Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization

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Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a resource for tracking traffic that comes to your site.  To use Analytics, set up an account at http://www.google.com/analytics.  You will be directed to add a website profile.


Leave the “Add a Profile for a new domain” radio button checked.  Then enter your web domain.   For my Analytics account, I entered www.websitetemplatedatabase.com.  Click Finish, and you’ll be taken to a page that contains your tracking code.  The Analytics tracking code is simply a piece of JavaScript code, invisible to visitors to your website, that reports to your Analytics account every time someone accesses one of your pages where you have the tracking code installed.  As noted in the Tracking Status message, shown in the image below, you need to install the tracking code (by simply copying it from the Analytics box and pasting it in a section of your site) on each page of your site that you want to have tracked.  Obviously, if you have pages on your site where the tracking code doesn’t exist, Analytics can’t report information about visitors to those pages.


You might be overwhelmed with the prospect of inserting this piece of JavaScript into each page of your website.  Fortunately, most websites in operation today (yours should be included) use file includes to insert headers and footers that show up on every page site wide.  For example, if your website is based on a Content Management System such as Joomla, you can easily insert the JavaScript code into the header or footer section of your active template, and you’re done.  If you’re using a shopping cart system such as Zen Cart, you can simply insert the code into the header or footer file of your template.  Setting up the Analytics tracking code on popular blog platforms such as Blogger.com and WordPress is just as easy.

After you’ve pasted the Analytics tracking code into the appropriate place on your website, you can go back to your Analytics account and confirm that the reporting system has been set up.  Sometimes there is a delay of a few minutes before Analytics updates itself to recognize that your tracking code is indeed installed.  Until Google Analytics sees your tracking code installed correctly on your website, you will see something like this in your report dashboard.  The warning sign means that Analytics hasn’t been able to find the tracking code for the site.  Normally there are no problems setting up the tracking code, but once in awhile (depending upon your website structure) you might have to do some troubleshooting.


Once you do have the tracking code setup correctly, you’ll see something that looks like this:


Analytics Reporting
Once you’ve got Google Analytics set up on your website, you can get to the fun part: checking out how your website promotion efforts are paying off.  Analytics shows you every angle related to traffic patterns on your website.  I like to look at the general overview of how many unique visitors I’m getting to my site.  The default view is for one month, but you can easily change it to show much longer or shorter periods.  You can see on the chart below that websitetemplatedatabse.com has gone from just a few visitors a day in July when we first brought the site online up to about 150 visitors per day now.  There are some noticeable spikes on the chart from specific marketing campaigns we ran to drive traffic to our site.


I like to see how my SEO efforts are paying off in the search engines, so I normally visit the Search Engine reporting page, shown here.


You can see here that we’re making good progress showing up in the search engines, with Google leading the way as expected.  If I click on the Keywords link, I can see the individual keyword phrases visitors have used to find my website.  I often use this information as feedback into my SEO efforts to capitalize on the search terms I’m naturally being ranked for in Google search results.  For instance, if I’m getting a handful of visitors for a keyword term such as “blogger templates”, I might check what my Google ranking is for that keyword phrase and expend some effort pushing my site to the top.  Using this strategy is often more efficient that going after a keyword term for which my site is buried deep down in the search results.

I’d advise you to spend some time looking around after you’ve set up your Google Analytics account and installed the tracking code.  There are numerous ways you can use Analytics as very useful feedback into our website structure as well as your website promotion strategies.  For instance, if you’re selling a product, you can check to see what page customers are commonly exiting your site from.  You might find that your checkout page is suspicious or that your policies page is unpopular.  The information I’ve listed here is just the tip of the Analytics iceberg.

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The Google Suite of Webmaster Tools

When I first started promoting websites almost nine years ago (2001), there was a lot more guesswork that had to be done by webmasters to figure out what Google expected for a website to rank favorably in search results.  Google has evolved over the years, continually increasing interaction with its webmaster audience and giving progressively clearer instructions on how to rank well for targeted search terms.  Google has also become more open in seeking feedback from the webmaster community and its search audience in general.   In addition increasing the dialog between Google and its users, Google has created a suite of products that are very useful for accomplishing tasks that cover the full spectrum of website promotion, including getting your site indexed by Google, tracking traffic to your site from all sources, promoting products, and optimizing your content to achieve higher traffic and higher conversions.

