SEO-upgrades: Home Page
What is Organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
Ben Norman, author of Getting Noticed on Google says:
Organic Search Engine Optimization, or Organic SEO as it is commonly called, is the process of optimizing your website to appear higher in search engine's natural listings.
Jerri L. Ledford, author of SEO: Search Engine Optimization Bible says:
The definitions of Organic SEO vary a little, depending on whom you talk to. Some SEO experts think it’s all about optimizing the content of your web site to catch the attention of the crawlers and spiders that index sites. Others think it’s the number of quality links you can generate on your site. But in truth, organic SEO is a combination of those and other elements, such as site tagging, that will naturally place your web site in search engine rankings. How high in those rankings depends on how well you design your site.
WhoLinksToMe.com defines SEO as:
SEO is the science of improving your website’s visibility in search engines for specific keywords and phrases. As a result of a successful SEO effort, there will be a very noticeable increase in traffic to your site as well as intangible benefit that comes from branding when your site shows up for top terms.
SEO-upgrades.com Approach to Organic SEO
Build great web pages. SEO-upgrades.com is focused on making web site improvements to ensure the semantics of the web site's content can be readily recognized. Clarity of semantics equally assists search engine crawlers indexing your web site and your web site users. Well structure content will be accurately indexed by the search engines and improve the user experience for visitors. Over time, improvements made to the structure of a site's content and the alignment of the keywords appearing naturally in each web page's content, to what web users are searching, should rewarded a site with better organic search results. That is, well structured content translates into a higher placement in the Search engine results page since Google and the search engines are more likely to give preference to what they can understand and what they can therefore accurately match to web search requests. In short, a great web page has an excellent chance of making it to rising to the first page of a search engine result.
Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results. You're likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they're essential ingredients for any webpage, but you may not be making the most out of them.
[source: p. 1 of 33 of Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, version 1.1, November 2008.]
Purchase of links, Google Adwords, and other Pay per Click programs are outside of SEO-upgrades.com's scope. Link purchase is a violation of Google terms of service:
If you believe the site is engaged in buying or selling links that pass PageRank, please tell us about it. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.
[Source: Report spam, paid links, malware, and other problems to Google, viewed July 2009.]
Pay per click programs are an expense that would be best spent after organic SEO upgrades have been completed so that your spend achieves maximum value.
Focusing on Fundamentals First is the Right SEO Starting Place
The SEO-upgrades philosophy is about getting the fundamentals right: keyword SEO, aligning content with keyword SEO, using the power of XHTML tags to emphasize content semantics, using links to clarify semantics, using case studies to establish a data driven decision baseline, monitoring traffic integrity and following a well defined implementation plan.
The Google search algorithms are never disclosed and are subject to continuous revision. Therefore gaming the Google algorithms to achieve a better results page placement, with today's equivalent of past failed black hat SEO tricks such as keyword stuffing, hidden text and link farm tricks, is likely to end in failure, sooner or later. However, it is hard to imagine Google ever switching to an algorithm that ignores content semantics or which penalizes a site for making content too semantically clear.
Consider the following published July 13, 2009:
The Google Shuffle?
(Has Your Website Recently Sunk to "Davy Google Jones Jr's Locker"?)
By Jonathan Anthony & Kyle Krenbrink (c) 2009
Webmasters and SEO gurus have been scratching their heads for a few weeks now trying to figure out what has been happening to Google's SERP rankings. After scouring blogs and forums for the last few days, it would seem that there is no real consensus. In fact, it seems that no one is willing to even speculate much as to what is happening. To date there has not been any official word from Google. We all know that Google does not announce their algorithm updates, much to the chagrin of webmasters everywhere.
[source: SitePro News e-mail, July 13, 2009]
Any SEO upgrades made to trick the Google search algorithms are at risk of failing with the next Google algorithm update. And if not the next algorithm update then one of the hundreds of future updates. The words of Google's Larry Page make it very clear that Google will not stop until their search algorithms understand web pages at an equivalent level to that of a subject matter expert reading the page. Google probably wants to push their algorithms pass winning a Turing test in a competition with the world smartest web librarian.
Expect Google search algorithms to change. Never settle for the best
"The perfect search engine," says Google co-founder Larry Page, "would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want."
[source: Google Corporate Information: Our Philosophy, viewed July 2009.]
Focusing on the web page fundamentals required to make a highly usable web page is therefore a sound SEO investment and a winning long term strategy. By focusing on a clear and logical presentation of your web site's original content, you are working with Google since the Google algorithms are constantly being tuned to find semantic meaning to meet their ultimate goal of returning exactly what Google searchers want.
Organic SEO Upgrade Steps
Organic SEO changes are completed on a web page by web page basis and should be focused on achieving well defined goals for your web site. Each web page needs to be designed as a part supporting the overall theme of the site. For each web page you need to consider details such as those outlined below while at the same time articulating a well defined set of goals for your SEO upgrades. Plan SEO upgrades at the web page level.
Per Web Page Upgrades
Engineer the keywords and the keyword phrases for each web page. Use the keywords in the meta data, use the keywords in the page content, in link text, in file names and in directory names. Keywords must appear naturally in your content. Otherwise the user experience for your visitors will suffer and the search engines may suspect trickery and ignore your page. Always base your keyword and keyword phrase choices on actual search data metrics. Review the monthly search volume Google keyword tools show for your candidate keywords and always review the actual web pages returned when the candidate keywords are used in a search. Select keywords and keyword phrases that accurately reflect your overall web site theme. For example, if your web site is about gold mining, then don't pick keywords that yield a gold computer game in a search. Being more specific with keyword phrases, instead of just single keywords, is usually a good idea. For example, for a gold mining site, consider using gold mining as a keyword phrase instead of just gold. However, keyword phrases that Google keyword tools report as Not enough data are over specific and probably poor choices for the keyword SEO of a given web page.
