Occasionally an inbound marketing campaign requires me to search engine optimize a website that has already been built and deployed. These projects actually take more work and resources to optimize the on-page factors than if the site was being built from scratch and tend to be strategically flawed sales funnels. SEO should start before any line of code is written, design considered or site map developed. SEO starts immediately after target demographics are defined and personas are developed. Why should SEO be started before the other steps above? The reason has to do with the on-page version of what we in the SEO and inbound marketing world call "keyword themes."
Put yourself in the shoes of a search engine for a moment and consider what a website looks like to a search engine spider while the site is being indexed. Search engine spiders are looking at source code. What is in source code? A whole bunch of letters, numbers and character strings that tell web browsers what and how to display a website and its functionality. Many inbound marketing professionals are not programmers and tend to forget this.
Search engine spiders keep track of every character string they encounter and the number of times they encounter them. This process creates a ranked list of words for every page and is critical for on-page SEO. The words at the top of this list (1, 2, 3, etc.) are that page's keyword theme according to the search engine. Each word is assigned a significance based on the search engine spider's perception of several possible on-page factors (i.e. placement, proximity, repetition, page titles, header tags, alt text, bolding, etc.). Once a search engine has spidered more than one page and determined the page's keyword theme, it can combine the ranked keyword lists from all of the pages to determine an overall website keyword list. This final list shows your website's keyword theme. Google's Webmaster Tools reports on website keyword themes (see above).
"Trying to on-page optimize your website for everything will ultimately make it optimized for nothing because your
website will be oversaturated with too many keyword phrases.
Focus the main website on a handful of semi-competitive
keyword phrases and use your blog to compete for the
myriad of long-tail keywords you'd like to rank for."
The best way to build an effective keyword theme is to conduct a keyword workshop to create a list of keywords your potential customers may type into the search engines. These keywords allow you to predefine what every page's theme will be and what the overall website's theme for SEO will be before it goes live. Assign a primary keyword or phrase to every page on your website. This assignment will drive all of the content on that page. Otherwise, you're crossing your fingers and hoping Google ranks you for those keywords.
In order to convince the search engines that a particular phrase should be the overall website theme it is important to make your homepage's primary keyword phrase the secondary keyword phrase for the rest of the pages in the website. That way the overall keyword theme is well represented throughout the website and your SEO attempts will have a better chance for success.
Websites that are optimized after they are developed tend to have multiple pages with no real SEO value or don't fit within the keyword theme strategy. These pages actually hurt your on-page SEO and chances of maximum rankings because they dilute your overall website's keyword saturation with meaningless words. If your on-page factors are sculpted as described above you'll typically have much less backlink building to do in order to rank well and your inbound marketing efforts will thank you.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011 @ 1PM EDT, 10AM PST
Join our guests Troy Rumfelt, President, and Mike Gingerich, Marketing Director for TabSite, a Facebook application by Digital Hill Multimedia, to learn how to build leads with Facebook.