Achieving Organic SEO

Not only can achieving organic SEO take time, it also requires targeting the right elements of your web site. You can spend a lot of time tweaking aspects of your site only to find that it still ranks below the third page of search results. If your attention is focused on the right elements, however, you’ll find that organic SEO can be a fairly effective method of achieving a higher search engine ranking.

Make no mistake, however: Organic SEO alone is not as effective as organic SEO combined with some form of pay-per-click or keyword advertising program. Though organic SEO is good, adding the extra, more costly programs can be what you need to push your site right to the top of the SERPs.

A good first step in search engine optimization is to ensure that the organic elements of your site are as optimized as possible, and then focus on search engine marketing elements such as keyword advertising.

Web site content
Web site content is one of the most highly debated elements in search engine optimization, mostly because many rather unethical SEO users have turned to black-hat SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing in an attempt to artificially improve search engine ranking.

Despite these dishonest approaches to search engine optimization, web site content is still an important part of any web site optimization strategy.

The content on your site is the main draw for visitors. Whether your site sells products or simply provides information about services, what brings visitors to your site are the words on the page. Product descriptions, articles, blog entries, and even advertisements are all scanned by spiders and crawlers as they work to index the Web.

One strategy of these crawlers and spiders is to examine just how the content of your page works with all of the other elements (such as links and meta tags) that are examined. To rank high in a selection of search results, your content must be relevant to those other elements.

Some search engines will delist your page or lower your page rank if the content of your site is not unique. Especially since the advent of blogs, search engines now examine how frequently the page content is updated, and look for content that appears only on your web site.

This doesn't mean you can’t have static content on your page. For e-commerce sites, the product descriptions may rarely change.

Including other elements on the page, however, such as reviews or product updates, will satisfy a crawler’s requirement that content changes regularly. Content is an important part of your site and the ranking of your site in search engine results.

To achieve organic SEO, take the time to develop a content plan that not only outlines what should be included on each page of your site, but also how often that content will be updated, and who will do the updates.

One other element you might want to consider when looking at your page content as part of SEO is the keywords that you plan to use. Ideally, your chosen words should appear on the page several times, but as mentioned previously, this is a balancing act that might take some time to accomplish.

As part of your site content, keywords require special attention. In fact, selecting the right keywords is a bit of an art form that takes some time to master. 

For example, if your web site were dedicated to selling products for show dogs, you might assume that ‘‘show dogs’’ would be a perfect keyword, but selecting the right keywords requires a thorough understanding of your audience and what they might be looking for when they visit your web site. 

In the case of show dogs, people looking for products for show dogs might search for ‘‘grooming products,’’ ‘‘pedigree training,’’ or just ‘‘dog supplies.’’ 
It could even be something entirely different, such as the name of a product that was featured at the most recent dog show.

Learning which keywords will be most effective for your site requires that you study your audience, but it also requires some trial and error. Try using different keywords each quarter to learn which ones work best.
It’s also advised that you use a tracking program such as Google Analytics to monitor your web site traffic and track the keywords that most often lead users to your site.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free web site statistics application that you can use to track your web site traffic. You can access Google Analytics by going to www.google.com/analytics.

You must have a Google user name to access the program. If you do not have a Google user name, you can create one when you sign up for the application.

It’s simple. Provide your e-mail address and a password, type the verification word from the graphic provided, and then read the Terms of Service and click ‘‘I accept. Create my account.’’

Once you've created your user name and password, accessing the tracking capabilities of Google is easy. You’ll need to copy a snippet of text that Google provides into the coding of your web site.

Once you've added the code to your site, it will take a few days for Google to gather enough information to provide reports about it, and as much as two months to gather enough data to give you real insight into your site. But once there is enough data, you’ll have access to the keywords that most often lead visitors to your site.

Internal and external links
Another element of organic SEO that’s just as important as your web site content is the links on
your pages. Links can be incoming, outgoing, or internal  and where those links lead or come from is as important as the context in which the links are provided.

When links first became a criteria by which crawlers ranked web sites, many black-hat SEO users rushed to create link farms.

These were pages full of nothing but web links, some of which led to relevant information and some of which led to sites in no way related to the topic of the web site. It didn't take long for search engine designers and programmers to catch on to these shady practices and change the way that crawlers use links to rank sites.

Your best option when including links on your web site is to link to the pages you are certain are relevant to your site content. Don’t include a link unless you’re sure it will have value to your visitors, and then take the time to pursue links into your site from them as well.

One other type of link, the internal link, is also important. This is a navigational link that leads visitors from one page to another on your site. The navigation of your site (which is what these links are, essentially) should be intuitive, and natural in progression.

User experience
User experience is a little harder to quantify than other site-ranking elements. It’s easy to claim that users will find your site simple to use, that they will find the information or products that they’re seeking, or that they will have reason to return to your site. In practice, that’s a little more difficult to achieve.

How in the world can a site gain search engine ranking by user experience? It’s fairly simple really. Search engines today are smarter than ever. They may not be able to make you a grilled cheese sandwich, but they can certainly keep track of what results users click when they run a search. Those result selections are essential to the organic ranking of your site.

Here’s a scenario. Suppose you search for something like health-insurance information. When the search results appear, how do you choose which results to look at? Most users read the small descriptive lines that are included with the search engine ranking and select according to those.

Site interactivity
When the Internet first came into being, web sites were all about disclosing information. The only interaction between a web site and a user was the passive reading the user did while on the site. Today, reading is still important, as users search web sites to learn more about products, services, or topics, but there’s much more to web sites now than just text on a screen.

We now live in an interactive age, and most of us want and expect to interact with the web sites we visit. That interaction might take the form of a poll, the capability to comment on a blog post, the downloading of a file, or even a game that relates to the site content. No matter what the type of interaction, users expect it, and search crawlers look for it.

Organic SEO is certainly not easy to achieve, but you can improve your chances dramatically by having a solid SEO plan that outlines both where you are and what needs to be added to your site design or content to make it more visible to users.

It also takes a lot of time and effort to create and implement the right SEO plan, but if you use your SEO plan as a stepping-stone, even for organic SEO, you’ll stay focused and eventually achieve the search engine ranking that you are working toward.

Comments

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