How to avoid SEO failure

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If you're reading this, SEO permeates everything you do. Or at least it should.

The trouble is, SEO isn't a fire-and-forget tactic, and making the most of natural search results requires constant attention. But while SEO is one of the best ways to drive quality traffic to your site, it's also deceptively labor intensive. Precious human resources -- both internal and external -- go into building and maintaining high-quality best practices, and SEO practitioners all say that ranking high in the right search categories is the responsibility of everyone on your team.

But SEO also requires vigilance because it is often about keeping a close eye on a countless array of factors, with no sure way of knowing which are more important than the others, and which combination of terms users will employ to find you. In short, there's a lot to do just to stay current, and even more to do to get ahead of the curve.

But where do you start, and how do you know if any of it's working? Are you winning or losing your SEO battle, and if you've hired an agency to manage your search profile, are they doing all that they can? These are questions that anyone who manages a website should be asking. Unfortunately, the tools for shedding light on these queries aren't as well known among SEO-neophytes as they should be. So, we asked several SEO experts to give us their quick, easy tips for spot-checking SEO.  

Work with the search engine
When you hear novices talk about SEO, they often complain that search engines like Google are working against them, as if Google has decided to punish their site specifically. But that's the wrong mentality, according to David Rahmel, chief research officer and EVP for SEO at The Search Agency, who advises all site operators to sign up with Google's Webmaster Tools.

"The data that Google provides is invaluable," Rahmel says. "The tools will tell you what keywords you are ranking for, which keywords are driving traffic to your site, which pages are in the Google index, who is linking to you, and if there are problems on your site."

What does your link text say about you?
Do you want to be the No. 1 website for the phrase "Next Page?" Of course not. But then why are you linking that phrase?

"When you link from one page to another, the search engines use the words in the link text to determine which keyword phrase to look for in the content of the page that the link is going to," Rahmel explains. "Link to your 'strawberry jam' page with the link text 'strawberry jam.' The search engines will confirm that 'strawberry jam' appears in the title, description, and body content of the page that you are linking to and award the page with rankability."

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Guy Gillum
Guy Gillum June 18, 2009 at 2:11 PM

This is the most informative information I've seen on this topic in a long time. Thanks.