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Three Steps to Search Engine Traffic
I generally follow a fairly straight forward 3 step process when I want to get search engine traffic for a new website. I have outlined this three step process in a simple guide below.
Step One: Make a List of Targeted Keyword Phrases
What is it that your site has to offer and what will people that want what you have to offer likely be searching for in the search engines? As you think about this begin to make a list of possible phrases that your potential visitors will be searching for. Be as specific and targeted as possible. If you sell philosophy books on your site then a possible phrase could be "Medieval philosophy books". Don't write just "Philosophy" as that would be too general.
After you have made your list of possible keyword phrases narrow down the list to the phrases that you want to target the most. Use keyword research tools to find the keyword phrases that will be most worth your time to go after. For more information on the subject of Keyword research please read SEOmoz's article, How to Conduct Keyword Research.
Step Two: Create an Optimized Page for Each Keyword Phrase on Your List
Many people trying to rank high in the search engines make the mistake of trying to optimize for too many keywords on any one page. It is a better strategy to just stick with optimizing for one keyword phrase per page. By focusing on one phrase you are more likely to rank high for that particular phrase and you may get lucky and rank high for other related keyword phrases at the same time. If you want to rank high for more than just one phrase then just create an additional page for each phrase you would like to rank high for.
You have already made a list of keyword phrases so now all you have to do is create a unique page for each of those phrases. Treat each of your pages as a stand alone entry page. Keep in mind that when a visitor comes to your site from the search engines they were most likely looking for something specific, so each page should help visitors find what they were looking for by providing information about the keyword phrase that it is being optimized for. In order to fully optimize each page your keyword phrase should be included in the title, heading, and naturally within the text of the page.
Step Three: Obtain Quality Backlinks to Each of Your Pages
The third and probably most important step in ranking high in the search engines is to obtain links pointing to your pages from other websites. The more links the better, but you should focus your efforts on sites that themselves have many links pointing to them, because the search engines place higher value on links from those sites. The amount of links that a site has pointing to it is called link popularity. Google uses a ranking system called PageRank to measure the link popularity of each page. Do a search for "Pagerank tool" or download the Google toolbar to find out the pagerank of specific pages. Don't rely too heavily on PageRank or link popularity to determine a page's worth, though. It is more important to obtain links form sites that are related to yours than to just obtain links from high pagerank sites that may not be related to your site. The search engines place a higher value on links from sites with topics that are related to yours than from those that are not related. For some ideas on how to get links please visit Andy Hagan and Aaron Wall's 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity in 2006 or SEOmoz' Advanced Link Building Tactics.
When obtaining links, get links to each of your individual pages, not just your homepage. You should encourage those that link to a given page to use the keywords that that page has been optimized for in the anchor text of the link, since this helps the search engines determine that the page is relevant for the term you want to rank for. In most cases webmasters will do this naturally since you have already included your desired keywords in the title and heading of your page.
In general it is a better strategy to focus your link building efforts on encouraging other webmasters to link to your site naturally rather trying to go out and obtain links manually one by one. Designing a page to encourage others to link to it is called LinkBaiting. Good linkbait gives users something of value, which webmasters will link to because they want to share it with their website visitors. Coming up with good linkbait ideas is where some creativity and marketing know how come in very handy. Being a creative marketer is more valuable in SEO than knowing everything there is to know about search engine algorithms.
I hope the above information is helpful. The above guide is just a basic overview and is just one way to do SEO. If you would like to learn more about SEO and Internet Marketing, please visit the SEM Research Blog.
About the Author: Chris Sandberg is an