What is Search Engine Traffic?
Keywords and Rankings
Search engine traffic is web site traffic that comes to you via the search engines, when someone searches for a keyword for which your web site is optimized, and comes across your web site.In most cases, to be highly ranked for a given keyword, you must do some on–page and off-page optimization.To give you some background on search engine optimization, there are a few things that determine where your web site will rank in the search engine results when someone searches for a keyword for which your web site is optimized.The search engines rank each web site according to a number of things, including content on the web site, on-page optimization of the web site, and a factor they call link popularity. Basically link popularity is a way of ranking how ‘popular’ your site is for your keyword. The search engines want to provide relevant content to their web searchers, and one of the things they use to proxy for relevance is popularity. They assume that if your web site is more popular, then perhaps it is also more relevant.So how do they determine popularity? One of the things they use to proxy for popularity is the number and quality of inbound links you have to your web site. They make the assumption that if you have more and better inbound links (links coming to you from other web sites) then your web site must also be more popular.I am going to start by talking a little about on-page search engine optimization.On-page search engine optimization is basically the process of doing specific things to your web site itself to let the search engines know what your web site is about.On-page optimization itself is not critically important to the ranking process itself, although without on-page optimization a search engine would have a difficult time knowing that your site existed or what it was about, so is therefore critical to your rankings.
So what are the primary means of on-page search engine optimization?
There are a number of different areas where you want your keywords to appear, namely in your title, description, keywords, content, heading, and other source code tags.Here is an example of the first few lines of code on one of my optimized pages: (for ease I have bolded each of the occurrences of my keyword phrase get more traffic to my web site, but in the actual source code it would not be bolded.
Your keyword or keyword phrase should appear in your title. This keyword or keyword phrase should also be placed early in your title, and should not be accompanied with a lot of other words. If the keyword can be used twice, that is good as well, but you do not want to repeat it more than twice or in a non-sensible way.The reason you want to try to limit the number of additional words you use is that the title may be ranked by its percentage of keyword use, so any additional words dilute the impact of the keyword.
Off Page Optimization
Off page search engine optimization is exactly what the name implies – search engine optimization that does not occur on the web page itself. What do the search engines look for off-page?Well, let’s start at the beginning. What do search engines want to know when they are ranking you?
They want to know that they are placing the best web site for a given keyword in the highest position. And they genuinely want a good web site, not just one that is stuffed with the same keyword over and over again, hoping to get higher rankings.So one of the assumptions they make is that if your web site is linked to by a number of other web sites, then your web site must be more popular than other, similarly themed sites.They assume that if you have 100 web sites linking in to your web site then your web site is probably more popular than a web site that only has 10 web sites willing to link in to you.Of course, they also recognize that some web sites have more importance than others, so they assume that if you have more important web sites linking in to you, all other things held equal, then you must have a superior web site.So all things being equal, if your web site has more and better links coming into it than another similarly-optimized web site of the same niche, then you must have a more popular web site. And since they are allowing popularity to proxy for quality, then they naturally assume that your web site should also be ranked more highly in the search engines.Now, when search engines first began ranking sites in this way, some web masters began to create web rings and link farms where all the participants would each link to each other. Some of the these link farms grew to thousands of links, and of course the web sites in these link farms went straight to the top of the rankings. Now, the search engines have banned this type of activity, and in fact frown on any activity that creates a lot of inbound links to your website in a short period of time, or if all your inbound links contain the same link text.They assume that if you are an honest, ethical web master, you will be gaining new links slowly, over a period of time, not 500 in one day, as might occur if you paid someone to get your link onto a large number of web sites. Of course, if you paid someone to do that, you could also assume that the bulk of those links would have the same link text on them, so they also assume if you get a bunch of new links with all the same text on the anchor, then you must be doing something funny.So what can we deduce from this?
Primarily two things:
1) Plan out a strategy of link generation for your web site. How many inbound links do you want? 100? 500? Whatever the number, divide that number by 50 and then whatever your result is, plan to achieve that many new links per week for the next year, and at the end of the year, you will have your desired number of inbound links, your site will not be banned, and you will have a lot of link popularity.Sure, you may be thinking you want to do it fast. Unfortunately, the web is not a now – endeavor. You have to take time to build a long term web business. It simply will not happen over night – and you simply have to patiently do the work and allow the time to accumulate.
2) Purposely alter the anchor text you put on your inbound links. For example, if the keyword for which you wish your web page to rank highly is “dog training”, then vary your anchor text like this: “dog training”, “dog training tips”, “best dog training”, “how to do dog training”. In this way, your web site will appear to be gaining inbound links in a natural fashion, and not using any kind of trickery.
So how do you decide how many inbound links you need for your web page?There are a number of different ways you can do this, all of them centering around the idea that if you optimize your web page and your linking structure in such a way that it is better than the other web sites that are competing for a ranking for your given keyword, then it follows that your web site should develop a higher ranking than the other web sites.So the bottom line is that you want to optimize your web site better than everyone else on the results page for your keyword.There are a number of different factors that the search engines take into account when deciding how to rank you for a specific keyword.Some of the things they take into account are how well your web site is on–page optimized, how long your web site has been around, how many inbound links you have, the text on the anchors to your inbound links, and the quality of the inbound links that you have coming into your web site.
You cannot control how long your web site has been around in relation to others competing for the top ten results, so you simply have to do everything else a tad better than the other web sites do it, to compensate for not being online for as long.In the area of on-page optimization, you should do the basics and do them well. You may find that some of the web sites with whom you are competing are doing things on their web pages that are unscrupulous. The key here is that when they get caught, they will be banned and will fall out of the top ten results. So if any of that is occurring, just be patient on that count, and you will be rewarded.So now we have the number of inbound links, the text on the anchors to the inbound links, and the quality of the inbound links coming into your web site. Those are three things we can control, and they are also things we can study about our competitors’ web sites.