Entering the world of Internet Marketing can be a daunting prospect. Even experienced web developers often fall short when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). I host my own Wordpress based website and blog, and as I tried to optimize my site for search engine friendliness, I often found my self taking a step backward without knowing what I had done wrong.
The first thing I did was to sign up for Google Analytics, Google Webmaster tools, and Yahoo Site Explorer. As I had been advised by others, I left everything alone for three weeks in order to get some baseline data. I also use my Webalizer logs as a way to gauge traffic.
Next I used Google Webmaster tools to identify any problems Google was reporting about my site. Short META descriptions, no META descriptions, duplicate content, etc. This gave me specific things I could change to improve my SEO.
The webmaster tools and Yahoo Site Explorer allow you to see what sites link back to you, or maybe what sites link to other sites. Building strong backlinks is one of the best things you can do for SEO. What do I mean by strong backlinks? Links to your site from high-ranking and *relevant* sites (good anchor text is always a plus).
Google Analytics shows me where my traffic is coming from, what content they are viewing, how long they are staying, etc. If you don't see much traffic coming from search engines, you know you have work to do.
After doing all these things, I knew I still had a problem. My ranking for my target phrase dropped from 2nd to 100th, and I had no idea why. That'll teach me to implement multiple changes and integrate multiple Wordpress plugins in a single session.
Then I found SEOmoz
. They have some free tools you can use to evaluate your website and SEO, such as: Linkscape, link finder, rank checker, term extractor and term target. There are also pro tools available on a subscription basis. It's $79 a month, but I've gotten my money's worth. When I ran the Term Target report on my home page I noticed that a script was throwing off my keyword targeting and importance by making "AMP" my most important keyword. My page is not about amplifiers :). I fixed the problem (and a few more the tools reported) and I went from Page Rank 0 to Page Rank 2, as well as returning to the top of the search for my targeted phrase.
SEOmoz is a great site, but there are other great free tools out there as well, so look around and find what works best for you.
I also use the Rank Checker and SEO for Firefox extensions from http://www.seobook.com/
Check your site's ranking on Alexa to see how well you are doing overall with regards to web traffic, and this is another important benchmark.
There are a lot of really nice sites out there that will almost never be found. Arm yourself with some data and the proper tools, and you will find the task at hand becomes much more clear.
If you enter the arena of Search Engine Marketing, CPC, CPM, or CPA, having these tools in place will allow you to track your ad performance and conversion rates.
If you host your own Wordpress and you're looking for things you can do to improve your site, have a look at my article: 10 Ways to Make Your Wordpess Blog Rock
I hope I haven't glossed over anything important, but if you have any questions I'll do my best to answer.
Fantasy writer: Brian Rathbone