Archive for the ‘SEO Tips & Advice’ Category

Ten Steps of SEO: Step 3 Competitor Research

Knowing what your competitors are up to will give you a head start in any walk of life, and SEO is no different. Competitor research gives you a heads-up as to what marketing strategies your closest rivals are using. Competitor research also encourages you to look at the quality of the top ranking sites, to gauge if they are in reach or not.

In this, the 3rd installation of Ten Steps of SEO we take a look at what advantages can be gained looking at your competitors. We will take a close look at who is linking in to your competitors. We’ll also look at the quality of these links. The reports we produce can usually help you gauge what social media activity they are involved in too. You may taken back by all of this and think maybe it’s a bit over the top, but I guarantee, if they have a half decent online marketing campaign, they will be looking at your site.

Overall quality of the competition.
We will not spend too long on this area but it’s definitely worth spending a little time on. For this exercise we will look at the top 10-12 sites for the main keywords you came up with in Step 2: Keyword Research. There is a very useful plug-in for Firefox called SEO X-ray this, I recommend installing this as it is great for quickly getting a snapshot of a pages SEO. Take a few minutes looking at each of the sites. Look at the number of inbound links to the page, the keyword density, and the age of the domain. SEO X-Ray will display all of this. A final check I would do would be to work out the average PR of the top ten sites. As a rule we shouldn’t be put off by the PR of our competition however if the average PR of the top ten sites is high, then we know that this is going to be a tough nut to crack.

Know your enemy.
The next step is to look at your closest competitors as these are the people you are in immediate & direct competition with. Throughout your SEO you are going to need some of link reporting software. I use Advanced Link manager; however this is not free software. There is lots of free software out there all do pretty much the same thing. Link reporting software not only tells you how many links you have but who is linking back to your site. Once you have your link reporting package, run it on both your site, and your closest competitor’s site. Look at the sites that are linking in to your competitors, check out the links this will give you an idea about what kind of SEO activities they are participating in. Are there lots of links from blogs, article sites? Are the links from authority domains, and what kind of page rank are these? If there seems to be lots of links from social media sites, then we know your competitors are engaging in a lot of social media activity. If they are not then here is an opportunity to get a step ahead. The great thing about this exercise is we now have a list of potential sites/pages to link into your site. After all if they feel that your competitor’s site is important enough to link back to, why shouldn’t they think the same about yours?

Ten Steps of SEO: Step 2 Keyword Research

In my previous article Ten Steps of SEO: Step 1 Initial Analysis we looked at assessing whether there the market is out there to be attacked. Now we have established that there is, we will look at which keywords we are going to target.

Keyword research is probably the most important aspect of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This is an area you should pay extra care and attention to. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get this right. All too often I see people dive into to an online marketing campaign targeting keywords that are far too ambitious. Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t be intimidated by competition, but equally you need to be realistic about where you can expect to rank within the search engine results. Remember, we are going to be up against some established authority sites.

The first thing we need to do here is produce a list of all the keywords you can think of relevant to your niche. I find it easiest to put these into a spreadsheet, as it allows you to filter the results later. Once you have listed all the ones you can think of, we will look to our trusted friend Goggle for a bit of guidance. Google has a very useful tool called the Keyword Suggestion Tool . This tool will suggest alternative keywords we may have overlooked. There are many other programs designed to do this, Wordtracker is amongst the best.

The next stage is to find out how efficient a keyword is. For this we use a tool called a Keyword Efficiency Indicator (KEI). There are lots of tools out there for this most of them you have to pay for but many have free 30 day trials. Again I find the one in Wordtracker good for this. Run your keywords through the KEI tool and put the search volumes, competition & KEI score into the spreadsheet.

Now if we sort the results in order of KEI, high to low, we can start to pick the best keywords. A keyword with a high KEI is better than that of a low one. However do not just go for the highest KEI’s. The reason being that if a keyword or search term has very high competition but also has very, very, large search volumes, the excessively high search volumes will throw the KEI results and and give a very high KEI. This may look an attractive score but in reality it’s just going to be too hard to crack. Best thing to do here is get rid of the keywords with high KEI that seem to have a much higher search and competition volumes.

Equally we also want to get rid of KEI’s with low score. Also at this point we should look at search volumes and get rid of anything with very low search volumes. After all there is no point targeting a keyword if nobody is searching for it. We should now be left with a number of keywords with mid-high range KEI’s of these we should take 5 to 10 keywords with the highest KEI score. I wouldn’t recommend working on more at the moment, but concentrate your effort on these. Once you are getting good results for these you can always add more. Now you have your list of keywords. Not the easiest and quickest of SEO strategies, but the effort you have just put in will be more than worth it.

