Search Engine FAQs
Expand All | Collapse All
The BasicsWhat is search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)?
Search engine marketing (SEM) deals with paid inclusion such as sponsored or pay-per-click listings.
- Give visitors the information they are looking for. Offer unique content that visitors can’t find elsewhere.
- Make sure other sites link to yours.
- Make sure your site is easily accessible (that Google can find all the pages).
- Don’t try to trick Google, but do make sure your pages are optimized.
A new site that targets competitive keywords (especially real estate, vacation rentals, hotels, non-regional keywords, etc.) may take six months to a year to get high rankings if there are good inbound links and lots of optimized pages with good information. An established site might get the same result within 3-6 months.
Most websites receive search engine traffic from HUNDREDS of different search queries (keywords). It can be very difficult for websites in highly competitive industries to rank page one for their most popular keyword phrase. Take the phrase “Destin vacation rentals.” That is a very popular search phrase, but it is only one phrase folks might use. Other searches might include “waterfront vacation condos in Destin Florida” or “vacation rentals near shopping in Destin.” These are called long-tail keywords. They are based on the idea that you can get more search engine visitors through a variety of low-volume queries instead of a handful of major keywords. The benefits are that long tail keywords are often easier and quicker to rank for and can lead to higher sales conversion rates.
The best way to judge the success of your SEO program is not through just a handful of keyword rankings, but by how much traffic your website is receiving (shown in your website stats) and how many sales you are making.
Because of the nature of organic (nonpaid) search engine listings, we can’t guarantee specific results. If you need specific rankings immediately, then you should consider pay-per-click advertising.
Usability: Really long pages are hard to read and navigate. Visitors won’t want to read through all your information to find the one tidbit they’re looking for. And if they aren’t happy, they’ll just go to a different site.
Search Engine Rankings: If you want people to find your site in the search engines, you need to optimize your pages for the keyword phrases you think they will search on. THE KICKER: You can only target a limited number of keyword phrases per page! If all of your information is on just a few pages, you’ll only be able to target a few keywords.
For more information on how to target the keywords on each page, see our FAQ, “What is the best way to target the keywords on my pages and how many keywords can I target per page?”
Total Core Search Share Report for January 2012 (U.S.)
|Search Network||% of searches|
Source: comScore, Inc.
A lot of our SEO information is geared toward Google because it is the most popular, but what works for Google will often work for the other search engines as well.
- Blog about new content or services
A blog post on your site is a great way to let visitors know about new content or services. Other webmasters who follow your site could pick the story up as well. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on adding a blog to your site.
- Don’t forget about offline promotion
If you have a business website, make sure its web address is listed on your business cards, letterhead, posters, radio and TV advertising, etc.
- Use Social Networking sites
Social networks are online communities of individuals based on common interests such as friendship, hobbies, business, schools, affiliations, etc. CYber SYtes can help you take advantage of the networks with our Social Networking Service. Contact us at 850-233-5514 ext. 218 for more details or visit our social networking page.
- Participate in pay-per-click or buy online ads
Paid advertising can send even more targeted traffic to your site. Get more information on pay-per-click and ad buys.
- Add your business to Google’s Local Business Center or other map sites
This can help you reach customers on Google Maps and web searches. To see if your site is already listed search your domain name at Google maps, visit Google — then contact our office if you’d like to utilize our Local Listing Service.
Getting Good RankingsI don't want to become an expert, what is the short answer for good rankings?
Good rankings are based on three main things:
- Being indexed: Optimize the site so that the search engines can find and list all pages. Use your target keywords effectively throughout the site.
- Being more relevant than your competition: Add lots of original, optimized information (content) to the site on an ongoing basis. Don’t just copy text from other websites.
- Being more important than your competition: Get inbound links and participate in Social Networking.
Do ALL three of these things better than your competition.
Here are some of the factors Google considers when it decides how to rank pages in their search results:
Optimization. Is you site setup the way Google likes? Are your EXACT keywords used effectively throughout the site? Can Google find and index all the pages on your site?
Relevance. How relevant is your website to the user’s search? Do you have more information about the topic than your competitors? Do you update your site often? A page is relevant if it matches the search query and the interest of the user. For a page to be relevant, it must have information about your keyword phrases! Relevance is also based on geography and in some cases a user’s web history. This personalization is why all searchers may not see the exact same results for a search query.
Importance. How important is your site? Google uses over two hundred components in determining the importance of a page. Do you have more and better quality inbound links than your competitors? Do you have better “buzz” than your competitors in social networking (FaceBook, Twitter, Google +1, etc.)? Do links go to many pages on your site or just the homepage? What keywords are used when other sites link to you?
