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BEGINNING SEO TUTORIAL - For Web Design Partners

  • 1. eClasses Excerpt

    Below is an excerpt from Week 2 of the SEO course I teach at eclasses.org. Some of the urls below may require a subscription to Planet Ocean's Unfair Advantage Search Engine eBook. If you're interested in taking the 6 week online course or getting the eBook contact me.
  • 2. Enquiro's Webinar

    I would also like to recommend you take some time to review webcast on SEO Design concerns. Enquiro's webinar* that goes over top SEO redesign concerns and steps around implementing a redesign (this requires registration). It's a bit technical, but don't be too stressed if some of the terminology here in this recap is confusing, or in the webinar you viewed. The more you're exposed to SEO phrases and its workings the more it will make more sense. And of course we're also here to help answer your questions!

    By the way, Enquiro's SEO Packages start at $4000/mo x 12 months! Salaries of SEO Marketers vary by experience and geography, but the studies show some good salaries and high priced fees related to offering SEO services.)


  • SEO eClasses Excerpt / Summary:

     

    1. Getting Started - Steps to Creating Top Ranking Pages

    This week we're going to provide an overview on how to create top ranking pages, starting with some important elements like selecting domain names, crafting page titles, meta descriptions and meta keyword tags. These are defined as some of the "on the page elements" that are part of the search engines' consideration in ranking a site.

    We'll also learn that high rankings aren't enough. Your site's listing in the search engine (it's the title and the page description that is displayed as result of a query) has to be enticing and meaningful. And, you'll learn from our reading and assignment that getting a good description into the engines isn't always a simple task.

    Then we're going to move into the real "guts" of SEO: keyword research and selection, ranking factors like keyword density, powerful copywriting, link popularity and page reputation. You'll learn that SEO goes way beyond the common misconception of just simply inserting a title, meta description and meta keyword tag into a page. In fact, Google has reported that they take into account over 200 different factors in their search engine algorithm.

    2. Site Design Elements: On-the-Page and Off-the-Page

    If you're doing SEO for a client, after you've outlined the scope of your work, submitted a proposal and gotten the signed contact and any deposit, you're finally ready to start creating top ranking pages. Let's begin by looking at some of the most important site design elements as far as most search engines algorithms are concerned. They include "on-the-page" criteria as well as "off-the- page" criteria.

    The domain name, page title, keywords in the content are among the on-the-page criteria SE use to match rank how closely a searchers query matches the page it has stored. On-the-page criteria are anything you can modify via the construction of a page and site. This includes everything that is placed in the headers, body, and on-page links (both internal), the html coding, page size, the site's architecture or navigation and how it was constructed. We'll learn search engines for example, give special attention to keywords in page titles, meta description, meta keywords, headings, bold, italic fonts, etc. It also takes into account the page's keyword proximity, keyword density and relevance...more on this in Week 3 of the class.

    Off-the-page criteria includes all links (both from pages contained within your own web site and from pages of other web sites) that point to your specific page(s). Inlinks to a site are used by search engines to give a clue as the page's importance. High quality pages are likely to have pages both within and outside the site pointing to them. It's also better if they also contain select keyword phrases in the link (called anchor text).

    3. Designing Search Engine Friendly Pages - Hindrances and Solutions

    In Chapter 2 the eBook I've linked to above there is a section it talks about some design techniques that offer the search engines trouble, like having code that isn't validated, using frames, javascript, dynamically generated pages, flash and using server side includes. Some of these could be considered more intermediate/advanced SEO topics, but let's go over some here.

    a. W3C compliance: Search engines like simple coding - so making sure they comply with W3C is important as is inserting a valid DOC type to enable browsers to display your pages correctly. Here's the DOC type to use: HTML 4.01 Strict, Transitional, Frameset (all on one line) And here's where you can check yours for anything they can't handle: http://validator.w3.org/

    With the widespread use of cascading style sheets you might want to validate it as well: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/

    b. Avoid Using Frames: First let me say while most SE offer frames support, I'm not a fan of them. That's because from my experience I think they generally lower search engine rankings and the usability of the site for the visitor. The user also often has the problem of no navigation to another page (unless a workaround is done to load it), and there's also the inability to bookmark a page, or to send the url to friends.

    c. Using Remote JavaScript Files:While frames are becoming less popular (most consider them "first generation") javascripting isn't. The biggest problem with javascript is it tends to push the text down lower in the page's coding. I'd recommend every designer put javascript in a remote .js file where possible.

    d. Site Navigation, Site Maps, Robots.txt files: We also know that having optimized pages as close to the top directory, and not buried in numerous subdirectories which some carts generate is important to search engines. So try to create as flat a site directory structure as possible to assist with rankings and getting the spiders to come and index your pages.

