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INTRODUCTION TO SEO

My fellow SEO colleagues ask me every once in a while, just what exactly motivates me to spend long hours writing articles about search engine optimization and sharing my know-how with everyone who reads them. My answer to that is simple – SEO is no secret. If you won’t find the information you need on SuperSeoMan.com, you will find it elsewhere. Besides, our primary objective as a professional Search Engine Optimization firm, is to educate our clients on what SEO is all about, eliminate any confusion brought up by dishonest or inexperienced SEOs while giving our clients the opportunity to make an educated choice. Please note that all our work is subject to our copyright policy.

Our SEO specialists will update SuperSeoMan’s tutorials section regularly with new learning points.

My name is Dave, and I have the honor of starting and editing this manual, which will explain in details how the SEO process works, what are the best practices, what is forbidden, where to begin and how to keep up.

A Little Bit of History
Back in the 90’s, when search engines were making their baby steps in the crawling / indexing process they weren’t accounting for the human factor which is always looking to find a way to go around the rules straight to the top. At that time, accordingly set META and Title tags could make a difference in website positioning on the SERPs. Soon, various black-hat tactics geniuses spammed Google and other search engines with web pages that had content completely irrelevant to what the searchers were hoping to find. Tactics included loading META tags with catchy or popular key phrases that weren’t reflecting an actual web site content or even a theme for the purpose of forcing traffic to a web site. Search engines caught up to the idea and modified their algorithms accordingly. Today, META tags have little value in the SEO process as a whole. Instead, every website is evaluated by a complex algorithm that looks at every element of a web site including: Quality, volume, readability and usefulness of the content (from a searcher’s perspective), keyword density, website structure, META and Title tags, and its level of importance (identified by a number and quality of relevant links that point to the website).

Buyer Beware
As in any other industry, SEO has its bad apples. You may have already met one and they have probably promised you the Top spot in Google – the #1 position. They have told you that they know something neither yourself nor the other SEO specialists know. Then they demanded $30,000. When you questioned the price they showed you some numbers that promised you a million. But something didn’t jive there. It didn’t feel right. That’s why you are here today, reading and educating yourself. The truth of the matter is – NO one is in position to promise you the Top spot in Google or any other major search engine. That spot cannot be bought, it has to be earned by hard work, a lot of patience and sometimes a lengthy optimization process.

Can I become a SEO specialist?
The answer is yours. Can you? If you answer yes to the following questions, then per haps you can!

  • Do you have a fair amount of time that you can dedicate to learn the SEO process and the guidelines of at least all major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN?
  • Do you have a basic knowledge of HTML coding and comfort in using an HTML editor such as Dreamweaver?
  • Do you have the time and patience to research and learn keyword identification techniques?
  • Can you keep yourself updated by regularly reading news related to Search Engines, tracking changes on SERPs, analyzing and learning from those changes?
  • Are you capable of writing effective articles offering a good description of what your website is all about that are easy to read and understand from a visitor’s perspective?
  • Are you willing to learn how to incorporate relevant keyword phrases into website content and other elements effectively?
  • Do you have enough time to grow your website on a regular basis with quality content?
  • Do you have the time and patience to learn how to identify quality back link sources and then develop a solid link network?
  • Are you able to stay calm and optimistic even if you are not observing significant improvements within months and maybe a year from the start of your SEO campaign, or witness a negative action towards your website by a search engine following a success?
  • Do you have the courage to recognize your mistakes, learn from them and continue to improve your skills?

Main SEO Challenges
I used to work for a major communication service provider in the role of a marketing coordinator. Quite regularly our office would receive new updates from relevant government commissions that regulated the industry about changes in the policies or regulations including various updates. We would disperse such updates within our organization to keep everyone up to date and adjust our practices and policies accordingly. Now I look back and think what a luxury that was. If you think Google, Yahoo or MSN will ask if you wish to be subscribed to their monthly Newsletter that addresses algorithmic modifications, changes or updates – you are making your first big mistake. If there is any real secret to SEO it stays with the Search Engines until SEO specialists figure it out the hard way – keep tracking, testing, analyzing and investing.

