This article was written by John Siebert, a Tampa Web Designer with over 10 years search engine marketing experience.
In the following four SEO factors, we will examine the top results for the term “personal injury lawyer”. Surprisingly, the cost per click on Google Adwords is over $20 for each click! It has 550,000 searches last month. Imagine that monthly Google Adwords Bill! So you can be sure they did the best SEO practices to get to the top free spots in Google. They have used top SEO experts to get to their web site to the top for this valuable term. I will explain how not to overlook these simple rules and how to increase site ranking.
#1 Poor Content
Many sites suffer from poor content. While Flash animations and loads of images may be visually enticing, you will notice the top ranking sites actually fill there site with text. It’s recommended to have at least 500-1000 words of content per page.
The top 5 listings for the highly desirable keyword “personal injury lawyer” have the following word counts: 664, 265, 1910, 1477, and 600 respectively. So if your content is like many sites out there with very few words of text. You might want to add up your word count and see how you compare. FYI your keywords are most effective in the 150 words closest to the top of the page. All of these top results conform to this rule.
#2 No inbound links/Poor Quality Links
Inbound links are the most important and influential ranking factor. As you might already know, Google uses a sort of voting system to rank terms. If you were to search for our example term, “personal injury lawyer,” you will find there are 12.5 million web pages with that term in it. So which one should Google put as #1? One of the ways Google decides is by using inbound links as “votes” for your site. If more sites link in with the search term then Google moves the site towards the top.
Our top 5 sites have a lot of other sites linking in. According to MagesticSEO.com’s tools, the number of links in the top 5 sites are; 47k, 360mil, 233mil, 6k, and 4k. Now that’s a lot of links. To get such a desirable term you can see they’ve gone to great lengths to make sure they have plenty of links to their site. So you might want to get out there and start begging for links from other web sites!
Since Google knows how SEO experts are trying to artificially move their listings by building links they have begun phasing out poor quality links. Google has devalued links that it deems un-worthy. Your links should be on quality web sites from real webmasters. Poor quality links are from sites that are computer generated or have no real value. Google has a sophisticated method of determining these sites. You can usually identify poor sites by noticing that the sites content doesn’t make much sense or is not to one particular topic. For example, a site about web design is talking about casinos, mortgage rates, and free guitar lessons. If you know the webmaster is a regular person and the content is on topic, chances are the site is not a spam site in Google’s eyes.
#3 Poor Keyword Optimization
There are certain areas to feature your keyword in a page to make it more attractive to Google. To put it simply there are certain spots where Google would like to see your keyword for your site to rank higher. If your keywords are not in the right spots you simply will not rank for that keyword. It should be in the title tag, meta description, alt image tag, heading tag, and bold.
You can test your web site with sites such as SEOMoz’s On-Page Report Card or websitegrader.com. The top 5 sites followed this rule by these percentages respectively: 75%, 95%, 95%, 95%, and 95% (as determined by SEOMoz’s tool).
#4 Lack of Keyword Research
Many web sites don’t perform as well as they would like because of poor keyword research. Your first stop would be getting the proper terms to target. Focus on targeting 2-3 keywords that meet two qualifications: Search volume (amount of potential visitors) and Keyword effectiveness (amount of visitors that will turn into sales).
Search volume is relatively easy to calculate. There are a number of search volume estimators. I prefer the tool by the source, Google. The Google Keyword Tool easily tells you the amount of searches from last month. If you’re trying to decide whether to target “personal injury lawyer” or “personal injury law firm” you can test using Google’s tool. You will notice “personal injury lawyer” has 673,000 searches where as “personal injury law firm” only gets 135,000 monthly searches. That’s almost 5 times as many searches for the previous term.
The other requirement in keyword research is the keyword effectiveness. This depends on how much you’re willing to put into your SEO campaign to try to get to #1 ranking and how much each lead is worth to your business. For example, in our sample terms you might want to go with the lesser search volume term because maybe that term fits your target audience better. The search volume becomes less relevant if you’re not converting visitors into sales. If the first term has 10,000 searches per month and the second term has 5,000 searches per month it seems obvious to target term one. But if term two converts into sales three times better then term one then it actually makes more sense to target the term with the lower search volume.
If you’re working with an SEO company you might want to bring up these points with them. If you’re doing your own search engine marketing then I hope none of these points were missed. If some were missed on a previous job, don’t forget there is always time to get your SEO back on the right track. Happy SEOing!
September 14, 2011