Search Engine Savvy
smart Internet marketer knows that she must go beyond
the search engine to produce good quality traffic. Search
engines do help but they are not a panacea. They're
simply a lazy way to do so with results that can often
be mediocre at best.
obtaining a favorable, highly visible position on search
engines is both an art and a science. Unfortunately,
the Internet is replete with marketers who rely quite
heavily on search engines alone for building their traffic
or, worse yet, on search engine tactics that amount
to meager results.
far from being a search engine expert. But, I'd like
to give you some of my own tips and tricks that have
helped me and could benefit your overall search engine
strategy, or at the very least enlighten you and hopefully
dispel some myths.
successful Internet marketing is not a single process
-- or a simple one, for that matter. It is a combination
of multiple principles, strategies and tactics that
are, either directly or indirectly, focused on three
single marketing activity you perform must revert to,
result in or improve upon any if not all of the above
three guiding principles. The less you adhere to any
one rule, the more attention, time and energy that rule
will demand of you.
an example: will top positioning on the search engines
bring you a lot of traffic? Ostensibly, the answer is
"sure." But the more important question to
ask is: will that traffic be qualified for, and interested
in, what I have to offer?
therein lies the key: should your website be ranked
higher based on a broad, general keyword? No. Granted,
generic words may generate a lot of traffic. But keep
in mind that the more generic the keyword is, the more
generic the visitor will be.
quality of your traffic hinges greatly on the quality
of the manner in which your site was discovered. Similarly,
the quality of your search engine traffic hinges greatly
on the quality of the keywords under which your site
agree that the above may appear overly simplistic. But
you would be amazed to learn how many people try to
rank higher on the engines using single, generic keywords
in order to produce an abundant quantity of traffic,
which in the end will never be qualified for, or genuinely
interested in, what is offered.
proponents argue that search engines drive up to 75%
of the Internet's traffic. While true, it is somewhat
misleading. When you distribute that traffic among 30
million websites, it amounts to little per site, while
keeping in mind that only a handful of websites is relevant
to any given search and that an even smaller number
enjoys the majority of this traffic.
85% of people using search engines leave after the first
two search result pages given. Unless a site is located
in the top 10 or 20 listings, search engines will never
be helpful. So, how do you become visible (i.e., in
the top 20) in a way that it generates targeted, qualified
traffic to your site?
key to obtaining optimal ranking is through more audience-
targeted keywords. And note that I used the word "optimal"
and not "top," here. Achieving top rankings
requires hard work and persistence. Since search engines
change sporadically, there is no rock-solid way of doing
it that works all the time.
my friend Jim Daniels of
http://www.bizweb2000.com/ noted, his best rankings
occurred when he abandoned his search engine efforts
altogether (mostly by happenstance, if you will). It's
a perfect example of the adage "a watched pot never
you abandon your search engine efforts completely? Not
at all. In fact, if you read Jim's article, he attributes
his success to continually adding fresh, keyword-rich
content to his website, and to focusing more on his
customers rather than on search engines (see
stated, Jim followed the Pareto Principle.
Pareto Principle (also called the "80:20 Rule")
applies to search engines, too. Vilfredo Pareto, an
Italian economist and sociologist (1848-1923), studied
the distribution of wealth in a variety of countries
in which he discovered a common thread: about 80% of
the wealth in most countries was controlled by a predictable
and consistent minority (about 20% of the people).
then, his rule has been applied to other areas, such
as 80% of the results are produced by 20% of the people
(or the activities). Applied to search engines, it means
that only 20% of your efforts will yield 80% of your
results. It also means that 80% of your traffic will
stem from 20% of search engines.
forget broad, generic keywords or expressions. Look
at it another way: the more targeted the keyword is,
the more targeted the visitor will be. To help you,
and check out the "Targeting Model." In the
same way, attract quality traffic by choosing keywords
same goes for checking your visibility. If you use web-
based services or software that analyze your position
in the search engines based on specific search words
or terms, you could be misled if you use generic or
using market- or product-oriented keywords can make
a big difference, which offers another reason why niche
marketing is vitally important on the highly competitive
Internet. The more niche-specific you are, the less
competition you will have -- including competition on
the engines fighting for top spots.
