SEO 2012: 7 Point Checklist for Search Engine Ranking

Social Signals to Dominate SEO in 2012

Predictions on the end of the world have been heard a hundred times and more throughout history and there is one for this year too; but it all has all come to null and so are the so called predictions about the death of the Search Engine Optimization. SEO is here to stay, probably till the end of the world (hope it is not on 21st December 2012, when the Mayan calendar ends). SEO continues to grow all the more important in 2012 adding social ranking factors to it thereby evolving into what could be called Social Media Optimizing and will do so as long as business’s with websites realize the need to get visible in the top search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. SEO and Social Media Promotion as a marketing investment would be vitally necessary for website promotion for better standing in the SERP, as such investments should turn profitable within a short period while its returns can be long lasting. But ahead of optimizing for search engines, businesses have to set the website basics right to further promotion. Here are a number of straightforward and simple steps for priming for SEO.

1. Keyword specific Domain Name

Choosing a domain name that’s relevant to or even contains the search engine keywords that your site targets can prove extra beneficial as keyword search queries can lead to your site in no time. As a keyword domain name usually tells the search engine bots what your site is about without much probing, search engines return the favor by displaying in bold the keywords used in search queries to reach your domain prompting easy clicks from the users. Bear in mind that your domain name will be the actual link that points to your web site on a search engine result page for a keyword query that you are targeting and so stay close to your keyword even if you don’t find the exact phrase. Here are two suggestions for creating an optimized domain name

  • Limit length to within 63 characters and anything above is considered long for an effective domain name.
  • Create a domain name with a key phrase relevant to your targeted content or use a Web 2.0 style name (IE Flickr) if the real word is already taken.

2. Keyword Research and Optimal Onsite Distribution

There is often found reluctance among site owners about conducting Keyword Research for Search Engine Optimization campaigns as most are under the misconception that they already know which terms a customer would use to find the site. But you could be fatally wrong and so would not only be putting valuable advertising dollars at risk, but also would be throwing away the time and energy you put into getting your site to rank for those terms. Unless a keyword search is conducted using a Keyword Tool, businesses would be facing the chance of losing out valuable opportunities to competition and ranking on the search pages. Missing out on keyword research would result in lack of traffic or less qualified traffic that won’t convert. For businesses targeting a locality, Keyword research needs to be conducted nationally at first, and then localized later by adding the city or town, state, and neighborhood for the chosen keyword to derive the best results in the local searches as searches are getting more and more personalized. Targeting wrong keywords, could the result in ending up invisible to customers, resulting in lost dollars and meaningless rankings.
Google Keyword tool offers website administrators the best research options for choosing which keywords to target as keyword research provides business owners to find out how frequently a set of keywords and a number of other related phrases are typed into the search engines and how much competition there is for each keyword or phrase. By creating a mix of both broad and targeted keywords, you can stay competitive, and I suggest that you come up all the keywords that cover the services you offer. While the broad terms are necessary to describe your website the targeted Keywords strengthen the theme created within the broader phrase frame, thereby making it easier to rank for and help bring the expected traffic. It is not only the content on the page that should be considered for keyword strategy, but wise use of it in all related elements of the website would help easy crawling by the search engine bots. Keywords should also be made use of in

  • URL
  • Title Tag
  • Meta Description Tags
  • Headings
  • Alt text
  • Anchor Text/ Navigational Links should employ the keywords for optimization of your webpage ahead of any off page SEO activity. In simple terms, this is a process of ensuring that your website is ready to be promoted to receive the kind of traffic that you are expecting.

3. URL Optimization for Better Rating

Running over 20,000 experiments in 2010-11 Google came up with more than a few hundred modifications that best served the purpose of improving search results for users. Coming out with a 125 page guideline for Google’s human URL raters, URLs of landing pages were evaluated and rated after clear comprehension of the user query based on task language and location, while making sense of its dominant interpretation based on user’s intent for a “Do-Know-Go� classifications. This scale of rating is what applies now, and will do so with a few more additions to the algorithms in 2012.

Here are a few important scoring factors for URL ratings:

  • User intent and page utility
  • Location
  • Language
  • Query interpretation
  • Specificity of the query and landing page
  • Timeliness of the informational need of the query to evaluate whether recent content is necessary

As it has become mandatory to include targeted keywords in each page’s URL, instead of having randomly generated page URLs or numbered URLs webmasters need to make it easy for search engine algorithms which have been tuned to index dynamic URL’s at a slower rate than static URLs. On a search engine page, a user is more likely to click on a link that has a recognizable URL string, which has the title of an article in the URL rather than a URL that is made up of symbols followed by some numbers and such. Search engines bots get confused if keywords in the URLs are missing just like users might. Static URLs are quite easy to optimize while dynamic URLs need to be re-written. Here are a few classy pointers for an optimized URL:

Do not create in excess of 3 subdirectories for any URL.

  • Use keywords in your URLs and categorize the Keywords in the URLs for subdirectories.
  • For easy indexing of URLs by search engines, avoid session IDs and including too many parameters that would confuse the search engine spiders.
  • Excessively hyphenated or misspelling of URLs could become spammy.
  • Rewrite dynamic URLs into ‘clean’ or static URLs wherever possible 

4. Keep Content Original The Language Flowing

If content is king and the link is the queen it should all convert into currency for any business. The internet is where people flock to find content or shop and today the average customer is far more empowered than ever. Offer the right tools to inform a customers about the buying decision and they would be glad to help themselves to them.  As consumer endlessly seek solutions to problems it becomes the job of the marketer to communicate with the customers and deliver solutions. Your content resources, press releases, web pages, articles, white papers, blogs, or whatever you have as content should compel your customer to action even if it takes the shape of a comment, share, tweet, register, enrollment, or maybe even something as simple as come back to visit the site again. If the content on your website lack the power of persuasion to engage the audience and establish trust, then it sure needs some reconsideration. There was a time when over stuffing keywords into a page would lead searchers to the page and even improve a site’s ranking, but that’s not the case anymore. Artificial inflation of Keyword frequency, scrapped, rehashed and rephrased content faces the same fate and so also content that sounds forced.

