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2009-07-09 15:18:25

SEO – Help From the Search Engines Themselves


SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a topic that’s probably had millions of pages written about it on the Internet. Gurus are everywhere, with advice both free and paid. The advice runs from excellent to downright silly, with penalties placed on sites by Google and Yahoo when bad advice is followed in an attempt to trick the engines.
Google is very helpful in telling us what we need to do to better our search engine page ranks for our chosen keywords and phrases. They have an excellent tutorial here, and you can get helpful information on arranging and composing your content for better results. 
There are some basic things to keep in mind when optimizing your site for the search engines:
  •  Lots of text relevant to your topic, in our case local real estate.
  •  Break content up into smaller chunks, with pages focused on one topic each, with usually under 500 words working well.
  •  Work your key words and phrases into the text logically and don’t make the text  hard to read for the visitor.
  •  Don’t jam in key words to excess, as you’ll be penalized.
  •  Place links from relevant websites back to yours
  •   Place internal links between your content when appropriate.
  •   When several pages are related, such as pages talking about the steps in a transaction, do a page for each major step.
  •   Take the pages in the previous item and place links to all of them in a “hub” type article with a short synopsis of each linked article.
  •  “Work the long tail.” - That’s focusing page content around key phrases with more words in them, such as “yourtown real estate appraisal.” This will bring a very focused searcher with less competition. “Yourtown real estate” is heavily competitive.
  •  With Google’s new Personalized Search, more value is being placed on audio and video content on the site.
  •  Not looking at other articles, write about the same content again, using different words. It’s not duplicate content, but repeated information in different words.
  •  Always use “Alt text” with your images.
Those are the basics, and they’ll probably always be important no matter how the search engines evolve and change their algorithms. Though they do use different criteria, those tips will help you with Yahoo and MSN as well. Short of building three different sites with custom optimization for each, you can get decent position in all three with the same articles if you create lots of fresh and informative content.
You’ll see a lot written about “Keyword Density” and what it should be. Keyword density is expressed as a percentage, and is the number of times your targeted keyword or phrase is mentioned on the page divided by the total number of words. Don’t get too involved, but many have stated that Google is fine with a keyword density of 2% to 3%, with more not being rewarded. Thus, a page with 500 words would require use of the phrase 10 to 12 times.   That’s a lot, and you don’t want to create a hard to read page. Again, don’t create poor writing just for that 2%. There is a great site here for pasting up your text before you publish to see your density.
It seems that Yahoo may be going into the optimization business though. A patent application has been filed by Yahoo titled AUTOMATED SYSTEM TO IMPROVE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION ON WEB PAGES. The first paragraph partially reads: “A system and method for automated search engine optimization (SEO) are disclosed. The automated SEO may analyze search query logs, or a search log database to determine popular concepts/units which may be automatically utilized to optimize a site or page for search engine results.”
It appears that Yahoo would analyze the content and meta information for a page, decide what would work better, and edit the page accordingly. This could include changing the title and description as well. Many SEO experts out there believe that this is a conflict of interest, as does Google. They sold off such a company that does this in order to maintain the integrity of search results.
This is interesting, as the intent of the information could be changed as it relates to the site visitor and the business. Even a subtle change in a title might get it a higher position in a search, but might also reduce its interest to the searcher, so it may not be effective in that instance. It’s just a patent request, so we’ll wait and see what Yahoo does with it.
Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of . RealtySoft provides Realtors with Real Estate Web Design Real Estate Print Marketing and Free IDX solutions. Find out more about RealtySoft by visiting   



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