Search Engine Optimization Tutorial Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will help place your site higher in the natural search engine rankings. By natural, we mean free, as opposed to pay-per-click advertising. So by optimizing your site for the search engines, you will receive free traffic. SEO revolves around two major processes; on-site optimization and off-site optimization. On- site includes anything that you control on your site like title tags, content, linking structure within your site and all other factors on your pages. Off-site is everything else. This means all the links to your site from other sites on the Internet. Off Site factors are not in our control. Website ranking are always determined between on-site and off-site optimization. Therefore, you need to have a solid understanding of these two processes in order to optimize your site. We discuss both processes in brief with our SEO course. You will learn the details of keyword research first, so you are sure to uncover which keywords and phrases to target on and off site optimize. From there, we cover the basics of on-site optimization and finally off-site optimization. Using both on-site and off-site factors you can rank up your site on the search engines. Although, you can get page good rankings for many sites by optimizing the pages on your site (the on-site factors) along with minimal link building as long as a strict blueprint is followed. By building your site properly, you will magnify the power of the incoming links to your site. Therefore, you need to spend less time building links. Here's what the tutorial covers: Part 1: What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, refers to the wide variety of strategies used to make your website more appealing to the search engines in the hopes of drawing free traffic to your site. Getting free search engine traffic is called organic traffic, or natural search traffic. You will not have to pay for it, and if you have the right mindset, you can continue to get large volumes of natural search traffic for years to come. Unfortunately, when you first launch a website, you probably won’t have thousands of visitors pounding down your door, eating up your bandwidth, just to get a look at your content. When it comes to getting visitors to your website, you’ve got a few choices – two main ones include either paying for your traffic through pay-per-click advertising programs like Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing, or waiting around for free, organic traffic to find you through the search engines. However, if all you do is launch your site and then sit around waiting for visitors, it could take weeks or months before the major search engines figure out that you’re even there at all, let alone send you any free traffic. This is where SEO comes in. You need to design your site and then promote it so that the search engines know what it’s about. That way they know how to categorize it, and when to show it in their search results. For example, if you have a page about mobile, should the search engines show it when a searcher types in ‘mobile accessories’ or is it more related to ‘mobile feature? And is your page better than other pages on the same search term or are there other pages that have better information on them? The search engines need to take all these factors into consideration each time they show results to their searchers. The goal of the search engines is to categorize all the information on the web and rank it by its relevance for the search terms typed into the search bar. As you can imagine, there are a virtually infinite number of categories, subcategories, and further subsets any page on your site might fit into. And there are so many different variations a web surfer can type into the search engines that you could never list them all. So matching up pages for the right search terms is a difficult job. And since that’s only part of their job it’s even more difficult. As already mentioned, in addition to showing relevant pages, the search engines need to show the BEST relevant pages first. It’s all about giving the searchers what they want. Which ultimately means you need to put yourself in the shoes of the web searchers and give them what THEY want? That way your site will rank high. So what you need to do is help the search engines determine what your web pages are about and then prove that your individual pages are worthy of begin ranked high. That’s what I think of when I think of SEO. And I know you’ll see a greater level of success if that’s how you think of SEO too. Top Search Engines Search engines come in all shapes and sizes – from Google all the way down to smaller niche- based search sites. Recent surveys estimate that as many as 10 billion search queries are made every day across all the search engines. Once you’ve set up your site, it’s important to get it ranked high in the big three: Google, Yahoo and MSN. Promoting your site to these three engines will give you a big leg up in making your site available to the majority of the internet searchers. Google – According to Nielsen.com’s Net Ratings, Google receives between 53% and 62% of all the searches done on any given day, making it the largest in the search engine market by far. And as Google continues to expand its product offerings – which currently include everything from free email accounts to calendar systems and custom homepages – it’s safe to say that they’ll continue to be the dominant force in the search engine market for some time. Yahoo – Despite Google’s dominance in the search engine market, Yahoo continues to receive a respectable 17-22% of daily queries – which is no small number when you multiply this out by the 10 billion searches occurring each day. In addition, Yahoo has been around for much longer than Google and carries significant name recognition in the search engine marketplace. Since many people still use free Yahoo mail accounts, it’s well worth your time to promote your site on this search engine. MSN – Although MSN’s search engine receives substantially less traffic – estimated at between 9-12% of daily searches, it’s still worth promoting your site here since MSN is the default search engine assigned by Internet Explorer. Consequently, there are a number of people who use this search engine out of habit or for simplicity’s sake. You’re probably also familiar with a number of smaller search engines, including Altavista, Lycos and Ask.com. For the most part, these smaller sites receive such a small percentage of search traffic it’s not worth checking your rankings on them. In addition, you might be surprised to learn that Google supplies the results for several search engines, including Netscape, AOL and the BBC’s search tool. Once you’re ranked with Google, you’ll start appearing in these other engines immediately. Beyond the three major search engines, you might also consider seeking out micro-search engines related to your niche. For example, the website AardvarkSport.net focuses specifically on providing search results for sports enthusiasts, while other smaller search engines cater to people