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What can you do for me?

We can do any SEM-related work, but every site is different, so the first thing we would do is to audit your site. This will give you a detailed breakdown of how your site is currently seen by the search engines and why it ranks where it does; what's good about it and what's not good about it. We'll provide you with recommendations of what we think should be done to improve your site's traffic and conversions. This audit and report generally costs $250-$500, depending on the size and complexity of your site.

At that point, what else we do will be up to you. You can have us implement all the recommendations or some of them, or take the recommendations and do them yourself or hire someone else to do them. The report we produce from the audit will be yours to keep and do with what you like. If you want us to do some of the work, or break the work down to do in stages, we'll work with you to come up with a plan that makes sense for you.

What can I do myself?

Much of the work that goes into improving a site's rankings isn't difficult or technical; it's just time-consuming. Writing content, doing social networking, posting to forums and blogs, doing keyword research—these are all things you may be able to do for yourself if you have the time. We'll be glad to give you some basic training to get you started and tips along the way.

What is a keyword?

In search engine lingo, a keyword is any word or phrase that people might search for. So "1996 Dodge cars" is a possible keyword.

Long-tail keywords are keywords that are long enough that they match very few pages. A long-tail keyword won't bring you many visitors, but the ones it does bring will be very likely to be ones who are interested in your products or services, since their search zeroed in on your site so well.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of determining which keywords will bring you the most traffic and the best conversion rate. There are three main factors to consider:

  • What keywords related to my site are people searching for most often?
  • How many other sites are competing for that keyword? What are my chances of getting into the top 10 or top 3 on the search engines for that keyword?
  • How well will people who find my site with that keyword convert?

There are commercial tools that will do some of this for you, and free tools that are more time-consuming, so you have some choice over which way to go. The point is to find the keywords that will make your site perform the best, which frequently aren't the ones you'd guess they'd be.

What is link building?

Link building is the process of getting incoming links from other sites to yours. Today, the most important factor in where a search engine ranks a web page is: how many other pages link to this one, and how popular are those pages? You may write the definitive article on "How to winterize a lawn mower," but until other pages on the web link to it, the search engines won't know how great it is, and they won't rank it well.

There are a variety of ways to get incoming links.

  • Buy them. This doesn't work as well as it used to, though, because Google insists that paid links have the "rel=nofollow" attribute, which tells them not to pass page rank through that link. So paid links should mostly be saved for situations where you're only looking for traffic, and not search engine ranking.
  • Exchange them. Reciprocal link exchanges, where I link to you and you link to me, used to be all the rage, and they could drive you up the rankings fast. Then the search engine companies realized that most of the sites linking to each other weren't related, so if site ABC and site XYZ linked to each other, it didn't mean they thought each other were valuable sites. So now these don't have that high a value unless they're between sites with related content.
  • Create them yourself. There are many ways to create links to your own site from others. Write articles for article sites, and link to your site in the author's information. Post helpful ideas on forums related to your site's topic, and make sure your link is in your signature. Post comments on blogs that relate to your site. In some cases, these links will get the "rel=nofollow", preventing them from sending page rank directly, but they all provide ways for real people to reach your site too. Social media (see the next question) can be a big part of this too.
  • Link bait. The best links are the ones other people create voluntarily. But people will only link to your site if there's something there they think their own visitors should see. Link bait is anything you put on your site that isn't necessarily related to monetizing visitors who have already arrived, but is for making people think, "Hey, that's cool; I'm going to link to that," or, "Hey, that's cool, I'm going to Tweet that page." This can consist of articles related to your site's topic, pictures, videos, or virtually anything people will want to share.

What is social media?

Social media includes services like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and many, many others. Other similar terms are social networking or bookmarking. These services offer, among other things, ways for people to share links they find interesting. Creating accounts on these services and posting links to your site can drive traffic and increase rank. To get much value from social media, you have to get people to follow you, so you have to give them more than just links to your site. That's where the time comes in. You have to provide people with value, whether that be information, links to other cool sites, or great jokes you made up—so when you give them links to your own site, they'll want to go there.

Social media usually isn't the first step in a SEM plan, but it can be an important part, and best of all, it's one that the site owner can usually participate in.


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