The Basics of Search Engine Marketing – Part 1

One of the cheapest (also the best) way to market your website is on the search engines. There are two ways of getting your website on the search engines – one is paid (Google Adword) and the other is free (organic listings). The paid option is good if you just want instant results but it will cost you more in the long run. The free option takes longer but it’s much more cost effective in the long run. The good thing about the free option is that you only need to do the work once, and after that you just need to do a few hours work per month to keep it up there.

The term “search engine optimisation” is slight misleading in my opinion, because optimising the website itself is only about 20% of the work, the other 80% is done off the website and you don’t actually optimise anything. The correct term should be search engine marketing.

A lot people have made the mistake of spending time and money on optimising their website without really thinking about the keywords that they want to rank for. Before you do anything you need to spend some time (or money if you want to get someone else to do it for you) on finding the right keywords. This step is so vital that almost everything you do afterward will be dependent on how well you do here, so spend at least a full day on this if you’re going to do it yourself.

You can use this free keyword tool to find out the number of searches of your chosen keywords. You can start from 2 words phrases and work your way up to the 5 or 6 words phrases. Try to think like your customers do – what would you type in to the search box if you were looking for the same thing or solution. Copy and paste all of the phrases you found to an Excel spreadsheet. Make sure you copy the number of searches as well, even though they’re not 100% accurate. Try not to think too much about the how good the keywords are at this stage, you’re just gathering information here.

After you have gathered about 50 or so keywords now is time to find out which ones are worth optimising your website for. You should have two columns on your Excel file, one contains the keywords and one contains the numbers. Add another column and name it “relevance score”. You are going to give a score to each keyword phrase base on how relevant you think it is to your products or services. 0 is not relevant at all, 50 is so what related and 100 is exactly what you offering. For example, let’s assume you’re in the business of selling fishes and fish tanks, the keyword phrase “fish recipes” would have a score of 0 because that’s not what you sell; the keyword phrase “koi fish” would have a score 50 because the people who type in just the name of the fish are not likely to be buyers – they are information searchers, however they could be buyers and that’s why the score is 50 ; and the keyword phrase “buy fish tanks” would have a score of 100 because these people are looking to BUY a fish tank.

Make a list of all the keyword phrases that scored 100. You should have around 10 keyword phrases, these are the ones you want to optimise your website for. The goal is get your website onto the first page (not necessarily the 1st position) of all those keywords that scored 100. You want to do that as quickly as possible. To do that you need to research the competition of those keywords, with that information you can start with the ones that have less competitions. Simply do a search for each keyword in Google and Yahoo (MSN as well if you have the time). Make sure you put the words in between “” to ensure the number of results is accurate. You will see the number of competing pages on the top. Make a note of this and the number of sponsored listings on the side in your Excel file. After you’ve done that for all of the keyword phrases you now need pick one or two keyword phrases that have a high number of searches and a low number of competitions to start off with.

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