Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion

Search engine optimization (or SEO) is clearly important in this day and age. An entire industry has arisen around the quest to get to the top of the search engines, with black and white hat SEO witches battling it out to stay in the top five positions.

It sounds like a scene out of dungeons and dragons doesn't it? However it's a serious business when hundreds of thousands of visitors are lost because rankings disappear, which equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

In a previous article I discussed how to select keywords to help you to start planning a targeted campaign. When you get to the end of this article I hope you should have a fair understanding of the importance of the HTML Title tag with regard to search engines and far more importantly with regards the humans, the people, the guys and gals that you want to get to your website so that they can buy your goods and services.

Firstly, what is the title tag?

The title tag is an element in the header part of an HTML page denoted by two <title></title> tags. For instance you might have <title> Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion</title>. That would mean that the title would read (as a link on search engines like Google for instance "Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion". Setting yourself some simple guidelines to help you write your tags is a good idea.

Guidelines are good but not set in stone

There are no hard and fast rules for writing titles. Google show 66 characters in their search results listing, Yahoo allow listings up to 120 long. What I would suggest is that you bear these sensible limits in mind when writing the contents of your title tags.

If you need a long title make the first 66 characters Google friendly and use the rest up for Yahoo. In order to learn how to effectively use these 66 characters you should know how titles are used online.

Online uses of titles

1) Titles are used by website resource librarians, directory editors (such as DMOZ), and other webmasters (such as strategic link partners) when they link to your website.

2) The title is displayed in web search results by the vast majority of search engines to help you target and attract your visitors.

3) Nearly all the major search engines use a title tag in order to rank your page. Search engines deem the title one of the most important pieces of information when determining what the content of your website is.

4) The title is displayed in the visitors browser window usually at the top of the viewable part of the browser screen.

Browser screens, search results, editors, why is this important?
Firstly, by carefully crafting your website title you make it more accessible to resource librarians, editors and webmasters. If you have a nice simple title link which they can add to their pages both relevant and understandable they are far more likely to link to your website. If they link to your website using a hyperlinked title relevant to your target audience, you get targeted traffic from simply writing a good title tag. More relevant traffic means much higher conversion.

Secondly if Google or Yahoo crawl your website and find that the title tags you've written are relevant to the page on which they are written it means there is a much greater chance of a good ranking on the engines. A good ranking on the engines for your selected keywords means that you're more likely to be found by your target audience. This again means that you attract the people that you want to your website, the people who are looking to buy your product or service. The title tag becomes your search engine listing. Think of it this way, in a similar way to the classified ad you write for a newspaper, the title tag listing is your online advert, so make it as attractive and relevant as possible to attract the right visitor.

Thirdly, the browser window is affected by the title and it's convenient for the visitor to your page. How many times have you had five or six Internet browser windows open? A good title tag means that a quick scan of these titles shows the reader which page is which. The first couple of words in the title it could be argued for this reason alone are the most important text you will ever write for a web page you want to be read.

In summary

You want your web page to be read by your desired audience.
That's all. Your title tag is the first step toward achieving that goal. Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you have eight hours to chop down a tree, spend 6 hours sharpening your axe." The title tag is your web pages axe, it's the part you should refine so that you get the most from the search engines. Of course there is more to SEO and website conversion than simply the title tag. In the next article we'll discuss the next important point to sharpen, the headline, or rather the <h1> tags that should be used in conjunction with titles to be even more search and conversion friendly.
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The 11 Deadly Sins of Search Engine Optimization

Common mistakes and misconceptions about search optimization and marketing)

There is so much misinformation floating through the internet regarding search engine marketing and optimization that it’s important to shed some light on a few common errors and misconceptions. The following list highlights some of the most critical issues involved in determining the success or failure of a web site’s search engine optimization and marketing strategies.

