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Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization

SEO for the Homestead designed website

Google – Too much Caffeine?

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Surprise Google did it again! The newest algorithm change Caffeine is here – more or less.

For many this change may be as bad as the infamous Florida update from several years ago. The usual tactic is to put these major changes out in parts and pieces and then do tweaking. This causes flux and chaos for many webmasters and could be what has caused the problems many of us have seen over the past month or two. One day you find yourself on the top of the SERPS and the next day you are no where to be found. If you are one of the lucky people your site may reappear and if not you might start looking for potential problems. Avoid making dramatic changes for awhile as things are not stable and the big G continues to tinker with things.

For more information visit:  http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/08/help-test-some-next-generation.html Spend some time reading the feedback as it might provide insight to what others feel and see.

If your website does not have major problems and has good content that does not remain static, no problems with indexing and has been well optimized you probably have most of the potential issues taken care of.  Some things to look at if you aren’t sure:

  • Most of us do not spend enough time getting inbound links that are and will continue be very important especially to Google.  If you haven’t been adding them start now and keep it up. Do your research and add a couple of new inbound links every month because Google expects links to grow continuously if a site is good.
  • Use anchor text that fits your site (the words that make up the actual link) in your link submissions. Vary the text you submit so that it isn’t identical in every link. This is one of indicators to the Search Engines that the links could be spammy. If you take the time to do link building then do it right and get credit for your effort.
  • Check your site against that of the competition to see where you might improve your Meta tags (title, description, keywords) as well as the page copy itself.

10 Factors that can determine how a site will place in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP):

  1. How well the Meta title, description, and keywords have been optimized.
  2. Be sure you have unique and relevant page copy to adequately define what your site is about to the Search Engines as well as visitors.
  3. Placement of the key words and key points within the content.
  4. The keyword density of the page.
  5. Age of the site.
  6. How much competition there is for the chosen keywords.
  7. The number and quality of inbound links.
  8. Relevancy of content throughout the site.
  9. Internal Links – Links from one page within the site to another page. Or one section of a page to another section on the page.
  10. Updating the site can influence how often the SEs visit.

For more in-depth information on how to optimize your site for the Search Engines we recommend  SEO Building Blocks.

Search Engine and Directory Submittals

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 What is good and what is a waste of time, money and energy when it comes to submitting or resubmitting to the Search Engines and Directories? 

1. Directories are a one time submittal. Do NOT resubmit unless the Directory states you did not follow their instructions and they tossed your submission out. In that case, reread their submission information and then resubmit.

2. Search engine re-submittals are NOT necessary and in some cases can be counter productive. After the initial indexing and listing there is absolutely no reason to resubmit your site to any search engine.

You may read about it being necessary to resubmit to search engines and directories on a monthly basis to rise to the top of the searches or keep the site in the index. This is hogwash. If your website is search engine friendly and has links to it for initial indexing it will stay in the system and be available for searches. As far as gaining ranking by monthly submittals this again is not true. Having a well placed website depends on the site being completely indexed, well optimized with good and ample on page copy and LINKS from quality themed websites.

On occasion it may be necessary to initially submit to MSN’s search spider as this engine has a history of not finding sites in a timely manner. Bing’s submittal is simple just add your url and they will do the rest.( http://www.bing.com/docs/submit.aspx )

 Under normal circumstances most major search engines will find a website without help and seem to prefer to find new sites through  the inbound link process. To ensure all your pages are indexed:

  • Avoid splash/flash entry pages – your main page (Index) needs to offer the search engines links to pages in the site via a navigation.
  • Provide simple text links for the spiders to follow from the index page
  •  Use a site map constructed with simple text links to every page and/or an xml site map that is provided just for the search bots. Information on xml site maps and how to construct simple text links and text based navigation may be found in the Homestead Connection tutorials. ( http://www.homesteadconnection.com/Tutorials.html )

Google making search more interesting

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In March, Google introduced something new into their search algorithm. Their statement in part says, “we are deploying a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search.” Simply put, semantic search is now a part of Google’s search results. By definition, semantic is the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text. Google’s changes will give results that target more queries and provide searchers expanded relevant results.

