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Listing Solutions, Inc. SEO Guide

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Copyright Notices All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Published by Listing Solutions, Inc. St. Augustine, Florida (904) 540-9962 Website: www.ListingSolutions.net E-mail: dave@ListingSolutions.net Š 2007 Listing Solutions, Inc. Printed in the United States of America

LEGAL NOTICES This publication is an educational reference only. It is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter discussed. It is given to you with the understanding that the publisher and author are not engaged in rendering any legal, accounting or other professional services herein. If such assistance is required, the services of a professional within such field should be sought. This publication is information only. The author has forthrightly and sincerely presented this information on the subject to the best of her knowledge as of the date of publication. The author takes no responsibility in the business dealings pursued by readers of this publication and makes no income guarantees. As with any business, success is a function of the readers’ work ethic, actions and ingenuity in implementing the information outlined herein. The author shall not be liable for any contacts, negotiations, agreements or contracts that may result from information in this publication or for any damage caused or alleged to have been caused in any manner from this information. It is recommended that the reader rely on his or her own judgment and experience in the utilization of any of the ideas, techniques or suggestions contained in this publication.


Contents Listing Solutions, Inc. Search Engine Optimization Guide

Contents .................................................................................................................................................................. 3 What is Search Engine Optimization? ................................................................................................................. 4 Getting Started........................................................................................................................................................ 4 What are Robots? ............................................................................................................................................... 5 What are SERPs? ................................................................................................................................................. 6 What is Page Rank? ............................................................................................................................................. 7 What Are Meta Tags? ......................................................................................................................................... 8 Meta Tags - Keywords ..................................................................................................................................... 8 Meta Tags - Description .................................................................................................................................. 9 Meta Tags – Finding Your Keywords ............................................................................................................. 10 Optimizing Your Website ...................................................................................................................................... 10 Meta Tags - Developing Your Descriptions ................................................................................................... 11 The Importance of Site Content ................................................................................................................... 12 Avoiding the Mirror Site Dilemma .................................................................................................................... 15 Linking To Other Sites - Reciprocal Links .......................................................................................................... 16 Reciprocal Links............................................................................................................................................. 17 Getting listed in DMOZ.org ............................................................................................................................... 17 Blogging ............................................................................................................................................................. 18 Summary ........................................................................................................................................................... 19


Getting Started What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing (or simply improving) your website content so that it can be indexed by search engines and found more quickly by those that are already looking for your services. When your website is poorly optimized, you are making it difficult for potential customers and clients to find your website on the Internet. By optimizing your company website, you greatly improve your chances of being found on the Internet and capturing those that are most likely to buy your services because they are already looking for you.

The process of Search Engine Optimization can seem overwhelming at first, but it is actually a very simple process. The techniques, changes, and improvements that will be discussed throughout this manual are referred to as Organic Search Engine Optimization. Organic Search Engine Optimization may sound like a highly technical word, but the simplest way to explain it is that it is a process of including content rich information on your website using key words, descriptions, and links to other websites to tell search engines what your website is about, what services you offer, and in turn allow potential clients and customers to find you more quickly on the Internet.

Everything that will be discussed throughout this manual will be broken down and simplified to make the process of Search Engine Optimization easier for you and your company.


What are Robots?

Referred to as many different names (including Web Crawler, Web spider, Bots, or Web robot), robots are programs and automated scripts that browse the Internet to provide up-to-date information to search engines and improve search results for end-users.

When a robot visits your site, it not only compares your keywords, description, and content, but it also follows links that you include in your website. While we will get to the importance of links later, this is an important factor in your website optimization.

The robot, being an automated script, then makes a decision about the importance of your page and relevant content. This information is then used by search engines to index your site and rank it. While all websites are indexed, it is the ranking part of the process that you should be most concerned about. Getting indexed by a robot is simply a matter of having a website, while being ranked highly is a matter of how you optimize your website and how easy it is for robots to crawl and index your website in comparison with your competition’s websites.

