This entry is part 19 of 21 in the series Marketing Your Business On The Internet

Search Engine Optimization

A lot of the things we’ve discussed in this book come under a subject known as search engine optimization, or SEO. This is the process of optimizing your site to improve your rankings in the search engines. Some of this involves things you can do on your site, such as using the “keywords” that your potential customers are using to find your site within the content of your pages.

There are tools that will help you determine exactly what those keywords are, such as the Google Keyword Tool. This tool is designed for Google Adwords advertisers, to help them figure out what keywords to bid on for their ads. But it works just as well for figuring out exactly what people are searching for. Because the things that people actually search for might not be what you would expect.

Let’s look at a quick example. This screenshot shows a search for “bellingham plumbers” (Bellingham is a city in Washington with a population of about 80,000 and 200,000 in the metro area).

This is just a few of the keywords that the tool returns, but you can see what people are searching for and roughly how many times each keyword gets searched every month.

You can see the keyword phrase “bellingham plumber” (the one we searched for here) gets 590 local monthly searches. That’s 590 potential customers who are searching for that term every month, on average.

“Plumbers in seattle” isn’t directly related, since Seattle is about a two hour drive from Bellingham. But because it’s relatively close, Google still shows it in the results.

You can see several other variations on the main keyword we searched for:

– Bellingham plumbers
– Plumber bellingham
– Plumbers bellingham
– Plumbers in bellingham wa

If you owned a plumbing business in Bellingham, you would want to work these variations into the content on your website to help improve your SEO and get ranked higher in the results when people are searching for those terms.

The other part of Search Engine Optimization involves things you post on other sites, like press releases, videos, images and various other types of content. The links that point back to your website from these places will help your site’s ranking improve.

And the more sites that have links pointing back to your site, the better. Part of the calculation that Google and other search engines use to rank your website is the number of links, and the “power” of the websites they’re on.

For example, if you had a link pointing to your website from a site like CNN.com it would be considerably more valuable to your ranking than a link from BobsWebsite.com.

There are various ways you can generate these links to your website. We’ve already discussed some of them, when we looked at media distribution. Articles, videos and various other types of media can include links to your website, so as you distribute them to more and more places you will generate more and more links back to your site.

You can also buy links on other websites. This is essentially a form of advertising, but instead of paying for another site to display your banner or paying for clicks on Google or Facebook, you’re paying another site to link back to yours with the goal being better rankings.

Getting involved with some of sites we’ve already discussed elsewhere in this report can also help generate more links to your site. If you’re active on Facebook and Twitter, you can use those sites to link to your website. Review sites like Yelp.com will also have links back to your website.

You can even set up multiple websites of your own, each with a very narrow focus. All of them can link back to your main site, helping to push its rankings up. For example, you might set up “minisites” for different product lines that you sell, or different services that you offer – each with a very specific focus. And these sites won’t just be useful for linking back to your main website, they can also generate even more visitors and new customers as people find them in the search engines and various other places.

As you can see, many of these strategies work in tandem with one another. Media distribution doesn’t just get your name out there, it helps with SEO. Being active on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t just give your customers another way to contact you, it also helps your website rank better.

The more you market your business online, the more everything will compound to give you better and better results.

But keep in mind that SEO is not a one-time thing. You can ease back on the amount of content that you are distributing to various places once you’ve made an initial push to get your site ranked, but to maintain those rankings you’ll need to do a certain amount of this on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, if your competitors are also improving their SEO, they could knock your site down and replace it in the rankings.

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Joe Ditzel is a copywriter, marketing consultant and award-winning public speaker. He is the founder of Vast Media Empire, a network of technology, business, information and entertainment websites. Contact Joe at joe@ditzelandco.com or connect on: LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Google+

Search Engine Marketing: SEO
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