There is so much information floating around out there about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to get some rankings.

We've probably seen this Word (SEO Secret, Best SEO Guide etc)...  some company in India is a leading SEO specialist, and for a monthly fee ranging from $10 a month to over $100 will perform some SEO magic on your website, making your website more visible, more higher ranked on keywords, increased PR and even possibly a better lover! 

So what the HECK are these guys doing that's we're not?  What secret recipe are they using that will yield the amazing results we've been after but have failed to produce?  What do they know that we don't?!

The answer is likely... nothing.  And here lies the trap, and likely leads to the most common SEO mistakes most of us have fallen prey to at some point.

Sadly, many people have succumb to the snake oil that some shady SEOs are pushing. They say they have the secret to getting you top ranked in Google, Yahoo! and any other search engine in 7 days or less. They claim to have the bulletproof plan to solve all your SEO worries. All you have to do is pay 79.95 + tax and the nominal 19.95 shipping and handling charges.

There is so much information floating around out there about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to get some rankings. SEO is the enigma of our time. Ask most any SEO consulting group what they are going to do for you and... they tend to not say much. In essence most of them say they are the best and if you would just shut up and pay your money you will be on the top of Google.

The facts of SEO are not strange or mystical. They are clearly defined, well referenced and readily reproduced. SEO is like the Incredible Edible Egg of online marketing. You might start out cooking an omelet, but wind up with scrambled eggs after you try to flip the omelet. Along the way, you made an adjustment, but the end result will still be eggs for breakfast.

SEO is real, powerful and necessary for the success of your website even at a basic level.  Internet marketers and specialists focus (or least should focus) very strongly on SEO practises, and SEO companies are trying very hard to let all webmasters know that SEO is important and that you need to use them and their elite SEO knowledge to get results and be the top of the world quickly and effectively.  The truth of the matter is many of us think that SEO is a bag of tricks that changes month to month and that only a few folks that have dedicated hundreds of hours to the study of SEO truly know what they're doing.

So.. The Good News is There are no secrets! The search engines make it all very public and clear what you need to do to get top rankings. The success lies in the details and proper implementation. But there is no top secret, proprietary technique for getting top rankings.

Essentially this is the reality of SEO- no one knows what works exactly but there are a number of practices that will get you a decent ranking. The two obstacles to this destiny are like any other thing that might make you money- hard work and money. Money to get back links, money for your SEO professional and hard work from you.

Search Engine Guidelines

Another mistake most webmasters make is to completely disregard user guidelines of the major search engines.  I think it's safe to say that most of us know that Google has a TOS with very specific guidelines of what you can and can't do to optimize your site for it's index, but how many of us have actually read it?  Oh, you have?  Good stuff, now how many of you check it for changes on a regular basis?  That's what I thought...  and yes it changes quite often.  Following these terms is critical if you care about search engine traffic because you can score some very effective tips on optimizing your site, plus find out what could end up getting your site penalized.

Internal Link Building

If you don’t optimize your site, you won’t get top rankings. It really is that plain and simple. If the engines can’t spider your site and you don’t have links and strong content, you don’t stand a chance against the sites that do have all that in place. So many people don’t want to spend money on SEO, or are afraid to take the plunge but then they can’t understand why they don’t have rankings. So maybe there is a secret – maybe the secret is take action and get your site optimized!

By creating effective internal linking, you're more or less promoting other areas of your site that are less popular, but still possibly relevant to your visitors.  This increased visibility on an internal level can introduce your users to features, areas and content they may have never realized you had, and these users are all potential backlinks, social media buffs or word-of-mouth links to untapped traffic.  Just check out large sites like Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Digg and many more... you're presented with the content you are looking for, as well as internal links to other relevant areas in an effort to engage you and explore further.  This is effective internal linking.

These are the following things about SEO

SEO On Page:

* Establish and optimize your website pages for specific keywords. Includes metatags, URLs and content.
* Investigate and research your competitors... see where they rank for keywords and how they are optimizing their pages.  Are they ranked higher than you?  You can find out why by checking meta tags, backlinks and their content pages.
* Optimize your title, meta and header tags.
* Optimize your anchor text, your robots.txt and your image Alt tags.
* Write relevant content as often as possible!
* Fix broken links on your site.
* Create an XML sitemap and submit it.
* Ensure your site is included in major search engines and see how you rank for your top 10 - 20 keywords.  Keep track on a monthly basis to check your progress.
* Install and use Google Analytics.
* Validate your code for easy crawler inclusion.

SEO Off Page:

* Verify search engine guidelines and make sure you are compliant
* Research and build up backlinks to your site... there are dozens of strategies.
* Create a separate blog and keep it updated with content regarding your site, updates, research and other projects.  Use it to generate interest!
* Create articles for open distribution
* Take advantage of social media and social bookmarking sites
* RSS Feed submission
* Forum posting
* Search for link directories and link exchanges relevant to your site's content and join them!  Don't just submit to everything under the sun, most link directories are completely useless.

The other thing is Google Webmaster Tools and your web stats are a goldmine of information. Make sure you take time to see what words people are actually using to find your site and see what people do once they get to your site. See how many people link to you and which of those sources are driving traffic. Find out if there are errors on your site. There is so much information to be analyzed; you just need to make the time to check it out.

Successful SEO requires time, patience, skill, knowledge, persistence, attention to detail, knowledge of HTML, current information and an understanding of marketing helps too – then you can write the best possible text while using the keywords well, and it will also help you write compelling Title and Description tags….OR – the willingness to invest in a professional firm to get those top rankings for you.  You need to focus on quality backlinks and real keyword research, and of course the king of web marketing: CONTENT!

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