On page copy (content) is and has always been important for the Homestead webmaster but now it is even more so. The new changes allow a better use of related terms in your  information as the algorithm can understand the association of terms.  This makes search engine optimization (SEO) even more important for webmasters to gain good placement in searches.

The best part of Google’s improvements is how it effects longer queries…Google will be expanding the number of lines in the snippets to provide more information. The results will show the queried words in the context of the page. A search for ‘how to build a Homestead website’ is an example:

Search Results

The words in bold are what Google pulled from the site to match the search. In this example it is a snippet from one of our previous blog posts.

For webmasters who have actually developed good on-page copy this should be a real benefit by presenting your information to more searchers. It will not only provide results for the specific keywords but words that closely relate to those search words. These snippets may come from anywhere on the page.

This change should encourage better writing because the search terms utilized can and will include options beyond specific keywords. Phrases that semantically ‘fit’ may also be included in the results.  This should be a win win situation for both the web searcher and the thoughtful webmaster.

Homestead users should keep in mind that website design and information placement is important in regards to page copy.  As more information is added to a page it is possible for a website to initially overwhelm the reader/searcher with too much information to sort through.

It is wise to keep the top portion (above the fold) simple with emphasis on the main purpose of the site. Additional information can be placed lower on the page. The use of bold type for important information helps the reader to quickly scan to find the meat of the site.  Utilizing lists also helps the viewer to see at a glance what the focus of the site is. Both of these also help with the Search Engines.  By constructing pages in this way the reader can quickly determine important information in the first few paragraphs.  If what they see piques their interest they will continue reading/looking.

As search engines continue to refine their algorithms, on page copy becomes even more important. Webmasters will need to hone their writing skills and think beyond placing emphasis on just a few key words or phrases in order to fully benefit from searches.

Visit Google’s blog for the complete scoop on the New Improvements to Search Results 

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Be sure to visit us at the Homestead Connection Forum  for more help and information on making your Homestead site user and search engine friendly.

Homestead user who needs some help? The Homestead Connection  site offers users of the Intuit (Homestead websites) software, tutorials and examples of how to use the SiteBuilder program.

Building Traffic to your Homestead Website

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What are you doing to gain additional visitors to your website?

You may have read somewhere that making posts on forums and blogs will quickly bring you a lot new visitors. Reference has also been made about Craigs list and You Tube as sources for site visitors. 

This type of advice is usually given by people who do not understand the basics of website traffic and marketing and have yet to realize that a gazillion hits does not a successful site make.

The Scoop on Website Visitors
There are several types of visitors to a website, some count and some don’t.
Which type of site user is important to your business or website? Obviously the one who converts, purchases, signs up. But let’s examine these visitors a bit more.

• Focused visitors –  These are people who are actually looking for a product, service or information that your website provides. They will usually find your site from doing a search, finding your listing in a directory or on a links page from a similar website. These are the visitors who are most apt to convert and buy your products or services.

• Casual/Comparison shoppers – This type of visitor is looking for information on something that they are interested in purchasing. They’re looking for information and best price. They may visit  a site several times before committing…if they find a site that provides the information they need, is well done and gives them a feeling of security they can turn into customers.

• Impulse buyers –  These are people who purchase something without having planned to do so. 

• Curious people –  Those who are surfing or reading forums or blogs fall in this category.  They may see a signature line and click it to see what the poster has for a website.  Most, if not all, of the clicks you get from this type of person are useless. People motivated by curiosity produce abysmally low conversion rates for purchasing products or services.  So the work involved in posting to forums or blogs may produce visitors, but not ones who are likely to buy. Worth your time? Probably not.

