Five Steps to Web Page Optimization: Ranking First for Big Blue Widgets

- August 25, 2008

Web page optimization can be daunting for the beginner so we’ve put together five easy steps to optimizing a page for search engines.

1. Identify your goal. (This is always the first step in anything, but we’re going to mention it anyway). Remember that ranking number one is great but at the end of the day, the  ultimate goal is acquiring customers, so choose the keyword carefully – which leads us to the  next step.

2. Research the keyword target and make sure the keyword is right for you.

* Does anybody ever search for that keyword? It doesn’t do any good to rank number one if nobody ever looks for it.

* Is that the word people would use to find my product or  service?

* How competitive is the keyword? Who is your competition?

For example, an exact match search for “blue widgets” reveals that about 22,000 other sites are relevant for that phrase while “big blue widgets” displays only about 40. It will be much easier to get the number one spot for big blue widgets. If a keyword is too competitive, consider choosing a longer phrase containing the keyword. Ranking on page 1 for a lower traffic key phrase will bring more traffic than ranking on page 5 for a high traffic keyword.

3. Choose a page to target that key phrase. Which page you choose will depend on a couple of  factors:

* Page Content – the more precisely matched the page content is to the keyword target, the more likely that a visitor will click on your link in the search results and buy something once  they are there.
* Competitiveness of the keyword – If the keyword is highly competitive, you may need the ranking power of your homepage.

Whatever page you choose, make sure it contains clear information on how to get the product. Ranking well for the keyword doesn’t do any good if the target page doesn’t convert them into a customer.   (Did I say that already? Remember it. It’s important.)

4. Check out your competition for the keyword.

* What’s their current keyword density?
* Does the keyword appear in all of the important places, title tag, description tag, keywords tag, headline, etc. on the competitor’s page?
* How many backlinks do they have to their page and what kind of anchor text appears on those backlinks?

5. Optimize your page for the keyword.

* Put the keyword on the page in all the important places.
* Target a keyword density at or slightly above (or below) that of other top ranking sites.
* Get inbound links to the page — ideally with the keyword in the anchor text.

Alert readers will have noticed that all the steps listed here are really just extensions of the first step — identify your goal. Identifying your goal is definitely the most important step in web page optimization. The second most important step isn’t really a step but it’s still crucial. Monitor your progress and not only for how your page ranks in search engine results pages.

Compare the ranking in search engine results pages before and after and then compare the difference in traffic before and after your listing appeared.

* Make sure you give search engines enough time to crawl and index your pages. It can take up to a couple of weeks after they have crawled your page for  changes to produce results.

Compare customer conversions from the page before and after.

* Are your new visitors sticking around to become your customer or are they coming to your pages and just “bouncing away”?

Fierce competition and shifting search engine algorithms make web page optimization an ongoing process. If the results aren’t what you hoped, then maybe this wasn’t the best keyword for you or maybe the page needs a little more tweaking for keyword density or backlinks. You can always benefit from another good backlink. Maybe the page is fine for search engines, but needs to be optimized for visitors. Identifying goals, taking a step-by-step approach, monitoring your progress and never giving up are the keys to success in web page optimization.

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