Ten Steps of SEO: Step 1 Initial Analysis

With around 65,000 new websites launched every day, Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is becoming more and more competitive. The need for businesses to have successful online marketing campaigns has increased beyond comprehension. Good marketing of your site could be a cost effective way of making your business successful, whilst a bad internet marketing strategy could see you waste a lot of money, and worse even go under.

This first installation of The Ten Steps of SEO looks at Initial Analysis. A lot of companies over look market analysis, and do so at their own peril. I always advise people to treat their online marketing campaign as they would any other marketing campaign. Analise the market before committing big budgets, and never, ever, go in blind.

Is there a market for your products/services?

As obvious as it may seem if there is not a market for your business then you stop right now. You will struggle to force a market. Ask yourself what your USP’s (Unique Selling Points) and if people are really going to buy from you. People buy for 2 reasons, they either need something or they want it. Do your customers NEED your product? If not is it going to be something they want?

What products & Services is your competition offering?

I don’t look too much into the competition at this stage, as this is something I look at a lot more in detail at a later stage. However have a quick look at who your competition is and what products they have to offer.

Who is your target Audience?

Identify as early as you can who your target audience is. Different target demographic will require different approaches, so think about who your site will be aimed at.

What is your route to market?

Now you know who your target audience is you must now decide what will be the best way to get your website in front of people. Social media is a great way of driving traffic to your site but the levels of success may vary depending on who your site is aimed at.

Put together a marketing strategy

Now you have gathered all of this information, put something down in writing. Put together a marketing strategy, it will help you keep focus of where you are going, and not to mention put you in a positive, proactive frame of mind.

To Summarise, make sure there is a market out there for you business. Look into who your site will be aimed and how you will target them. Put together a marketing strategy.

Finally, don’t be afraid to walk away. The whole purpose of this exercise is to clarify whether or not there is a market for your website, and whether it is worth you investing your time and money into SEO. If at any point you feel that there is not a market out there, this exercise has been a success.

Ten Steps of SEO

Ten Steps of SEO is a series of articles written to give you an insight to the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Many people seem to be under the impression that there is some secret formula to SEO. In reality this is not true. There is no hidden secret, there is no one process that that will get you to the top of the search engine results. Good results are achieved by gradually, over time, using ethical (white hat) methods, to grow your website organically. Follow these Ten Steps of SEO and you will be on the right track to improving your online visibility.

  1. Initial Analysis – Online Marketing is just the same as any other marketing campaign. To be able to monitor the progress of your campaign you must first know where you are starting from. It is also a good idea to check that there is actually a market out there in the first place.
  2. Keyword Research – This is one of the most important aspects of SEO. My advice would be to spend a long time on this. If you get this bit right the marketing of your site will be a whole lot easier in the long.
  3. Competitor Analysis – Knowing what your competitors are up to is essential, it allows you to plan your strategy. Look who is linking in to your competitor’s site and put these sites on a list of possible link partners. By getting these companies to link back to your site, you eliminate advantages gained by your competitors with these links.
  4. On-page Optimisation – You may have heard the cliche “Content is King”, well search engines love good quality unique content. Mix in well a written meta title & meta description and you are off to a good start for a well optimised page.
  5. Search Engine & Directory Submission – This is an easy way to get lots of initial links back to your site. Register with the search engines and this will encourage them to visit your site and index all of your pages. Some directories have good PR (Page Ranking) which means you will be getting relevant link backs from respected sites.
  6. Blogging/Content Updates – Adding good quality content to your site on a regular basis will encourage search engines to keep returning to your site. Visitors to your site will also show the same loyalty. If you release interesting content on a regular basis, people will start to look out for updates and re-visit your site. The easiest way to do this is to set up a blog or news section on your site.
  7. Article Marketing – Article marketing is a very effective aspect of SEO. Submitting articles to article sites such as EzineArticles has 2 key benefits. Firstly it allows you to build links back to your website. Secondly, as the articles are free to republish, if your article gets used by anyone, they will need to include the original links from your article.
  8. Strategic Link Building – Links are vital to increasing your search engine rankings. However it is not just a case of building as many links as possible. Avoid building links from sites that are not relevant for your niche as these will potentially do more damage than good.
  9. Social Media – There are many forms of social media. I amsure you have all heard of sites like Myspace, Facebook, & more recently Twitter. Social Media is great for driving traffic to your site and getting your website in front of your target audience, at the same time as building back links we know to be vital to your search engine positioning.
  10. Web Ranking & Link Reporting – Reporting on where you are ranking for keywords, and who is linking back to you will allow you to monitor your online campaign closely. You could also run these reports on your competitors to know how your online marketing campaign

We will go into more detail for each of these points in coming posts so, be sure to keep an eye out for updates. You can subscribe to updates via our RSS feed or alternatively subscribe via email and we will send updates direct to your inbox. And, if you don’t fancy doing this yourself, we are more than happy to step in and help.

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