By Shane Fell, VP Business Development – Top Floor Technologies

1. Select the Right Keywords 

Being found on the first page of Google only matters if you are looking at the right keywords.  Any successful SEO campaign begins with keyword phrase analysis.  When performing a keyword analysis, your goal is to identify a specific list of phrases that your target customers use when searching for the products, services, and capabilities that you offer.

Rather than guessing the keywords your customers are searching for, use the Google Keyword Tool (adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal).  The Google Keyword Tool provides useful, free information to help you select effective keyword phrases.  The tool shows how frequently keywords are searched for, how competitive they are, and other related keywords to consider.  This information can prove invaluable.  It is not uncommon to find dozens of keyword phrase variations used to search for the same product or service.  The Google Keyword tool allows you to compare these variations and select the best areas of focus for your optimization efforts.

When selecting keywords, keep in mind that the quality of Website visits is more important than the quantity.  As a general rule, the more focused a keyword phrase is, the more qualified the visitor will be.  Let’s consider the example of a plastics manufacturer.  A good target customer would almost certainly not search for “plastic” or “plastics,” as these words alone are far too generic.  On the other hand, they may search for terms like “plastic injection molded parts” or “custom plastic parts manufacturer.”  If your business is regional in nature, search engine users may add geographic modifiers to their search queries, such as “plastic injection molders Wisconsin.”  Selecting targeted keyword phrases has the dual benefit of increasing your chances for higher Google placement, while attracting more qualified Website visits.

2. Update Your Website Content

In order to be indexed by Google (and other search engines like Yahoo and Bing) you need to use your keyword phrases within the content of your Website.  Review your list of target keyword phrases and identify the page(s) of your Website related to each phrase.  Use these keyword phrases in your Web page titles, headers, and content.  Avoid the mistake of trying to place a large group of keywords on any single page of your site.  Rather, focus on one or two phrases that directly relate to each unique page of content.  You may discover that you need to add new pages to your Website in order to optimize some of your keywords.

3. Acquire Inbound Links

When other Websites link to your site, your credibility increases in the eyes of Google; helping to improve your rankings.  Here are a few areas to explore when building links:

  • Internet directory listings
  • Associations
  • Complimentary businesses
  • Trade show Websites
  • Articles
  • Press releases
  • Blog postings

Not all links are created equal.  The more important the Website is that links to you, the more weight the link will carry on your behalf.  Links with keyword-rich anchor text are particularly powerful.  Anchor text refers to the words that users click to link to your site.  Let’s say you wanted to bolster your rankings for the search term “metal casting services.”  A great approach would include pursuing links from other sites to yours, where the actual link to your site includes the words metal casting services.  While this approach is not feasible with every inbound link, it is a great way to build credibility with Google for specific keyword phrases.

Search engine optimization is a critical component of an effective marketing campaign, and should be viewed as an important ongoing initiative.  Search engines regularly tweak their rules for ranking Websites, and competitors change their focus as they become more aware of SEO opportunities. Have a plan in place to monitor your rankings, look for new opportunities, and implement updates aimed at improving your results.  While a comprehensive SEO campaign involves more than the steps outlined here, following these guidelines will you get your SEO efforts headed in the right direction.

Shane Fell is vice president of business development for Top Floor Technologies of Milwaukee.  He writes and lectures extensively on electronic marketing. [email protected]