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Talk to five SEOs and you’re likely to hear five different answers on any particular question involving search engine optimization. But for now, let’s talk about keywords. Are they necessary?

I don’t think there’s an SEO alive who would say “No” to that question, but why not? We live in a day of semantic language indexing. The search engines rank pages based on ideas, not keyword stuffing. In other words, if your on-page content is clearly about how to change a light bulb and you don’t use the phrase “light bulb” but two times in your article, you could still rank for that key phrase. It’s all about quality.

So keywords aren’t important then, right?

I’d say that’s a wrong assumption to make. While semantic language indexing rules the day, keywords are not discounted. I believe you should still focus your content on keywords, but don’t fixate on any one keyword. That is, use a little semantic language markup.

Are Keyword Tags Necessary?

One area where there is a lot of dispute over the use of keywords is in the keywords meta tag. There are two main ideas regarding the use of this tag.

  1. Not necessary. The not necessary camp argues that keyword tags aren’t necessary because none of the major search engines look at them. While this is true, some smaller search engines still do consider this meta tag; and the major search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms so you never know when they may start considering keywords meta tags again.
  2. It doesn’t hurt. The rest of the SEO community falls into the “it doesn’t hurt” camp. Because of the two reasons mentioned above, they argue that it doesn’t hurt to use the tag. Someday, it may help.

It never hurts to employ a strategy that you won’t get penalized for. I would not dispense with keywords altogether. What you don’t want to do is stuff your content with keywords as that might get your pages banned, penalized, or de-indexed. Just use a little common sense in your search engine optimization practices.

Michael Martinez said something interesting in a blog post yesterday.

The problem is, as soon as a popular SEO blogpundit shares an idea or strategy with her or her audience, the idea loses value. That doesn’t mean it becomes worthless. It just means the idea loses value. Think of your brand new car depreciating a few hundred dollars as soon as you drive it off the lot. SEO ideas lose value in much the same way.

That’s pretty sage. But what is he saying?

SEO is a game. Popular SEOs figure out what is good strategy and they implement it. It works for them. Then they share it with the rest of the world. Lower level SEOs begin to adopt the strategies that the popular and well known SEOs have shared. Pretty soon, everyone is doing the same thing. Even spammers. That’s when the search engines change their algorithms.

Who are the first people to know the search engines have changed? The well known and popular SEOs. How do you think they became well known?

By the time the big guys figure out a new strategy, everyone else has adopted the old one. But that old strategy isn’t working any more because the popular SEOs have moved on. They’re doing something different.

Here’s the deal. The popular SEOs don’t share their successes right away. They test them first. Sometimes that takes 6 months or a year. Other times, it might take 2 or 3 years before they get around to sharing what they do that works (and you can bet they aren’t telling you everything). By the time they share what they are doing that is successful, those strategies have almost run their course with the search engines. Mass adoption occurs, but the search engines and popular SEOs have moved on.

So what should you make of this? If you think I’m saying “don’t trust anyone,” then you should go back and re-read the post. That’s not what I’m saying.

What I am saying is that you should trust an SEO company that isn’t blabbing all over the Web what they are doing for you that works. You should trust an SEO company that does its own testing rather than just following the leaders. Trust an SEO company that does what’s best for you, not what’s best for them.

There is a misconception among many search engine optimization specialists that SEO must be a focus of content or the content just isn’t good. The truth is, great content and great SEO compliment each other. They can co-exist without hurting each other.

The key to this SEO philosophy is in the use of keywords and links. Keywords are the fuel in every search engine optimization strategy. You don’t want to overdo it, but you must do it.

What does that mean, exactly?

Keywords are a matter of targeting the right phrases for the right audience. If you are trying to reach people who purchase automobiles, then you have to target the right key phrases that attract automobile buyers. If you sell Ford vehicles specifically, then target your phrases to people who buy Ford vehicles. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

It is, but you’d be surprised at how many SEOs target the wrong keywords for their audiences.

When it comes to links, you want your links to compliment your keyword phrases. They shouldn’t dominate. Anything in moderation is better than the same thing in overdose. Use links that compliment your keywords by incorporating the keywords into the link anchor text and pointing them to relevant pages on your website. Title attributes can also compliment your anchor text.

By complimentary title attributes, I don’t necessarily mean repeating your anchor text key phrase. I mean use a phrase that compliments it and is a more nuanced way of using your important keywords.

SEO is not a science. It certainly isn’t rocket science. Your first concern should be in creating great content. Make the SEO compliment the content.