For the purposes of this manual, we will be concentrating on optimizing your website for robots, Web Crawlers, Web Spiders and other programs. While these same techniques can be used for any type of website, the specifics of this manual will enable you to quickly and easily optimize your website as a small business owner in your local area.


What are SERPs?

When using a search engine, SERPs are simply the Search Engine Results Pages. These are the pages that appear with listings when searching for something on the Internet. When you enter the term ‘virtual tour company’ in a search engine such as Google, several results will appear. If you were to perform the search right now you would notice that Real Tour Vision holds the number one spot on Google as a result of your search for ‘virtual tour company’. While reading this manual, keep in mind that you are not trying to compete with national companies, but you ARE trying to compete with your local competition. Your goal in optimizing your website is to hold the number one spot for your business type in YOUR area.


What is Page Rank?

There are many factors that determine the ranking of your website. Google uses page rank to display a numerical rating that is basically a measure of the importance of your website compared to other websites. While the term Page Rank is a trademark of Google, a similar process is used by all search engines in deciding which websites to display at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs).

The higher your page rank; the better the chances your website has in appearing first when someone is looking for your business type in your area. While improving your page rank may take some time and effort on your part, once done correctly it is a free form of advertising that works for you time and time again. There are several different ways to improve your page rank, including hiring a professional. We will be going over simple ways to improve your page rank without spending a lot of money on a Search Engine Optimization Consultant. While we do provide these services for our clients, we have provided this complimentary manual to help you, should you choose to optimize your business website yourself.


What Are Meta Tags? Robots need more than just website content to correctly categorize a worldwide network of websites. Meta tags help search engines understand the information that a given website is presenting. We will be focusing on two specific type of Meta tags; keywords and description. In order to see the Meta tags of a certain webpage, all you have to do is right-click and select ‘view source’. Below are screenshots highlighting specific Meta tags that we will be discussing.

Meta Tags - Keywords

Keywords tell a robot what that particular page is about. By themselves keywords will not get you categorized in the search engines for the words that you choose to put in your Meta data. The keywords you choose must also appear on the Web page where you insert the key words. Over the years, robots have


become much more sophisticated due, in part, to something called ‘keyword spamming’, unless there is content on the page that relates to the keywords, your keywords may be ignored.

Meta Tags - Description

The description of your website is Meta data that allows you, as a website owner, to provide a custom description of your website for search engines to display. This allows you to give a more meaningful description for your listing, instead of allowing search engines to create their own descriptions based on page content. Your description should be short and concise as most search engines only display one or two lines of text below the title of your website. It’s also important that you create different descriptions for each of your pages. You will want the description of your ‘about us’ webpage to be different than your ‘contact us’ page, and your ‘services’ webpage to be different from your ‘pricing’ page. This will improve the chances that


Optimizing Your Website

your target customers and clients will find the information that they need more quickly. Once a prospective customer or client does find your website in a search engine result page, you’ll want your description to draw them to click on your link.

Meta Tags – Finding Your Keywords Using an internet tool named Word Tracker; I found the following most frequently used keywords when searching for a virtual tour provider. They are as follows: Real estate virtual tours Virtual home tours Virtual tours for realtors Virtual tours real estate Virtual tours of million-dollar homes Virtual 360 home tours 360 virtual tour 360 virtual tours Virtual tour provider Virtual tour service provider 360 tours 360° virtual tour hotels 360 virtual home tours Virtual tour company Home tour 360 virtual tour providers 360 panorama, virtual tour

If you were a virtual tour provider, then all of these would be extremely good keywords to have on your


web site, however you must keep in mind that using these generic keywords would put you in direct competition with ALL virtual tour companies. Remember, you are only competing with companies in areas that YOU service. So, when you use keywords, be sure to use the name of towns, cities, or counties that you service. For example, the first keyword you may want to use if you were in the Dallas, Texas area is ‘Dallas real estate virtual tours.’ If you were in the New York City area, you may want to use a keyword such as ‘New York City 360 tours’. If you service a certain county like Orange County California, you may want to use ‘Orange County virtual tour company.’ Note: Keywords are NEVER full sentences.

