Before we talk about actually getting into the first 10 listings in Google, I think we need to first cover some exceedingly important ground.
You see, if you optimize the wrong keywords, you will likely never see results. It does you absolutely no good to become the number one ranked site for search terms people aren’t using much.
Personally, I really like Overture’s Search Term Suggestion Tool for figuring this kind of stuff out. I’m also very ambitious. To me, when I go after something, I want to go after something big. Maybe it’s just plain greed — or heck, maybe just plain laziness, but either way, I want to hit the top of something worth being at the top of.
So, I don’t start with that tool. Instead, I first head on over to Word Tracker and get their completely free keyword report. It’ll tell you what the absolutely most searched-for terms are.
I’m not interested in adult keywords, so I get the “adult filtered” version of the report. Taking a look at this, I see that “dogs” is the 43rd most searched-for thing on the planet.
Now that I have some idea of what I want, I take a look at Overture’s Search Term Suggestion Tool. At this point, if you’re smart, you do not try to become one of the top ranked sites for “dog” or “dogs.” At 1,072,295 searches, this is going to be an exceedingly competitive and cutthroat term to try to break in with.
Besides, there are easier ways to “crack” these difficult terms (which we’ll get into later in the series). If you scroll down a little, you’ll see that ”dog training” gets a whopping 109,510 searches. I realize that’s only a little more than 10 percent of the biggie term “dog”, but one hundred thousand searches a month is nothing to sneeze at. Especially when you figure that Google will get roughly eight times that number of searches. That takes you to very close to the one million searches a month mark.
Now that’s a market worth some time!
But it’s even better. You see, if you do a quick search on Google (as of this writing) the number 1 listed site is: http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/dog/dog.htm
This is incredibly good news. You see, that isn’t a top level index page. Not only that, but the Page Rank of the site is only a 5. While a 5 is pretty good, it’s a pretty far cry from a 7 or 8, which I will also show you how to get in later parts of this series.
So, it’s time to put on the black clothes. We’re going to steal our way into the top 10, maybe (probably) even get that coveted #1 spot by the time this series is over.
What we want to do now is to take a little advice from an article here on SEO Chat by Jacqueline Dooley. That article is SEO Tools and Tricks that Help You Think like a Search Spider.
One of the first tools that article talks about is the Crawler Simulator. That tool lets you see what a search spider will see. What you want to do is take our example website, http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/dog/dog.htm, and plug that URL into the simulator.
Take a look at that page from a search engine spider’s point of view. Open up another browser window and go to SEO Chat’s Keyword Density Tool. In the “Valid URL” box, enter in the URL for that top Web page.
At this point, let me explain what you’re doing, and why. The idea is to take a look at what is winning with Google right now and “steal” that for your own page.
No, I’m not saying you want to take content, Web design, or anything like that. I’m saying you want to model your own site after what is obviously working … and working well.
What is the keyword density of the winning page? What sorts of things is that winning page doing to rank so high with your chosen keyword?
You will never get into the top spot if all you do is copy the top person. You want to take a look at the top person and then do things better than they are doing them.
Allow me to demonstrate.
If you take a look at the page source of the number one ranked site you do not see the words “Dog Training” wrapped inside of <h1> tags. This is very good for us! We can already utilize “on page” optimization techniques to make our page more likable to not only Google, but Yahoo and MSN as well.
In fact, if you take a look at the page, they aren’t using header tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, and so on) at all. You can read my own article, Google Optimization Secrets From The Trenches, and get the full “low down” on why you absolutely want to be using header tags with your site.
Another “insider” technique concerns the title tag. Most people make the mistake (and our example site did as well) of putting their website name in the title tag area. This is a huge mistake. Instead, the only thing that goes into the title tag is the keyword phrase – or at the most, three keyword phrases — that you are optimizing upon.
In other words, a Web page with a title tag of only “Dog Training” will be more optimized than our example page, because it has so much other “stuff” in there.
Our example site is making the same mistake with their main Web page graphic. First, there are other things above it, and second, the alt text has other stuff (not much, but some) besides the phrase “dog training.”
You see, the sooner that Google sees the relevant keywords, and under a greater number of different circumstances, the better you’ll rank.
The absolute ultimate way to have the top of your page (one of the most important areas as far as Google is concerned) tightly optimized is like this:
- Your title tag includes only the keyword on which you’re focusing.
- The very top of your body has your Web page graphic set as the background of a cell. The alt text is set only to the key word/phrase on which you are focusing (in our case, “Dog Training”).
- In that cell with the background image you have, wrapped in <h1> tags, your key word/phrase.
That does make you pretty keyword dense at the top of the page … but that’s what Google wants to see. That’s one of the ways it determines that your site is narrowly targeted to the key word/phrase in question.
Now, lets talk about the actual content … the real body of the page.
Somewhere on that page you want your keyword bolded, italized, or underlined (or some combination of those three, it doesn’t matter) one or two times only.
Don’t make the mistake of overdoing this one, or you’ll get slapped with an “over optimization” penalty. Just once or twice at the most, you want your key word/phrase to be emphasized. The number one site for dog training doesn’t do that.
The key word/phrase should be used again very near the end of the page. It doesn’t have to be the last visible content, but it should be somewhere in the last sentence or two, certainly within the last paragraph. Once again, we see that our sample page doesn’t have this item.
In other words, we are looking right now at a market we can crack. If we also have a good hyphenated domain name, such as dog-training-secrets.com (it’s taken, but that’s an example), then getting to the top becomes that much easier.
Before we continue, you do need to know that with Google, what is known as “on page” optimization accounts for only about 40 percent of your total rank score.
In other words, all of the things we talked about in this article help, and they help a lot, but there is still more to the picture, which we will be getting to later in this series. Further, to rank well with Google, what you want to do is analyze the top ranked websites and do what they are doing … just do it better.
In other words, “steal” what is working and do that with your own page while improving on what the top sites are not doing.
Most sites are designed so that the navigation of the site is from links or graphics in a table on the left hand side of the page. This is another big mistake. You see, Google starts at the top, and goes from the top left to the bottom right. When it gets into a table cell, it checks out everything in that cell before going to the next one.
That means that if your site’s navigation bar is on the left hand side, Google is going to see all of your navigation links before it sees any of your content. So let’s extend the opimization of your site just a little “farther down.”
What you want to do is alter things a bit. The first thing that Google will see is of course your title tag, set to your key word/phrase. Then it will see your site’s graphic, set as a background image, with the alt text set to your key word/phrase. On top of that image, wrapped in <h1> tags, is (again) your key word/phrase.
Next, below that, is your content. Google will go through your content first, and then in a table cell next to the content on the right is your navigation menu.
Your navigation menu shouldn’t be at the top (as it is with our example site), or on the left (as it is with most sites). You want your site to be navigated on the right. And, of course, your navigation links are text links, not graphic images.
Yes, I know that you can have cool mouseover effects. But you know what, I’ve yet to see a study that says those things result in more sales, longer visits, or even a site that is easier to navigate.
Yes, they look pretty, but text links are just as easy to navigate and will get you ranked higher. Getting you ranked higher will get you more visitors, which is likely to get you more people that stay longer — and that is more likely to get you more sales. Knowing this, do you really want mouseover graphic based links?
In part two we will talk about how to get your site listed by Google in under 24 hours, and at the same time, you will also give your brand new site an instant boost to its page rank.