Sunday, August 17, 2008

The New Recipe for Search Engine Ranking

The New Recipe for Search Engine Ranking
By John Eberhard

One of the characteristics of the web is that it is constantly changing. What may have worked great two years ago may be a dismal failure today.

After doing some extensive research I have come up with what I think is the best recipe for search engine success today. This is after reading these sources, among others:

The Unfair Advantage Book on Winning the Search Engine Wars
By Planet Ocean Communications
http://www.planetocean.com/

The New Rules of Marketing & PR
By David Meerman Scott
http://www.davidmeermanscott.com/

Tiffany Dow’s Blog
http://www.tiffanydow.com/blog/

Videos and eBooks
by Stompernet
http://www.Stompernet.com

Following the experiences of my client Stan Dubin
http://www.marriagesuccess.com

So here goes on the new recipe:

Keyword Selection and SEO
For gaining good organic (not paid through Google AdWords) position on the search engines, it is vital to find keywords with decent traffic, but without high competition. This is a process of mining not for the obvious choices, but for undiscovered gold.

Yahoo Search Marketing, formerly Overture, used to have a free search term suggestion tool that was the best tool on the web. Unfortunately, they took the tool down recently, or sometimes it works but it has old data.
My tool of choice that has replaced this is the free search term tool from Trellian:
http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html?query=
It has a limit to how many searches you can do per day.

Another valuable tool is Wordtracker.
This is an online paid service ($60 per month). I’m not crazy about this tool but it does give you an invaluable insight into the value of a keyword, which it calls the KEI, or Keyword Efficiency Index. This is a score (the higher the better) that is based on a high number of monthly searches, and a low number of web sites competing for that keyword. This is how you can find gold.

SEO
Once you know what the best keywords are for you to work on, which is based on their having some decent traffic but low competing sites, then it’s time for search engine optimization. This involves:

Putting the keywords appropriate to your pages into the meta-tag keyword block
Putting the keywords into the headlines
Putting the keywords into the page title and the “meta title,” which is what shows up as the title for your page, underlined in blue, when the page comes up on the search engines
Putting the keywords into the text on the page
Putting the keywords into alt tags, which are text tags attached to graphic images on the page. These show up when you mouse over the graphic and leave the mouse there.

Anchor Text
In earlier articles I have covered the fact that even more important than anything you do on your site, it is vital for you to have links to your site coming from other sites. Google considers this the most important criteria in ranking your site.

According to the Planet Ocean book, THE most valuable thing that you can have in terms of raising your rankings in search engines is called “Anchor Text.” This means a keyword, let’s say “affordable SEO,” that appears on another web site, and where that text is underlined in blue and linked to your site. If the service that you delivered was affordable SEO, and a number of other sites had the words “Affordable SEO” and that text was linked back to your site, that would be the most valuable thing that you could have in terms of raising your ranking in the search engines for the keyword “affordable SEO.”

So the trick is building up links to your site, not just with your web site address, but with anchor text that includes one of the keywords you are working to get rankings for.

In the past, most search engine marketing experts did what was called reciprocal link building, where you link to another web site and they link to you, usually on a “links” page. And most search engine marketing experts today still recommend this as their core method of building links with anchor text. This method has slowly been dying out for a year or two, and even those experts who recommend it will qualify and say it should not be more than a certain percentage of your link building actions.

Then in May 2008, Google changed its algorithm again and the word on the street now is that the new algorithm gives much less credit to links that are reciprocal.

So how does one get anchor text links built up to his web site, without using reciprocal link building?

Content Hubs with Anchor Text
We have been submitting articles to content hubs, also called article directories, for over two years. We have built thousands upon thousands of links to client web sites through this technique. The problem was that you could just get your web site URL into the articles, you couldn’t put in anchor text. So it built up links, but not the most valuable kind of links.

Until now.

We have done research and have listed out a fair selection of high Page Rank content hubs that allow anchor text links into the articles. It’s a new ballgame with content hubs.

Blogs
I’m a relative latecomer in the blogosphere, and was finally convinced of the necessity of blogging by my client Stan Dubin, whose blog
www.marriagesuccess.com has gained excellent ranking on some long tail keywords by putting the keywords prominently into his blog posts, often in the title.

I have since started two blogs myself and am now working closely with clients on their blog activities.

One of the benefits of blogs is that you can put in, wouldn’t you know it, anchor text. You can use keywords in your posts and then link those keywords back to appropriate pages on your web site. My thought on this is that this works best if your blog URL is a different one from your main site.

Another advantage of blogs is that there is a group of search engines specifically geared to blogs and if you notify them (called “pinging”) after you make a post, the new post gets into the blog search engines and then into the regular search engines.

And when you set up your blog, put up links on it, to your other web sites and blogs, using – guess what - anchor text.

Optimized News Releases
In his ground-breaking book The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott talks about the new rules of PR, including the swelling popularity of news releases on the web and how these can be used to talk directly to customers and potential customers, not just be directed at media people.

The key is to write a press release that is keyword rich, put it up on your site, or on a blog (my thinking is putting them on a separate blog just for your releases is better – that’s what I am doing now), and also post it on several online PR sites. These PR sites will then get it into big news sites like Google News.

And of course, when you post the release on your blog, don’t forget to add – you got it – anchor text. And some of the PR sites will allow you to add anchor text as well, usually for a fee.
My thinking on the releases is the best frequency is to do them once a week. David Meerman Scott says to find ways to write and send out releases all the time.

HubPages.com, Stompernet.com and Tiffany Dow’s blog recommend setting up pages on HubPages.com. Each page should be on one specific topic, and can feature one article or multiple articles on that topic, videos, and links to your sites and other site of interest. Link to each of your sites that are on-topic to the page, to all your blogs, and to other pages that you set up which I’ll describe next. And would you be surprised to know that your links can be in the form of anchor text?

Anyway, every time you write a new article you should put it up as a HubPages page.

Facebook Page
I’ve become quite a fan of Facebook, and have now gotten into creating “Pages” on Facebook. These are pages that are devoted to promoting a business, and can have descriptive text, contact info, links to your sites and blogs, links to your other pages of interest such as your HubPages.com pages, videos, and photos. You can ask all your friends on Facebook to join as a fan, and once they do that you can send out information to them on a regular basis, such as sending out new articles, posting new videos, pictures relating to your business, and so on.

Squiddoo
Squiddoo is another site similar to HubPages where you put up what are called “lenses.” Treat the same as HubPages.com. Rinse and repeat.

Social Bookmarking
Now that you’ve created articles on your site, posts on your blog, news releases either on your site or on your blog, pages on Facebook, pages on HubPages.com, and lenses on Squiddoo, all with anchor text and all linking around to one another, the next step is to join Digg and Del.icio.us and start bookmarking each page and each new post or article. This adds another link to each of these pages and allows people to find your articles or sites or posts through searching on these sites.

Summary
So that’s the new best recipe as far as I can see today. By doing all these things, you can be proactive. You don’t have to take the idiotic approach that Google recommends and write good content and then wait for people to find it and link to it. You’re in control. You create the content. You put it up all over the place. You create the anchor text. You create the rankings. Let’s get to work!

My thanks to John Eberhard for an outstanding write-up
http://www.RealWebMarketing.net
Los Angeles, CA
See John's Blog: "Real Web Marketing Blog"
http://www.realwebmarketingblog.com