Craig’s list – If you haven’t used Craig’s list it is free online advertising platform. You register and then choose a city to advertise your product or service in. If done right this option can provide some people focused on what you are promoting.  Casual shoppers may also use Craig’s list to see if there are bargains available in their area.  However, the vast majority will again be just curious about your ad. What you will probably see is lots of hits with some potential benefit if you learn to write good ads and have a good buy on unique products. Flooding a website with Looky-Loos doesn’t mean you will make money.

Blog and forum posting – These are most apt to bring you the Curious segment of shoppers, so again you need to weigh benefit over time involved in keeping up a blog or traveling to various forums to post just for the links.  It certainly is not going to bring in many focused visitors or even casual shoppers…these people don’t go read a blog or a forum to find the product or service they are interested in.
 
Newsletters can help promote your website and its products. Provide something of real importance to get sign ups. This is your target market, give away tips, and helpful information that will develop a trust relationship. You then add your product promotion for those who are interested. One word of caution, don’t scam the potential user…give them quality information and make sure it is complete, current and accurate.

YouTube
This website provides a free place to upload videos to entertain, educate and promote.  Unfortunately it is also a source of a lot of information that has been cobbled together into quickie, unprofessional videos promoting everything from SEO to dancing. If you decide to use this method to market your site then make your videos professional. Lack of professionalism is not a problem if  the video is of talking birds or dancing puppies, but it takes time and serious effort to produce a video that is worthwhile.  Will this avenue gain you site visitors and will they convert?  Most people will be looking from curiosity but you may pick up the occasional buyer.

If you are serious about your business then you don’t want hits you want FOCUSED visitors, those who are looking for your products. Hits mean nothing except allowing you to say “I got a gazillion hits on my website”. Hits do not mean money or build a site reputation and success does not come easy or fast.

Visit the Homestead Connection forum to learn more about SEO and building professional looking and useable websites. We provide real tools and tutorials for building your Homestead website.  Free site evaluations, tips and guidance.

Homestead Users – Where do you get your search engine optimization information?

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Are you wading through pages and pages of internet information that may or may not fit your needs to find useable information on SEO? Is this information current or several years old? Perhaps you have a friend who has a website and is giving you information. Are you visiting forums in the hope of gleaning any useful information or answers to your questions? Are you purchasing or thinking about purchasing videos to help teach you about optimizing your website?

Some thoughts and recommendations that can prevent you from wasting your time and/or money on products and information sources that are incomplete, poorly done, provide incorrect information and don’t give the Homestead user information that applies to a Homestead designed website.

Blogs, Websites and Videos: 

Self promotion is what internet marketing is about. You may find blogs, videos and perhaps websites selling some information to make optimizing your Homestead website quick and easy.

 Search engine optimization is not easy, it is not quick and there are no guarantees.

Anyone can build a blog or website and present themselves as an expert. This is usually done to self promote and assist in selling items or products.

To gather good, sound information join the Homestead Connection Forum. It is free and limited to just Homestead users. We provide helpful hints, guidance and sources of other information. The admin staff and its major contributors have well over 20 years experience with SEO and proper website design. 

Visit this blog often or subscribe to the feed as new information will show up here first, it will be as complete as possible and it will apply to your Homestead website as well as any drop and drag site builder program.

Use the Homestead Connection website that provides tutorials to give you a good foundation on fine tuning your website and installing extra scripts to help customize pages. 

If you are thinking about purchasing information first find out about the seller, how long have they been around? A couple of years ‘experience’ is not long enough to be promoting oneself as an expert. If you see lists of keywords demonstrating their skill in optimizing a website – remember this…if there is no competition you can place anything on the first page! Do not be impressed with lists of highly placed keywords.

Is there a no questions asked money back guarantee on products? If not, don’t spend your money.

Are they selling information that has long been available free to Homestead users either on the Homestead Connection Forum or the HC site?

We have written two books dealing with website design and SEO. SEO Building Blocks is a guide to search engine optimization for the Homestead designed site. Homestead Website Design was written for anyone wanting to start their own web design business or to help a new site owner learn to use the SiteBuilder program properly and understand good usability for both site visitors and search engines.