If you’ve been around the Web for long and have studied much in the way of SEO, then you’ve likely encountered the countless Internet marketers who have hyped and harped on the idea that SEO is nothing more, or less, than building links. But as many of us have seen, links eventually lose value.

In fact, for every SEO benefit you receive from any action, there will always be a loss of benefit somewhere else. Links get too old and become obsolete, content value is diminished because someone else did it better, social triggers raise and lower your reputation by the minute, etc.

About the only thing you can count on with best SEO practices is change. What works today may not work tomorrow. The action you take today may not show any results for a year. Sometimes, the best thing to do is wait.

Search engine optimization is not some magic pill. There is no formula that can catapult you to instant success, or any success. The best SEOs are the ones that experiment, test, and try something new when all the tried-and-true wisdom has failed. And I can’t tell you how many times a business owner has fired his SEO guru because the business owner read a book and became an instant expert.

The one unbendable rule in SEO is Change is Inevitable. This is not a “don’t rock the boat” industry.

All content falls into three categories. Whether it is video content, text-based content, display advertising, or something else. There really are only three kinds of content.

  1. On-Page Content – On-page content is everything that appears on your web pages and is visible to human eyes. It can be Google AdSense, videos, articles, your blog, or a widget. It’s the content that either adds to or subtracts from your page’s ability to achieve high search engine rankings.
  2. Off-Page Content – Off-page content is designed to do one thing – send visitors to your website. Some off-page content may also provide you with link building benefits. This, too, can be any type of content visible to human eyes. Videos, articles, blog comments, forum comments, social media content or anything that appears on a website other than yours and either serves to build inbound links to your website, boost your reputation, or drive traffic to your site – maybe even a combination of the three.
  3. Code – In the code category of content is anything that is read by the search engines or rendered by Web browsers. This includes your HTML code, JavaScript, PHP, CSS, and other “behind the scenes” elements that are viewed only by the search engines and Web browsers unless your human visitors View Source.

All three types of content have the potential to affect your search engine rankings and your website’s reputation. Guard them well, present them professionally.

You’ve likely heard of blogs. There’s nothing really magical about them, but you can use a blog for your business to increase your market and talk to your customers. Here are 7 ways you can use a blog to boost your business and your brand online.

  1. Search engine optimization – Well optimized blog posts can increase your standing in the search engines.
  2. Social media optimization – Promote your blog through the popular social networks to increase your traffic and brand exposure.
  3. Field questions about your business – A blog allows your customers and potential customers to communicate with you. You can answer their questions and build your brand.
  4. Network with others in your industry – A blog is a conversation. Your market is a conversation. Why not join the two?
  5. Increased search engine rankings - Not only can each individual blog post be optimized, but the more blog posts you have the more chances you have of being ranked in the search engines.
  6. Close more sales – You can use your blog to close sales simply by putting links to your landing pages in high profile locations on the blog.
  7. Customer service – Handle customer service issues on your blog in less time and with fewer expenses.

You no longer have to sit on the sidelines and watch while your competitors steal the market. You can use a blog to drive more business to your website and increase your search engine and social media exposure.

Are you familiar with the term “long tail” in relation to SEO and website optimization? If not, here’s the lowdown.

Think of a many-headed hydra. In Greek legend, the hydra was a monster with nine heads. Those heads were quite dangerous. If one got you, it hurt. And of course, if you cut one off, then another one grew to replace it. The Greek hero Hercules had to fight a hydra one time – you know, mythologically speaking.

Many search engine optimizers approach SEO like they are fighting a hydra. They focus on the head. But if you focus on the head, even if you defeat one (that is, manage to take over its search engine ranking), there are two more ready to sprout up in place and challenge you to work harder. This type of SEO is very difficult to beat. You can go after the most popular search phrases and risk fighting more and more powerful and dangerous heads (competitors) or wise up and go for the long tail instead.

The long tail in SEO are the less popular phrases that can be just as powerful yet easier to defeat. That hydra had a tail. It was long. And it could sweep around and knock you off your feet. But if you managed to cut it off, nothing grew in its place.

Long tail keywords are like that hydra tail. They’re easier to defeat even as powerful as they are. Knock your competition off the pedestal and there aren’t as many competitors there to try and replace them. It’s easier to win.

You cannot manage a website without traffic. It is the lifeblood of any online business. So how do you drive traffic to your website? How do you ensure that your website is profitable when you are building your business?

