SEO – A Little Understanding Beats Any Given SEO Program Hands Down
We are inundated with SEO companies as well as nearly infinite DIY SEO programs. For the person wishing to do their own SEO there are very good programs out there. But relying on one or two programs without really understanding the basics of how search engines work can actually make the program help do more damage than good. In close to twenty years of SEO I have learned that there are misconceptions people have as well as tenancies for SEO programs to cater to the rules that are only advantageous to one or two major search engines. Both of these can cause unintentional errors by the person due to a lack of basic understanding and then following one program only to find when following the next program the result of one negates a lot of the other. In this article I am going to talk about the things we do by mistake, the things we should do that are commonly considered ineffective by many SEO programs, and finally explain the logic behind SEO at its core and how it can be smartly applied even when using the major SEO programs.
The Parts Of A Search Engine And How They Work Together
When you search for something on the web you only see the “front end” or user interface of the search engine. Obviously when you enter a phrase it does not search the entire Internet for the results. There are three major parts to a search engine. This is how they work:
Bots – Used to be called spiders. This is because on regular intervals they get on your website and provided you tell them in the "META" tags what to read and what not to read, and to follow any links on the site they will read every page you have down to the HTML tags that surround them. They then collect all this content.
Search Metabase (database) –raises the importance"Title""H1""H2""ALT"
Search Metabase (database) – The content collected by the bot is sent to the search metabase that search engine uses (in time it reaches most all search metabases out there). The metabase or database stores each unique word, a count of how often it appeared, and if it was inside of any html tag that raises the importance of that content compared to other words on the site. For example a "Title" tag carries the most importance, an "H1" tag carries the second most, then the "H2" tag, then believe it or not the "ALT" tag nested in the tag for an image. This is all recorded and stored in the database,but at this point it is all just data.
The Search Engine Itself –
The Search Engine Itself – The search engine itself is th actual brains of the operation. It takes your search phrase and each one applies its own closely guarded algorithm to compare your search phrase to a score it gives each website based on the data in the database. While each one scores a little differently, the data they use is basically the same. That leads to the first misconception people have with SEO.
How To Bring Order Out Of Chaos
I am not going to write this as an article about stupid SEO tricks or mistakes. I am going to explain things as they really are, and how SEO programs can affect things both positively and negatively; often to where one program or set of rules can negate another program or set of rules. This quick lesson can totally change your level of success beyond anything a program can offer.
Lessons From The Trenches
Never compromise the basics. There are some basic facts about the whole process that have not changed since before we had more than dial up Internet. These are important with or without the use of an SEO program. The biggest mistake I see is blindly following these programs. Websites are spidered and indexed into a database. Many many search engines use the same database but can give different results.
Rule One –
Rule One – Make the most out of what is in the database. META tags like "Title", "H1", "H2", "strong" (bold, believe it or not) are treated stronger than content often. Having them in the database means every search engine knows of them and it applies to their algorithm for ranking. You may have heard that search engines no longer honor the "MTEA KEYWORD" tag. Let me clear this up. Yes many do not honor the tag nor do they place any importance on it, but it is not totally ignored! First there are many search engines that honor it and over time the rank on one search engine can improve the rank on another. Anyway spiders collect content so if you keep using the keyword tag you are adding searchable content, ordered in the way you expect someone to type when searching. If nothing else this carries weight under every rule. This also applies with the title. Titles should contain the keyword phrase most general and best worded to match a majority of search phrases. Next in every case the first thing should be the title on the page as an "H1" tag. This is an advantage in spite of any rules. Databases are logical in design and that carries through to the search engine.
Rule Two -
Rule Two - Do not try to rank for your company name! Think about it. If they know your name they will find you. And I will assure you that ranking for your own name will not bring you new clients. They are searching for what you do or sell, not who you are. This is an all too commonly seen mistake.
Rule Three –
Rule Three – It is all about what they type in the search bar! Tell them you have what they want. If you sell shoes and you big profit is in you vast array of designer shoes don’t title you home page "Joe's Shoe Warehouse” it only has one of the keywords they searched for. But if you title it “Designer Shoes – Joe’s Shoe Warehouse” you are matching what they searched for specifically. Then use that phrase in the "H1" tag and work it into the content as often as you can without degrading the content. Also put these phrases in any of the image "ALT" tags. This raises the score of your site for exactly what they are looking for.
Rule Four –
Rule Four – Stay on topic. Stories about shoes in general and "h1" or "h2" tags about things like accessories dilute the value of the search phrase by adding unrelated content which dilutes the overall score for the terms you want them to find you with. Put this information on additional pages.
Rule Five –
Rule Five – Be smart with your navigation. Use the META tag "INDEX, FOLLOW" on every page with content about what you want to promote. And use the "NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW" tag on any page that does not contain content specifically about what you want to promote. This excludes the content of that page from the database reducing the amount of unrelated content. Also title every page if possible with variations of the words most likely to be used in a search. This expands the number of possible results should someone use different phrases, and most everyone asks a question a little different than others.
There are many excellent SEO programs available. But each is different and many are designed in conjunction with a given search engine so following them to the letter can improve your rank on one search engine while having either no effect or a negative effect on other search engines. I suggest using two of the better rated programs. But I want to emphasize something critical that ignoring this can result in disappointing results. The advice in “Lessons from the trenches” are rules and concepts that apply to most all searches using most every search engine. So as you configure through an SEO program refrain from doing anything that ignores or contradicts the advice given. Take a lot of the hype and comments you see with a grain of salt. The advice above has worked well, giving clients an average of 8 to 10 page one rankings for different search phrases today, even when using SEO programs too.
So take this work seriously. And to do that, you need to understand what works and why.