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Common Sense SEO

by Taylor White

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a term we’re asked about a lot and rightly so. If we just built Web sites for our clients and  threw them online with no thought to optimizing the site for search  engines, we would be doing our clients a disservice.

SEO is, first of all, a direct marketing vehicle. Successful SEO is  only 20% technical Web site factors. The other 80% is marketing.

SEO is about trust and relevancy.  Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing rank your site based on the  level of trust you’ve built with them that your site provides what their  customers (search engine users) are looking for. In the same way that  businesses rarely open up and are successful from day one, SEO is a  long-term process that takes time. You have to build customer trust. You  have to work your way up and compete against other businesses that have  been around longer. You have to put in some effort to get the word out  about who you are and what you offer.

Just putting up a Web site with the perfect use of Meta tags,  content, and links won’t make you instantly competitive with other sites  that have been around for a long time.

There are hundreds of thousands of factors that determine your  rankings. Google and other search engines hold what those factors are as  proprietary secrets but they do offer general rules of thumb that, when  followed, will put you on good standing.

Site Structure and Content
The important internal aspects of SEO that comprise the 20% are:

Meta Tags
H1 Tags
URL Structures
Image Tags
XML Site Map
Internal Linking
Page Load Time
Overall Site Code Analysis

Market Your Site
As mentioned previously, the other 80% of SEO is marketing.  Here are the things you need to do as the owner of your site to improve  your rankings. Getting inbound links to your site is the overall goal.  Plan out a link building strategy for 8 – 12 months out  and do at least five of the things listed below (depending on the scope  of your market) per month. You may be tempted to run out and do all  these things at once, but that could actually hurt your efforts in the  long term. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. There are no  instant results.

  1. Write news-worthy press releases periodically and distribute them
  2. Submit your site to various online directories
  3. Participate in social networking
  4. List your business on local search engine profiles
  5. Write a blog
  6. Add links on your site to any industry or community association  memberships you’re in, and ask them to put your link on their site as  well
  7. Write informational articles and submit them to ezine sites
  8. Post promotional or instructional videos on YouTube, Metacafe or Vimeo
  9. Put your URL on all your marketing materials. The more people see it, the more they’ll remember it.

One more thing, avoid link exchanges with non-relevant sites. This  will actually hurt your rankings. Know that your natural links will grow  over time, if you have something of value, people will link to you.

We recommend targeting “organic” or non-paid search results –  following all the procedures we’ve outlined here, your SEO efforts will  pay off in higher rankings and hopefully more sales.

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