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I used to have SEO dialed in. One SEO firm at a tradeshow had me plunk my URL, hoping that my keywords and meta tags would be akimbo. Nope: my site was ideal and they couldn’t lure me in for some lucrative SEO contract work.

Then I went to sleep in a sense and came back to find that my SEO perfection was dashed to the rocks. Along with it my decent Google Adsense trickle and my legion of fans. It wasn’t entirely my fault and maybe you’re in the same boat and we’re both out to sea.

Here’s what happened in the meantime:

  • I had an ASP driven site that should have tied into more meta tag information and Search Engine friendliness than it did. That’s not Microsoft’s fault. CMSes were still nascent at that time, so I didn’t have a content management system I could download and make use of.
  • The trends changed. When I first tried to gain the favour of search engines, Yahoo was the big game in town and Google was a phrase that was always coupled with “plex.” Google, the trend setter for search engines has changed again in the Summer of 2011 with what was called the “Panda” update. The algorithm was changed to leave content farms in a bad place. The tried and true concept of article marketing to proliferate your site links wasn’t going to work anymore.
  • Facebook’s walled gardens rose up and blocked the light. If search engines cannot index content, it will not be be in their search results. I got suckered into the gaze of Sauron where it comes to social media. I put too much effort on adding material into Facebook. I saw others do this too. They would post solely in Facebook and I’d say: “whoa! How are people going to find that?” Even if inside of Facebook, there was a feeding frenzy for posts. Outside of Facebook, there were crickets. My site became one of those towns that gets abandoned when the Interstate is built and takes traffic away from town. Who cares what I put up on my billboard? What if I have the awesome slogan? No one is driving by.

    But sites still can be super popular. You can still make lots of money from the Internet: from pay-per-click advertising, from product sales and services. How does someone get that traffic off of the highway? You have to prepare for the traffic and make your site a welcoming stop.

    This is a long but awesome video:

    There are a number of precursor steps to being ready to cash in on SEO improvements:

    Your website needs to be capable of SEO improvements. For example, can you pop in meta data like keywords, description, Dublin Core elements, lat/long? How about the new stuff for OpenGraph? For Drupal, you need the NodeWords modules (warning: it cannot retain taxonomy settings or output them). For WordPress, the SEO All-in-One Pack is great to give WordPress SEO functionality.

    Your content needs to be found. Make links and make them available on your site. Your links should get you to all of your pages inside of a couple hops in any particular direction of links. Make sure your pages are not buried or hidden. If you have to link them from a kludgey page (like a taxonomy page), you have to give search engines something to chew on.

    Your terms need to be keyword dense and they need to be friendly to the long tail search concept.

    If you do customer research to find your customers, doing keyword research is a way to get your pages found. It’s the study of words that your potential clients use when searching for your service or product.

    Your initial cut of keyword research will find the crowded popular terms relevant to your pages. The people using those terms make up 3% of your potential audience. There’s an audience of people who need your services who know what they want but don’t know you have it because their keywords are not your keywords. That audience makes up 30% of the potential audience of customers. Which would you rather tap into? The crowded 3% or the roundabout 30%? The 3% are punch drunk from you and your competitors. The 30% have talked themselves into buying, but don’t know about you.

    • pick valid initial keywords from your own content
    • look at the terms used by your competitors
    • take the common keywords and look off target. For example, “Adidas” is too direct a target for users but people may search for “muddy running shoes” or “better tread wear” and be open to Adidas.
    • “Adidas” may be an expensive search term to buy if you were using AdWords or similar; but “better tread wear” could be very inexpensive to buy. A long list of uncommon terms hooking up with a long list of searchers will be more beneficial than crowded terms.

    After you have your good to get, off target keywords do two things with the knowledge:

    • first: go back to your hurting content and rewrite parts of it to bring those obscure terms that could reap big wins. Don’t toss all of your good crowded keywords. Keep some of them but spice up your text with material found in the long tail of valid keywords.
    • second: write new content geared to meet what your audience is really looking for when they seek out your products, services or snazzy info.

    Find a keyword research tool that you can trust. Some are good and pricey. Some are cheap and useless. Find the Goldilocks solution you can use.

    Google Keyword suggestion tool can give you keywords, related to your website (if you select the appropriate tab) and offers you a wide selection of phrases real people have typed in.
    WordTracker and Keyword Discovery offer free versions of their keyword research tools, but they’re kind of hollow unless you buck-up and pay for the services. WordTracker uses the data from the meta search engines and Keyword Discovery obtains data in another way, so the online tools data can only be used in a relative aspect.

    Google External Keyword Tool is a good runner up: free, and it offers lots of related words and phrases, otherwise unnoticed by other keyword research tools.

    Keywords by themselves are bound to be out of context. Clever Google will ignore non-sequitors. Put your good keywords inside of contextually valid phrases, sentences and paragraphs.

    You’ll need to keep entering your main keywords and phrases into online keyword suggestion tools to get every possible keyword combination. This will ensure you cover most keywords your potential customers will use.

    Google and the other search engines will react well to your site if you have the ideal sets of keywords represented. There are many more steps to being search engine ready and will build overall popularity, but keyword research and adjustments are a good way to dress your site for success.

    Are you into the whole SEO thing? What do you use to research keywords?

    Look at your website’s performance. If you want tips for how to clean up your performance
    Click Here.

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