Keep tracking – any changes on SERPs and updates on the official SE marketing blogs

Keep testing – new and creative tactics that is not violating any search engines guidelines

Keep analyzing – all the information gained through the tracking and testing on a regular basis

Keep investing – your time right back into learning SEO.

We hope you are serious about learning SEO. If so, you will learn to recognize that search engine optimization is a constantly evolving process that is dependent on many variables, which neither one of the SEO specialists have any control over. There will be time where everything written above can be disregarded due to the new and even more complex algorithms developed by the search engines. But let’s leave this for later, shall we?

Can I just get paid listings and get on Google’s first page that way?
Sure! but as long as you understand and appreciate the difference between organic (natural) listings and paid (sponsored) listings. Every type of listings has its pros and cons. Let’s discuss.

SEO process optimizes your website for the purpose of improving its rankings on the major SERPs in order to earn a preferential positioning within the organic or natural listings. Once your website has made the top 10 SERP, it will enjoy unlimited traffic at ZERO cost per click. What could be a better reward for all your hard work and investments?

Paid listings also known as sponsored listings or paid advertising make up another way to get to the top except it can be costly. You can still get that unlimited traffic but as long as you have a big budget because you will pay for every click. Price per click is competition driven and depends on what your competition is willing to pay for the same key phrase you want to use.

We have noticed there are a lot of SEO want-to-be’s on the market that confuse website owners purposely by selling paid advertising for SEO process. In a nutshell, they offer “seo services” with guaranteed first page positioning in Google. Long story short, because there are a lot of website owners out there that simply do not know the difference between the natural and paid listings yet, such want-to-be’s simply setup an Adwords account with Google, arrange for a few sponsored ads and then proudly demonstrate the results of their “complex seo work” to a client. Sure the website probably shows on the first page, but only in Google and for as long as the client keeps paying for every click. Meanwhile a client’s website was never optimized.

How to tell what listings are natural and which ones are paid on the Search Engine Result Page(s)?
Please see an illustration of the organic (natural) and paid (sponsored) results on Google, Yahoo and MSN:

Google Adwords

MSN Adcenter

Yahoo Search Marketing

PPC – Pay Per Click (paid or sponsored) Advertising – Pros and Cons in details.
There were times when new websites were listed on the major search engines within weeks from their launch date. The reality is, it could take more than 4 months for a website to be listed today. Search engine optimization process involves making on-page and off-page improvements which may also be indexed sometimes 4 months after the improvements were made. As you may agree, patience invested in overall long term website success is rewarding, but this does not sound as reassuring when you run a seasonal business and your season opens in 2 weeks. This is where Pay-Per-Click advertising comes to your rescue.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Best Benefits:

Newly developed websites.
If you have just registered a domain and recently completed developing your website bare in mind that Search Engines may take over 4 months to index your website. Additionally, most search engines factor in the age of your website in their algorithms. In our experience we have seen very few websites that ever made it to the top within their first fully operational year.

Websites that currently do not have a sufficient budget or time for improving their organic search engine ranking.
Usually sub-contractors, self employed individuals running small private businesses, or medium sized companies that are not yet ready to invest in a full scale search engine optimization. We found that many such companies end up spending a lot of money while trying to manage paid advertising campaign on their own with little or no return on investment (ROI). Most of the time this is because either insufficient amount of time was dedicated to fully learn all features of the paid advertising model or a proper PPC specialist was not involved in time to look after the campaign management.

Websites that have large volume of keywords and want to attain top rankings for all.
Usually websites that belong in this category are Internet stores, businesses that offer large volume of different products or services

Large corporate websites.
Sometimes it is difficult to persuade high ranking executives of a large corporation to make changes to corporate website content for the sole purpose of improving website positioning within SERPs. Paid advertising turns into a great solution since no modifications of any kind are required on a website. We are however, observing a trend where more corporations are willing to give more weight to the Internet Marketing initiatives to obtain the ultimate long term goal – high rankings within organic results.