Meta Tags - Developing Your Descriptions Your descriptions should accurately describe the information presented on a particular webpage. You can also use a description to tell potential customers and clients why they should click on your link instead of any other link displayed in the Search Engine Result Pages. An example of this would be to put something such as ‘10% off your first order’ or ‘multi-location packages available.’

When using the description as suggested above with a coupon or multi-package offering, be sure to include information on that webpage that describes the offer or the description may be ignored or disregarded. If the description does not accurately describe the information that is presented on the webpage, you will also immediately lose the interest of the potential client or customer when they are disappointed to find out that the webpage contains absolutely no information about the description that they saw on the Search Engine Results Page.


The Importance of Site Content

Your website content consists of everything that is displayed when someone visits your website. This includes the text that they read, the visuals that they see, and the audio that they hear. For the purposes of this manual when I refer to content I will be referring to the textual part of your website as this is what is indexed by robots.

Quick side note: flash websites cannot be indexed by robots for the simple reason that robots cannot read flash. If you choose to have a flash website you will have to spend extra time entering HTML links and content to your website in order to get indexed and categorized correctly.


Your website content has several different purposes. While it is important that your website content relate to your keywords and description, it is equally, if not more, important that the content entices and engages visitors so that they stay on your website. Your content should be up to date, easily readable, and exude a sense of expertise in your industry.

While preparing the content of your website, create each page individually. Creating one page at a time allows you to concentrate on the information that will be presented on that page without overlapping information from other pages. Start out by choosing your keywords and deciding what the description of that particular page will be.


Once you’ve decided what your webpage will be about, start a rough draft and include as much information on that webpage as possible. Talking about the industry, your equipment, your services, and including information on your unique way of doing business. Speak to your visitors on a more personal level rather than just listing ‘the facts’. This will help to keep visitors interested in your website and get them one step closer to contacting you.

Once you have your first rough draft, go back and make sure that you have included your keywords throughout the text. You want to make sure that your keywords are in several places throughout your draft. If you have several keywords in the beginning, none in the middle, and then a lot at the end you will want to try to insert sentences that include your keywords and keep your keyword content even throughout the page.

Now that you’ve checked for keyword consistency, you’ll now have your second rough draft. Take a look at the description that you originally decided would describe your webpage. Make sure the description is included somewhere in your webpage. It should not be word for word and the description should be easily interpreted by both human and robot alike. Basically, this means that if a robot were to search your webpage it would find the content to match the description and keywords. Likewise, a human visitor would easily be able to see that the description of your site matches the information that is presented on your webpage.

Once you are happy with the changes that you have made to your second rough draft, you will now have your third rough draft. Now it’s time to sit down, and read your content out loud. Anything that does not make sense will need to be changed for readability and understandability. It may even help at this point to have someone else read your content out loud to you, before finally adding the content to your site.


With Organic Search Engine Optimization, content is King. Your content can mean the difference between being indexed and highly ranked as the number one spot for your business in your area OR being completely disregarded by robots and never seen by potential clients and customers.

Avoiding the Mirror Site Dilemma

If you purchased a ‘ready-made’ website, you basically have a template. This means that everything that is included with the website including a copy is essentially ‘canned’. The copy, or textual, part of your website will be the same as the copy on every other business owner’s website that purchased a template similar to yours. This presents a problem when trying to get indexed and categorized by robots. When robots see similar copy on several different websites, the websites are classified as ‘mirror sites’ or essentially the same site over and over again. The robot then makes a decision that all of these websites are the same exact website, regardless if there is different contact information on each, and this will do nothing to improve your ranking on search engines.

Should you decide to purchase, or if you have purchased, a ‘ready-made’ website, the most important thing that you need to do is to customize the website to your unique business. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. You must go through each and every one of your pages and customize the copy (text) for your company.


