Do-It-Yourself SEO - A beginner’s guide

There are always do-it-yourselfers in any business, so it should be no surprise that many successful web promoters are doing their own SEO. Many web guru’s started by fumbling around the internet until they found the right formula for success. The web itself has evolved as a result of individual experimentation and the sharing their knowledge. The target for SEO continues to evolve, techniques that once worked, now are less effective. New types of promotion like social bookmarking are growing in importance. It is not necessary to be an expert in SEO to promote your own website, but you do need the basics of good SEO practices. So, if you are looking to start “doing it yourself” keep these points in mind as you develop your plan. 1.Unique Search Engine-Friendly Content One of the most important aspects is your unique web content that is laid out in a search engine friendly way. Flash and text embedded within images are not read by search engines. Make sure your images have alt image tags and that you use your most important keywords in plain text on the site. Highlight these important keywords in titles, heading and hyperlinks. Use your keywords as anchor text in links rather than using images. Never try to stuff keywords on your site by making them too small to read, or making it the same color as the background. Instead use your SEO keywords frequently in the page copy, but keep it to 3-5% on the page. Once you have your copy, check to see if it is being crawled by the search engines. On Google enter “site:://www.yourwebaddress” to verify if your page has been indexed. If your site is brand new it will take some time for it to show up in the index. There are many factors that play into being indexed including age of the site, duplicate content (copy and pasting content, or cookie cutter affiliate websites), Java script rather than HTML links, bad site layout (too many sub-directories),long dynamic URL’s with special characters (question marks or any other database characters, #, &, *, !, %) known as “spider traps,” or orphaned pages. 2. Do Your Keywords Homework Thoroughly Keyword research is the most important step in the process. If you get this wrong you could be wasting all of your time and effort promoting your site. Start your research with the broadest terms to describe your product or service. Utilize the keyword research services that are available to narrow the terms and find variations of those terms. I like to use Google AdWords, Keyword Discovery, and Wordtracker. Your goal is to find phrases that are highly searched and optimize your site like the top sites in those keywords. If the keyword is not used much, then you will not draw much traffic by using them. Remember to use the most focused keywords to optimize; because, general terms will be much harder to gain in rank, and the traffic you get will be less relevant. 3. Get In-bound Links to Your Site There are many ways to get links to your site, some traditional and others not so traditional. This may be intimidating at first, but it is very important for your SEO and PageRank. Google counts a link as a “vote” for your website when calculating PageRank. The more links you have, the more votes you have, and the higher your PageRank. Much like any popularity contest, not all votes are equal, links from higher ranking pages count for more than lower ranked sites. If you have taken the time to create unique original content, you are already miles ahead of much of the competition. If you are fortunate and create something very unique, you may get many links, however, most webmasters won’t just link to your site for no reason. You can try trading links, but the effectiveness of link exchanges is decreasing, and if you are in a highly competitive market they won’t help much. Recently, paid links have been looked down upon by Google, so save your money. Volumes could be written on linking strategies, but for the beginner, stick to these techniques to start.
  • Issue a press release and include a link to your site.
  • Comment on blogs, public forums and articles with content related to your site.
  • Put links on your other sites leading to your new site, or have a friend link to your site.
  • Submit articles relating to your niche and include a link in the resource section to your site.
  • Use the many social bookmarking and social media outlets to link to your site.
4. Ride The Social Media Wave Online communities developed for networking and socializing is at an all time high. Social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon,, Technorati and others allow members to store their favorite sites and share them with others online. These sites can also be used to create “buzz” about your own site. If you are trying to generate sales from your efforts, then you should avoid promotional hype on these sites. The social sites are so powerful because they are based on the public’s interest. If you don’t have anything unique or interesting to share, these sites will not work for you. Don’t be shy on the social sites about the site you are promoting. Network around with other users, share relevant content, be creative with your bookmark title and tell people you know in the real world about the content you have on the social sites. Quality content that you simply share with others will lead to your success on these sites. Use these points as a general guide to plan your SEO. If you are established or are just starting out in your SEO efforts the advice will help, but remember that persistence and patience are your biggest assets when it comes to website promotion. By Rob Emmerson

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