific city, the Google Business Directory will make suggestions right at the top of page 1.
For Landau Design we found listing our company in the directory brought us to the top of page 1 when people searched for design services in our area (type in joomla design “los angeles” and see where we come up). This happened almost overnight, and we saw the increase in our website traffic and potential client phone calls.
Create your listing
To create a Google Business Directory listing you need to create a Google account. The person who creates the directory listing owns the edit rights, so the company owner should make sure it is attached to his/her profile. When filling in the listing use as much detail as possible, especially in the categories section. Make sure your company description includes the most important keywords for your company. In the categories section put keywords and keyword phrases that clients use to find you.
Follow your reports
After you’ve created your listing you can come back and visit it by going to the Local Business Center link in your Google account panel. From here you can see reports that tell you how often your site came up in searches, whether people clicked on your links and what keywords they used to find you. Use this information to refine your company profile and assist in helping clients find you.
Recently Google announced a change in Flash indexing. Unfortunately despite this change, there is a long way to go. Link building is by far the most effective way of increasing your ranking with the search engines. How many links you have to your site is sort of a “grade” of how popular your site is. The quality of those links is important, so how do you find out what types of links to get?
The Link Discovery Formula
To find where you should build links, you should look at your competitors. To do this:
- Do a keyword search for a company like yours. For example, we just built a site for Play and Learn Family Daycare, so we might put in “daycare torrance”.
- Look at the results that come up, and choose a business on the first page that is similar to your own. It does not have to be in your city, just a similar type of business. In this case we chose Sound of Music Preschool.
- Using the URL for the business you chose, use the following formula and type into Google: “+www.soundomusic.+com” -site:soundomusic.com. Type it exactly the same, with quotes and +/- signs. This formula will show you all the pages that have a link TO this company’s website.
- This preschool has 108 links to its site.
Building Your Link List
Now start looking through the list of links. Ask yourself the following:
- Are any of them places where you could get links as well?
- Do any of them give you ideas of other places you could get links (i.e. They are in the Yahoo business directory and you know Google has one of those too)
- Are there phrases you could use to search in Google to find more of these types of links?
Go Get Your Links
Now put together a plan for working through your link list, and obtain those links! Dedicate a time each day or each week towards obtaining these links. Also consider using social networking methods for increasing your links organically.
You should run through this process several times with different keyword searches and looking at various companies. This is an excellent project to implement over several months, and you can see very quickly you can obtain high-quality links to help with your search engine rankings.
The Internet often appears to be a magical mix of invisible interactions, and when you plunge your foot in, don’t you believe something amazing and unexpected is suppose to happen? So many of our clients believe just this, and the day they launch their site they wonder why they don’t appear in Google and throngs of new customers haven’t found them.
Google indexes the Internet about once a month. If you have a popular site, it will index you more often, but generally if you’re a new site they won’t get to you for a while. You can submit a request for indexing to Google, but this won’t guarantee they get to you faster. How soon they index you is determined by the popularity of your site and the quality of your page ranking.
To increase the likelihood of your getting indexed faster, invest your energy in getting links from sites that are indexed daily. These would include:
- popular social media sites such as LinkedIn or Digg.
- Adding comments to blogs or other sites is a great way to get links coming into your site. Go to blog aggregators such as Technorati or StumbleUpon and look up the most popular blogs to add comments to. Do not add spam comments, but sincere comments that add value to the blog.
- Also, submitting your site to lesser-known search engines helps you get indesed into Google faster.
- Finally, starting your own blog is a great way to generate links into your site. If you start a blog with Blogger, they are owned by Google and indexed daily.
Create a Custom 404 Error Page
It’s worthy to note that sites or pages that have been indexed and are taken down will remain in the Google directory for months until Google comes back around to re-index them and finds them down. Nothing can be done about it. You can tell them to take it down, but doesn’t mean they’ll get to it faster. If you remove pages from your site, it behooves you to create a custom 404 error (page not found error) page which will redirect users to a site map so they can find what they were looking for. Without the 404 error page they will get the standard page from your hosting company that won’t even have your site logo on it, let alone the navigation.
As I wrote in I Want My Site to Be #1 On Google, inbound links are key to getting higher rankings on Google. I was recently told that an excellent way to obtain inbound links was by sending out a press release online. It makes sense if you send out a release where within the release you link back to your home page or relevant pages within your site. It doesn’t have to cost money, either, because there are many free sites that provide press release distribution services. Here are some of the top ones:
I’m sure now you’re thinking “nice idea, but what would I put in a press release?” Pretty much anything related to your business that is newsworthy. For example:
- Landau Design recently launched a new Joomla site for Save-a-Life No-Kill Animal Shelter. We used the latest technology and helped a worthy cause in order to provide support for our community. People love to read stories like that.
- Perhaps in your business you have volunteered to teach classes or give a lecture on a relevant topic. Or maybe you’ve had a change in staff you would like to announce.
- People send out press releases when they’ve made major internal changes, such as switching to a new technology or creating something unique.
If you think about the kind of things you tell people that you do when your promote your business, those are the kinds of things that can be turned into a press release. So go spread your news and increase your rankings!