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ION's Search Engine Optimization Training: Ongoing improved search engine placement

SECTION TWELVE - Follow through with your monthly routine

         Now What??? You've got this great site and it is ranking great for now, but there is one final process left. This section is all about how to hold on to your improved search engine placement, how to ensure that it stays there over time, and how to make it even better. We will attempt to show you just that, in a simple, easy to follow format that speeds up the process you've already learned in the previous eleven sections, and offers you a monthly checklist to ensure your improved search engine placement over time.

How to keep your web site ranking high over the years:

  1. Start your monthly maintenance on the 16th of each month. Why? Simply because the 15th is when most Search Engines report keyword ranking changes. Since keywords are the first and most important step, always start with the most fresh data.

  2. Check for keyword position changes. The Digital Point Keyword Tracker allows for this automatically, but it can be a bit limited for this purpose as it doesn't foretell of any new keywords, only ones you've entered already. Most people therefore simply opt to re-run the keyword searches as suggested in Section One, including steps 8-13. From that point, adjust for the significant keyword changes in your Keyword Database like the step says to do, recording all of the changes either on top of the old data or in a new worksheet page that you create each month.

  3. Adjust site content to reflect keyword changes, if needed. Assuming any of the Keyword phrase changes are important to your content pages that use them, and the change in searchers is a big enough difference, you might want to swap out a new keyword for an old one that isn't doing as well anymore. Just remember, if you do this you'll want to replace it everywhere the original was, including META Tags, ALT text, image file names, Html files names, comment tags, and the page text itself. So look hard!

  4. Run your LPC and SERP check. See how your site is performing, both against your competitors in general, and per each keyword. It may sound overly competitive to constantly keep tabs on your competitors, but in this game, it's crucial. This isn't TV, radio, or billboard advertising, where a more creative ad catches a few more eyes that wouldn't have come otherwise... This kind of marketing is all about the number of people searching your keywords, which is a number set in stone each month, and you have no control over it. None of you do, so it's your task to get the largest percentage of that number as possible to your site, instead of theirs.

    Does one competitor suddenly have more links than you? Look at who their new links are from and grab them for yourself. Another competitor edging you out on your favorite keyword? Build more links using that keyword specifically... You get the picture. Make a controlled response for each competitor's advances until your site is untouchable by all.

  5. Re-check links needed, swapping more links to adjust. Just like with your LinkPop and SERP checks, your Links Needed score should be checked whenever you feel you're slipping for a keyword. The difference is that you'd find out after doing a SERP check if you need to run a Links Needed check in the first place, otherwise you won't need to worry about this step every month.

  6. Check your site stats, adjust your HTML errors, browser/OS incompatibilities, and missing links. Many of the sections in your site statistics report will show you demographics about your visitors. If you're getting visitors from any search engines at all yet, cater to them! Since your goal here is to get lots of traffic from the engines, that makes these people your target audience. If the majority of them suddenly seem to use the Mozilla Firefox browser, I'd optimize my site to look best in it as soon as I could. While you're at it, fix up any HTML errors you stumble across, paying particular importance to missing links. (Error 404s) Even if a human never wants to click on a missing link, your 8-legged friends are sure to find it and they may be confused by it.

    Luckily, you'll only need to do this step on months that you've made site additions.

  7. Spruce up your exit pages. Salesmanship 101: They can't buy anything if they've already left. Even if your site is not selling anything, you obviously wouldn't be reading this if you were hoping for all your surfers to leave the site as quickly as they arrived... In fact, one might say that keeping them on your site is part of the goal in SEO, so I'm including this as an official step, even though it may look more like a sales technique on the surface.

    In your site stats you should have (if you did the last section correctly) a place that tells you how many visitors left your whole website from each page. Your index page, unless you've got an EXTREMELY great 'hook,' (I guess I don't...) is going to always be the first, most exited page on your site simply because many people who found it in a search engine will click through and look at it, and if the visible part of the front page is not exactly what they want right then, they usually hit the back button. Surfers from search engines are fickle, and they can afford to be, so don't sweat it. Accept that lots of visitors arrive with cold feet, and just try to capture as many of them as is rational. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and see what they see, improving it where you can to get them to go where you want them to.

    At this point, it's just like plumbing. Let's say your goal is to get them to the checkout page. Your index page must be convincing enough to get them to a product page from there, so once you've 'patched that leak,' they are closer to the goal... The next page they've clicked on needs to be as or even more convincing to get them to hit the 'buy' button, and if it isn't, then you'll know that this is where you've 'sprung a leak' because the number of surfers exiting from this page is abnormally high.

    The page on your site that is the completed goal, for instance the 'successful checkout' page, is the only page where you WANT to see lots of exits. Perfection, meaning that everyone visiting your site buys your product, would be to have 100% of your visitors exit from that page. (Retaining full pressure from one end of the pipe to the other.) In real life, even with a great sales pitch, it is going to be more like 1%-4%. And each page between the Index page and that page should be a little larger, such as 40% leave form the home page, 25% more leave from the 2nd page, 14% leave from the 3rd page, 10% from the 4th, and only 3% make it to checkout. So work hard on getting the initial visitors up in the first place, so that a percentage of your visitors each day will be profitable.

