There are NO Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Secrets or Tricks

Posted by Alan / on 01/19/2010 / 2 Comments

Provided you're working with the right web strategy & development company - the necessary on-site SEO requirements will be built into your content management system and shown to you - if not - you're with the wrong company or freelance dude.

The books and articles have been written and Google has been VERY clear about the foundation of on-site SEO - bottom-line as small business owners - you don't need to hire an SEO consultant, buy information on the subject or go to a seminar - It's just not necessary... at this point it should be included in your website development/design package - if it's not, you may want to spend a bit more time finding the right company to assist you in your website development and strategy.

SEO and ranking well in the search engines with keywords is a long road to travel - there are a couple of exceptions like video, which we'll get into in other articles - otherwise, you must be committed to seeing it through and make it a part of your daily, weekly, monthly and annual marketing tasks.

Meaning, it's a process and requires quality and consistency across the board to knock-out a competitor who is already deemed to be the best choice in Google's algorithm.

Finally, of course ranking well in the search engines is a great traffic driver and will certainly increase your exposure, however there are many other faster, targeted and more reliable ways of attracting targeted traffic to your website - I say that to say... don't get caught up thinking SEO is going to be ‘the only best way' to building your online presence - it plays a part down the road, and that's what I'll be discussing throughout this article.

The following will identify the standards to good On-site SEO.

Is On-Site SEO Really Standardized?

At this point, on-site SEO is standardized leaving many SEO's (those who sell SEO services) without much of a product offering. They want to complicate it so we mere web mortals thirst for their services.

Fact is there are only a handful of things you want to have on your website regarding SEO - OK... maybe two handfuls... and they shouldn't be difficult to use or manage. Meaning, the onsite mandates for SEO should be built into your websites content management system making them easy, fast and simple to include each time you add content.


What the Search Engines (Google) REALLY Want(s)

Google cares about one thing with their search engine results. Serving up the most relevant content choices based on the term searched for. That's it.

Back in the day when Yahoo! WAS the top search engine - they didn't do this which is exactly why Google squashed them. It's all about relevancy and depth of content. That's why a sparse website only telling about what you do will rarely if ever score high in the search engines. A site like that lacks depth and valued content.

Armed with this knowledge you can ask yourself a couple of key questions.


Are we going to expand our reach in the marketing by educating our potential clients, sharing information with our market and networking with others?


Are we simply going to tell people who come to our site what we do and ask them to contact us or sign up for our newsletter?


As a side note: Newsletters as a first attempt to acquire followers is an old warn out tactic producing very poor results - I'll get into what's working now in this and other articles.

You see... SEO is about your content FIRST - then only second how you are going to set it up and disseminate it, because if you're lacking valued relevant content it doesn't matter if you do everything else right.

On-site SEO Mandates

With content in mind let's talk about the set up from an SEO perspective and put this to bed for you once and for all... this way you can keep things simple and avoid all of the jargon, secrets, tricks and BS small business owners are fed about SEO.


The Keys to Results Producing On-Site SEO

  • Relevant Content
  • Targeted Keywords
  • Title Tags
  • Meta Tags
  • Header Tags
  • XML Sitemap
  • Internal Linking
  • Video
  • RSS
  • Tracking

That's about it... other than a few key off-site SEO mainstays - it's not a complicated mysterious thing we need a specialist for. 

Relevant Content - I'm starting with content because in the end - valued, quality fresh CONTENT is KING - Simply stated; relevant valuable content is absolutely required to rank well in the search engines. And, a key distinction is FRESH and often updated content - this is why blogs, news publications, online magazines and social networking sites are food for the search engine spiders and rank well.

These types of sites are creating new content daily - the big guys like Facebook are actively creating new content by the second with its 350 million users.

The bottom-line; without fresh, original, relevant and QUALITY content all the other elements to SEO are useless. Your website MUST be active with in-depth new content in order to compete.

TIP: If you are seeking an SEO company to help you and they are not FIRST discussing content -it's likely you will be wasting your time and money.

Targeted Keywords - your content by default will have relevant targeted keywords simply based on your products, services and useful quality content. As you read about the other on-site SEO keys below you'll discover how to format the keywords for maximum results.

There are many SEO tools you can use to find the keywords you'll want to optimize for, though the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to go is:

Google Keyword Tool (free) or Word Tracker (free & paid service)

It's a good idea to look at results which come in with 3 or more words in the phrase -these are often referred to as ‘long tail' keywords. Although the search volume is much lower with long tail key phrase than broad terms the advantage to long tail is most of your competitors are not optimizing for them. In addition, someone typing in 3 to 5 words is a very targeted prospect versus someone typing in a general broad term.

For example:

Broad Term: Cell Phones

Long Tail (very targeted) Term: Samsung A237 GoPhone

So, when optimizing and determining the keywords or phrases utilize the tools above to give you good ideas and starting points.  Then search for those terms and see what your competitors are up to - this will give you insight into why they are ranking well and how you can compete.

As a side note - this doesn't take hours or days of research - the results are instant when using the right tools and not complicating the results, because in the end - what you do OFF-site will have a greater impact than on-site.

