Search Engine Optimization Step 1 – Use Google To Identify What You Have To Work With

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Posted on 6th August 2009 by Ben Krasner in Search Engine Optimization


The first question I always try to answer whenever a problem is at hand is simply, ‘what do I have to work with?’  This is exactly how you should approach search engine optimization.  Not answering this question before you start or before you hire a company to do work for you could lead to very unappealing consequences or projects that end up running you a much higher bill than needed and cause a project relationship to strain.

Work on search engine optimization is a nice coded and process-laded way of saying, “make a website or content on web pages easier to find”.  This means easier for people to find but also for search engines and search robots (applications that crawl the web in order to index it and find content) to find and analyze the content as they need to.  As I mentioned in my article entitled “SEO – Search Engine Optimization: What Is It?“, there are really two angles to go at this from: You are well positioned and easily reachable through search engines or you are not well positioned and people are equally if not more likely to find your competition or other sites to direct their attention towards.  So which of those angles are you coming from?

If you are well positioned and receiving lots of traffic to your site (and those are you goals), the last thing you want to do is risk upsetting something that is working for you.  On the other hand if you are not showing up very often or are showing up on pages that few web browsers will ever venture (e.g. page 27 of a search for “Dewalt Drill“) then you have less to risk and potentially a lot more to gain by making some changes to the way you make your site available to potential readers or customers.  Naturally, this begs the question, “How do I know how my site and all of my content is performing?”  The answer: just ask Google.

Google has several invaluable tools that you can use for FREE which will show you the traffic you are getting to your site, where that traffic is coming from, where things stand for your pages and content and even the position during recent search results where your content was returned as relevant.  The two most important tools that you should utilize ASAP (if you’re not already doing so) are Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics.  To use either, you’ll need to either already have or open a Google account.

Google Webmaster Tools

Use Google Webmaster Tools to view reports on your site's visibility on Google and more!

Using Google Webmaster Tools allows you to view reports about the visibility of your site on Google and, as I already discussed, Google Is King – focusing on what Google is reporting back about your site is equal to focusing on the right target during your SEO hunt.  Google Webmaster Tools also allows you to see the web pages that contain links pointing to your site – another very important item to keep track of during this endeavor.  Setup is pretty easy but you will need to verify ownership of the site(s) you want to add to to your account and that will require having access to either your server or your site template code as you will need to place a unique code or file into your site for Google to look for.  You will also want to submit a sitemap that Google can use to crawl and index your site and also use to show you where you might have issues with robots or people not being able to access pages you think are readily reachable.  Over time, this data changes and will show you if you have been improving or faltering in your search engine optimization efforts.

Google Analytics

Use Google Analytics to view data that represents all traffic hitting your site - it's FREE!

Using Google Analytics allows you to view the traffic that is hitting your site – all of it.  Google Analytics does not just show you who has reached your site from Google search results it shows  you the data that represents all of the traffic that has hit your content – where it comes from, what pages it viewed on your site, how long they were on your site, where they exited your site, etc.  It is a robust piece of software that allows for customization while still being incredibly easy to install and get started with.  You’ll again need to have access to either your server or your site template code as you will need to copy and paste a snip of code into all of your pages that you want tracked after you have signed up for Google Analytics.  If you have a footer that appears on every page of your site you will be able to install this code with only one copy & paste effort.  If you do not have this you will need to copy and paste the code into every page that you want tracked – and that really should be EVERY page.

Businesses who use commercial web analytic services, such as Omniture, OneStat, WebTrends and others, will not likely need to employ Google Analytics but should still employ Google Webmaster Tools.  The data identified within is too valuable to hope you are getting somewhere else and serves as the measuring stick for performing well on Google.

Using Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics will allow you to identify what you have to work with.  You will see how well your content is ranking or that it fails to do so.  You will see how much traffic is hitting your site, what content within is being viewed the most and you will see how browsers are getting to those assets.  Of course you’ll also be able to see if content is not being viewed or if browsers and robots are not able to reach your content.  Knowing this information is the starting point you need to achieve in order to begin to formulate a plan for your SEO project.