1. Lack of "Search Friendly" Content.

Every week I review web sites with no real search engine indexable content. Web pages composed mostly of graphics, flash and other bells and whistle are commonly over-looked by the search engines. Search engines determine what content is of value per web page based on the text used on that page. A truly optimized site should contain at least 200 words of keyword-dense text. There is some debate among experts on exactly how many words should be used, but generally 200 words will suffice. As a point of reference this paragraph contains about 200 words. It is equally important for text content to contain keywords that match the page titles. For example, a site selling peanut butter owned by a company called "ACME Foods" might have a title of "Acme Foods, Inc. Wholesale Food Products". We have to consider how many people are likely to search for the term "Acme Foods, Inc. Wholesale Food Products" it is much more likely that people will search for the term "peanut butter". Knowing this, we can say with confidence that it would be a wiser choice to title a page, "Peanut Butter, ACME Foods" and the page content should reflect this same keyword strategy.

2. Insufficient Link Popularity.

Search engines make every attempt to qualify the results which are displayed in search results. One of the ways that they do this is by tracking the number and quality of the incoming links to a web site. A site with a large number of incoming links from quality sites is given a higher ranking in search results. This is an important consideration that is sometimes over-looked by those attempting to market web sites. Services that promise to link your site to thousands of other sites are far from productive; in fact they can sometimes do more harm than good. Most search engines these days consider services like this to be spam, so called "link farming" and often give sites with these types of links a low ranking or drop them all-together from the search results. Incoming links to a site that compliment it and are relevant to the site contents are golden and can greatly boost a site's ranking. Google's page ranking system is a good example. A site with a page rank of 1 if given a link from a site with a page rank of 8 can see its page rank boost to 4! Link popularity is one of the most time consuming and difficult aspects of search engine optimization. It's no wonder that many of the search engines give so much importance to this web site measurement.

3. Lack of Keyword Research And Updates

So, you have a web site. Do you know what pages in your web site are generating the most interest? Do you know what terms people are searching for that result in them finding your site? Probably not. Let’s use the peanut butter analogy again. You own a web site that sells peanut butter. You spend some money on paid search advertising, logically; you assume that the key phrase "peanut butter" is a prime candidate to target. What happens? usually one of two things, one, the term peanut butter is such a popular search term that thirty million other web sites are competing for the same key phrase. Two, the term peanut butter is so unpopular that it’s unlikely that it's searched for more than once in this lifetime. Proper keyword research can solve these problems. Let’s say for the sake of argument that keyword research is performed and that it is determined that a significant number of people are searching for "organic peanut butter". It just so happens that our peanut butter company manufactures a whole line of organic, all natural peanut butter. We have discovered a niche. The right amount of people searching for the specific product that we want to sell. It's the perfect match. So, what must be done to capitalize on our findings? First we optimize our web pages for our target keyword, we change the title, and the content so that they include the term "organic peanut butter", then we scrap all of the paid search advertising that wasn't working and focus on targeting our "organic peanut butter" market. The point is, successful search engine marketing relies on constant research and updates the internet is fluid and evolving. What works today might not work tomorrow, we have to be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in our internet marketing campaigns and must be prepared to research, update and adapt.

4. Designing First, Optimizing Later

I have seen this mistake repeated hundreds of times. Even experienced web designers fail to consider the results of design decisions on search optimization until it’s too late. What is the point of spending thousands of dollars for a well "designed" web site if nobody ever sees it? Consult a search engine specialist early in the design process. Even if your web site marketing strategy relies heavily on paid search advertising a consultation with a professional optimization expert may expose flaws in your site's layout. Points in the flow of information that tend to cause users to lose interest or become confused may become apparent, better to address these issues early on.

5. Relying Too Heavily On Paid Search Advertising

This is a mistake made by Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike. The fact is that most businesses, small and large aren't getting it right.

The rationale is that since search advertising can be purchased it isn't necessary to focus on search optimization techniques. On the surface this might make some sense, you can buy certain keyword phrases that people are searching for, so why bother optimizing your site for the search engines? For a company with a huge internet advertising budget this means spending huge amounts of money to drive traffic to their sites, when, if their site had been properly optimized from the beginning, these costs might be half as much for the same amount of viewers. For many smaller businesses trying to compete in the internet marketplace simply becomes overwhelming. While paid search advertising is a highly effective means of targeting an audience, organic search optimization greatly increases the chances of success for any web site. Make sure that the site you are advertising is one that people can find easily without the assistance of a paid search campaign.

