DIY SEO, Where Do I Begin? By Jaan Kanellis (c) 2008

SEO, DIY, Internet Marketing, Web Traffic, Promotion, Website, Marketing, Begin, Jaan Kanellis, 2008, Google, Adsense, Adwrods, Increase Traffic, Search Engine Optimization Sure Do It Yourself SEO can seem very daunting at first sight, but once you put together a plan of SEO action steps for yourself it can be much easier than you think. One thing I tell most of my clients is that SEO is not rocket science. There are clear rules and reasons why websites get ranked well in the search engines. Below are some of the more basic ones for all you newbie SEOs’ out there:

1. Internal Navigation
Sure the search engines are getting better at learning to crawl complex websites, but you need to make it as easy as possible. Avoiding JavaScript, Image Maps and session IDs are just a few of the pitfalls many newbie’s miss. Create your navigation in CSS or standard text. One way to see if your navigation is easily crawlable is to check the Google cache and click on the link “Click here for the cached text only.” If you can see your links in hyperlinked form you are probably ok. This is probably the most universal issue I see as a problem for newbie SEO’s and even some of the largest online companies. Get this fixed, do nothing else and you could see large improvements in rankings and conversions.

2. Why Are You The Best?
Maybe the 2nd most important item in marketing your website online is setting yourself apart. If you’re just another website that offers DVDs (or whatever) online for the same price as BMG, Best Buy, etc., what makes your website better? The internet is a network of interesting content, products and services. You must make your content, products and services stand out above the rest. How you do that is another story altogether.

3. Links
OK in a perfect world you could make a great website with awesome content and it would rank fine. Our world is hardly perfect and the search engines are not even close. The search engines will more than likely always use some sort of linking weight in their algorithm, so after you build this great website, let the world know. Contribute in blogs, forums, and message boards related to your website. Write articles. Contribute To The Internet. Become an authority on what your website deals in and before you know it you will be getting those one-way links without even asking for them. This is truly the link you want. Remember there are no short term link building strategies that work long term.

4. Content
a) OK obviously you can’t just have a website made up of images and one sentence on each page. Text is the meat that those search engines love to cook and grub on. The more relevant text you can write on each page the better it is for the search engines and the better it is for your end users. One thing to remember here is not to squeeze too many subjects onto one page. Break pages out as much as possible. Check out this example:

http://orchidsbyohlman.com/Care.htm

What a great page full of great content, but much different content. The search engines rarely associate many keyword combinations to one page. So break it down for them. Each of the caring tips for the orchids should be broken down into its own page and expanded on even more.

b) A second point to consider when writing content is natural language queries, personalization and local search. These will be the future of the search engine algorithm, so consider them when writing.

c) I will tell you right now. If you don’t have a blog create one now. Blogs can really help keep your website “fresh”. You may have heard that this is necessary to rank. I disagree that it is necessary to constantly change your content on your website for you to rank. That is where some get confused. What the search engines like about fresh content and blogs is NEW content. You are consistently posting relevant, fresh content on your website about your business. This is great for end users so it is great for search engines. Blogs are a great way to attract in-bound links, fresh content, and are easy to crawl. These are basically the three cornerstones to successful SEO, nuff said.

5. Title Tags
Another no-brainer. Looking at the example above, the website owner is not using unique title tags on each page, but you should throughout your website.

6. Duplication
Sure we have heard all kinds of confusing horror stories on content duplication. Sure you want to avoid doing it, but I have yet to see Google or other search engines actual penalize for it. What the search engines do is rank one page over another and yes sometimes if they find a duplicate they will toss it in the supplemental index. If you call that a penalty fine, but I call it Google choosing one version to rank over another. Make sure you provide only one to rank! Also, if you write an article, just make sure to publish it on your website and WAIT a couple of weeks and then syndicate it. It will give the search engines time to associate you as the author/owner of it.

7. Competition
Please recognize who your competitors are. If you are going head to head with websites that have been online for years and maybe even decades, then you should realize your SEO battle will be uphill and difficult, but not impossible.

8. Finance
If you are on a shoe-string budget or just have been burned by SEO’s in the past and don’t want to invest more money into it now, this is OK. But please understand the leg work is now on you. Only expect “high-level” ideas and recommendations from forums. The best thing to do is to dive in and do the work yourself with the support of the forum. Don’t rely on the forum as cure for your website marketing sickness, but rather as an antibiotic that works within your body to heal.

9. Tracking
You better do it! If you don’t know if your website is making you money, then who cares if it is optimized. Who cares if it is ranking? Who cares what Google PR it is? Two hundred #1 rankings mean nothing if you not making money off of them. That mind set is important. If you do not track leads/sales, then start now.

10. History
How long have you been online? Less than a year? More than 5 years? This makes an ENORMOUS difference. I don’t care what anyone says. The longer you have been online the more likely you are to have good results. If you still don’t have good results and you have been online for a while, don’t fret. Your fixes should take hold quicker in the search engines once you make them.

11. Code Bloat/Download Time
OK I understand you might be a SEO newbie. What do you know about coding websites, let alone inline CSS or JavaScript? Bottom line is your either going to need to learn or get someone who does know. No excuses here. It is becoming more important to have valid and easy to crawl code. I am not saying it is absolutely necessary. I see websites that rank all the time that are ridiculous when it comes to valid code, but if you can fix this, then do it. The second part is to make sure your pages download in a reasonable time. Once again you will find slow websites ranking all the time, but get it fixed not only for the search engines, but for your end users.

12. One Change At Time
Sometimes even minor fixes to one of the concepts noted above is enough to make the jump you have targeted in the search engines. Take your time and evaluate changes one at time. Changing too many things at once can cause “Chasing Your Tail Syndrome”.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. There are many more and always remember each website’s SEO needs are very unique. I have yet to see one website need the exact same solution set as another, when optimizing.

If you do decide to take your SEO efforts upon yourself, make sure you determine a clear action plan and stick to it. Good luck!

About The Author
Jaan Kanellis is the founder of www.KBKMarketing.com, which provides organic and PPC website marketing to clients, agency partners and SEM companies. Read his SEM and SEO blog at: http://www.jaankanellis.com . Jaan has been involved in online marketing since 1999

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