Page Rank. This number out of a possible 10 is based on the quality (rather than quantity) of incoming and natural links. Natural means free, unpaid links from other good sites.
Domain age. How long has your domain name been around? Google may consider older websites more trustworthy.
Cache age. How often does Google visit your site to re-index the pages? The more you update, the more they’ll visit.
Length of domain name registration. The longer you register your domain name for, the more serious Google will consider your website.
Natural links are free, unpaid links from other good sites. They develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web. Other sites find your information valuable and think it would be helpful for their visitors.
- So, will getting inbound links help your rankings? Yes!
- Do you need to get a ton of links? No, quality is more important than quantity.
- Will purchased links help rankings? Not according to Google; but they can bring your site more traffic.
- Are there any types of links I should avoid? Bad links would include those from link farms (hundreds of unrelated links on one page) and link programs that ask you to hide suspect code on your site.
- How do I get natural links? Watch for related, professional sites you think might be willing to give you a link. Often, it only takes a quick email to the site owner. Some sites may also request a link in return. These exchanged links can be placed anywhere on your site, but it’s usually helpful to put them on a separate “related links” or “resources” page. If your site doesn’t have a links page, you can request one using the update form at: http://www.cysy.com/updatemysite.php . You can also use the same form to request a link be added to your site. Social networking also has plenty of opportunities for links — FaceBook posts, Tweets, getting mentioned on forums, blogs, and profile pages, commenting on blogs, blogrolls, pingbacks, etc.
We can’t know exactly how much or why keywords in the domain name help, but they do seem to make a difference for several reasons:
- When you include your domain name on your own site, then those keywords get more exposure on your own pages.
- When other sites link to your site with a link like http://www.yourdomain.com, then the keywords in the domain name are included in the link text. Keywords in link text is a very important factor in ranking.
- Note that you can only fit a couple of keywords in a domain name, but searchers may use hundreds of different keyword combinations to find your site. In the final analysis, domain names were created so people could locate things on the Web. The gain in search engine traffic shouldn’t outweigh a good, easy-to-understand name for your potential site visitors.
It’s OK to have multiple domains pointing to one site BUT THERE IS NO SEO OR RANKING BENEFIT! Google is very particular about how you use multiple domain names.
In the Google Webmaster Guidelines, it says you should NOT have the same content on different domains; but, if there is a reason why you need multiple domains for the same site then use a “301 redirect”. This means “this site has permanently moved” from one domain to the other. That is something we can setup, but there is NO SEO ranking benefit. It simply tells Google that one is the main site and not to index the other site.
Some people need multiple domains pointing to one site because they a) have links or advertising pointing to both sites and they don’t want to lose the traffic from either domain, b) have different domains that are easy to remember for different products, c) they buy another company that comes with its own domain name(s), or d) they simply don’t want their competitors to have the other names.
If you don’t use a 301 redirect but have duplicate sites at both domains, then Google will most likely index the oldest domain name and ignore all or most of the other site. There is some speculation that there is also a penalty from Google if you don’t use a 301 redirect–we don’t know for sure.
Which domain should be your main site? Older domains with more inbound links are usually the best.
If you DO want SEO benefit from both domains, then you could create a SEPARATE and UNIQUE website for each domain. Do not simply copy the website or even use the same text. Each site needs to stand on its own — even if one is just a small website. This also means you would need to advertise and maintain each site separately. If you don’t want the cost associated with two sites, then we recommend you point both domains to the same website with the realization it won’t help rankings.
Blogs give you an easy way to add new, optimized content to your website.
- CYber SYtes customers: Email email@example.com for our free download “Tips for Business Blogging”. This document gives the advantages of blogging, tips for maintaining a successful blog, and ideas for blog posts.
YES! Social networking can help your site through both increased inbound links and direct traffic referrals. Get more information on social networking.
Google (and other search engines) do not publish their exact ranking strategies. We have found the best way to ensure that your site shows up for your target keywords is to optimize your site for those keywords and to get other sites to link to your site using the keywords in the link text.
If there is a specific keyword you want more information on, we can run a detailed analysis and compare your site against the Google page one sites for that keyword. The report will show how your site compares to the the page one listings for ranking factors such as age of domain name, number of pages on the site, number of inbound links, important directory listings, on-page ranking factors, and others.
If your rankings slip, it may be because there is new competition that is outperforming your site, structural or recent changes to your site have affected your rankings, or your site is stale and needs updating. Also, Google makes continual updates to their ranking algorithms. On average Google makes around 350 – 400 changes per year, or around one per day!
All About KeywordsWhat are keywords and why are they important?