6. Not Supporting the Conversion Process

A few weeks ago my wife decided that she wanted to buy some Australian made baby clothes that we can't find here in the states. So being the internet savvy father to be, I decided to have a look on the internet for the particular brand she was interested in. I surf to a search engine and type in the brand name. A few seconds later I'm greeted with a list of web sites that supposedly have what I'm looking for. I click on the first site in the list. I find myself at the site of a clothing importer based out of California. There are links to several categories of clothing, none of which seem to have anything to do with babies, eventually after a lot of searching I find a link on the children's clothing page for infant garments. The infant garments page has a few images of clothing but not the brand I'm looking for. I look to see if there is way to search for clothing by brand name. There isn't. I look to see if there is a list somewhere on the site of brand names carried by this distributor. There isn't. I look to see if there is a toll free number to call. There isn't. The internet optimization part of my brain is boiling by this point, so to add insult to injury I go back to the children's garments section of the site. I click on a link to purchase a bright green jacket. I’m confronted with a page that is requiring me to fill in a bunch of personal details. Ok, so I fill in the details and click submit. Now I find myself back at the bright green jacket page. Apparently now I'm qualified to purchase something. I click the "check out" button. The web page goes blank. I know that this is the result of bad programming. I know what's going to happen next. "Error 404 page not found". Has this type of thing happened to you? If you have ever tried to purchase something on the internet, I'm sure it has. This is an illustration of a web site that is well ranked in the search engines but has not taken the time to create a site that is designed for its users. I was forced to hunt through the web site to try and find what I was looking for. The flow of information was counter-intuitive. There was no online support. All-in-all the whole site was a joke. I would be surprised to learn that the site in question made any sales at all, ever. There were several points in this online experience that I felt like giving up. In the industry this is known as ”abandonment", This is a critical point in what is known as the "conversion process", the act of turning web site viewers into online purchasers. This is an issue that should never be underestimated. In fact it is the number one factor that determines a web site's success or failure. A web site with a million dollar marketing budget and millions of visitors will not succeed unless it serves to understand its user’s needs and anticipate its viewer’s questions.

7. Graphics Used For Text Links.

Web designers often use graphics to represent a link in a web site. There are many reasons for this choice. Unfortunately for web designers, the major internet browsers display web pages in different ways. Since fonts display differently on individual computers and in different browsers, it is a much simpler proposition for designers to create graphic links than it is to attempt to create cross-browser text links. The downside to this work-around is that search engines have no idea if a graphic link relates to a specific web page or a link to download the latest Britney Spears MP3. For search engines to understand what a link is truly representing, they need to find words in plain, good old fashioned text. If a web site must use graphics for navigation it is important to include a set of plain text links somewhere on the web page, usually at the bottom of the page.

8. Use of Frames.

Search engines have a hard time indexing sites that are created in frames. Framed sites use several html files to display one page. Search engines are often confused by the frames method of creating web sites, usually only indexing the first html file within the framPages that aren't indexed will never show up in search engine results. Also, many people that use the internet regularly for research and purchases, so called "power users", tend to avoid sites built with frames, especially those sites which require the user to scroll content in separate frames. Simply put, frames are bad.

9. Splash Pages.

Entry pages that instruct the user to "Enter", usually decorated with a large graphic or a flash animation. The index page of a web site is the one that search engines read first. More often than not the only readable content on this type of page is a link that says, “skip intro" Splash pages lack indexable content, usually contain no links and often contain a "redirect" to the real home page. Search engines do not like redirects, they want the real thing. Avoid splash pages unless you aren't serious about being found by search engines.

10. Submitting To 10,000 Search Engines

I sometimes have a difficult time believing that these services are still making money, more importantly that people still think that they work. The fact is that a handful of search engines account for about 90% of all the web traffic generated and the rest comes from people typing in a web site's URL indirectly into their browser's address bar. The amount of viewers generated from these Mega-Search Submittal services is so negligible that it's hardly worth consideration. Don't waste your time or your money.