A word of advice – ad campaigns.
To all interested in paid advertising – a word of advice. Learn or get a specialist to fully implement and take advantage of conversion tools to track the success of your ad campaigns (full reports must hit your desk on a regular basis). Otherwise you will notice your budget getting drained fast and you will not even know what happened.

SEO Process – what’s the main goal?
Main goal of the search engine optimization is to attain the top rankings within the organic (natural) listings of Search Engine Result Page(s). The reward pays well. Significant web traffic increase at ZERO cost per click. The general rule of thumb is, the closer you are to the top of the organic listings, the more visitors will be tempted to visit your website. The 80:20 principle is being observed where 80 percent of all related clicks are given to the Top 10 listings and the rest of the 20 percent are divided amongst the rest of the SERPs. A research conducted by various SEO specialists shows that a typical searcher would give their preference to an organic search result versus a paid listing. Please enlighten me, but I don’t know of any directory printed or online, that can generate as much real and quality traffic as Google and charge nothing for it.

On-page and off-page SEO factors (the two primary optimization factors).
In the early 90’s proper META tags would make a strong search engine campaign. Most search engines only knew how to index and evaluate websites based on META tags and content. Today search engine algorithms are sophisticated enough to not only make more thorough on-page evaluations but to evaluate websites based on their off-page optimization as well.

On-page optimization
Involves fine-tuning your website for maximized search engine crawlability and content priority. This includes a comprehensive keyword research, improving website structure, URLs, content, text readability, injecting the researched keywords and other initiatives that will be described in details in the following chapters of our SEO manual.

Off-page optimization
Involves various link building strategies. In today’s Internet – search engines interpret links pointing to your website as “votes” casted by other members of the world wide web community for your website. The more of the votes your website collects, the more important, useful and therefore higher ranking it becomes in the eyes of a search engine. Important point to consider: search engines are smart enough to assess the quality and relevancy of the links pointing to your website. You should be careful when generating links pointing to your website as irrelevant links may cause your website to be penalized in a form of a reduced PageRank. Some ideas for link sources include reciprocal link partners, one-way links, directory links, online magazine links, government related websites or company databases, community related websites, blogs, article syndication, and links from press releases.

Remember, developing high quality and relevant links is a very important step in a search engine optimization campaign but if done improperly or blatantly abused can get your website penalized. Be creative about finding good links but beware. Some other good link sources counted by the Google positively towards your PageRank are community driven sites such as YouTube and Bloglines. When it comes to Google, 1 high quality relevant link will overweight every one of your poor quality links combined together.

What are the most important points to learn in SEO?

Build your websites for your visitors, not for the search engines.

Good SEO techniques open doors to long term website success.

To be a good SEO you need to: Keep tracking, testing, analyzing and investing.

Stay on top of the industry trends and keep up the good work!

In Conclusion
I hear many people ask, how can any one search engine such as Google, arbitrarily tell other reputable businesses how to run their business on the Internet. In answering the above question please consider the following:

As of March 2008 Google holds approximately 67.25 percent of the search share (source: http://www.hitwise.com) based on the volume of searches. This means that 67.25 percent of all online searches in US are performed through Google.

Google enjoys searchers recognition and loyalty for its effective algorithm that helps the searchers to get the most relevant results to their queries. This is evident from the same statistics – 67.25 percent of searchers choosing Google to find what they are looking for.

Google does not tell businesses how to run their business on the Internet. In the interests of searchers, it strives to get the most relevant results displayed in the natural listings of its results pages. Search Engine Optimization process makes a website searchable, improves the quality and priority of its content and in doing so, makes it competitive in the Word Wide Web community.

Are you ready to learn SEO?
Our next tutorial will look at the first step of the Search Engine Optimization process – Keyword Research and Analysis.

One Comment


  1. Mar 2, 2011
    9:22 pm

    TrustSeo

    Great information! Love your blog. Please keep up the good work. Email me if you have more info on search engine optimization.

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