SEO – First Things First – Google Is King

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Posted on 2nd August 2009 by Ben Krasner in Search Engine Optimization


Search engine optimization naturally refers to search engines as if they were all the same or equal in some way.  Unfortunately, this couldn’t be farther from the truth as far as most websites are concerned.  Ever since Google assumed the top spot and ran with it websites have been focusing most of their efforts on trying to get a bigger and bigger piece of what seemed like an ever-increasing pie.  Currently websites can expect to receive upwards of 80% of their traffic from Google alone and that constitutes close to 90% of all of the traffic from all of the search engines combined.  Even if you work hard to spread your marketing out to include significant amounts of newsletters and direct referrals, Google alone will probably still deliver somewhere around 65% of all of the traffic that you get on your site.

Those numbers could vary, of course, but you get the idea – focusing your early efforts (and the majority of your long term efforts) on casting your net out into the waters owned by Google is going to pay off in all kinds of ways before other options will.  Plus, many or most of the same techniques you use when working to maximize your results with Google will apply to the other search engines as well.

Now that we’ve identified where to hunt, Let’s get started with SEO!

SEO – Search Engine Optimization: What Is It?

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Posted on 1st August 2009 by Ben Krasner in Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization has become a hot topic for businesses, retailers, bloggers, news and media sites… pretty much you name the kind of site and there’s almost a palpable angst about SEO surrounding the organization or individuals behind it.  From what I am hearing from those sending this question my way is this angst comes from two angles: One is from sites that rank very well on search engines and don’t want that to change and the other is from sites who do not rank very well on search engines and want that to change.  Many times this is a direct competitor scenario where the site that ranks well has interests that line up against another site that does not rank well.  Both types of sites are looking to SEO to solve their problems because it is a popular topic and finally apparent to everyone – even those that have no idea what SEO means – that if you are are not on top of this game you could be in trouble.

What is SEO?  What is search engine optimization?

… and why did I just make that information a heading, rather than just a start of a new paragraph?   It’s all part of the same process by which any website owner goes about their tasks of building a site and putting content on the site so that the people that they want to view that content  can do so.  First off, let’s be overt and clear by pointing out that ‘SEO’ is just the acronym for search engine optimization.  If you already knew that, great!  But you’d be surprised at the number of people who think those are two separate entities.

SEO is simply anything that you do to a website (specifically individual pages of a website) that enables search engines to find, index, analyze and make those pages available to people searching for related content through the use of that search engine.  Without knowing it, anyone who has ever created a web page has been involved in SEO simply by creating that page and storing it on a server.  How so?  Because it’s on the internet and it has some content to it- even if it’s only pictures or numeric values.  A search engine can find it, just like any web browser can find it, which means it can be indexed and thus can be returned in a search result if someone is searching for similar content on that search engine.

Now, certain efforts make it easier for search engines to find that web page, analyze it and index it; those efforts are part of search engine optimization.  Other efforts make your content on your pages appear more relevant, either across a wider range of possible searches or within a narrower range of searches; those efforts are also part of search engine optimization.  You can also work on things that make specific parts of your content stand out from the rest – again, another part of SEO.  And perhaps the part of SEO website owners are most interested in are those efforts that specifically cause web pages within their sites to rank as more relevant to searches and so appear before other pages belonging to other websites in the Search Engine Result Pages (a.k.a. SERPs).  After all, the higher you appear in those results the more traffic gets to your website.

In the example above of any old Joe Smith creating a web page and uploading that content to a web server, I spoke about that act alone being relevant to the discussion about SEO.  It is… only, it’s really not at the same time.  Yes, a search engine can find that web page, index it and therefore make it available to browsers looking for that content.  However, just like anything else that nobody knows about, it is also possible that no search engines or web browsers find it and as a result that page never gets indexed and thus potentially never found by anyone searching for that content.  It is also possible that by the time a search engine does find it and indexes it the content is no longer being searched for by anyone, which effectively has the same effect as if it were never indexed at all.  Therefore when people talk about search engine optimization these days they are mostly referring to acts directly related to improving the ability for search engines and browsers to come across that content and, in a virtual sense, “spread the word” of that content being available and relevant to certain search queries performed at search engines.

Search engine optimization is a journey with successful reaching of business goals being the destination – even if that destination is only reached while another one is being created.  I hope you’ll find my articles on this subject interesting and informative, even if only to identify the goals you need to establish or the right questions to ask a company that you’ll hire for SEO consultation or projects as they are needed.