11. Not Clearly Defining Action Points

Another mistake that is repeated quite is often is the failure to clearly define what the objectives of a web site are. What are the main goals of a site? Who will the primary audience be? What actions are desired of the site’s visitors? If these questions aren’t answered prior to designing a site they will reflect a poor user experience in the final result. Action points or calls to action are a terminology handed down from the traditional marketing world. They serve to define a desired action and are often supported by persuasive sales copy. Though the basic concepts are the same as traditional marketing, calls to action can take many different forms on the internet. Often they appear as links or as part of a shopping cart. The nature of a web site determines its type of action point. The most important thing to consider is that without them, viewers have little or no idea what the purpose of your site is. Imagine an infomercial running a half hour long advertisement on television, yet the commentator says nothing during the whole ad, just stands there holding a cardboard box, you are left trying to guess what’s inside, the advertisement offers no explanations or means of contacting the company involved. Pointless isn’t it? This is exactly what a web site without clearly defined points of action accomplishes; nothing. It’s an exercise in futility.
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Search Engine Optimization that Works in the Long-Term

Search engines are constantly tweaking their ranking algorithms and when that happens some pages lose their top ranking positions. One such event was the infamous Florida Update. Many pages were practically kicked-out of the top 1000 pages for competitive keywords.

With recent updates, webmasters have been thinking that Google does not use PageRank because low PR pages can get very good rankings. Before that everyone was saying that PageRank was THE factor for top positions. Now, everyone is saying that keyword rich anchor text links from many different sites is the key for the top ranks.

All these recent events seem to indicate that search engine algorithms are totally unpredictable, right? Wrong!

All search engines are going in the very same direction. The scientific literature related to information retrieval and recent search engine patents reveal the not-so-distant future of search engine ranking algorithms.

Introducing Topic Specific Link Popularity

For the last few years search engines relied on General Link Popularity to assess the importance of every page. Relevancy was based on a combination of General Link Popularity (importance) and keyword matches on page and off page (anchor text of links for specificity).

General Link Popularity is measured by summing the weight of ALL incoming links to a page. With General Link Popularity ANY link improved the importance of a page. Webmasters started to buy high-PR links from totally unrelated sites. Pages were getting unrelated votes.

To combat this problem, Google implemented a Topic Specific Link Popularity algorithm. When a user specifies a query, Google determines the importance of a page by the Link Popularity it gets from RELATED to the keywords pages.

A link from a page will give you considerable Topic Specific Link Popularity when:

1) the page itself is optimized for your keywords

2) the page has a high General Link Popularity (PageRank)

3) the page is from a site owned by someone else (you can't vote for yourself)

From a search engine's point of view, implementing a Topic Specific Link Popularity algorithm is a very tough task when the queries need to be answered in less than a second.

All you need to know is this: the top ranked pages for competitive keywords are the ones with the highest Topic Specific Link Popularity.

You need links from pages that have high PageRank, are optimized for YOUR keywords and are owned by someone else.

How do you get these links?

1. Search for your keywords on Google and look at all pages that rank for your keywords. Seek links from these pages.

2. Reciprocal Links. Swap links with sites that can give you a link on a page optimized for your keywords. Look for pages with high PageRank that have your keywords in their title and in their incoming links. Reciprocal links work provided that they come from optimized for your keywords (related) pages.

3. Buy links from some of the top ranked for your keywords pages.

4. DMOZ and Yahoo's directory usually have pages that are very well ranked for your keywords. You absolutely must get links from these pages. If you have a commercial site, don't hesitate and buy a link from Yahoo immediately. It is well worth the $299.

5. Find out who links to the top ranked pages for your keywords. Many of their links will not be topic specific, but many WILL be. Try to get links from the related ones. A page is related when it has your keywords in its title, text etc.