We provide free updates, and a no questions asked money back guarantee.

 Homestead trusts us enough that they provide links to and promote both the Homestead Connection Forum and our Homestead Website Design book.

 Our goal is to provide you the foundation to understand how SEO works. This will enable you to weather the changes that the search engines undergo from time to time.

 Even if you only use the Homestead Connection Forum, or the Homestead Connection website and/or this blog, you will gain information that is complete enough to do things right. That may not be the case on other websites and blogs….if you want to learn, come to the teachers not the students.

Page Rank – What it takes

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Google’s explanation (definition) of their Page Rank system:

  • PageRank Technology: PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page’s importance.
  • The PR of a page is important, but it is only one of many factors that determines how a page ranks in searches.

    • The period of time that a domain has been indexed can be a big factor in rankings. New domains need time for Search Engines to classify them as viable.  Six months to a year is the accepted time frame for this to take place.
    • Add links on a regular basis. Incoming links at this time remain important with both Google and MSN in determining page rank. Develop a link building program using directory submittals and quality reciprocal links. Reciprocals are not as heavily rated as good one way links but they do count as long as they are relevant to your site’s content and come from quality sites that are also relevant in subject matter.
    • If you choose to do reciprocal linking, vary your anchor text routinely. Search engines can determine patterns in links that have anchor text using identical terms. These may be judged as coming from possible link farms.
    • Do not totally exclude outbound links from your site. Major search engines expect to see some outbound linking to quality sites. If they do not find these expected links after indexing several times they can view the site itself as not particularly important and your rankings can be negatively affected. Do some out linking to provide valuable resources for visitors.
    • Alt Text on images. Some major search engines utilize alt text as a rating factor. Use key words/phrases that are appropriate for the image and page content.
    • All pages need content. Do not depend on images to sell your site/product/service to either people or search engines. This approach can result in fewer site visitors than if real information were provided up front. Search Engines also require information to create custom search engine results. 
    • Add new content – Search engines expect quality sites to be updated.
      Websites should be updated at least every six months but your important pages can really benefit by updating every month if possible. This provides returning visitors something new and SEs will tend to visit your site more often if they find frequent updates.

    These are some circumstances that can affect page rank and every item except domain age can be controlled by the webmaster.

    To have a website achieve page rank and do well in searches requires work, research and keeping up to date on changes in search engine requirements.

    The Long Tail Search – Understanding niche marketing.

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    Internet marketing provides small home-based businesses an avenue for advertising that is both inexpensive and extremely frustrating.

    It seems so simple to build a web site, publish it to the Internet then be viewed by millions of surfers.  In reality it simply doesn’t work this way.  Unless you have an extremely unique item or service, you are competing with hundreds if not thousands of other websites for possible clients.

    The solution to this situation is very simple, make your product unique.
    An example is dog treats. If you do a general search on Google for dog treats you come up with a whopping 2,010,000 results. If you have optimized your site for just dog treats you’re going to be lost somewhere in the 2 million plus sites.

    However, if you make homemade dog treats and you optimize your site or page for homemade dog treats, the competition is whittled down to about 159,000 sites.  This number may seem large but with good optimization you can achieve a high enough placement to achieve sales.

    Let’s take this one step further. If you have done your homework and researched the number of searches that have been done for these terms, you have probably found a considerable number of searches being done for natural pet or dog treats.

    The key phrase natural dog treats has over 295,000 search results shown in Google.  This same phrase appears to only generate approximately 120 searches per month.

    By utilizing the idea of long tail optimization you focus your page for all natural dog treats. This phrase shows almost 2200 searches per month.

    Let’s play with this one a little more, all natural gourmet dog treats have in the neighborhood of 1500 searches being done every month.  Both of these sets of key words can be optimized on the same page.  Usually when people make this specific a search they’re an excellent candidate for sales.