- Meta data
List keywords and keyword phrases in the <head> section <meta> keyword element. Use one or more keywords in the <title> and in the <meta> description elements. The <title> element is the most important piece of meta data since Google uses up to the first 64 characters of the <title> element in the first line for a web page's entry in a search result page. The <title> element is the most control, well, actually the only control, that Google extends you with respect to what is displayed on a Google search result page. Consider what you want search engine users to see when your web page has an entry on their search result page and pick the words in your <title> element accordingly. Ignoring <title> element is probably the biggest SEO mistake you can make.
Make each web page unique in terms of its meta data. If the meta data of a page you are upgrading isn't unique, then you need to question whether or not this web page is adding any value to your overall site theme or enhancing a visitor's user experience. Try make the meta data unique and. if you can't, then consider combining the page you are upgrading with one of the other pages in your site. Sometimes, less is more.
Focus on providing original web site content. Something in your web page content should be unique to the web, at least original in some small way. Google and the search engines are focused on indexing and understanding the web to answer queries. Therefore, if you focus on adding that small piece of original content to each of your web pages, then you'll be maximizing your synergy with Google and other search engines. Therefore, always be asking yourself: what is the unique content my web page is adding to the web?
Content is ultimately king but you also need to maximize the SEO keywords and keyword phrases in your content to achieve a start rising to the top of 1st page of a search engine result. Do use links with keyword or keyword phrase based anchor text in your content to emphasize your web site theme. Since Google already understands, or well understand, the content of the web page you are linking, a link with well crafted anchor text helps clarify the semantic picture of the web page your are upgrading.
Finally, the content on a web page is the basis for any visitor or search engine to understand your web site is about. So, make sure you say it using good English. Listen to your web page using a text to speech tool to spot poor English usage, missing words, problems with parallelism and the like. And as a final check, run the content through a spell checker.
- Inward inks
Get links from relevant pages at 3rd party web sites. Ensure the anchor text in the link to your web page accurately describes what your page is about, preferably using your keywords and/or keyword phrases. The ideal link is from a great web page, that has relatively few outwards links (say 20 or less) on it, and that has content relevant to the content of your page. A recipical link exchange with an ideal page is helpful to all parties concerned. Links from non-relevant pages probably won't help much. Links from bad sites could even hurt your site, if not now then with some future algorithm update.
Use the XHMTL tags (e.g. h1, h2, h3, p, etc.) to layout the semantics of each web page in a logical and readable fashion. XHTML, a stricter version of HTML designed to make machine processing of your pager less ambiguous, exists to provide a semantic description of your content. Don't make Google and your users guess about what your page means. Using XHTML to layout and highlight the page's semantics. To this end, be sure to use your keywords in the Alt tag element for each gif and flash files. Just saying something like Gif doesn't give Google any context for understanding anything about the link target.
- Internal links
Use keywords and keyword phrases in the link anchor text. For example, instead of writing for Latin American Mining Congress May 2009, Click Here, present it as, see, Latin American Mining Congress May 2009. In the latter style, the semantics of the link, Latin American Mining Congress May 2009, are unambiguously embedded as part of the HTML <a> tag.
Find a clear theme for your web site and ensure each web page adds to the theme. Include keywords in file names and directory names. Separate the words in file and directory names with a '-'. Use a meaningful directory structure, using keyword based names, to emphasize your site's primary theme.
Each of the above upgrades, done correctly, will assist Google and the other search engines in building a more accurate semantic picture of your web site's content, which will in turn improve the placement of your web page in a search engine result.
Per Web Site Upgrades
A complete SEO upgrade also requires a web site level review. Review your web site as a whole.
- Case Studies
Plan SEO upgrades relative to a baseline view of the original key web pages on your web site. Collect and record metrics based on the per web page Organic SEO Upgrade Steps presented above. Where possible, try quantify with numbers derived from commonly available web tools. The per web page assessment of the pre upgrade web pages is a critical input to your implementation plan.
For web sites with a large number of dynamic pages, review representative instances and then enumerate the number of like pages. For example, a Financial tracking web site may have a small number of pages (or views) for each stock traded on the NYSE. In all likelihood, patterns and equivalencies can be quickly identified.
- Traffic Integrity
Review the overall web site traffic as part of the Case Studies activity. Based on a review of IP addresses, determine if known spammers, hackers and other web miscreants are sending HTTP messages at your web site. View logs of HTTP messages from the spammer IP addresses to determine if some exploit exists on your site. For example, a site with phpBB2 form may have many instances of
in the log records. In this case, spammers are probably updating their forum profiles to link back to the site they are spamming. Why? Because Google may also be reviewing forum profiles and the spammers want their free link.
At best traffic from spammers is non-productive and reduces the overall quality of your sites traffic in the eyes of potential advertisers. The links spammers leave on your web site may hurt your Google PR. And the worst-case scenario can be much much worse.
Plan and execute organic SEO upgrade in terms of meeting well defined and clearly specified goals. Scope of work and budget must be defined. Stage the work in a clear fashion. External dependencies and risks should be enumerated. Measurable deliverables need to be specified. Acceptance criteria and an acceptance process must be specified.
Expect and manage implementation plan refinements. An interactive development process is be preferred -- the classic waterfall delivery model should be avoided. The services available from the web site's web hosting service provider should be reviewed to ensure they provide adequate visibility of web traffic and control mechanisms.
Review the content management strategy of the web site to ensure it can reasonably support the SEO upgrade work and ongoing site maintenance.
- Style Sheet
Document English usage decisions and apply these consistently across apply web pages. For example, does the site being upgraded use Web page, web page, or webpage?
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