Search Engine Optimization. It is an ugly phrase to even the most
Web savvy person. But you can tame the SEO beast. Today, Larry
Stendebach, SEO consultant and partner at StateSurge.com, talks SEO and how to increase your
Google page rank.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
The best definition is from Wiki:
How can authors improve their SEO?
you need to create a list of 20 keywords or phrases that best describe
your site. These should be specific, not too general. For example, you
would not title a document Untitled, you would give it a name, like
Larry Stendebach Interview. The same concept applies here. These
keywords or phrases should then be used in meta and Technorati tags,
and appear in every post on your site.
Next, identify your target market. Your message is meaningless unless you know your market.
get a professional to properly code your site for search engines. How
code is written and formatted can effect how Google reads your site.
Finally, code your blog yourself by changing your title tags and
URLs to contain words or phrases relevant to your site. Also make sure
you use keyword and Technorati tags for posts, along with a cloud tag
for readers. There are 175,000 blogs created daily, so you want to do
everything you can to stand out to your audience. If you have a blog,
it can get lost. Using those keywords and phrases in posts and tags
will help your audience find you.
What are the best blogging programs when it comes to SEO?
When will authors see results?
the beginning, SEO is a process. It takes time. It's not an overnight
thing. You are trying to influence Google and other search engines. You
have to put the right bait out there to catch it. That is going to take
What questions should authors ask a Web designer for the best SEO
is somewhat important. Your designer needs to understand that you are
going for traffic, not necessarily for flash. We focused on SEO when we
design, but other designers focus on Flash – literally Adobe Flash.
It's nice. It's pretty. It's rotating images… but when Google reads
your site, it cannot see anything in that Flash. It can see a block of
Java script or a block of Flash on your page, but no text. And you have
all this great text, but Google can't see it.
If Google doesn't index it, then there is no way anyone can search and find that.
How do links impact SEO?
The more you link back to posts, the better. Link back to your own posts within your blog and ask others to link them as well.
Links are very important to networking with other bloggers. When
you guest blog, be sure to include your site information in every post.
A blogroll can help improve your Google Page Rank, which
improves your SEO. Don't allow your blogroll to get out of hand. Be
sure to use links to people who will link to you, and that they offer
information relevant to your readers. Be selective.
Is Google the only search engine to worry about?
is a wide margin of difference between Google and other search engines.
At StateSurge, we just had 3,000 new visitors on Google for election
night, but we got 200 from all the other search engines combined.
If you do it right on Google, typically the other ones will follow.
What are some programs authors can use to track SEO?
offers Webmaster tools, which gives good SEO pointers. That's where it
gets slightly more advance. If you are not familiar with the ins and
outs of SEO, then it might get complicated, but Google is there to help.
Google also offers a sitemap functions for Web sites and blogs –
which is automatic in some TypePad accounts. Google Analytics is also a
great way to see who visits your site and what they read. Be sure to
check your Google Page Rank as well.
Let's look at keywords more specifically for a moment. What should authors remember when developing their keyword list?
say you have a blog about education. One of your keywords is
"education." the problem is, there are more than 846 million sites
listed under that keyword. Under this term, Google likes big sites like
Wikipedia, ed.gov and Education.com. It would be nearly impossible to drive your rankings up to the first page.
If you are not on the first page of Google, nine times out of 10
you will not be clicked on. People don't go past the first page. The
first five results are where you want to be in. That's tough in some
So, let's get more specific. Try "Jefferson City education." That
is going to be much, much smaller. At this printing, it is 1.2 million.
Still a lot of results, but that is a fightable number. That is a
number that you can battle to get on the first page.
Creating content isn't just about ideas, it is also about
writing text that is attractive to search engines. What should we
remember when posting?
Search engines like to see content
that not only has those keywords, but frequent content. They say
content is key, and I think in a lot of cases it is. If you have a blog
that is updated once a month, it is going to be hard to get people to
come to your site.
I've seen blogs that post only twice per month, but the type of
content drives people there every 15th and 30th of the month – plus
they offer contests to sweeten the deal. Do visitor numbers really
depend on the content you provide?
It depends on your market. If you have a blog on politics, you need
to update every day – or at least two or three blog posts per week. If
you are in wine country and you are in the wine industry, a few blogs
per month could work.
I've seen blogs that include personal and professional
information. Is it important to separate your career blog from your
It depends on your target audience. You don't
want to be writing about your pet, Fluffy, if they don't care about
Fluffy. If you have a blog about your book on economic policy, don't
have a post about Fluffy's birthday, talk about the economy, or your
personal hardships or successes within the economy. Talk about what is
relevant to your audience. Relevance is what Google considers important.
How important is RSS?
Very. Search engines like RSS
because it is in an easy-to-read format. It is easy for them to grab
and index. If you set up WordPress or TypePad, they will set it up
RSS helps to increase the ease with which the search engines see you – and you want to make that as easy as possible. (Read Angela Wilson's post on RSS)
What are the best ways to market sites online?
are two parts to Internet marketing. SEO, and Search Engine Marketing,
or SEM. SEM is basically paid placement ads. You can sign up for a
Google AdWords account, identify keywords and pay per click. The prices
depend on your keywords. The more specific the keywords, the cheaper
the price, in most cases.
I always advice authors: "If you have to pay for it, don't do it." But is it worth the money for SEM targeted ads?
would say in the beginning yes, because you are trying to get your name
out there. SEO is much more important for what we call organic results,
which are results people click on. Ninety percent of the time, people
will click on a link in Google search, rather than a paid ad. In the
beginning, combining both SEO and SEM gives you the jump start you need
to find your audience.
One inexpensive way to get results is through StumbleUpon ads. They
charge five cents per visitors. You can pay $25 and get a guaranteed
500 hits from within some of your target market. It is very good for
driving non-specific traffic to your site.
Is there a good rule-of-thumb budget for SEM?
wouldn't recommend you spend a ton of money on it. Set a $200 budget,
use StumbleUpon and some Google AdWords, and you can do a good job of
getting your name out there.