6. Form a link exchange ring with some of your competitors. That's a brutally effective strategy. Basically, you link to your competitors from your main optimized page (usually the home page) and they link to you from their most optimized page! Such rings can dominate the top positions and will be very difficult to outrank (it is difficult to get that amount of topic specific links). The caveat here is that the link exchange is on the main page and is not buried somewhere deep.

One more very important tip.

Increase the relevancy of the page that links to you by using your keywords in the anchor text and the description of your site! Yes, having keywords in the links pointing to your page increase your rankings not only by associating the keywords with your page but also by increasing the relevancy of the page that gives you the link! That's the reason SEOs think anchor text is the most important factor. It is NOT. You can get a monstrous ranking boost from a link that does not use your keywords in the anchor text provided that the page has high PageRank and is optimized for your keywords (an example would be a DMOZ listing).

What about getting unrelated links?

Let's say you buy a high PR unrelated link. The page that links to you does not have your keywords in the title and text. The only factor that makes the link relevant to your keywords is the anchor text to your site and your description. You'll still get some benefit but that's nothing compared to a link from an optimized for your keywords page.

Your site can't get into Google's top 1000 results?

If your site lacks Topic Specific Links, it may get filtered out from the results even if it has a good amount of PageRank (from non-related or affiliated sites). You need some threshold amount of Topic Specific Link Popularity to get into the top 1000 pages for very competitive keywords.

Two Final Points

1. Only one link per site can give you a Topic Specific ranking boost. Look for a link from the most optimized for your keywords page.

2. If you find a page that ranks well for your keywords, go for the link EVEN if that page has a lot of links on it.

To recap: the more optimized a page is for your keywords (measured by PageRank and keywords found on-page and off-page) the more Topic Specific Link Popularity Boost you will get from a link.

Topic Specific Link Popularity is and will be the key for top rankings. Anchor text plays a major role but it is not THE factor. PageRank is still very important especially the PageRank of the pages that link to you.
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Valid HTML code is crucial to search engine optimization

Why valid HTML code is crucial to your web site's search engine optimization efforts and subsequent high rankings:

Many webmasters and newcomers to web page design overlook a crucial aspect of web site promotion: the validity of the HTML code.

What is valid HTML code?

Most web pages are written in HTML.

As for every language, HTML has its own grammar, vocabulary and syntax, and each document written in HTML is supposed to follow these rules.

Like any language, HTML constantly changes. As
HTML has become a relative complex language, it's very easy to make mistakes ... and we do know by now the favorable weight the new msn.com beta search engine places on proper coding practise ... see a recent article on msn.com coding requirements

HTML code that is not following the official rules is called invalid HTML code. Why is valid HTML code important to search engine optimization and your whole marketing effort?

Search engines have to parse the HTML code ofyour web site to find the relevant content. If your HTML code contains errors, search engines might not be able to find the content on the page, and there ends your seo efforts and quest for high rankings of that page.

Search engine crawler programs obey HTML standards. They only can index your web site if it is compliant to the HTML standard. If there's a mistake in your web page code, they might stop crawling your web site and they might lose what they've collected so far because of the error.

Although most major search engines can deal with minor errors in HTML code, a single missing bracket in your HTML code can be the reason your web page cannot be found in search engines.

If you don't close some tags properly, or if some important tags are missing, search engines might ignore the complete content of that page.

How can you check the validity of your HTML code? Fortunately, there are free services that allow you to check the validity of your HTML code.

The search engine optimization community's HTML validator is the W3C HTML Validator .

It is the service that checks HTML documents for conformance to W3C HTML and XHTML recommendations and other HTML standards.

Just enter the address of a web page at the free W3C HTML Validator and the Validator will tell you what errors are on that page.

Although not all HTML errors will cause problems for your search engine rankings, some of them can keep web spiders from indexing your web pages and spoil your search engine optimization efforts.

Valid HTML code makes it easier for search engine spiders to index your site so you should make sure that at least the biggest mistakes in your HTML code are corrected.