The Panda updates have erased and nullified such practices, and devalued content that it considers to be thin, scrapped, duplicated and AdCluttered. Google’s Caffeine demands you to develop original content for your site and to naturally weave the keywords into your content so as to stay within a keyword density of 15% or you would charged for spamming by the search engine bots. The Google Caffeine algorithm update ranks and indexes content for time based content and establishing who the original source of a story is, so it would do you good to publish with a time line as the emphasizes is on freshness and relevance with the most current, relevant website content rising to the top of the SERPs. Maintain a fresh supply of unique articles with more relevant information using time stamps when posting new website content and unique articles. This can help the readers while also making a difference to your rankings. Google’s main focus is on improving the user experience on Google and so, neither Google nor any other search engine can do it right if it gets the relevance of search results wrong.

5.  Socially Provoked Search Rating and Social Media Promotion

From the time that Google and Bing confirmed the fact that Twitter and Facebook have an impact on rankings, Social Media Promotion has been exploding. The introduction of Google+ and dedicated Business Pages on Google+, added more SMM value to the mix. The year 2011 witnessed the search engines growing smarter about social media and including social media signals and related metrics in their site ranking algorithms as the social networks have become the prime space for sharing and discovering. As this is the case on which site value will be built upon in the coming years, site administrators will be compelled to setup Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to promote and link to articles and other useful content on the main site.

A lot of SEO’s developed packages that offered website owners with ‘buy re-tweets’ and ‘buy Google +1 votes’ services and so, link farming has reborn in another form making some linkages less reliable. Sooner than later we can expect another Panda update to define quality over quantity of these links. On the other hand, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter have increased their market share in the social networking circles. As gaining good old fashioned organic links is definitely not going away as a ranking factor, services like Social Media Marketing Branding, creation and maintenance of Social Media Blogs are here to stay while you can expect Google to hit spammy social links and +1 vote banks with a new set of algorithms.

You can as well get your Google+ promotion, Facebook Business page setup or twitter marketed by outsourcing the job to SMM service providers, so that you can have your site link and more relevant results for your company show up when a potential client is searching for you.

6. PageSpeed as a Ranking Factor

Google algorithm update of 2011 has made PageSpeed an on-page ranking factor as delays of under a half-second can impact business metrics, while it cautions web site owners not to sacrifice relevance in the name of faster web pages. More page loading time results in less user engagement. Google gauges PageSpeed based on how a page responds to Googlebot and load time as measured by the Google Toolbar. Here are a few factors that should be looked into to increase your page speed

  • Image resizing Optimization
  • Minifying Java Script, CSS HTML
  • Removing Query Strings from Static Resources
  • Combining Images to CSS Sprites
  • Serving resources from a consistent URL
  • Optimizing order of styles and scripts

7. Link building through Directory Submission

Leading into 2012, like the previous years, link building through directory submission is still going to be the SEO trump card for the foreseeable future would hold true for all search engine algorithms to consider link popularity for PageRank until the Semantic Web arrives, or maybe when HTTP gets replaced by a new protocol. The Panda update has made Directory Submission even more valuable and productive for generating back links than ever before as now, only those directories which have a high PageRank are in business while all other around have been buried. As directory submissions require your website title, URL, description and the key words that you are connected to, make no mistake of shunning it but get your website submitted in some of the top directories on the net and be the first to enjoy the benefits of the back links they generate as BackLinks become the backbone of search phrases that you would like pointing to your website. In short, the greater the number of targeted permanent links that are pointing to your website from high ranked web sources, the more will you see search engines directing traffic to your website and so, in a short time you can expect to rank high for that specific keyword or a set of keywords. Get a free link advantage by submitting your site to DMOZ and also to a few other top ranked niche directories for a negligible cost and sit back to enjoy your BackLinks multiply. One major advantage of directory submission is that you can expect to generate three kinds of traffic from the directories where you are listed.

  • Click-Through Traffic – Your web site information is made available to users who access the directory page and there is a good chance that they will visit.
  •  Indexing – Directories will index the pages of your website once they link to it so that it can bring you immediate traffic.
  •  Higher PageRank – Directories will increase the flow of traffic through the volume of links and references to your web site and the search engine would award a better PageRank.

Make best use of links to your site from any professional associations you are a member of, which will also help build your credibility both with potential customers and the search engines. Once you have set your house in order, the next step is to launch a low-budget quick promotion campaign that will fetch you decent results which will inspire you to go for more specified marketing campaigns.

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About the author:

Hi … I am Ranki, a Journo by profession now enjoying a free fall into the future of SEO. Writing is a flow of my being, an extension of the self that is unstoppable, even if it isn’t embraced, embalmed and mummified by recognition, I can’t help it. I am here to enjoy the ride, since I have no fixed date with destiny. I am a SEO Strategist and Author at Submitinme. I fill up spaces on pages with the feeling that I am shouting from the roof tops for the SEO crowd to hear and see the latest in the field. There could be more or less of me, if you care to findout. more info…

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