SEO. It’s What Competitors Are Using to Kill Your Business

B2B Marcom Insider

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, has become a competitive threat over the last few years. Why? Companies, including your competition, are using SEO to get to the top of search engine rankings. What’s the big deal about that? Here are a couple of facts:

  • According to a 2010 Forrester Research report, 90% of purchasing decisions begin online.
  • The average Google search is comprised of only three pages.

Search engine ranking factors are some of the most closely guarded secrets in online business. Google, Bing and other search engines don't publish exactly how they rank webpages in search results, because that would lead to massive gaming of the system and produce non-useful results.

Fortunately, you don't have to figure out how Google determines search engine rankings all by yourself. There's an entire industry of professionals (Media II is in that Club) who have a good handle on how search engine placement works based on their cumulative experiences.

Here are the top 10 factors that positively affect your search engine rankings. We have sanitized the techo-speak so you can understand them.

Ten Factors for SEO…

Keyword Research.

It’s critical that you perform top-level keyword research to determine the best keyword phrases prospects use when searching for your products or services. There are many other uses of keywords and acronyms outside your industry that can impact the effectiveness of the words you choose. Good keyword research also uncovers many unforeseen keyword phrases on the longtail that can be very targeted when users are narrowing their search for a specific solution with unique product benefits that are a good match for your business.

Best Practices: Hire a pro to do your keyword research and write content that closely matches where the search activity is and where you have the rich content to rise above your competition.

Keyword Use in Title Tag and Search Description.

Include the search keywords you are targeting in your webpage's title tag. The title tag, or meta title, is the text that appears at the top of your browser window. Think of it as the title for the webpage. The meta title is what is displayed as a link in search results, while the description is the text often used to describe your page in organic search results. Both are important.

Best Practices: Insist that the search keywords you're targeting are used in every webpage's title tag and search description. Have a customized title for each page. Don't be lazy and use the same title for every page on your site.

Anchor Text of Inbound Links.

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text of a link to your website. These links could be included in email blasts, website sponsored ads, association rosters, etc. It describes the link. Google and other search engines gobble up that information to rank searches.

Best Practices: When you email to other websites to promote your content, mention your preferred anchor text if they choose to link to your site. You won't always get what you ask for, but it never hurts to ask. And there's a big payoff if you can get other sites to use the search keywords you're targeting when they link to you.

Global Link Popularity.

The more inbound links to your website, the better it is and the higher your website will rank. Every inbound link is a "vote" for your site. If lots of other websites link to you, search engines conclude that lots of people find your content useful or interesting. That makes your webpage rank higher than a similar page with fewer inbound links.

Best Practices: Make link building, the practice of getting more inbound links to your site, a central part of your online marketing strategy. These website portals claim to offer large lists of hyperlinks but contain very little content relevant to your business.

Link Popularity within the Site's Internal Link Structure.

How prominent is the webpage within your own site? Without the proper linking structure, certain pages may not get enough emphasis. For example, links directly from the homepage usually do really well.

Best Practices: Showcase your best content or the webpage you most want to highlight with hyperlinks that include keywords. Put this in your main navigation menu and link to it from multiple pages within your site.

Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site.

Are the sites linking to you related to your topic and targeted keywords? The more relevant, the more weight those links are given. This factor is similar to anchor text of inbound links. How other sites link to you matters.

Best Practices: Relevance matters. Focus your link building efforts on sites within your topical niche.

Keyword Use in Body Text.

It is important to use keyword phrases throughout the site where it makes sense. As engines get more sophisticated, it's not just the targeted keyword phrase that counts, but the mix of all the words on the page that help to determine what the page is about.

Best Practices: Use the search keywords and phrases you're targeting throughout your page where it makes sense. Don't cram so many keywords into the page that Google penalizes you for keyword stuffing.

Link Popularity of Linking Site.

Links from big websites, sites that have lots of inbound links, are worth more than links from smaller sites.

Best Practices: Focus your marketing efforts on the biggest, most authoritative sites. Think of it this way: it's better to get one link from a big site (like About.com) than to get 10 links from 10 small sites (like personal blogs).

Topical Relationship of Linking Page.

Again, relevance matters. Links from a webpage that is related to your page's content are worth more than links from random, unrelated sites.

Best Practices: Focus your link building efforts on sites within your niche. And if you can help it, try to get links on specific webpages within a site that's even more relevant.

Age of Site.

Older sites have more weight than newer sites. The age of a website is hard to fake. Plus, search engines figure that if your site has been around for so long, it's probably better than a brand new site.

Best Practices: Start today. Be patient. The hard work you put in now to optimize your website may not payoff until next year. The good news is that after next year, you'll have a leg up on new competition.

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