.. run your web pages through the W3C validator, make the recommended alterations and the new MSN.com beta search will love you .. the MSN search engine places a high value on proper coding practise.
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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Search Engine Optimisation Basic Tips before going into the pro level

SEO Basics Before Moving Into The Pro Level

Before we start going to the specific principles,i wanna talk about a few of the search engine basic which you should definetly know.Essentially our goal here is to have our website rank top on the search engines,so i wanna talk a bit about how the search engines work.

:The Search Engines constantly spider the internet gathering data about the websites.
:They will rank the websites according to a variety of websites.
:They also Reward and penalize based on the result what they find.

Important factors to keep in mind,when the search engines are gonna look at your website,they gonna rank you based on a few different things.

:Number and quality of Backlinks

Backlinks basically means the number of websites that the your websites link on their website,This is Huge,this is the most important factors amoungst everything.The number of Backlinks that you have.This factor can take your website ranking upto the roof.

:Freshness of content

As i always say "CONTENT IS KING".You should be sure that the content you are offering is not only unique but also which is gonna be up to date.Because recently peoples have been penalize by the search engines,because they build a website,but for a month later,neither they have change anything nor added anything.So either these type of websites loses their page rank or they are removed from the search engines itself.

:Uniqueness of Content

Like i mentioned above,that you should be sure that the stuff you are providing cannot be found anywhere else.

:"Authority" status

There are some sites out there,that are reviewed as authorities in search engine eyes and of course they are very-very powerfull,an example for this would be a site like "ebay".


Age is another big factor,you could have a best site in the world,but if it is only a month old,thats gonna hurt you a bit.Page ranking in the search engines also depend on how old is your website,the more old,the more better ranking.
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How To Maximize Traffic Using Keywords!

Today, we're going to discuss how using specific keywords throughout your website or blog copy can maximize the amount of traffic that flows your way.
How Keywords Maximize Traffic

By now, you should realize the importance of having a high rank in the search engine results. Let's face it, not many people venture into the uncharted territory of pages 100-125 on the search results. Search engines rank the search results based on keyword prevalence. This means that the more times the specific keyword shows up on a website, the higher the site will rank.

When people use search engines, they are typically looking for a certain topic or item. They type in the word or phrase most commonly related to their search.

For instance, if someone is looking for inexpensive computer equipment, he or she may type "cheap computer parts," or "discount computers" in the search box. The websites that feature that keyword in its copy will end up at, or near the top of the results.
Researching Keywords For Maximizing Website Traffic

Before you write your next article to post on your affiliate website, take the time to research which keywords you want to emphasize. Visit competitor websites and scrutinize their copy to see which keywords or phrases they use.
Choosing The Right Keywords

There is a right way to choose a keyword and a wrong way to choose a keyword. It's a sad fact that the majority of Americans only have a fourth-grade reading level. However, this fact is incredibly important to keep in mind when you're deciding on a keyword.

Avoid using industry-specific terms (buzzwords) and stick to easy-to-understand terms. For instance, if you are selling photographer equipment, instead of using the keyword "asymmetrical power pack," try using "flash power pack" instead. Choosing the wrong keyword can spell disaster for your marketing campaign, so choose wisely.
Using The Keywords

Research shows that on average, for a 200-250 word article, your primary keyword should be used approximately between six and twelve times. It should also be included in the title, as well as any subheads you will be using. If you have a secondary keyword that you would like to add, then it should show up between two and four times in the copy.

The use of keywords is what forms the basis of search engine optimization. Write effective and relevant copy, use keywords to attain a higher search engine result, give the customer what he or she is looking for and you will be well on your way to becoming a highly visited and profitable affiliate marketer.
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SEO – Is It All You Need?

Search Engine Optimisation, in it's simplest sense, is the process whereby a website has its pages fine-tuned to appeal to the search engines for a certain set of keywords or search terms, and builds up a good online reputation by gaining links to the site from other reputable and related websites.

Optimising the pages of the website is often referred to as on-site SEO and involves creating Titles, Descriptions, Headings, Bold Text, Alternative Text for Images and, of course, the main textual content to include primary and secondary keywords. The keywords must constitute a proportion (or density) that the search engines consider appropriate but not so much that the site will be penalised for over-use of the keywords (sometimes referred to as keyword-stuffing). The keyword density in the various elements of a webpage is not a pre-defined percentage because rankings are always determined in relation to the competition. But a good SEO consultant will be able to advise on the appropriate keyword density for a particular set of targeted keywords.