Setting up a Google Account
To access the Google tools, you’ll need to set up a Google Account.  There are a few different ways to set up an account with Google, including signing up directly to access any of Google’s webmaster tools described below.  To set up a general Google account, all you need is an email address.  Although you could manage your access to the various Google tools using different accounts, it makes sense to keep everything together under one account.

If you don’t have any form of an existing account (such as Gmail, Picasa, iGoogle) with Google, you can go to their Accounts page http://www.google.com/accounts and set one up.  You simply enter your email address and a password to get started.  After you’ve submitted your account information to Google, they will send you a verification email with a link that you need to follow to verify that you own the email address you used to set up the account.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics) allows webmasters to monitor traffic patterns on their websites.  Setting up your website with Analytics is normally very simple.  You sign up for an Analytics account, insert a tracking code into your website header, and watch the stats start rolling in.

Google Webmasters
Google Webmasters (http://www.google.com/webmasters) serves a few purposes.  It is a community for webmasters to learn what Google expects from their websites in order for them to receive high search rankings.  It’s also a way for webmasters and Google to communicate regarding their relationship.  Webmasters can submit sitemaps to Google to help with indexing their sites.  They can also configure settings to give Google recommendations on how to index their sites.  Google provides through their Webmasters tool helpful information regarding links it recognizes pointing to a webmasters website.  The Webmasters tool also provides information about keyword searches for which the webmaster’s site ranks highly and clickthrough stats related to those high ranking keyword terms.

Google Sitemaps
Google Sitemaps provides a way for webmasters to help Google index their sites correctly.  You may have noticed when doing searches on Google that there are some results that show up on the results page, but when you click on the link to visit the site, the page doesn’t have the same information as was presented in the search results.  Sometimes the page is gone altogether.  Why does this happen?  Because Google has the ominous task of trying to index billions of web pages, keeping their contents as fresh as possible.  Obviously they’re not perfect.  They need help from website owners.

Sitemaps is Google’s way of asking for help indexing your site, which in turn helps your site.  In the control panel for Sitemaps, Google suggests that submitting a map of your website will “…tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover.”  Sitemaps has been integrated with the Webmasters setup, so you can submit your site’s map by logging in to your Webmasters account.

Google Base
Google Base is a handy tool for websites that sell products.  Webmasters can create product feeds representing what they have available in their online store, and submit those feeds to Google Base.  Google displays the products to people who use its product search module, and oftentimes products listed in Google Base are included with regular web searches.  Using Google Base is just one more way store owners can get their products in front of potential customers.

Google Website Optimizer
Google Website Optimizer is an analytical tool that webmasters can use to determine the best way of presenting content to their visitors.  Using Website Optimizer, a webmaster can run experiments to see which version of a page is more successful at accomplishing a goal such as generating a lead , a sale, or some other action.

Conclusion
Google’s tools have made it increasingly easier for website owners and webmasters to understand what is required of their websites in order to achieve success along the most dominant search engine.  Understanding and using these tools will certainly benefit your SEO and overall website promotion goals.

Search Engine Optimization: Should I Use www For My Website or Not?

Have you ever found yourself providing links to affiliates or other link partners, stopping momentarily while you create your link URL to think, “Should I include the www. before my domain name, or should I leave that part off?  Does it even matter for search engine optimization?”  The short answer is yes, it does matter.   The long answer is a matter of consistency.  If you’re going to use the domain name without the Worldwide Web prefix, you need to be consistent.  The same thing applies if you want to market your domain name with www included.

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Introduction to Website Promotion

This article was written by Richard Robbins

The internet is filled with ghost towns.  Millions of websites sit alone, isolated from civilization for various reasons.  Some of these failed experiments are the results of half-hearted efforts by authors and designers to present an idea or product to the world.  Many don’t offer much reason to visit them and probably should be ignored.  However, many of these internet  ghost towns are carefully constructed, appealing, and helpful sources of knowledge that are simply left off the internet superhighway.  A worthwhile website deserves at least as much effort to promote it as was put in to building the site.  Regardless of your reason for wanting more people accessing your website, the following principles are fundamental for doing website promotion.