    These are just simple examples of taking a common product and refining its description to fit actual searches.  By choosing to refine the key words into a unique and more focused subject you are placing your website or web page in front of fewer searchers but probably in front of more buyers.

    This is what the long tail search can accomplish.  Most inexperienced marketers are looking for large numbers of visitors to their sites and this is a common mistake. Focus should be in attracting people who are actually looking for a specific product or service to purchase.

    Keyword density – Don’t over optimize

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    Writing good page copy has two goals.

    • Keep a site visitor on your site long enough to buy your products or service.
    • Provide search engines information about your site. This information can help in ranking your site in searches.
    Over the years there have been specific keyword densities associated with ranking a website or page. Each major search engine had a specific requirement for the density of keywords in the on page copy.
    Keyword density tools were created to provide way to check page copy for its percentage of keywords.There are a number of these keyword tools on the web and many people still use their ‘magic numbers’ in creating website copy.

    In all honesty the results may have provided the right percentage of usage for the search engines but in a lot of cases these numbers were and still are, a real turn off for page readers. Win the ranking race but lose the visitor to bad copy. Not a really great situation for a website that depends on generic searches and even worse for those depending on pay for click visitors.

    When writing your page copy use these keyword tools as a guide only. The information that these tools provide can ensure you do not overdo keywords.

    Algorithms are evolving and many Search Engines are now actually down ranking sites that are over optimized for specific keywords. This makes writing copy directed at search engines rather than people, unwise.

    You are better off to simply place the primary keyword in your first paragraph and place it prominently. Make sure that this word/phrase shows up again toward the middle of your copy and in the last paragraph on the page. Beyond that, if it fits use it, but cautiously. Your secondary key phrases should be worked into the page copy as they fit.

    Make your page interesting to read and provide good information for your visitor, this can be done and still utilize the important keywords needed by the search engines.

    Remember … keyword tools should be used as a guide only and fixating on the numbers can be counter productive if your pages don’t provide good reading for site visitors.

    Keywords – The real start to SEO and a successful website

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    Everyone works hard to make their new web sites look pretty, graphics are added, the page is laid out and the text written. When everything is completed thoughts may turn to web site optimization. Optimization should be integrated into the site from the beginning, but better late than never.

    Stick in a few key words, make a description and the site is optimized, right? Wrong!

    Keywords need to reflect what the site is selling, or providing. These are the essence of the website, but they also need to be the terms that people actually use when searching for a product or service.

    These words/phrases should be utilized in every aspect of the website or web page. They should appear in the Meta tags and in the on page copy. Every web page needs to revolve around and focus on the primary keyword or key phrase.

    You also need to KNOW EXACTLY what phrases people use to search for similar items. This information is one of the most important things you need for the website to be successful. To determine actual search terms you need to research the keywords that are appropriate for your site. To do this you need to use a keyword tool.

    Keyword tool  programs have been around for years. Today most are based on Realtracker’s information.  This company provides a free tool as well as a pay for use program. Personally, I have never been a fan of most of these tools as the results vary and at times are somewhat conflicting.

    Google has also provided some information to webmasters who use their adwords keyword tool. It never gave a lot of specific information but it did provide a graph showing usage of terms and some suggestions for other terms that might work. When used in conjunction with one of the other keyword tools it provided a better understanding of the possible key terms being checked.

    About 2 months ago Google made a major step in providing the webmaster information….Their Keyword tool  started giving actual search numbers, a graphic representation on monthly cycles and the results can be modified for different criteria.

    I have been using this new and improved Google option since it was made available and I am impressed. It is an approximation only but it does provide some real usable information.

    Perhaps it is time for you to address the keyword situation and gain focus on your website.

    SEO is a combination of many things that need to be built into a website and one of the major factors is utilizing good keywords and phrases.  Use this information to focus your site and use terms that will bring in visitors from actual searches.

    Good keyword selection is the first step in gaining visibility in the search engines.

    For more information on how to actually use your keywords in the site read the keyword density article.