Here are 5 incredible sources for website traffic no matter what kind of business you are running online:

  1. Search Engines – Search engines are still the No. 1 driver of traffic to most websites online today. That’s why we always recommend that you dedicate a portion of your online marketing budget to search engine optimization.
  2. Pay Per Click Advertising – PPC ads are immediate. You can start a campaign today and see business results today. Yes, you pay for the clicks. But if you do it right, it will be profitable. And the results are instant.
  3. Newsletter - An e-mail newsletter is one of the most profitable investments you can make. After more than 20 years, it’s still one of the most effective online marketing tools. You can take e-mail subscriptions right from your website and deliver your newsletter electronically more cost efficiently than any other kind of online marketing.
  4. Videos – Online video marketing is just as effective as TV advertising and much more cost effective.
  5. Social Media Marketing - The best thing about social media is it allows you to build relationships off site, then you can drive that traffic to your website for the close.

Use these five online marketing strategies together for incredible traffic generation results.

If you’ve had one eye on Gogole+ and the other trying to figure out why you’d try it, let me give you 11 reasons why you should try it. You don’t have to leave Facebook and Twitter behind, and you don’t have to spend all your time on Google+ checking out your friends. But if you run a business, Google+ can be your friend.

11 reasons to try Google+ now:

  1. Every time you use Google+ your Google profile rises in search. Give yourself more search prominence.
  2. Because Google+ is owned by the largest search engine online you can bet there will be search benefits in some fashion.
  3. There is a built in local component with the tie-in between Google Maps and Google Places and Google+
  4. You can use your Circles for better targeting of your prospects.
  5. Google+ business accounts are soon on the way.
  6. Sharing YouTube videos is much easier through Google+
  7. Google Picasa allows you to share photos easier through Google+ and you have unlimited photo storage.
  8. Google Hangouts.
  9. Google+ allows you to add hundreds of new people to network with one click through Circle sharing.
  10. You can set the privacy for each component of your Google+ profile.
  11. It’s easy to use.

So how many more reasons do you need? Google+ offers you the best in search and social. Try it.

In the world of search engine optimization, the robot can be good to you or it can diss you something fierce. The human reviewer, however, is more likely to kick you square in the big one. And it could hurt.

As Jennifer Ledbetter explains, you’ll only be reviewed by human eyeballs when you hit a respectable ranking on Google.

What that really means is you did a spectacular job with your SEO. Now you have to convince the human reviewer you deserve the spot you’ve worked so hard for. How do you do that?

The first thing you should keep in mind is that searchers are doing the same thing. The difference is that the searcher can’t ruin your day by knocking you down to page 10. But you know they’d like to. If only they could.

If you don’t want that big drop to happen, then you need to learn what those human reviewers are looking for. One thing that could make you fall in the rankings is obvious spam. Just don’t do it. You’ll pay for it.

What they are really looking for, however, is something positive. Is your page relevant for a search query? If so, you likely have nothing to fear.

What does it take to be good at SEO? Can you do it overnight? Is it a long-term strategy or a short-term strategy?

There is actually a lot of debate about this in SEO circles. Some SEOs are content to go on responding to Google’s frequent algorithm updates in hopes that they might figure out the secret to high rankings. Some SEOs will spend hours, days, and weeks “studying” the search engine algorithms hoping to learn how best to rank well for specific key phrases.

Is it possible? Can you study the search engines and learn the secret to rankings? Many SEOs stake their reputations on it.

The fact of the matter is that learning “the secret” to high rankings is a never-ending struggle. The best that any SEO can do is maintain a posture of good, solid content creation over time. While you might lucky and achieve excellent search engine results over the short term, the real SEO success formula is a long-term strategy. You are building websites and creating content for next decade as much as next year.

Instead of chasing algorithms, you’d do well to simply create great content and let the search engines do their thing.

Many business owners believe that if they hire more than one SEO to work on their website, then they’ll get better search rankings. Not necessarily.

You really should only hire 1 SEO per website. You can hire a separate SEO for each website if you think you need to, but you should only use one SEO per website. Why is that?

We call it optimization purity.

Every SEO has his or her own style and they may use different strategies. This isn’t to say that one is better than the other. That may be the case, but the real point is that if you use two SEOs to optimize the same website, they could cancel each other’s efforts. One could hurt the other and that would hurt your website.