in countries beyond the United States. Depending on the product or service you’re promoting, you might find that these smaller search engines offer more targeted traffic than the larger mega-search engines. So those are the most popular search engines. Fortunately, all you need to do is focus on getting high rankings in Google and to a lesser extent, Yahoo, and you’ll grab the most traffic. And in many instances, by ranking high in Google and Yahoo, you’ll rank high in most all the other search engines as well. Part 2: Keyword Research As you explore the world of internet marketing, you’ll probably come across the phrases “keyword” or “keyword research” on more than one occasion. But what are keywords and why should you care about them? Think about what happens when you go to a search engine like Google or Yahoo. If you’re looking for information on cruise deals for your next vacation, you might enter the word “cruises” into the search bar to find websites related to vacation deals. That word you entered is what’s referred to as a keyword. If you entered a string of words, say “best cruise deals”, you’ve entered a keyphrase into the search engine. Searchers use keywords to find information on the internet. The keyword or keyphrase tells the search engine what kind of results to bring back for you. Search engines scour the internet, recording the information they find on various sites around the web. When you enter the keyphrase “best cruise deals”, the search engines comb their databanks to find sites related to “best cruise deals”. When you’re building a website, choosing the keywords and phrases to focus on is extremely important. You want to target the keywords people are actively searching for. But as you can imagine, some keywords are more competitive than others. An example of a general keyphrase is “lose weight”. It’s much more competitive than the keyphrase “lose weight with the lemon juice diet”. If you build a new site around the phrase “lose weight”, you’ll be competing with well established websites and likely find your site buried on page 89 of Google’s search results for the term. Where your site falls on the search results pages is measured as its ranking. For the general keyphrase “lose weight”, you’ll likely be low in the rankings, so your site won’t receive much traffic or exposure. On the other hand, if you focus on less competitive keywords, you can expect to rank much higher in the search engine results – you may even be able to land the much-coveted first page ranking. This is why good keyword research is vital to the success of your online business. Focus on less competitive keywords and you can expect to rank much higher in the search engine results. Focus on lots of less competitive keywords and you’ll get lots of free traffic. Ideally, you want to find keyphrases that have high search volumes and low competition. The two go hand-in-hand – the phrase “make your own digital camera using a potato” likely has low competition, but it won’t matter if no one ever searches for it. The experts argue back and forth about exactly what type of numbers you should be looking for – “search engine results of less than 500,000″ or “at least 1,000 daily searches” – but it will be up to you to determine which parameters work best for your internet business. The other thing to keep in mind is that you optimize the individual pages of your site, not just the home page. So you don’t just pick one keyword or keyphrase. You need to select a number of them and set up an actual strategy for ranking high for all of them. To conduct your keyword research, you can take advantage of a number of free or paid keyword research tools. One of the best free research tools is available through the Google Adwords program, although you can find other good options at SEOBook.com or by searching online. If you’re looking for programs that offer added functionality, look into WordTracker’s subscription service. Any one of these programs will help you identify keywords and keyphrases with high traffic and low competition to build your web pages around. Part 3: Directory Submissions Submitting your website to both free and paid directory sites is a great way to increase the backlinks to your webpage. Directories are compilation sites that list links to all sorts of sites. To get a better feel for how these sites are structured, check out the Open Directory Project at vmoptions.com – it’s one of the best known directory sites on the internet today. Traditionally, directory sites are broken down into two different categories – free and paid – depending on whether or not they charge you to include your site in their listings. Both types can have a place in your search engine optimization campaign, depending on what type of budget you’re working with. However, whether paid or not, it’s important to realize that not all directories are equal in their potential to improve your site’s ranking. You’ll need to do your due diligence to be sure the directory you’re submitting your site to gives you the best return for your efforts. Getting your site listed in targeted directories that relate to the theme of your website will likely be seen as a premium by the search engines. In addition, you might even receive some traffic from them. For example, if someone who’s interested in dog training finds a great directory dedicated to gathering links in their area, they’ll likely bookmark the directory and come back time and time again. To find these highly targeted directories, search for “your niche +directory” using your favorite search engine. In addition to finding targeted directories for submitting you site to, you also want to look at the quality of the directory. Submitting your site to directories with higher traffic and higher PageRank will lead to better SEO results for your webpages. When it comes to submitting your site to directories, you again have two different options. You can manually submit your site to each directory you’d like to be included in, or you can purchase software or services that will do the submissions for you. In fact, if you search for “directory submission” on any of the major search engines, you’ll see a number of different advertisements for bulk directory submission services. In most cases, these services won’t dramatically impact your site’s search engine optimization, since the directories they submit your site to may not be well optimized for your niche. Submitting your site to directories by hand is more time-consuming, but it may be worth the money saved if you’re only going to be including your page in a select few directories. And you can save your time altogether by outsourcing this task. Individual directories have their own rules for how a site should be submitted, but most include selecting the appropriate category for your link and including details like your link, anchor text and a brief description of your site. The amount of time it takes before your link is visible will also vary by directory. However, if you’re diligent in finding well-ranked, high-traffic directories, you should see increased traffic to your site in a short period of time.