    It's also a good idea to put in a site map page with links (optimized) to all your pages. Put it in your root domain and link it to the home page. Along with that, help engines avoid the files you don't want indexed by putting a robots.txt file in place. Make sure that you don't put in instructions disallowing spiders altogether though - as some designers have mistakenly done. Later well also learn about the importance of files called the xml sitemap and .htaccess file and use of 301 error redirects for redesigned sites or where there is a switch over to a new site.

    e. Dynamically Created Sites and Shopping Carts: Dynamically generated sites, where content is pulled from a database also present numerous problems. Having long looking urls with special characters in them including session and user ID's can confuse the search engines. These are more of an advanced SEO issues -- but I will add that shopping carts like OSCommerce, Miva Merchant and Able Commerce have come to realize this, and you'll find some workarounds in their later editions or in software plug-ins. We also learned there is also a function called mod_rewrite that enables you to replace dynamic urls with static looking ones. There are some good discussions in the forums we've introduced that talk about dynamic pages and flash and the available workarounds.

    4. The On the Page Elements - Four Important Elements

    This week we're beginning with SEO in focusing on these important page elements: page titles, meta tags (meta description and meta keyword), copywriting with keywords, domain names.

    We know that getting your web site indexed by the search engines is not enough. Your web pages must be listed within the first 3 pages of search results or searchers will never find it. Ideally, you should strive for a first page listing. But just as important as ranking high, is that to enhance your chances of getting your web page listing clicked though, you need to make sure your search listing displayed to the searcher is enticing and relevant to the searcher.

    Researchers at Penn State analyzed over 450,000 web queries submitted to AlltheWeb.com in a 24-hour period and came up with some interesting results. What I found most insightful was that 8 out of 10 times it's the search abstract (or listing) that dissuades searchers from going to a site. "People make instantaneous judgments about whether to stay on a site, and if a site doesn't the give the right impression, users will bypass it," said Dr. Jim Jansen, assistant professor in Penn State's information sciences and technology (IST). "A page has to be well-designed, easy to load and relevant to a searcher's needs."

    Here's a summary of the study's findings:
    o Half of all users entered only one search query
    o About 55% of users checked out one result only
    o More than 80% stopped after looking at three results
    o 54% of users viewed just one page of search results per visit to the search engine
    o Only 19% of users went on to the second page
    o Fewer than 10% of users looked at the third page of search results
    o Eight out of 10 times, the abstract (listing) dissuades searchers from going to a site
    o Upon clicking through to a site, one in five searchers stay 60 seconds or less
    o One out of every two search results isn't relevant to what the searcher was looking for


    On Copywriting, keep in mind also what the search engine has to go by is what it stored in its index, which may be only the first 100K of the select page (i.e. Google). So be sure to include your keywords in the top copy of the page. Another reason for doing this is if you leave out the meta description - or the engine doesn't support it - search engines will look to the most prevalent text to come up with a good page description, which may not work to your best interest.

    The Title Tag is an HTML code that shows the words that appear in the Title bar at the top of your web browser. These words do not necessarily appear anywhere else on your web page. Often what is displayed in the browser is truncated. Since the Title Tag plays a vital role in determining your site's ranking so you need to pay A LOT of attention to the words that appear in the title tag and the order in which they appear. The specifics as to optimal title length and so on were provided in the ebook as "The Enginemaster Chart".

    On the subject of domains, we know having select keywords in your url can still help in rankings.

     

    Useful SEO Resources:

    Resource Site / Forum: Web Pro News
    http://www.webpronews.com
    Web Pro News is an article portal for Internet and Technology professionals. It also has an email newsletter that has over 800,000 subscribers. You'll find lots of useful SEO advice here as well.

    Keyword brainstorming resources

    Google's Suggestion Tool

    Wordtracker Keyword Research Tool (Requires Subscription)
    http://www.wordtracker.com/

    More SE Resouces:

    To check Yahoo/Google rankings (fun comparison):
    http://www.langreiter.com/exec/yahoo-vs-google.html

    Search Engine Relationships Chart (Pretty much boils down to Google and Bing Rankings Now)
    http://www.bruceclay.com/searchenginerelationshipchart.htm

    Wikipedia SEO article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization

    Danny Sullivan's - Search Engine Watch
    http://www.SearchEngineWatch.com (I highly recommend a paid membership)

     



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