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Using Your Website Statistics to Prioritize Your SEO Efforts

The process of determining how to drive targeted search traffic to your website involves understanding your market and optimizing your site to reach out and corral potential customers.  For brand new websites that are starting fresh , the slate is clean.  With no links pointing to a new site and no history of showing up in the search engines, there is no data available to steer your optimization efforts.  However, for sites that have at least a limited presence on the web, webmasters can see a significant improvement in search engine traffic by evaluating their existing standings.  The best starting point is your website stats.

Eight Years Ago
Eight years ago my brother and I started our first internet business, a website selling camping equipment – OuterSports.com.  We used a simplified shopping cart system for newbies.  After a few months of building links to our new site, we started getting orders.  The shopping cart system had a valuable statistics module that allowed us to see the search terms people were using to get to our site.  The stats program also associated the referring search engines with the search terms that were being used to send people to our site.

While browsing through these statistics, I noticed that there were certain search terms that we were apparently showing up fairly highly for in Google search results.  At that point I didn’t fully understand the importance of using our marketing keywords (we really didn’t even sort out what our niche keyword terms would be until later) in the anchor text of the links we were getting, it was obvious that Google’s algorithm had a natural preferences for some of our product pages over others.  One such keyword term was “polypropylene underwear”.  Just prior to adding that product to our site, we didn’t even know what the stuff was.  Our supplier listed polypropylene underwear in their catalog, so we added it to our site.

I did a Google search to find out exactly where we were in the search results for the term “polypropylene underwear”.  We were on the second page – #12.  After reading some more detailed explanations of how Google’s search algorithm worked, I thought to myself, “Well, if we’re #12 for ‘polypropylene underwear’ without even intentionally optimizing our website (internal and external links), it shouldn’t take too much to get into one of the top positions for that term.”  I created some links to our polypropylene underwear category page from a few of our other product category pages and from some product pages, and I made sure to use the term “polypropylene underwear” in the link anchor text.  Surely enough, within a couple weeks, we had climbed up into the top five for that term.  Shortly afterwards I turned the site’s maintenance over to my brother so I could work on a different site, but he continued to use the same strategies, securing more external links as well, to achieve the top spot in Google for that particular term.

The Moral of the Story
This article is not so much about how to gain a top spot in Google for people searching for underwear as it is about building upon the momentum Google has already given your site.  One thing I’ve found with regard to my ecommerce websites’ interaction with Google’s search algorithm is that some pages have a natural tendency to move toward a position near the top of Google’s rankings, but just out of reach of the majority of the market, who normally exhaust their clicks on the first five search results.  By examining your stats, you can easily find what search terms Google thinks your website naturally solicits for high placement, and you can oftentimes quickly increase the amount of targeted traffic your site gets by focusing some attention on those intrinsic strengths.  A thorough review of the search terms for which your are receiving relatively moderate traffic will show you some diamonds in the rough.  Many of those also-ran search terms can be turned into medalists with much less effort than search terms for which your site currently ranks outside of the top 100.

Show Me the Stats
If I’ve convinced you of the efficacy of this strategy, you may be wondering where to get access to the magic information.  Most website hosts give their account holders some form of access to web statistics.  Web servers log visitor activity in a standard format that can be parsed and presented logically by a number of website statistics programs (some free, some not).  Google has made a lot of webmaster tasks easier by offering Analytics.  To use Google Analytics, you simply insert code script into your site’s code (typically it goes into a sitewide header or footer file so that it exists on each page of your site).  With the script in place on your site, you can use the Analytics control panel to find the information I’ve been discussing.

Initially, I’d recommend beginning your campaign to move also-ran search terms to the top of the search engines by finding one or two search terms and focusing your efforts on them for a couple weeks.  Once you’ve achieved the results you want, you can move on to other similar terms.

If you consistently use this method for creating synergy between your website and Google’s search algorithm, you should find it a good way to provide good quick incremental gains for your online business.