Search engine positioning through SEO is imperative for gaining online visibility and website traffic. Call it ego gratification from the individual optimizing the site or simply human nature for individuals, businesses, or blogger’s to aspire to carve their name in the digital totem pole and claim their place as the hands down king or queen of the keyword wars being waged on a daily basis.
Being at the top of the food chain has it’s advantages, whereas in this instance it’s the top of the organic listings in Google, Yahoo, Altavista, Ask, MSN and the other top tier search engines that is the prize sought by millions around the clock. The advantages are obvious, so without digressing into the reasons why it is important to be in the top 10, let’s take a brief look at the two types of web positioning, intentional optimization and the other kind which is unintentional (“oh my god, I rank for that as well, awesome!”) optimization.
I must admit, this post is actually a follow up to Web Positioning, The Ebb and Tide of Search Engines – where one of our top tier keywords disappeared from the front page of Google and was punted to a less than satisfactory 12 positions into the nether regions of the 2nd page. Needless to say, rankings are an investment in time for SEO’s, and the tendency to take something like that a bit more seriously than others is an understatement. Needless to say, the situation has now been rectified and once again all is well in the land of Seo Design Solutions as our top 10 position has been given a repeat performance as a result of some tactful link building.
Which leads me to the next point. In essence there are only two types of optimization, intentional and unintentional. The first occurs through meticulous keyword research, link hunting (browsing through your competitors links and looking for patterns, similarities, tactics, etc) and aspiring to achieve the goal of placement. The other type of optimization comes through semantic relationships of the keywords your pages are optimized for triggering responses from search queries and giving the one with the most relevance (or backlinks with the keyword in question in the anchor text) the vote of higher placement.
One example of intentional optimization are when companies strategically purchase or use a URL with the keywords in the name. Although this is slightly off topic, it deserves a sentence or two to at least bring the tactic to light.
For the sake of elaboration, a website with a keyword in the URL typically has precedence over sites that do not have those keywords in the name (title or description). For this reason strategically it makes sense that if you wanted to rank for a term from the start, then you may wish to consider purchasing a domain with the keywords in the title. Owning the URL and not hosting your site there (just pointing at your current domain through domain forwarding) is not as effective as actually hosting your old site there and performing a 301 redirect at a new keyword-rich URL to give the new address a dose of link love and juice from your previous link building efforts. This is only one of many types of intentional optimization utilized for website positioning.
Another example of intentional optimization is through the use of deep links to give your internal pages more ranking potential from using the key phrases that comprise those internal pages as the anchor text (the text used in the link) for link building when you are developing links from related or authority sites. This of course is nothing new, and when applicable you can control what is in the link instead of “click here” from other sites, depending on the website, if it is a directory, a press release of article (the authors box) or a blog (obviously the best choice).
In any case, this revolves around intentional optimization. The icing on the cake comes later when you realize that if you optimize enough terms that are less competitive, your site begins to move up the tail so to speak and starts to rank for higher related terms over time as you begin toppling associated key phrases, based on the strength of your content and optimization.
In layman’s terms, if you are targeting a category for search engine positioning, the logical thing to do is use exact match phrases in the description and body copy when applicable. This creates an association with your site when those same queries are searched for online. The glue is the backlinks your pages receive from other sites, so if they happen to have those same exact match terms in them as they point to your pages, then guess who is going to rank higher (at least in some search engines, mainly Google based on personal experience) which is great if that is the intention.
Another by-product is, since you know that this process is the underlying basis of search engine positioning (at least for the time being, until other methods are in place to determine relevance). Then choosing the right words for link building are far more important than just making an assumption and using any old text for link development.
As an example, according to wordtracker, the term search engine optimization for example has a daily search volume of 14,329 per day (extremely high search volume). However if you add one word to it like search engine optimization company or search engine optimization services for example the daily search volume is 323 a day and 292 a day respectively, quite a decrease from the root phrase.
In addition to that, the competition for those terms is also proportionately less than the root phrase. So say for example that you wanted to get a piece of the action and optimize that keyword for your website, the last place you would want to start is at the top of the food chain. It’s almost like a little hatchling trying to take on the king of the jungle, at very best it’s amusing and typically results in a frustrating exercise in optimization.
However, on the other hand, if you start at the bottom of the chain and work your way up, chances are you will amass numerous top 10 positions, grow your traffic organically within the realm of that keyword and unintentionally optimize several keyword combinations as a result of covering the pivotal terms (“through exact match, anchor text link building“) which would later be used in unison during long-tail or more specific queries from prospects performing searches.
So, ideally one should always try to start small and work your way up the chain but also try not to overuse the secondary lesser terms too much otherwise you may only be able to rank for them specifically in that exact order. One remedy is (a) use the root phrase in the descriptions and on page (b) build links with the secondary terms to cover your bases. This becomes apparent later if you try to optimize the less popular terms first and then attempt to go for the main meat and potatoes which is in my opinion more difficult. By keeping your descriptions and titles lofty with the supreme goal in mind, when you do hit the appropriate digital density to topple the equation in your favor, your pages are already-ready-already as you grow your site into those proverbial key phrases / shoes.
So, remember, don’t think like a hatchling, trying to take on a lion at this point is futile, grow your keyword list, strategically acquire rankings (one key phrase at a time) and eventually you will attain the top ranking keywords in your niche. In the meantime, aside from discouraging others trying to figure out just how you climbed that ladder, your job is to stay ahead of the pack and keep abreast of the next emerging high search volume keywords that can rank all the way to the bank. Catch the wave in time, and you can ride it all the way to the shore and have just enough time to capitalize on it before it spirals down the chain.