Your SEOs aren’t going to use the same tactics. SEOs in general are a secretive lot. They don’t want the competition to know their trade secrets. So they could use the same strategies and tactics and not know it. That could lead to duplicate content issues or lead to you have a reputation as a spammer, which could hurt your optimization over the long haul.

You’re better off playing it safe and using only one SEO per web property. You’ll be happier and more successful in the end.

Are you afraid of SEO? You don’t have to be. Some SEO tasks are so easy you can accomplish them in less than 5 minutes. Here are 5 SEO tasks you can perform in 5 minutes or less and improve your website’s SEO by major proportions.

  1. Write an optimized page title – Your page title is one of the most important SEO elements on the page. Each page should have a unique page title and they should not exceed 80 characters. Keep them short and use your primary keyword for each page.
  2. Improve your headline - Write a short attention-grabbing headline with your primary keyword in it.
  3. Your meta description – Each page’s meta description should be less than 150 characters. The search engines use this as the snippet in their search results. Use your primary keyword and summarize the contents of your web page.
  4. Bookmark your web pagesSocial bookmarking can often be a good source of inbound links to your website. It only takes a few seconds to bookmark each web page.
  5. Create an internal link – Find a page on your website and link to another page using keyword anchor text that is appropriate for the linked-to page.

Each of these SEO tasks takes less than 5 minutes to complete, but each one has the potential to increase your search engine rankings considerably.

You might get the impression, if you spend a lot of time watching the news, that because newspapers are dying off and the whole world is going online then press releases are a thing of the past. That would be wildly inaccurate. Press releases are, in fact, more important today then ever.

Rather than limit themselves to sending out press releases to local news organizations, many public relations professionals today simply submit their press releases to press release distribution outlets online.

This might be done in addition to sending press releases to pet news and media professionals at the local level or in one’s niche.

Since press release distribution is typically done online these days, it behooves a public relations professional to make sure the press release is optimized. You can’t rely on news professionals to search the press release directories to find your press release. You also want to optimize them for search engine traffic.

One reason why you want your press release optimized is because your audience doesn’t merely consist of media professionals. Anyone searching for information online can find your press release if you have optimized it correctly. And, in truth, that’s the way you want it to be.

If you’re used to doing a lot of offline marketing, or traditional marketing, then you’ve likely noticed that it has become quite expensive in the last few years. Oil prices have driven up the cost of paper and everything else. The economy taking a downturn has caused many businesses to stop advertising altogether, or diminish their marketing budgets.

But there is hope. Online marketing is less expensive and, if done right, is much more effective. That’s why so many businesses have transferred their marketing and advertising budgets to online.

Here are 5 online marketing methods that are outpacing their offline counterparts:

  1. Pay Per Click – Pay per click advertising is the online equivalent to some forms of print advertising. The difference is you pay only when a desired result takes place. It can be less expensive and deliver a higher ROI.
  2. Social Networking – Offline, you go to business functions. You often have to buy dinner, pay for transportation costs, business cards, and other incidentals. Online, you just show up. And talk to people. Make friends and contacts. Sell them stuff. The time commitment is higher, but it’s a lot easier on the budget.
  3. Video Marketing – Liken it to TV advertising. Do you really want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on 30-second spots that disappear with the money? Instead, pay for one video and it stays live online forever.
  4. >Website Design – Call them online billboards. Just like outdoor advertising, you have a limited space – your prospect’s browser window. Unlike outdoor billboards, that space can be expanded. And you can build many websites for less than the cost of a handful of billboards.
  5. Search Engine Optimization – Sorry, but there is no offline equivalent to search engine optimization. Yet it’s still the most effective online marketing money can buy.

Try just one or incorporate them all into your marketing plans, but online marketing is where it’s at.

When businesses go online to learn how to participate in Internet marketing campaigns that work, there is usually a lot to think about, a lot of new information to take in for those business owners and managers. The problem is how to process it all.

What I always suggest is to take it a little bite at a time. You can’t learn everything in one day. You can’t become a master of every art in your lifetime. Don’t even try.

The key is to start with the basics. Study a little bit about web design before you do anything else. What are the best practices for web design for businesses of your size and in your industry? Study the competition to see what they are doing that you like and that you don’t like. Then analyze what is effective.

Remember, you are only studying the basics at first. At some point, you have to rely on the advice of experts because you are nowhere near that status yourself.

After you have learned the basics of web design, move on to another topic such as search engine optimization or pay per click advertising. Again, take the time to learn the basics before moving on to something else.