“Keywords” are any individual words or groups of words (phrases) that people type into search engines to find websites and are also known as “search queries.” Usually, the capitalization of the keyword doesn’t matter, but the order of the words and whether the words are plural or singular does matter.
To rank high for specific keyword phrases, you should optimize your pages for those EXACT phrases.
Your list of target keywords (and keyword phrases) should be chosen to reflect realistic searches people might use to find your company, services, or products. For example, a search for “real estate” returns over 596 million pages at Google. It would unlikely to rank high for such a broad search.
More realistic phrases for a regional real estate company would be “waterfront condos for sale in Destin Florida” or “three bedroom homes for sale in Panama City Beach.” These types of keywords are called long-tail keywords; they are based on the idea that you can get more search engine visitors through a variety of low-volume queries instead of a handful of major keywords. The benefits are that long tail keywords are often easier and quicker to rank for and can lead to higher sales conversion rates.
If keywords are not provided to us, we’ll pick the best ones we can based on the information in your site, recommendations from the search engines, and our experience. You can also order a detailed keyword analysis for your site. This analysis helps us rule out keywords that don’t get searched or that have too much competition. You’ll be able to see which keywords you can rank for more quickly in the short term and which keywords should be long-term goals. It can also help answer questions such as: Do more people search using Panama City or Panama City Beach? South Walton or 30A? Florida, FL or no state at all? Do more searchers look for coupons, specials, deals, discounts or the word cheap? Do more people type rhinoplasty or nose job? Websites or web sites? Reservations or bookings? Buy or purchase? Summer rentals or beach rentals? Etc.
If you want people to find your site in the search engines, you need to optimize your pages for the keyword phrases you think they will search on. THE KICKER: You can only target a limited number of keyword phrases per page!
For less competitive phrases:
We recommend no more than three main keyword phrases (all related to the same topic) per page. How do you know if a keyword phrase is competitive? Search the phrase in Google. Are there less than 50,000 pages in the search results? Then one page on that topic may be enough. On that page, you can target up to three exact keyword phrases and include secondary keywords as well.
For more competitive phrases:
We recommend targeting only ONE specific keyword phrase per page.
- Use your keyword phrase in the search engine title and the page heading. Use variations of the keyword phrase in subheadings.
- Use at least 250 words of text per page. In the first paragraph use the keyword phrase at least once but not more than twice. Throughout the text use the phrase a few times but only where it makes sense and reads naturally. In the final paragraph use the phrase at least once.
- Use the keyword phrase in text links to the page. (Links from other websites to the page will help rankings too!)
If you have lots of keywords you want to rank for, then you may need a lot of pages. You may want to consider adding a blog, a database, or another content management system so you can add new pages yourself. That way, when you find keyword phrases that need a boost, you can add new pages to support those phrases. Or, if you don’t want to add the pages yourself, our team of content developers and SEO specialists can add new pages for you.
We do not advise hiding keywords on pages or trying to stuff too many keywords on any one page. Your pages should always cater to visitors first, and search engines second. Any attempts to trick search engines into higher rankings can get your site banned or demoted.
If a page is optimized for a specific phrase but still doesn’t rank as high as you’d like there may be other factors at play. Google uses lots of criteria in ranking sites and on-page optimization is just one of them.
No. Google will pick keywords for each page based on the information on the page, the keywords in your search engine title, in the keywords used in links from other sites to the page and in images and filenames.
Administrative ItemsDo you guarantee rankings?
Because we do not own the search engines and directories, we have no direct control over where your site will rank, how fast your site will be included, or when a site might drop you — that is up to the individual search engines. Per Google’s own website, “No one can guarantee first place in search results — not even Google employees.”
However, we do offer ways to help your site get listed faster and rank better. We have over 15 years of experience in SEO and have helped hundreds of clients increase targeted traffic from the search engines.
- Keyword rankings. This is often the first thing people look at, but is not the best measure of success. There can be hundreds of keyword phrases that send visitors to your site in any one month, and the advent of “personalized search” has changed the keyword ranking dynamic.
- Check site statistics for the total number of monthly visits. Webalizer stats are included with most CYber SYtes hosting accounts.
- Use Google Analytics or Webmaster tools to track non-paid search engine traffic. Analytics or Webmaster tools can be added to your site for a small fee.
- Track online orders and referrals.
- Track other online statistics such as how many folks signup for a mailing list or download a particular file.
We have many SEO clients who rank at the top of the search engines for their industry’s main keyword searches.
View some of our clients’ keyword phrases that ranked page one on Google in the first quarter of 2010.
We never use “black hat” or shady optimization techniques to try to trick the search engines because those practices can get your site demoted or banned. We do use webmaster recommendations from Google, Yahoo! and MSN to optimize your site.