Search Engine Optimization Part II

SEO: What not to do and what to do

The only thing I do NOT recommend is just "throwing money" on it and leaving. SEO is an ongoing, critical activity that needs to be managed in the long run. It is important for someone at a senior management level in the company to gain enough knowledge of the basics to monitor from a management perspective. Otherwise, you risk that you will get out of hand, no matter how you choose to handle the implementation. In particular, there is a tendency to simply "outsource" activities that the management does not like. The problem is that there are a number of "quick fix" artists in SEO who claim that they bring a lot of traffic quickly. They use questionable practices that can get you into trouble with search engines, and in the long run have the opposite of what you are looking for. If you do not have a senior manager who understands the effects of what is being done, you can burn yourself.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Let's say you've decided to "do it yourself" or at least get a basic understanding of the SEO process. Where do you start?

Here is what I recommend:

* Buy and read a popular search engine optimization or search engine marketing book to become familiar
* Buy one of the search engine optimization software packages that are available for a few hundred dollars - I use web position from Webtrends

Once you become familiar, here are the important basic steps you want to make sure you understand:

1. Select keywords to optimize your website, which is important to your potential customers and your business. View your own website and other marketing materials, look at your competitors' websites, and use tools like WordTracker and the keyword tools Overture and Google Adwords. This is a critical part of the process - you need to pick keywords that are both relevant and not so competitive that you can still "own" them - in other words, they appear in the top 6 lists when they are searched ,

2. Make sure your page titles and page URLs are rich in the keywords you've selected. This is very important, and therefore new sites should be optimized for search if they are originally created (which does not usually happen).

3. Include keyword-rich "link text" in your content and be sure to tag all images with keyword rich text.

4. Make your main text keyword rich - and probably more text intensive than your graphic designer. Although the designers (and executives) think that it is ugly, search engines love - and only understand - text. Some search engines even completely ignore pages with less than 300 words. If your pages appear to be "clean and pretty," there's a good chance they'll be ignored by the search engine bots when they're indexing. So you have to compromise between SEO and look and feel.

5. Start a "never-ending" campaign to get external sites to link to your site. This is also important because search engines use this as a measure of how important your website is compared to your competitors. The more relevant and popular the linking site is, the better, but each link is better than no link. PR is a great way to build relevant links - but you can also have a clerk looking for easy ways to list your company's website in the myriad of directories on the Internet.

SEO is actually a very complex field with many important but banal technical details. After this process, much more can be done to optimize your website. But these are the basics - as you go through this process, as a senior manager, you'll be much better prepared to buy external SEO services or hire people for your internal staff. As a C-level manager, you would not feel comfortable if you did not know how the PR process works, right?

In the Internet age, you can not afford to be ignorant about SEO!

As always, your feedback is welcome.

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