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Natural Search Engine Optimization Chapter 1

That's the dream of site owners everywhere as they seek to attain the highest search engine rankings for their sites. It's the Web's equivalent of having the best storefront location. The process of attaining those high rankings is called search engine optimization (SEO).

"We're number one!"

That's the dream of site owners everywhere as they seek to attain the highest search engine rankings for their sites. It's the Web's equivalent of having the best storefront location. The process of attaining those high rankings is called search engine optimization (SEO).

The SEO process consists of two main components: on-site optimization and off-site optimization. On-site SEO focuses on three objectives: keyword-optimizing your content, effective content creation, and strategic cross-linking. Off-site SEO focuses on maximizing the number and popularity of inbound links with keywords that match your particular subject.

In the past, on-site optimization was enough to boost your website rankings. But the abuse of some meta tags and other SEO shenanigans such as invisible text and keyword stuffing(1) have forced search engines to weigh external factors, such as inbound links, more heavily than on-site optimization.

So, how do you achieve your SEO dream now? Today's successful SEO strategy requires a long-term approach with frequent postings, targeted content, and regular online promotion designed to boost inbound links - in short, a combination of off-site and on-site SEO.

The Benefits of SEO

The benefits of high rankings are many. The chapter briefly documents the effects of high rankings on sites including higher conversion rates, higher traffic, and higher perceived credibility. Studies have shown that most people only look at the first few pages of results, with about 75% only looking at the first SERP (Search Engine Result Page).

Best and Worst SEO Practices

The chapter goes on to briefly outline some common barriers that harm the rankings of websites, and some solutions. The bulk of the chapter shows the top 10 SEO best practices with a tutorial using a hypothetical client. Using this example, the chapter shows how to research and optimize keyphrases, write keyword optimized meta information (title, meta description, headers, body copy etc.), search-friendly URIs, and how to promote your site for maximum rankings. Along the way the chapter covers:


Keyword stuffing
is a practice whereby keywords are "stuffed" within HTML elements too many times."Too many" varies with each HTML element and search engine.For example, Google may flag more than three uses of the same phrase in an HTML title tag, but multiple keywords within body text is OK.In general, adopting an approach that uses natural, sentence-like titles and text is best.
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Pan, al.2007."In Google We Trust: Users' Decisions on Rank, Position, and Relevance."
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (3): 801-823. Most people click on the first SERP result.
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Internet Research 17 (1): 21-37.Inlinks, PageRank, and domain age (to some degree after the second SERP) help rankings.The number of pages did not correlate with higher rankings.
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Nielsen, J. March 3, 2008. "Company Name First in Microcontent? Sometimes!"
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Sistrix. May 2007. "Google Ranking Factors." (accessed March 26, 2008).Sistrix found that keywords in h1 headers did not correlate with higher rankings, but having keywords in h2-h6 headers did correlate. In German.
Sistrix. "Google Ranking Factors."
Sistrix found that keywords in hostnames correlated with higher rankings in SERPs, especially for positions 1 to 5.
Morville, P. June 21, 2004. "User Experience Design."
Semantic Studios, publications/semantics/000029.php (accessed February 9, 2008). Figure 1-13 used by permission.
Spenser, S. July 23, 2007. "Underscores are now word separators, proclaims Google."
CNET, http://www. (accessed March 21, 2008).This summary of a talk given by Matt Cutts of Google includes query string information. "Google PageRank Table-Compare Pagerank Values." table.htm (accessed February 9, 2008).
Boser, G. March 11, 2007. "Understanding the 301 redirect."
SEO Buzz Box, understanding-the-301-redirect/ (accessed March 29, 2008).
Cutts, M. January 4, 2006. "SEO advice: discussing 302 redirects.", blog/seo-advice-discussing-302-redirects/ (accessed March 29, 2008). in-a-hurry/

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