Back to Basics SEO

SEO Ranking & Conversion BasicsNaturally, if you rank at the top for any given search phrase in an organic search, people assume you are an authority for that subject. The worst thing you can do is disappoint them. Not only will they leave, you’ll lose the opportunity for a conversion, whether it’s a sale or a simple e-mail subscriber.

So, here are a few back to basics tips to not only help you rank better, but also to drive some conversions and, hopefully, attain or maintain your “authority” status.

1. Content is still king. It’s been said before and it’s still true. Generating good content is circular. Great keyword-rich content attracts spiders which pulls your page up in the rankings where people find it and add to the content through comments and ratings which adds more content providing longtail traffic which brings more visitors to the page to create more user generated content and so forth. Whew! Never doubt the power of content for SEO!

2. Make site navigation easy for users and spiders. You want your site visitors to be able to find what they are looking for with as little effort as possible. You also want the link structure of your site to allow the search engine spiders easy access to all pages on your site. Hint – check your source code for any legacy or left over code that might include links that are invisible to the user, but visible to spiders. I know from experience that sometimes web developers/programmers leave invisible code on pages that not only bloat the size, but can contain links that only the spiders see. This can get you into trouble as it looks like you are hiding content whether you mean to or not. Clean up your code and offload any CSS or javascript that you can to external files (See On Page Factors).

3. Blog, blog, blog! – Yet another form of user generated content creation as mentioned above, blogging attracts readers and fresh content. Spiders love fresh content! See Advanced Tips for Optimizing Your Blog.

4. Get a keyword rich domain name – If you are just starting out with a new domain, this will give you automatic keyword rich inbound links. Let’s say your primary keyword is “widgets” and you snag as your domain name. This means that whenever someone links to your domain, you’ve automatically got a keyword (widgets) anchor link in it.

5. Quality inbound links – Speaking of inbound links, quality is usually better than quantity, though Google has been known to still rank sites with a ton of junk inbound links well (See Reciprocal Linking for Ranking is Anything But Dead). To be totally white hat, Google tells us to get quality back links and that a few of those will do better than a ton of link-farm style links. Although reciprocal links appear to work for some sites, relying on them will probably not work forever, so look for quality first.

6. Electronic press releases – These are still great for helping you rank well. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In the old days, the archived releases provided forever links to the pages linked to from them. You’ll still got some of that link love, but even more than that, good press releases can generate links from other sites that pick them up and can even generate some separate stories about your site. For instance, when the FramesFinder Virtual Eyeglass Try On was introduced by, I wrote the press release and submitted it through We got several news stories written about the online eyewear try on software, including TV reports that are still live on the web.

If you are still sending press releases by fax and mail, join the 21st Century!

Just be sure what you submit in the way of press releases is legitimate news. Too many releases are just junk and it’s easy to get the reputation of being a trashy self promoter.

7. Make sure your database is spider friendly – The last thing you need is to spend time, money and effort developing your site only to find the database or shopping cart functionality is not search engine friendly. Test before you commit. Use online tools like S E O Chat’s spider simulator tool or client spidering tools like the one built into iBusiness Promoter (IBP) to test spidering.

8. Get visitors to take action – Include clear calls to action on the page (Buy Me, Shop Now links) and make them obvious and easy to find. Make the offer compelling with incentives (free shipping, bonus items, etc.) and make ways to contact you easy and upfront (800 number, e-mail link, address, online chat). Too many online sites make contact too difficult by hiding behind a contact form and providing no other way to be contacted. That’s not a recipe for trust from either the visitor or the search engines. And, to be an authority, you need trust.

If you’re like most SEOs, you’re wearing a lot of hats (Creative, Developer, Writer, Tech, Marketing, SEO, etc.) and trying to pull so much together from so many different directions can result in some missing pieces in the puzzle. After all, the brain can only be pulled in so many ways at once. It’s easy to lose sight of obvious optimization techniques.

But, if you’re not an authority at optimizing your site for ranking and conversions, who is?

Hopefully, getting back to basics will help you to fill those empty spaces in the puzzle. A review of these basics can help put things back into perspective with any SEO campaign.