  8. Browse all the tools in our SEO Tools section to see if there's something you've missed. It's always a good idea to peek in there from time to time. The nine pages of tools and their explanation on our site can be added to at any time, and we try to update it every time we hear of a new & useful free SEO tool. In case you haven't been in there, it's a lot more than a listing of the tools we use in our instructional process, we actually try to post ALL useful, freeware SEO tools we've run across with our review of it.

  9. Watch your server uptimes with InterSeer. As we explained in Step #19, way back in Section Two, Interseer checks your site every hour for connectivity, and reports in many ways such as emergency emails and statistical reports. Keep an eye on those times each month to know if your host is goofing off or getting lax. You should never put up with weekly or even monthly downtimes, Those directly translate into lost visitors! Just keep this in mind once a month and don't ever let your host slide on this important responsibility.

  10. Re-submit to every engine & directory that you can. Even if you are able to start your maintenance on the 16th, complete all of this section as it pertains to your site within a day, and submit it to the search engines by the 17th, I'd still advise waiting one or two more days. The day you pick to submit should be the same day of every month, so you need to give yourself time in the future to do extra work between the 16th and submission. What if one day all your keywords were suddenly useless? It's not very likely, but it is only one of many things that could happen to give you trouble between the 16th and submission day, so give yourself a buffer.

  11. Use these multi-function tools to facilitate all.
    (Almost all, at least.) The four programs below are all software suites that offer many solutions and tools to web site traffic marketing. The links are all to the freeware versions, although the first three packages can be upgraded for money to a more full-featured package that offers even more useful tools. For freeware, all four of the SEO Suites below are impressively helpful and well worth your time.

    • ARELIS Links Management
      This multi-function links management software is very limited in its freeware version, but is still quite useful for all of its various tools and options.

    • IBP SEO Suite
      A few of the tools are turned on in this version of a software suite that may be the very best retail-version out there. For some of you, these tools available in the freeware version will be even better than the other SEO suite, below.

    • Web CEO SEO Suite
      Of all the freeware SEO software packages I've ever encountered, Web CEO offers by far the most tools. Their Submission suite is awesome, especially for freeware, and plenty of other features make this a no-brainer. Best of all: Scheduler for all tasks!

    • ION's built-in Webmaster Tools
      This tiny browser tool suite, built into your Internet Explorer browser options menu, is an always-on set of six simple tools that are more handy than any other I've ever come across.

How long will it be until I need to do these steps?

        Probably only one to two months. You don't want to go too long without submitting or you'll start to slip in the search engines' eyes. The first month after your initial 'launch' may be too soon to take any action, other than adding more content, and you can do that at any time... If there is anything to be too cautious about, it should be the taking away of content too quickly after it has been spidered. Googlebot, for instance, might not appreciate finding some tasty morsel on your site the first week and it's not there at all for the next visit. You need a rest anyway, after doing all this work. Unless every last second counts towards your paycheck, take a month off and start your maintenance cycle on the 16th of the following month. You've earned it.

For those who need even more:

        If your organization is large enough, hiring a full-time, dedicated employee (In-house or contractor) to constantly tweak and take care of this maintenance full-time should be considered because there is no better way to ensure the continued traffic growth otherwise. If your organization is dependent on web sales at all, and you can somehow afford one more salary, then you'd be negligent not to at least weight the cost versus returns. Most of the rest of us, however, can only do what we can with our limited resources, and that usually means that we spend more time personally maintaining the site, although freelancers can be found to offer outside assistance for much less than a salary. If the budget is too tight for a freelancer, even, then upgrading one or two of the four software packages above are your best bets. Their SEO tools speed up the process to help us all do the work of a pro ourselves in a much shorter amount of time than our manual process.

Our final thoughts and thanks

        Compiling and finishing these 100 steps has been a passion for Luke Parker, ION's founder, Since July of 2004. It is born out of a resentment he has against the hardships small business owners must face every day. This being his second small business venture, he knew exactly what the average small business owner had to do for a successful web site traffic marketing campaign, and also knew that it could all be done for free... So he decided that giving away this knowledge for free as well is the best way to draw attention to this business. So far, it's working out pretty well!

        ION would like to thank all of those who helped or are indeed still helping to beta-test our 100 steps of web site traffic marketing process. We will be following our own advice from step #71 soon and will at that time welcome all of you to swap links with us for our soon-to-be-opened SEO Link Partners page. For all of you who at some point visited our site and made a suggestion or comment, we humbly thank you and you have our assurance that it did not go to waste. We will continually be streamlining our process of 100 steps for improved search engine placement as long as there is a need for SEO of any kind. All input will be considered and appreciated.

This page and all contents are the property of ION. Although we grant permission for reprinting this page, we do not grant permission for mass distribution. If you would like to make a suggestion or point out a possible mistake for correction, please send an email to us at: Library@InternetOptimization.net, and we will be happy to consider your comments.

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