When anyone is looking for something online, where is the first place that you think they’d head? That’s right – search engines.
For a long time now, search engines have been at the very heart of the internet experience, by being the navigation method of choice.
All that has changed is the popularity of various search engines over the years, with Google currently dominating the pack by a king-sized margin.
With this in mind, it is reasonable to want to be getting your slice of the pie as far as search engine traffic is concerned, and how that can be done is simply by ensuring your pages start to show up within the first page (or at least, first few pages) of search engine results for terms of your choice.
These ‘terms’ are known as keywords, and they’re what form the brunt of how you can get targeted search engine traffic.
Basic Keyword Research
In order to find out what keywords to aim for, there is some research that needs to be done. Fortunately, it isn’t too complicated a process, but there are just a few concepts behind selecting ‘good’ keywords that should be discussed.
- Search Volume
Basically, it is the amount of searches of the keyword you’re looking at, and is either measured as ‘searches per month’ or ‘searches per day’. It should go without saying that more searches is definitely better.
- Competing Websites
For each keyword, there are bound to be at least some competing websites also targeting the same term (although, maybe not by purpose). Just searching for the keyword you’re looking at in Google will give you an idea of how many competing websites there are. If there aren’t many, then that’s great for the keyword.
So essentially, what you’re looking for is a high number of searches for a keyword with very little competition. One of the easiest keyword tools to get started with is Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
On top of that, to further narrow down keywords, there are the questions of how targeted it is, and also, how profitable. A targeted keyword is really just one that relates to the niche that you’re in fairly well, but profitability of a keyword is a completely different kettle of fish.
One of the most common ways that marketers measure profitability is to see if, when the keyword is searched for on Google, any advertisements appear. If they do, then chances are that it is a fairly profitable keyword.
The other way to do so is simply trial and error.
Based on these considerations, it should not be too difficult to come up with a reasonably sized list of ‘good’ keywords that can be used to target search engine traffic.
Creating Keyword Rich and SEO-d Content
Once you have a list of keywords, all that remains is to insert them into your content creation. Now, this does not mean you should ‘stuff’ them in as much as possible, because at the end of the day the traffic that you’re getting will be in the form of actual people, who probably won’t respond too well to illegible ‘stuffed’ keyword content.
Widely accepted by both search engines and people is the common 1% to 3% keyword density rule. All that means is that you should, for each keyword, have between 1 to 3 appearances per 100 words. If it is a particularly ‘long’ keyword, then limiting it to 1 or 2 is more than enough really.
Fairly effective as far as formulas go is the idea of having the presence of 1 ‘short’ keyword and 2 ‘long’ keywords per article or piece of content.
As soon as search engines latch on to these keywords, you’ll at very least have your website appearing in the right ‘target’ bracket. So, all that would remain is to actually start scaling the pages until you appear as close to the top of the search results as possible.
For SEO purposes, while meta-tags are largely unused nowadays, it still is a good idea to have them in there, just in case. Title tags and description tags in particular are important, with keyword tags of lesser value, but still occasionally relevant.
Realistically, it never hurts to cover as many bases as possible as far as SEO is concerned.
Importance of Backlinks
How you end up near the top of any search results actually ties in closely with the algorithm that search engines use to ‘rank’ websites. Different search engines would do this differently of course, but it is only logical to focus first on the largest and most widely-used search engine of them all: Google.
Far as Google goes, there is one thing that has been proven to affect search engine rankings, and that is actual links by other third-party websites to your own, which are called ‘backlinks’.
For all purposes and effects, these ‘backlinks’ are counted as ‘votes’ regarding the quality of your website, and is based on the logic that the more websites that are actually linking too you, the better your website must be.
Due to this, one of the ways to start scaling search engine results is to start building up a reliable base of backlinks. Admittedly, the ‘quality’ of those backlinks does count too, and link-exchanges do not tend to work anywhere near as well as a backlink from a high authority (and high Page Ranked) website.
Note: Page Rank is basically a quantity, between 0 and 10, which Google assigns to websites based on how ‘good’ its algorithm thinks they are.
Later on, we’ll talk about social bookmarking, but at this juncture it should be enough to note that social bookmarking is one way to get backlinks. Similarly directories are too, as are forums and blog commenting.
We’ll be discussing the latter two a bit later on too. But for now, that should suffice.
Warning: Do not build backlinks ‘too fast’ or Google could latch onto your website and penalize you. Backlink building is fine, but ‘spam’ is not, and if you’re getting 1000 new backlinks in a short span of time, it could end up being flagged.