- Written by Dan Maynard
Chasing the SEO Dragon Tail
If you've ever had the chance to observe a dog's tail or if you were so lucky the tail of a Komodo dragon, you would observe how it wavers from side to side as it moves along. There's no forward motion, only sideway motion.
Having seen a Komodo dragon on the move on TV the other day, conjured up compelling images of another analog, that of the search engine optimization enthusiast trying to get top rankings in the search engines by ingesting gobs of often contravening information from various SEO forums. These forums in some cases are rife with misinformation, albeit for the most part unintended.
The Tale of the SEO Tail
SEO enthusiasts are known to scour the forums looking for tidbits of information that will help them exploit potential loopholes or weaknesses in the search algorithms that could provide a temporal but unfair search ranking advantage. Once the loophole becomes widespread the search engines quickly close up the loophole.
The search continues to explore new potential engine weakness. The SEO advantage is short lived and rankings as a result, plummet. It reminds me of the dragon's tail, constantly on the move, gyrating from side to side wildly with no forward motion. I see no forward motion as a lack of forward momentum - momentum that could result in building traffic volume, achieving milestones and ultimately online success. But it doesn't have to be that way.
The Best SEO Strategies
Adopting sound and ethical SEO strategies is a worthwhile long term strategy. Rather than chasing the algorithm, adopt a search marketing method that complies with Google's webmaster guidelines and you will win at SEO in the long term.
As a long term SEO strategist and publisher of a piano site, I have had top rankings in the search engines for many years. In fact, my rankings have withstood the test of time despite many Google algorithm updates and I've never worried about Google's attempt to improve search results. I don't chase the dragon tail. I'm always looking for forward motion. So what does that mean? Take for example one of my newer pages on my site, how to buy a piano. Every so often I add pages to my piano site in order to get them to rank. While I have page 1 Google rankings for all the major keyboard brand pages, I constantly work on achieving new rankings for newer pages.
The 3 Most Crucial SEO Elements
Getting rankings on Google consists of 3 crucial elements. First, keyword research is the cornerstone of any SEO campaign. You need to know what search terms are being used in the search engines and in what volumes in order to garner high quality traffic.
Traffic quality is totally dependent on ranking in Google for terms that are relevant to your site theme. If your goal is to sell a service or product, then you will want to achieve top ranking for what is called "buy" keywords. These are keywords that buyers search on when they are close to purchase commitment in the sales funnel.
Where Do My Keywords Go
On my "how to buy a piano" page, the information provides the visitor with value, but also it is a keyword term that moves the buyer closer to the "commit to buy" stage. It is on that page that I walk the visitor through potential purchase options. Also notice that the "how to buy a piano" keyword phrase can be found in crucial areas of the web page. This is known as "on-page" SEO. The keyword phrase can be found in the "title" tag which appears at the very top blue band of your browser. In this case, "How to Buy a Piano Keyboard | Digital Piano" appears for my page.
It is important to have the keyword phrase appear in the first paragraph of the body text in proximity to the beginning of the first sentence. And then to use the phrase naturally throughout the document.
SEO Techniques That No Longer Work
In the past, the number of times the keyword phrase appeared was a closely calculated measure called keyword density. However, Google is much smarter and is looking for text that flow naturally for the reader. It is more important from Google's perspective that the visitor achieves a good user experience. Google tracks this by measuring associated attributes such as length of time on page, average number of page visits and bounce rate. The bounce rate is simply a measure of the number of instances a page is visited and exited without visiting another other pages on the site.
How does Latent Semantic Indexing Impact SEO?
Supporting keywords are important ever since the adoption of latent semantic indexing (LSI). Quite simply, Google compares your web page to similarly themed web pages that Google trusts and considers to be authoritative. If similarities in word usage are found, then that helps with achieving good ranking for your page. Since we don't know what authoritative web page is used as a baseline, then by virtue of the LSI, it is imperative to use variants of your keywords along with synonyms. So in the case of my website, the keyword phrase "how to buy a piano" could be supplemented with "buying a keyboard piano", "purchase a digital keyboard", "buy a digital piano" etc.
The keyword phrase should also be used in the navigation structure, within anchor text, in bold, in the "alt" tag of images and in the file name of the page as well as 1 instance of the H1 tag, and potentially in H2 and H3 tag if warranted.
While some would argue that the keyword phrase should be incorporated in the meta keyword tag, I generally refrain from that as Google has for some time no longer used that tag for SEO purposes. And having the keyword phrase in the keyword meta tag serves to alert your competitors which keywords you are striving to achieve top ranking. However I would use it in the meta description not for SEO purposes as it has no such bearing, but it helps the searcher to confirm that your site is relevant to the search query.
Sticking to these fundamentals of on-page SEO will keep your page ranking for the long term which means you never have to worry about the dragon tail.
About the author: Dan Maynard is the publisher of a Saskatchewan SEO site Web Feat Marketing and has been conducting search engine optimization for 12 years. Dan teaches SEO through the Internet Marketing Coach section of his site. Dan also owns and publishes a high ranking piano keyboard review site.