Learn Search Engine Optimization

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The first place to start any SEO program is with a clear goal of what you hope to achieve. One thing I spend a good deal of time doing with my clients is explaining what is truly possible with a search engine optimization campaign. Your results are directly correlated to the time, effort, and research you are willing to dedicate to improving organic rankings.

If you’re expecting to change some meta tags, sprinkle a few keywords on your home page, and receive #1 rankings, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Search engine optimization is a way of thinking and doing that affects all aspects of your business. You not only have to know what to do, but to apply the techniques on a regular basis.

So Where Do You Start?
As mentioned above, you need to start with a clear understanding of what you want. Do you want 1st page rankings? Are you looking to have specific keywords rank in the 1, 2, or 3 positions? How quickly do you want to achieve these rankings? What’s realistic and what would be a stretch goal?

Achieving top rankings is possible for any keyword or keyword phrase is you have the time, resources, and focus needed for search engine dominance. However, if you’re like me, resources are not unlimited. As a result, you need to prioritize your SEO. What are the most important keywords to optimize for?

Choosing The Right Keywords

There are a vast number of ways that you can choose the best keywords to optimize your website for. My favorite method is by using a combination of SEO and PPC. In pay-per-click marketing it’s all about paying for keywords that convert. Once you launch a broad campaign, and track your results, you’ll know which keywords generate the highest conversion rates. Why not optimize for these and improve your results (while spending less).

By optimizing for keywords that already convert, you know that website traffic, resulting from top placement, will yield sales, opt-ins, or whatever type of action visitors should take when reaching your site.

Another method for choosing keywords is using detailed keyword research. Anyone conducting keyword research needs to start with a broad understanding of their niche and begin researching what types of phrases individuals are searching on. Start by brainstorming your own list and then use tools like the Google Keyword Tool to expand your list.

Find keywords phrases that have at least 3,000 searches per month and have little competition. After narrowing your list down to the best 5 -7 terms, the next step is to look at the sites already ranking in the top positions for these keywords.

Visit each of the sites and analyze their on page optimization success. Are their meta tags formatted properly? Are they using H1 and H2 headers on the page? Do they use the keyword phrase throughout the page? Are keywords in navigational links?

Consider all on page factors that may impact their search engine results. Then, take a look at off page factors. Are the top web sites listed in key directories? What is the concentration and value of incoming links? You need to ask yourself if these sites are better optimized than yours. If they are, pushing them out of the top spot may prove a real challenge. On the other hand, if you can optimize your site better and achieve more inbound links, your chances of success are high.


The most important part of any search engine optimization effort is the initial planning and research. If you do this step correctly, success is a must. Focus on keyword research before you begin your SEO campaign. You are looking for highly trafficked keywords that have little competition. Once you decide on a keyword phrase, you must research the web sites that are currently ranked in the top positions. Based on ranking factors, determine your ability to push them out of the top positions with your fully optimized web site.