SEO for a new domain or website.

I often get questions from Utah companies on how to improve their local search results.  I was making a FAQ list when the idea for a guest post hit me.  I knew right who to go to.  Scott Cowley is a Utah local, well known in the SEO world, and even agreed to help me out with this post!

Here are the questions and answers between Scott and I.

Once a site is built, and the pages optimized, do I need to go out and tell (or submit) it to anywhere?  Will the robots just find it?

New websites, as beautiful as they may be, just aren’t on Google’s map. Since search engine spiders crawl sites by following links from one website to another, so to get your site crawled and indexed, you have to have links pointing to it. Submitting your site to search engines is a good start, but a better thing to do is just build links to the site from a few other properties you have access to. While not helping your rankings specifically, even links from places like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter can help get the ball rolling.

Should I worry about any of the search engines besides google?

Local search and SEO for a new domain

Starting SEO for a new domain

It depends. With the current partnership between Yahoo and Bing (Yahoo.com serving up Bing’s search results), that really leaves just two major players and Google still accounts for 80 percent of the searches online. With the exception of some black hat tactics that you don’t want to become involved with, what works for Google will naturally work for Bing – focus on good content and site architecture, supported by a broad portfolio of links.

Do I need to use different optimization steps for some search engines and not for others?

As mentioned previously, as your rankings rise in one search engine, they’ll tend to rise in others. Most of the differences we’ve observed between engines is the speed at which rankings change relative to the optimization we do – usually Google picks up on site optimization and links faster than Bing does.

Once my web page is set up and running, (as long as I optimize each new page/post) is my work done?  If not, what other steps should i do?

Competition and algorithm changes are both reasons why your work to stay on top is never truly done. Google ranks websites page-by-page and keyword-by-keyword instead of website-by-website, so while some pages rank well for some words, other pages of your site may lag behind. Since SEO is really about two steps: on-page optimization and off-page optimization (link-building), your efforts should naturally move to building links to your site and especially to deeper pages once the site is optimized.

What is the best tool to analyze a page to see if it is well optimized?

SEO for a new domain

Target local search in SEO

I wouldn’t recommend a tool over knowing the components to a well-optimized page. When I check to make sure a page is optimized, I’m looking to see whether my important keyword(s) are found in the title tag, H1 tag, meta description, image ALT attribute, body content (at least once per 100 words), and internal links pointing to the page from other pages on the website.

Are there steps to make sure I can get Utah traffic and not worry about who sees me in other states?

An easy way to get local traffic is to optimize your site for keywords that contain local terms (state- or city-specific). Google’s algorithm is inclusive, meaning you can’t prevent people from other places from finding your site in search results. All you can do is intentionally leave out keywords that you wouldn’t want associated with your site.

If searches for your keywords bring up local search results (local meaning Google Places or a map with the location of various local businesses), you’ll want to put time and attention into optimizing your local business profile pages within Google, Yahoo, and Bing. For a great resources describing what helps one business rank ahead of another in local map results, check out David Mihm’s annual “Local Search Ranking Factors” post.

If you had to write an SEO instruction manual, but could only use 5 bullet points.  What would they be?

Tough, tough question! Luckily, I’m going to shoot for just 2 bullet points.

  1. Get extremely relevant, highly searched words on your page (start with using your keyword once per every element of the page – titles, descriptions, H1 tag, content)
  2. Put the kind of content on the page that is worth linking to and then get people to link to it

How do you decide keyword saturation? When is it too much?

keyword ideas for seoKeyword saturation is needlessly causing people stress. It’s not a perfect science in that some pages may be able to support more keyword usage while others may not. It differs from site to site and word to word. Generally, I recommend limiting your keyword usage to once per 100 words. It’s worth testing to see whether increasing the density helps increase rankings, but be prepared to revert to a lower density if needed.

What are the top 3 mistakes you see a new website make in SEO?

Well, aside from just not doing SEO period (very, very common), I’d give the following:

  1. Picking the wrong keywords
  2. Completely neglecting link building
  3. Choosing a CMS that prevents the site from being truly optimized.

Any really funny or amazing success stories about site ranking?

On a couple of occasions, we had clients who decided to stop doing SEO because they were unprepared to handle the influx of new business they started getting. We still don’t have a solution for that problem. 🙂

Do you think photos and video on a page can help or hinder your ranking?

seo new domainAs with many things, it depends entirely on the site and on the quality of photo and video. I recently attended a conference session on site conversion. According to one expert’s opinion, the number 1 thing holding back e-commerce product page conversion is image quality. This has nothing to do with rankings (and really, photos and videos won’t penalize a page’s ranking, but can help if they’re optimized), but it brings up the most important point. It doesn’t matter how well you’re ranking or how much traffic you’re getting, if your site isn’t turning visitors into customers. Don’t write checks with SEO that your website can’t cash.

Scott Cowley, formerly of SEO.com, now heads up SEO efforts at ZAGG, home of the ZAGGmate for iPad 2. You can catch him at local events around Salt Lake City, online on his personal marketing blog or on Twitter @scottcowley.

Thanks again Scott for sharing your knowledge and experience.

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