Linking To Other Sites - Reciprocal Links

Your website may contain a ‘links’ page. You’ll need to add relevant links to this page. Some links to consider are as follows: Your local Chamber of Commerce Your local business association National industry associations Other relevant websites Try to link to pages that have a Page Rank of 5 or above.


Some other links to consider are other local associations, county websites, township websites, and other websites that would be of interest to your clients and customers.

Reciprocal Links Reciprocal links are simply links that you receive back from other websites while displaying links to their websites on yours. You can do this by becoming a member of the Chamber of Commerce and having your site listed on their website and then listing a link to their website on yours. You can do this with various businesses by becoming an affiliate, listing your website on their website and then listing their website on yours. Doing this over and over again tells search engines that your website has content relevant to your estate industry.

Getting listed in DMOZ.org Once your website is up & running, has been customized to your liking, and has been search engine optimized, take the time to get your site listed in DMOZ.org.

DMOZ is the single largest open directory project for categorizing and indexing the Internet. The difference between DMOZ and all other types of sites that categorize and index the Internet is that DMOZ is human edited by volunteers. Many major search engines use DMOZ as a basis for their categorizing and indexing. While not officially stated by search engines, you generally receive a higher ranking for your website when you are listed in DMOZ. The reasoning behind this is that the companies that own the search engines know that if you have been listed in DMOZ, then a human has actually verified your website, verified your description, and categorized you manually.


Once your website is ready, go to DMOZ.org and find the most relevant category for your business and click on suggest URL at the top left hand corner. Be sure to follow all of the instructions carefully. Being a volunteer, human edited, open directory Project, the editors have little patience for those that refuse to follow instructions carefully. It may take you several months to actually get listed in DMOZ, but be patient, because it is worth it. Another point to consider when listing your site with DMOZ is to refrain from submitting your site more than once. It has been more than four months since you submitted your website; it’s probably safe to try to resubmit your website, because you may have done something wrong in your initial submission. However, submitting your site over and over again will simply get you banned from ever being listed in DMOZ.

Blogging Blogging, while relatively new on the Internet, has become an essential part of Search Engine Optimization. When writing blogs, be sure to include links to relevant content related to the subject matter of your blog. Also, be sure to place a link back to your website with each and every blog submission you make. Get in the habit of sending a short blog once a week to the blog of your choice. Choose a blog that has a relatively high ranking, is updated regularly and is frequently indexed by Google. Doing this means that your blog will have a high chance of showing as a top 10 results in your area. Be sure to include the service area that you service somewhere in the copy of your blog so that if someone in your area is looking for your company type, Google will see the search terms in your blog and direct that person to you. As with websites, avoid creating blog ‘mirrors’. If you submit a blog to one website, do not place the same blog in another community. Instead, use the same title as your original blog and then include the first few lines of your blog with a link back to your original blog. This will prevent search engines from seeing your blog as duplicate content and disregarding them as blog spam.


Summary

While it may take you a little time, Search Engine Optimization is an important part of marketing your business. By optimizing your website you are improving the chances of being found by potential clients and customers that are already looking for you on the Internet.

Although, the process of Search Engine Optimization can seem a bit daunting at first, it is actually a very simple process that takes a little time and effort on your part. The techniques, changes, and improvements that have been discussed throughout this manual will help you greatly increase your chances of capturing those clients that are most likely to do business with you. Remember, they are already out there looking for your services and if you are not there to be found, you’re only helping your competition.

If you ever have any questions about Search Engine Optimization, please feel free to send me an email at dave@ListingSolutions.net. While we welcome your phone calls regarding SEO, sending us an email allows us to give you a much more detailed answer and allows you the opportunity to go back to that email at anytime in the future.

Listing Solutions, Inc. 2465 US 1 South, Suite 68 St. Augustine, Florida 32086 (904) 540-9962 Website: www.ListingSolutions.net E-mail: dave@ListingSolutions.net


SEO Guide