Do It Yourself Search Engine
A search engine optimization campaign can easily be divided in three fundamental
- Choose the right keywords (keyword optimization)
- Optimize your pages for your selected keywords (web page optimization),
- Get quality inbound links to your pages (off-site factors).
In the next few pages, we will teach you how to follow a systematic approach to
complete these three steps, using free tools available on the net.
PART I: Keyword Optimization
The first step in a search engine optimization campaign is to choose your keywords or
keyphrases for each of your web pages. Keywords are the terms that search engine
users type in the search box to conduct a query. The right keywords are those that:
- clearly describe the purpose and content of your site, and,
- allow your site to show up as close to the first results page as possible.
A good position doesn't depend only on your choice of keywords. It also depends
on how well do you position those keywords in your web page, and how many quality external
pages link to you. However, choosing the wrong keywords can throw off your entire
search engine optimization strategy, so you need to invest a few hours and make sure you
do it right.
Let's start with your homepage. Look at it carefully and write down the words and
phrases that best define your site. Try to form two or three word phrases, since
competition for one-word keyphrases is fierce, and it is virtually impossible to get a top
position for them. That is why, from now on, we will talk about keyphrases, not
keywords. Once you have developed your list of potential keyphrases you are ready
for the next step: to analyze the demand and supply for those keyphrases, and choose the
best ones (those with good demand and not enough supply).
We will first check the demand for your selected keyphrases. For this, we will go to
Overture's Search Term Suggestion Tool:
Overture is a popular pay-per-click search engine. You will then type each of the
keyphrases you selected, and see how many people search for those terms. This tool will
show you only those searches conducted in Overture (and only in one month time).
However, the relative popularity of each search term will be very similar in other search
engines as well. In addition to telling you if your selected keyphrases are popular,
this tool will show you other keyphrases that you may not have thought about, which may
even be more relevant to your site.
For example, if your first keyphrase was "Italian Restaurant", the Search
Term Suggestion Tool will also display other popular search terms, like: "Gourmet
Italian Restaurant", "Northern Italian Restaurant", "Italian
Restaurant Pizzeria", "Italian Restaurant Miami", etc. You may also
try other keyphrases, for example: "Italian Cuisine", and come up with more
specific keyphrases, like: "Fine Italian Cuisine", "Italian Cuisine
Miami", "Northern Italian Cuisine", "Italian Cuisine Fine
Dining", "Gourmet Italian Cuisine", etc.
What you have done is to validate and enlarge your pool of popular, in-demand,
potential keyphrases for your web page. The next step is to check the supply, or, in other
words, to see how much competition there is for your selected keywords. Naturally,
you want to focus on keyphrases where competition is less fierce. For example, choosing
"Italian Restaurant" alone will certainly hurt you. There are so many of
them that your chances of showing up in an advantageous position within the search results
are pretty slim.
Having said that, get your list of keyphrases, go to Google ( http://www.google.com ) and type-in each of them in
the search box. Enter your keyphrases within quotation marks (to filter-out less relevant
results), and see how many results each individual query produces, making a note of those
with a relatively small number of results (less competition). You will stick with the
- Best describes the topic and content of your page
- Is a popular search term according to Overture's Search Term Suggestion Tool.
- Generates a relatively small number of results after performing the Google search.
If "Gourmet Italian Restaurant" is the keyphrase that best meets these three
criteria, it will become your primary keyphrase. To get even better results, you can
choose a second keyphrase to make your page more relevant to an even more specific niche.
For example, if your restaurant is in Miami, you can consider "Miami" a second
keyphrase. Once you have chosen the keyphrases for you homepage, do the same for the
other pages on your site.
After this, you will take your selected keyphrases and optimize your pages heavily for
them. This involves placing them in strategic locations in the title, headings and
body of each page, as we will see in Part II: Web Page Optimization.
PART II: Web Page Optimization
Once you have chosen your keyphrases, the next stage is to optimize your page for those
keyphrases. You do that by positioning your keywords in strategic locations within your
page. What follows is a checklist of tips and steps you must follow to optimize your page:
- Keyphrases in the web page title:
- Create a descriptive title for your page: Your web page title is very important
because it is what the search engines display as link text as the result of a search. The
title must include your main keyphrases, while at the same time it must describe your
business very well and should entice readers to click on it.
- Unless your business is big and well known (like Microsoft or Coca Cola) don't start
your page title with the name of your company. Start your title with the words search
engine users will most likely use (your keyphrases)
- Put your main keyphrase at the beginning of your page title (keyphrase prominence) and
keep your keyphrase together (keyword proximity).
- Put your second keyphrase somewhere else in the title.
- Make the title short (8 words or less).
- Keyphrases in your Keyword Meta Tag: Search engines rarely
use the Keyword Meta Tag any more (Google completely ignores it). However, place a list of
your main and secondary keywords in the Keyword Meta Tag of your page, just in case search
engines decide to use them again in the future.
- Keyphrases in your Description Meta Tag: The Description Meta Tag is
still important, since some search engines use them to elaborate on the results link.
- Include your keyphrases (main and secondary) in your Description Meta Tag.
- Make your description 'descriptive', concise and professional. Avoid using hype.
- Make it short (25 words or less).