Header Tags - Title Tags - Meta Tags


I bundled these three on-site SEO tags together because they work in conjunction with each other and they have been relevant since around the birth of the web browser.

Header tags are simply a small snippet of HTML code which should be included in your content management content editor - so coding and all that shouldn't be necessary.

The tag looks like this <H1>Keyword Rich Title Header</H1> - standard header tags go from H1 to H6 - 6 being the smaller font and 1 being the largest.

Header or paragraph titles surrounded by this tag must have keywords within it and typically at the start of the individual webpage content. You can also use the smaller header tags throughout the content on the pages which also have keywords you want to optimize for.

Simple stuff - be sure to ask your web guy where and how to do this... once you do it once it's a piece of cake - no big learning curve provided you have the right tools.

Title Tags are evidently the most important tag according to the search engines, and it makes sense. The title tag is in the code of all your website pages. Again, your content management system should make this simple to optimize and adjust if needed.

Look at the top left hand corner of your web browser and you will see the title of the page - depending on what site you are viewing at the time will determine if the title has important keywords being optimized.

Simple stuff - be sure when you're creating web pages you align the keywords in title tag with the header tag - thus clearly communicating to the search engines what the page is about.

Meta Tags are written inside the code of your webpage's and with the right web tools and content management system adding meta tags shouldn't be more than typing into a form and submitting it to the page.

Meta tags are read by the search engine spiders, again to identify what the content on the page is about - having the right keywords in your meta keyword tag and meta description tag is important.

In addition there's the ‘Robot' tag - robot meta tags gives the search engine spider specific instructions about what to follow on that specific webpage. This has mostly to do with linking which we'll be discussing later in this article.

Simple stuff - make sure your content management system allows you to easily add meta data to each individual webpage. It's important to note - your homepage will most likely NOT be your top ranking page, making it increasingly more important to optimize each individual page on your site.

Lastly, be sure when you're creating web pages you align the keywords in title tag with the header tag and meta tags - thus clearly communicating to the search engines what the CONTENT on the page is about.

XML Sitemap


In 2005 Google launched the Sitemap 0.84 Protocol using the XML format.

Before Google took the reigns and created this protocol, sitemaps where mainly used as a usability tool for site visitors. It theoretically made content easier to find on a content rich website. The site owner organized the content for faster access than the sites main navigation.

The Sitemap protocol launched by Google was now focused on the search engines visiting and crawling the site making it easier for the spiders to find data faster and much more efficiently.

This advancement allowed Google to turn out much better results to users by way of more relevance of results based on search term. It's always going to be about relevance, which you will want to remember - the more relevant and useful your content is, the more likely you will rank well -that's why I started this article off with content when discussing SEO.

If you want the details and the understanding behind XML sitemaps use this website - there's none better >>>

Internal Linking

Internal linking first and foremost guarantees all the pages on your website will be indexed and ranked in the search engines. A deep content rich website with hundreds and thousands of pages will often times increase your results - again, in-depth rich content is always going to out weigh all the other elements of SEO.

With most small business websites using content management systems, it's often the case where the main navigation is using a code script which is not easily read, if at all by the search engines - so having an internal linking strategy will insure you're entire site get's indexed. This is the case with image based navigation as well.

The Most Important On-Site SEO Tactic

In order to build relevancy of a web page to a keyword or key phrase the anchor text of the link must be the keyword/phrase. For example:

Let's say the page you are linking to is about Small Business Videos.

The actual text of the link can be small business videos - now the page it's linking to will want to have the proper title, meta and header tags with the same keyword / phrase. For the search engines it's the words in the link that identify what the link (page) will be about - without doing this consistently and always you will be hard pressed to get good results.

Internal linking is about creating your own "web" of content where the engines deem it rich and relevant. Using your targeted keywords as the link text insures better results when ranking.

Concluding On-Site SEO

Provided you have the right web tools running your website coupled with the focus of this article you just saved tons of time and money on SEO.

I encourage you to ask the following questions - and based on the answers take action.

  • "Does your web developer provide you with the tools to execute these simple tasks or not?"

  • "Does your web developer try to sell you SEO services such as the ones above?"

  • "Does your web developer focus first on valuable, relevant and fresh content - or do they only focus on ‘tactics'?"

I ask these questions to get you thinking about the service and value you should be receiving from your website service providers. Not all web developers are created equal and SEO is a clear differentiator of the haves and have not's.

In my next article you will be provided with the #1 indisputable search engine optimization tactic, bar-none. No hype - you'll see how simple it is - not saying it's easy - but it is very simple and only requires commitment and consistency to your content and it's message.


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  • Stewart says:

    Thanks Alan...seems to me that if it's done right at the outset whoever built the site will incorporate SEO...As a non-technical person one less thing for me to be concerned about. Also critical is using current social media...

    January 25, 2010 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

  • Alan says:

    no doubt Stewart - SEO is part of building and sustaining a growing website - it's not an after thought and as discussed in the article today January 2010 web service providers not implementing onsite SEO and the tools to maintain it are not truly serving their clients. Also, YES social media must be in the SEO mix - though this is off-site - an article I'll be publishing soon.

    January 26, 2010 at 11:58 AM | Permalink


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