Article provided by Danny Sullivan
In this series I am going to build a site from scratch and show you many of the steps I take to get a site to climb the search engine rankings. In many ways it's going to be like looking over my shoulder as I show you what you have to do to get your own site to the top positions.
In this recent article by Terri Wells you were told about one of Google Labs latest projects, namely Google Trends. At first glance it seems like this tool will be of primary importance for advertising.
Indeed, this will be a great tool for deciding what and where to advertise and expected impacts (and even budgets). However, this tool is also invaluable for your search engine optimization activities, particularly now that Google is beginning to get very geographic/regional in the way it returns results.
By keeping an eye on your various search terms, and comparing them against each other, you now know which search terms to emphasize, which you may want to consider "removing" from your search optimization efforts, and so on.
Lets put this together with a real world example. As I said, I'm going to be building a site from scratch. I'm going to show you how to get that site to rank well. I'm also going to give you a KILLER business model that you can apply to any business.
As of this writing, the site does not exist yet. I'm going to use Google Trends to help me narrow down what I should be targeting the site towards. You're literally going to watch the site grow and evolve with each article.
My thought is some sort of advice/self-help/wisdom sort of site.
Why? Unfortunately I can't find it now, but I read in a news story that if you removed gambling and "adult" sites from the equation, women now spend more money online than men. Since I'm not interested in gambling or "porno," I'm going to focus on something that will let me target women.
So, my knee jerk reaction is "Mountain Lore: Wisdom from the Mountain" as a site concept (yes, I will be making money with this too, stick with me and you'll see how).
The problem is, what keywords do I focus on? Knowing that will help to give my site direction, so it's good that this is being done BEFORE I build the site. However, even if your site is already built, you benefit greatly from the exercise because it helps you to refine your site.
Any way, potential keywords are, without going too crazy (I've got space considerations with the article to think about):
Life lessons, lore, wisdom, self help, poems, poetry, love, health, money.
Now, I could try plugging that entire list into Google Trends, but it wouldn't do me much good because it only looks at the first five items on the list. That means running the first five, getting rid of the duds, then running the rest.
Doing this I quickly throw out the life lessons, lore, and self help keywords because these just don't get quite the same query traffic.
At this point I think it's fair to take a little detour. When you pop open a search engine, what are you looking for? The answer is obvious. You're almost always looking for information. A search engine user almost never puts in the keywords looking to buy something right then. Often, by the time a person is looking to buy something online they already know who they're buying from.
That's why the site I'm building right now is a content/information site. This will let me build trust, even a relationship, with my future customers. They'll know me, like me, trust me. When I start selling them things based on my site, it'll be better received.
Returning to the main point, what bubbles to the surface is love and health, which gives me more of an idea what to do with the site and even how to title it: "Love and Health: Mountain Wisdom."
All I need to do know is create a site. To show that ANY site can rank well, I'm just going to sign up for a blog from the folks at Blogger and get the blog name loveandhealth. That will give me a URL of loveandhealth.blogspot.com.
While it is better if the key words I'm going to optimize for are part of the root of the domain, having it in a sub domain is better than nothing.
Which brings me to a point: Whenever possible, you want your domain name to contain the most important keyword or two at the most that you intend to focus on.
Further, if you're smart, you'll use Google Trends to help you to determine what your most important keywords are. What I'm also doing, if you'll note, is making sure that my site name contains my keywords FIRST: "Love And Health: Mountain Wisdom." In other words, I'm optimizing very heavily on those two keywords. These are terms which I know from my research have lots of searches for the market I'm looking to pursue.
At this point it is time to create the account. Now, from a search engine optimization perspective, you want your menus on the right side of the page, and you don't want any "quick links" or anything like that at the top of the page unless the link text is also keywords for which you are optimizing. There are other articles SEO Chat that explain why. That limits the site templates I can use, but there are some good ones; I think I'll go for "TicTac." I complete setting up the options I want, then move on to creating the first post.
If you go to loveandhealth.blogspot.com you will see my first post and the ultimate beginning of the site (at least as of this writing; of course the site is going to evolve as we go forward and more articles are produced). Notice that I'm putting my keywords in bold. That is yet another hint to the search engines that those words are important to the site. Now don't abuse that, because over emphasizing keywords can get you penalized. Since this is the first post I'm not overly worried about it.
Now, what if you already have a site that is built? What you want to do is check the keywords you're optimizing for against Google Trends. Could you improve your traffic by changing the keywords you're focusing on? Could a slight change in the focus of your site improve traffic and sales? Running comparisons like this via Trends can provide you invaluable insight into changes that you can make that will push your site into a growth spurt.
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