- Don't make your description sound just like a collection of keywords.
- Keep your keyphrases together.
- Keywords in the body of your page: It is important to use your keywords
heavily on your page, since this will help the search engine determine the topic of your
page. Follow these tips as much as possible, since they will help search engines
determine your page's relevance to your chosen keyphrases:
- Use your keyphrases several times, and place them as close to the top of the page as
- Place your keyphrases between Header Tags (H1, H2 or H3) in the first two paragraphs of
- Place your keyphrases in bold type phase at least once.
- Repeat your keyphrases often to increase your keyphrase density. Repeating your
keyphrases between 5 to 10 times for every 100 words in your page is considered effective.
- Since you have to repeat your keyphrases often, you must be especially careful not to
make your text sound awkward. Your visitors should be able to read your page fluently and
effortlessly. Remember that ultimately it is your readers who will decide if your page is
worth the time they spend on it. A pleasant experience will make them more likely to come
A good resource on how to write search engine friendly copy without losing readability
is this special SEO writing report
by Jill Whalen.
- Other Web Page Design Considerations:
- You must make your page easy to navigate by the search engines. Search engines heavily
favor text over graphics, and HTML over other editing formats.
- Use text heavily, especially in your navigation bar. Avoid placing text in graphic
format since the search engines won't be able to read it.
- Avoid frames. Search engines have trouble following them, and they may index only the
framed content page and not the navigation frame.
make an HTML version of your site available to your readers and the search engines. If you
page, so it can be followed by the search engines.
- Create a Site Map that includes all the pages in your site, and place a Site Map link
close to the top of the homepage. When the search engine follows the site map link, it
will find and index all the pages in your site!
- If you use a left navigation bar, the search engine will read it before the body of your
page. Make sure you include your most important keywords there, too.
- Make sure that all your internal pages link to your homepage.
- Don't try to describe all your products or services in one page. It will confuse the
search engine and dilute your page's relevance to your selected keyphrase. Instead, create
different very focused pages, each with its own content and keyphrases, and optimize them
This is pretty much all you have to do to make sure that your page is optimized for
your chosen keywords. The next and final step to increase your site's ranking is to get as
many links to your site as possible, from quality sites that have a topic related to
yours. This is what we will see in Part III: Off-Site Factors.
Part III: Off Page Factors
Once you have selected your keyphrases and optimized your pages for them, the last step
is to make sure that you get linked from the best directories, and from lots of quality
sites with a topic related to your site's. The best search engines, and in particular
Google (who alone can deliver 80% of the search engine traffic to your site)
"crawl" the web looking for links to your site. They interpret a link to
your page as a vote, and the more links (votes) you have coming from quality sites the
higher your page rank will be, and the higher the possibility that your page will achieve
a good position in the search results pages. It's that simple. Following these
four steps is the best way to get the quality links you need:
- Get listed in DMOZ: The Open Directory Project ( http://www.dmoz.org ) is the world's largest
directory. It is maintained by voluntary editors who review your site prior to inclusion.
Being listed in this directory is important because it is used by Google and America
Online to build their directories. Getting listed is free, but it may take a few weeks or
even months to get listed, which can be a bit frustrating. However, there is a strong
believe among search engine optimization experts that an Open Directory Project listing
can significantly increase your page rank in Google, so you must take the time to submit
your site and do it right (list your site in the right category and strictly follow their
submission guidelines). For how to get listed in the Open Directory Project go to: http://www.dmoz.org/add.html .
- Get listed in Yahoo!: Submissions to Yahoo! are no longer free for commercial sites (your site
can be reviewed in about a week for a fee of $299 although inclusion in the directory is
not guaranteed. However, if you do get accepted, the $299 fee will be due every year
if you want your site to continue to be listed). A link from Yahoo�s directory is
still one of the best links you can get, and it is worth the money you spend getting
listed. For tips on getting listed in Yahoo! go to: http://docs.yahoo.com/info/suggest/ .
- Submit articles: There are many sites where you can publish articles in
your field of expertise. This is a great way to establish yourself as an expert and to
drive quality traffic to your site. The key is to include your resource box at the end of
your article. A resource box is a small paragraph with a brief description of you and your
business, where you include a link to your site. This way, every time somebody picks up
your article and publishes it in their website or newsletter, your link will be there for
readers and search engines to see and follow. For tips of getting traffic by writing
articles you can visit: http://www.theinternetdigest.net/archive/write.html
- Exchange links with reputable sites: You must try to find quality sites
that are compatible to your site's topic (not direct competitors), and ask the webmaster
for a link exchange. This will give you highly targeted traffic and will improve your
score with the search engines. For tips on a good link exchange campaign, visit: http://www.theinternetdigest.net/archive/inboundlinks.html
. If you liked this article and feel inclined to learn more about Search Engine
Optimization, you may want to check out Aaron Wall's SEOBook.
SEO Elite: The tool that tens of thousands of the top ranked Google sites have been quietly using for years.
The Nitty Gritty of Search
Engine Optimization (by Jill Whalen) This special report in ebook form is
probably the most thorough guide on how to write for the search engines. Making sure
that your main keywords are well represented in your page copy without sacrificing
readibility is not always easy, but this special report shows you how to do it.
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