sell cars. But let's also say you sell a specific kind
of car (such as sports cars). Let's also say your car
(let's use the Porsche as an illustration) is intended
for an audience in which you specialize (let's say yuppies,
like recent graduates of medical and law schools, and
now high tech schools).
unlike the generic word "car" your chances
of being in the top 10 position will be greater with
cars, Porsche, red cars, racing, GT, Boxter, car parts
and accessories, engineering, classics, 911, Coupe,
Carrera, Cabriolet, fast engine, horsepower, racetracks,
motor, motorsports, driver, spoiler, travel, automobiles,
autos, vehicles, recent graduates, University, doctors,
lawyers, affluence, prestige, speed, toys, gears,
money, ego, new, German, Mission Impossible 2, Tom
we go any further, let me explain why some words were
included in the above example. Remember: I mentioned
earlier that your keywords or phrases should be 1) audience-specific,
2) audience-related or 3) audience-oriented (when you
follow the targeting model mentioned
concentric circle defines, in order, a specific target
level: 1) the center being one's core market, 2) the
middle layer being the industry itself or other related
fields, and 3) the outer perimeter being extended, augmented
or unrelated fields, such as unrelated websites frequented
by your market.
you may place center and middle level keywords into
your meta tags, including your title, description and
keywords tags. Validate your meta tags by using free
services like Meta Scanner at
or Meta Analyzer at
you want to generate meta tags, even search engine robot
third level is also important. In fact, some third level
words appear in the preceding Porsche example, and a
few are totally unrelated to the website, product or
business (e.g., "Tom Cruise" or "Mission
Impossible 2"). These words are far from generic
but they can attract a large number of visitors.
if these trademarks were included within your meta tags,
it could put you in legal hot water. Therefore, the
question is: "How does one circumvent these restrictions?"
answer is simple: add more content!
because of the proliferation of automated, irrelevant
doorway pages, search engines are relying less and less
on the keyword meta tag. In a recent issue of "Web
Marketing Now," which can be found at
http://www.webmarketingnow.com/, Jerry West
mentions trials he conducted as to test search engines'
recognition of the tag. Says West citing the results
of his research:
and Infoseek read the keyword meta tag [but] all other
major search engines ignore it. In fact, our testing
has determined that by using the keyword tag, it could
be preventing your page from being indexed by AltaVista."
suggests to focus on keywords within the body text rather
than the keyword meta tag. Some engines recognize words
in the first lines of the body text and even each paragraph.
In fact, West continues: "AltaVista is known to
ignore any phrase in your keyword tag that isn't also
used in your body text."
constantly adding fresh content to your site, you not
only increase its value and "stickiness,"
but also, as a byproduct, increase the number, frequency
and relevancy of keywords and phrases. In fact, unlike
redirected, keyword-stuffed doorway pages, additional
content will become doorway pages for you.
content naturally increases your keywords. Write articles
about your industry or area of expertise. Post news
about your firm or product. Publish articles from other
industry experts. Add press releases about anything
new. Include a directory of favorite (and related) links
or topics. And I can go on.
may ask: "So, what about the Porsche example?"
A year ago, Porsche issued a press release regarding
their new association with Paramount Pictures. If you
have seen "Mission Impossible 2," you may
have recognized the 911 Carrera Cabriolet driven by
Cruise. Of course, the press release was posted online
the need for adding these popular keywords directly
in Porsche.com's meta tags, search engines will likely
recognize the words "Tom Cruise" and "Mission
Impossible 2" as keywords within Porsche.com's
press releases and body documents.
neither a legal expert nor do I pretend to be one. And
I'm not a search engine expert, too. But what I do know
comes from personal experience: like my friend Jim Daniels,
as my article archive grew traffic grew proportionately
(without any additional marketing, too).
if you would like to know more about meta tags and how
they work specifically, read an informative tutorial
And for the latest tips, updates, changes, news and
tricks on most of the search engines, visit
keywords should be focused and targeted, remember that
keywords alone do not promise higher rankings. Keyword
density and relevancy, along with link popularity, are
also important, especially with human-reviewed or human-compiled
human-compiled directories are not alone. Just as software
programs are regularly updated with newer and better
versions, search engines are becoming more and more
look at half a dozen factors in ranking," said
Don Dodge, AltaVista's Director of Engineering in an
interview with Danny Sullivan, the brain behind
words on the page, their frequency and their position
on the page are still among the most important factors."
density is the ratio of keywords to the total number
of words on a web page. In other words, it is the number
of a particular word appearing in all the different
locations (such as the various tags -- meta, comment,
alt and header tags -- and the body text) divided by
the total number of words.
the overly repetitious use of keywords is also known
as keyword or index spamming, or "spamdexing."