It takes time to truly learn how to successfully manage an Internet marketing camnpaign. It’s not going to happen overnight. With the proper guide, your business can achieve a little success and move on to greater success – one step at a time.

Is SEO getting harder to achieve for everyday webmasters? I believe it is. This can be evidenced by the number of webmasters who are giving up on it entirely, or in part, and begin chasing other, less effective, channels like social media marketing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that social media marketing can be effective. But numbers don’t lie. And the number that I’m speaking about specifically right now is the 80% number. That’s the percentage of web traffic that is driven by search engines – organic search.

If 80% of your web traffic is coming from search engines (and 90% of that from Google), then that’s a channel you don’t want to ignore.

Granted, the search engines are making it harder and harder for the average webmaster to figure out how to style and write their content for the best rankings. It seems sometimes that the blackhat guys have a better chance. Don’t fret. You have as much a chance to rank your content as everyone else does – if you just pay attention to a few little details first.

  • The first thing to remember is that search engines like fresh original content. Don’t use those old PLR articles. Even if you rewrite them, you’re likely to fill your website with duplicate content.
  • Titles are very important. Write good ones that are effective and optimized.
  • Build some inbound links to that website, but be careful where you go to get them.
  • Study the competition; what are they doing right – and wrong?

Search engine optimization hasn’t changed a whole lot in 10-12 years. Sure, there have been big changes, but the core fundamentals are still the same. Don’t go chasing every new method or technique someone mentions and be sure to do a lot of testing.

More important than keyword density, more important than ensuring you put your keywords in all the right spots, and more important than inbound anchor text with a solid keyword pick is your keyword selection to begin with. Of course, I’m not talking about whether or not you choose keywords. I’m talking about making sure you choose the right keywords for your business.

Keyword selection is about more than picking the right keyword for the best search engine optimization practices. It’s just as much about choosing the right keywords for your business.

For instance, if you sell red widgets, then you would not want to optimize your web pages for the term “yellow widgets.” You would attract all the wrong customers. But I see businesses doing this all the time. More often, I see businesses targeting a generalized keyword when drilling down to a nichier, narrower keyword would deliver better targeted traffic.

Here’s another for instance. If you sell industrial construction materials, optimizing your website for the keyword phrase “construction materials” is too broad. You want to narrow it to “industrial construction materials.” This will eliminate anyone looking for construction materials to build a house. You want to attract people looking for a specific type of construction materials.

Keyword selection is very important. Make sure that you are not only optimizing your web pages for keywords related to your niche, but that they are the right keywords for your business.

An article at Marketing Pilgrim says that small business owners worry about obtaining new customers. In fact, they lay awake at night thinking about it.

Is that you? Do you lay awake at night worrying about where your next customer is coming from? Don’t. It could come from any number of sources – if you take action.

Prospecting for new clients takes time. And it is costly. More costly, in fact, than retaining the customers you already have. But if you don’t do it, what will happen? Many small businesses find out what happens when they are no longer providing a service after two to five years.

You can’t let worry freeze you. Running a small business is about taking action to attract new customers and keep the ones you have happy. Here are a few tactics that other small business owners have used to do just that:

  • >Built a website
  • Employed search engine optimization on their website
  • Drove traffic with pay per click advertising
  • Produced online videos
  • Engaged in e-mail marketing
  • Spent time on social media

All of these tactics are effective if employed correctly. They’re not the only tactics that work, but they do work. They are much more effective than worrying. So stop worrying and start taking action.

Quora has made a name for itself as a Q&A site. Relatively new to the game, it has grown quickly and is the Q&A home of many savvy and high profile people. Originally, the site had a strict no self-promotion policy. However, recently, that has changed.

There are two ways to look at this change. You can see it as an opportunity or you can see it as a problem. If you are of the glass-half-empty variety, you could see it as the spammers are taking over. But if you think in terms of the glass being half full, then you’ll want to jump on the Quora bandwagon real quick.

In April, Google started indexing Quora in its real time search feature. That’s awesome news for marketers using Quora for traffic generation. It’s already been established that Quora posts are great for SEO.

Whether you see the glass half full or half empty, the risk is there for Quora to become another content farm under Google’s Panda rules. Quora can avert that eventuality by incorporating a few simple rules into its answers policy to combat link and content spam. But will they? The debate is on.

Until this is settled, the best thing for a social media marketer to do is to get involved in Quora and reap the benefits. If you post on Quora now, you can enjoy the benefits of excellent social media positioning and search engine optimization. Rarely do online marketers get to kill both of those birds with one stone.