The ultimate goal of off-site SEO is to build a good online reputation by creating links to the website. Many people still believe this is just about creating as many links as possible. But the search engines have become more sophisticated and SEO has followed suit. Link building is now focussed on relevance, the page rank of the site from which the link has come, the type of link and the text associated with the link (anchor text).  So, yes, you need a substantial number of links but the quality of each link is more important than overall quantity.

But if your SEO campaign is a success and your small business achieves a page 1 ranking, does that guarantee the success of your company? Unfortunately there is much more to online business success that just SEO. To achieve online success, there are a number of other factors that have to be treated just as seriously as SEO.

Social Media

Create a business Facebook page, get active in Twitter, create a blog (and actually post to it regularly), invite people to bookmark you site from social bookmarking sites like Delicious. Ask people to bookmark your blog from Reddit and StumbleUpon. If you can't manage your online social life and also the business then employ a ghost-blogger or social media marketer.

Website Design

Ask someone independent of the business to review your website for it's look-and-feel, usability and functionality. Does the home page and the other main landing pages have a "call-to-action" above the fold (i.e the user doesn't have to scroll down to see it). A call-to-action can be something as simple as a button inviting the user to "View Special Offers Here".

Traffic Analysis

Traffic Analysis is vital for all websites but particularly so if a site is getting plenty of visitors but has a low conversion rate. Conversion rates can vary quite dramatically by market sector but you should have an idea of a typical percentage for your type of business. Analyse your traffic data to see which keywords are bringing visitors to your site. There may be a high percentage from long-tail keywords you were unaware of that indicate a visitor who may only, for example, be looking for information or advice. These visitors may push up the visitor numbers but they are not the right type of visitors for converting into paying customers and can suggest misleading figures for both vistor numbers and conversion rate.

Email Marketing

Don't neglect this highly effective method of reaching potential new customers and retaining existing customers. Produce a regular newsletter or mailshot every week or every month, with useful information, special offers, news etc. But don't make the mistake of trying to sell something to the customer with each email – their purpose is to ensure that when the customer is ready to buy they will visit your website.

Quality Data Capture

Of course an email marketing campaign is only as good as the list of potential or existing customers to which it is sent. Capturing the details of existing customers is easy as they are usually required to provide their details to make a purchase. But the best way to obtain visitor details from people who are not yet ready to become customers is to offer something of value for free. Typically this would be something that could be downloaded in the form of an e-guide or e-book. For example, a holiday company might offer free tourist guides. Remember to make it clear that by signing up for the free item they will be added to your email list and ensure that every mailing gives them the opportunity to unsubscribe from your list.
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SEO Basics: Keywords

Keyword Planning

Your most important weapon in the battle to have a successful affiliate website is keyword planning. This means figuring out which keywords people plug into search engines. These people will be interested in your advertisers' products and services. The more and better placed your relevant keywords, the more search engine hits you are likely to get.

Generating Keywords

You can generate keywords in a number of ways. Free analytic programs on the web can collect metrics for your site and tell you which keywords most commonly bring traffic. When you discover which keywords generate the most hits, you can saturate future content. There are also free programs that take the most popular keywords and generate keyword phrases designed to bring even more traffic.

Keyword Research

Another method you can use for generating effective keywords is research. Type in a few relevant keywords and see which sites come up. Head over to those sites and look for other commonly repeated words. These may be good keywords to use for your own site, if you haven't already. Try them out and if you don't see an improvement in traffic, you can always replace them with more effective ones later.

The Value of Keyword Planning

Good keyword planning does not guarantee a successful affiliate website, but you will be hard pressed to have a successful site without it. Keyword optimization is the foundation of SEO. Once you have gained some expertise with keyword planning, you will be ready to take additional steps in maximizing the success of your affiliate site.
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