This practice might cause some search engines to reject
your site, ban your domain's IP or, in some cases, penalize
it by giving it a much lower ranking than what it would
have otherwise deserved.
the keyword frequency to 3-8% of total words. Spamdexing
also consists of tricking the search engines and their
spiders by hiding repetitious, misleading or irrelevant
keywords often in nefarious ways (such as using the
same background color for the font). Nevertheless, avoid
one factor that's becoming increasingly important is
link popularity. Because of the growth of irrelevant,
keyword- dense, automatically generated doorway pages,
and in an effort to "clean house," more and
more engines use link popularity. (For example, sites
generally do not link to doorway pages.)
all, focus on your audience and use keywords that cater
to them specifically. You might ask, "What if I
am outranked, even with targeted keywords?" If
so, use tools to suggest the best keywords, check your
popularity and analyze competitors.
example, keyword suggestion tools can help you find
good, targeted keywords, such as
http://www.wordtracker.com/. Then, open an account
with The Informant (now Tracerlock) at
a free service that will save search engine queries,
monitor them periodically and send you email whenever
there are new or updated pages. It will also compare
your site with other URLs. The key is not to use URLs
of assumed competitors but to use actual search engine
URLs that outrank you.
http://keywordcount.com/. It's a free service
that will analyze the density of your top keywords or
phrases. Also, it will compare your results against
those of a second URL -- preferably one that outranks
you on the search engines, particularly under targeted
keywords. This will reveal a lot.
can even use Tracerlock and Keyword Count together,
where you compare the density of a specific word and
then enter the two URLs (yours and the URL of your competitor)
on Tracerlock as websites you will be monitoring. It
will email you the top results it found and the specific
ranking of sites monitored.
if you want you can repeat the entire process for all
the other search engines and for specific pages on your
site. And if a new competitor appears, add the new URL
and keywords retrieved from Keyword Count in your Tracerlock
settings. (Or open a new account for other URLs -- after
all, it's free.)
you improve your optimization, whether it's through
better meta tags or simply adding more content, over
time you should also see some improvement in your rankings.
Regardless, you will at least have a list of keywords
from which to work.
what happens if your rankings do not improve? Remember
that keywords are not alone. Therefore, the next step
is to visit Link Popularity at
http://linkpopularity.com/. It's a free service
that will query the search engines on how many sites
are linking to yours. Try it will all URLs (yours and
those of your competitors). Then, compare the results.
will provide you with some insight as to how the search
engine prioritizes link popularity in its algorithm.
And if it's high, then you know you have some work to
do. But once you've boosted your link popularity, and
if your rankings do not improve, the next step is to
see how much traffic those outranking URLs actually
get, and to compare them with yours.
the Alexa browser add-on from http://alexa.com/.
It's a free tool that allows you to retrieve information
about any site you visit (e.g., freshness, speed, contact
information, link popularity and, most importantly,
keep in mind that Alexa's traffic indicator is not an
empirical metric. It's based on visits by Alexa users
only. But it is nonetheless quite insightful as you
can easily extrapolate the numbers to estimate a site's
Tracerlock, Link Popularity, Keyword Wizard and Keyword
Count will give you some clues as to how your competitors
are doing and why they are outranking you. And they
will also give you ammunition in your efforts to achieve
more important is the rule mentioned at the beginning
of this article, which is to focus on building traffic,
building trust and building sales. If your efforts do
not in some way result in or improve upon these areas,
forget them. They will waste more of your time than
working with search engines will.
Fortin is a master copywriter and consultant dedicated
to turning businesses into powerful magnets. Get a FREE
copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power
Positioning," and subscribe to his FREE monthly
ezine, "The Profit Pill," by visiting http://SuccessDoctor.com/