Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In the Mind of an SEO Expert

by Omar Solis, Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Have you ever wanted to know what process SEO experts follow when they plan an SEO campaign? What indicators are they looking for when they are analyzing a website's ability to be indexed by search engines? Why is it important to research your competitor's websites?

A fundamental SEO campaign is first built upon a solid foundation based on research and analysis for the website, the industry, and the competitors. This is then followed by the development of a strategic SEO plan that must be implemented, then monitored and reported on a monthly basis. Sounds easy right? Not quite! As with perfecting anything in business, the SEO experience is a learning and evolving process that takes place over a long period of time. Hopefully the following information can walk you through the basic concepts that SEO experts address during an SEO campaign.

Pre-Analysis: SEO experts are always getting themselves familiar with the Search Engine landscape and the SEO buzz that is available from legitimate medias. Sometimes they are trying to understand the particulars of Search Engine algorithms and what updates have recently been implemented or they're analyzing legitimate SEO techniques that have been tried and tested. They are also reviewing new niche search engines that can provide a complimentary source of traffic or they are testing new keyword research tools that can supplement their expertise. Basically the Pre-Analysis stage is where all the learning and preparation takes place before an SEO campaign is even undertaken. Remember Search Engines & SEO are still fairly new businesses, so the industry is still constantly evolving.

Some good places to start:

Website Analysis: Once familiar with the industry updates, SEO experts then review and analyze the website at hand in order to determine what is available and what is needed to make the site visible to the search engines. This not only requires knowledge about Search Engine Optimization, but also a background in web design & development. This is because the SEO expert must break down the site, in order to analyze the following perspectives:

- HTML & Page Layout
- Navigational & Architecture
- Database Structure
- Design & Content

Usually this is the area were most companies wanting to do SEO in house have the most difficult time, because they will not only need knowledge of web design & development, but they will also need to apply this knowledge as it relates to SEO. So having a web developer does not always mean your covered from the SEO standpoint.

SEO Strategy: After the SEO expert determines what your website needs from a design & development standpoint, then it is time to start planning the sites' SEO strategy. This is were the following is researched and selected:

- Keyword Phrases
- Content Development
- Link Building Strategy
- Search Engines & Directories
- Baseline & Competitor Reports

These are fundamental aspects of SEO and all SEO strategies will address these 5 points in one way or another.

Implementation: This is where all the research, analysis, & planning gets implemented on the website. The key here is to highlight the theme of the website, which means that your content, coding, and names of links & pages are all coordinated to re-iterate the same key phrases chosen from the keyword research step. Preferably the SEO expert will target no more than two or three key phrases per page, in order to ensure that the content and tags are highly targeted and revolve around the key phrases chosen.

During this period the SEO expert is also building new links pointing back to the site by submitting to Search Engines & Directories, sending out Press Releases over the web, or requesting back links from complementary websites. The SEO expert is also implementing a plan that updates the content of the website continuously. Be it daily, weekly, or monthly, the ultimate goal is to have well written highly targeted content that is consistently fresh. A website Blog is usually a good and easy way to address this task. Overview of the implementation tasks:

- Content Composition
- Meta & Alt Tag Composition
- Page & Link Renaming
- Site Map Creation
- Navigational Changes
- Link Building
- Search Engine & Directory Submissions

Monitor & Report:
Now it is time for the SEO expert to monitor and report on the results from the SEO efforts. Reporting cycles usually work on a monthly basis because the average cycle of the SE spiders ranges from 15-30 days. By this time the SEO expert has already benchmarked the website and its competitors, allowing for clear indication for were improvements have been achieved in the search engine results pages. By analyzing the initial report with the subsequent reports, the SEO expert then determines what areas of the campaign require more effort.

The SEO Cycle: Don't think you are done quite yet! The initial SEO cycle is usually the most complex, but it is not the only attempt needed for a proper SEO campaign. Remember the Search Engines are always making updates to their algorithms and your competitors are also developing their own SEO campaigns. Therefore consistent SEO building must continue with the websites link campaign, fresh content development, and site benchmarking in order to stay current with search engines desire to provide there users with the most relevant content available on the web.

Omar Solis is Web Marketing Strategist for Spiderbait.com. He can be reached at omar@spiderbait.com.

Search Engine Optimization: Useful Tools

Getting the most out of your website and checking its status has become easier now that free SEO tools are available online for your use. There are many ways for you to check the optimization, ranking status and compare your site against others with the easy to use tools listed below.

URLTrends is a great site for you to look into to gage your websites traffic trends. Here you can see your past and current Google PageRank and Alexa Rank along with overall incoming links and a break down of where they are coming from, whether its from Google, Yahoo, MSN or Alexa. This also takes into account possible overlapping and supplies you with an estimate of how many are unique links. A major plus this tool has is the ability to subscribe to "changes" in the results- it's a great way to monitor your site with out having to manually check it yourself.

This site has tools ranging from Http Viewer, Spiders View, Keyword density analyzer tool and Search Engine position checker. A fantastic option this site has is the Spiders View of how search engine spiders see your site. It will display exactly what the spiders are catching and disregard the rest of your page, therefore providing you with a better idea of how you might want to alter your site for better spidering results. The Search Engine checker has options, which allows you to check your sites against your competitors and compare the positions with your choice of key phrase. All the tools on this site are pretty self explanatory, included are brief summaries providing you direction/purpose of each tool.

For a past view of websites feel free to search thru possible archived versions of the site. Simply bookmark this site and select it at each site you wish to view past versions of.

Included in this site are Keyword Density Analyzer, Comparison reports for up to 5 Urls and Keyword Density Comparison Results for Googles top 10 sites. Free registration is required for access to the Comparison report tool, the others are ready to go and will supply you with results in a matter of seconds.

Free Search Engine Tools on this site are the Meta Tag and Keyword Analyzer, Page Snooper, Link Popularity Checking, Meta Tags Generator and Keyword Suggestion tool. All are very simple to use and useful!

SEOCompany Tools
This site is amongst one of the most comprehensive pages with SEO tools; listed is an extensive collection of tools in one easy to navigate location. Here you can find an Internal Page Rank tool, which supplies you with your Google Page Rank results for all pages on your site, Dmoz Listing Checker tool which comes in handy to quickly check your listing on the DMOZ Directory and not to be overlooked is the section dedicated different tool bars. This site offers not only one or two versions of tools but a number of different versions of tools for the same purpose, enabling users to choose the tool they feel most comfortable with and go from there. Along with variety this site also has a section dedicated to tools voted "best tool" monthly and yearly. Not to be missed though is a link for the top directories; they too are batched up according to paid inclusions, most links per web directories and other niches.

This site has over 100 tools to help you get information relating to your site including links, cache, blogs, tracking, posts, related pages and various other miscellaneous tools. For the most part all you need to to is type in your URL and choose the tab with the tool you'd like to use and all information relating to your page will be displayed. If you need further assistance or explanation regarding a tool, there is an info link at the end of each set of tools for you to use as your reference point.

For a Quick reference point on Google and Yahoo utilize the two links below and check your ranking.

Google Ranking supplies you with your rank from the top 40-1000 results for any given keyword. This tool does require you to use a free Google API key; on the site it will direct you towards attaining one if you currently do not have one.

Yahoo Search Rankings
For a quick reference check, you can utilize this tool to see how your site is ranking on Yahoo for any keyword of choice. This will list your sites ranking if it is within the top 1000 results.