28 April 2009

Three Quick SEO Tips for your Website

For all the SEO experts out there reading this, the information in this post will be old news.
However, if you are new to the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) game keep reading...

To this day it never ceases to amaze me how many people I know have their own website, or are trying to sell their product online. Of course when I tell them what I do for Semantic Discovery they inevitably respond with the following question... "Can you help me fix my website?" After a brief moment of thinking to myself "sure I can, just show me the moneeeey!", then I come to my senses and do what most friends do and respond "sure, let me take a quick look at your site and I can give you a few pointers." So I have decided to share these pointers in our blog so when friends ask for advice, or clients new to SEO wonder where to start improving their website, I can simply say "Hey, check out my blog post!"

Research your keyword search phrases

Before you can start making SEO improvements to website, you will need to know what keyword search phrases to target first. If you have already researched your keywords, great! If not, there are many tools you can use to do this. Semantic Discovery offers our Keyword Crawler keyword research tool to help you find new keyword search phrases by crawling your competitor websites, or by crawling the top pages on the internet for targeted keywords. Once you have a good list of keywords, look them up to see how much traffic your chosen keywords are getting, and then narrow your list to keyword variations that get search traffic, but are not highly competitive. There are many tools out there you can use to find search traffic for keywords, however Google offers free tools for this type of research with a Google Adwords account. If you do not have a Google Adwords account, I would also suggest that you sign-up for an account even if you do not plan on creating an Adwords campaign.

Now that you have researched and selected your keyword search phrase you are a ready to start making SEO improvements to your site.

Tip #1: Optimize your Page Titles

This is probably the easiest and most effective way to quickly optimize your website. Make sure that each one of your web pages has a descriptive title that includes the keyword search phrase relevant to page content. Be sure your title tags are between 50-80 characters long (including spaces). Be careful, if you make the titles too long you will risk losing important keywords when the search engines trim the end of long page titles. Even though optimizing page titles is one of the easiest and well known SEO tip, so many websites out there still overlook this. Don't believe me? Just browse the internet and you will quickly find many websites with their home page title is "some site name - home". What a waste!

Tip #2: Optimize your Web Page Content

This tip involves optimizing multiple aspects of your page content to include your relevant keyword search phrases. While making these changes, keep in mind that first and foremost your web pages should contain relevant information that will convert website visitors into buyers of your products or services. Consider the following changes to your website pages:
  • Headings - Use multiple heading tags (H1,H2...) to bring emphasis to your relevant keyword search phrases.
  • Page Copy - Use relevant keyword search phrases in the page copy. Aim for a 4-7% saturation. Anything less than a 4% saturation and the search engines may not find the keywords relevant to the page; but anything more a 7% saturation and the search engines may penalize the page for unnatural keyword stuffing.
  • Link Text - Use relevant keywords search phrases in any "link text" linking to or from the page. Links in the body of your pages should be linking to other relevant pages or information.
  • Image or "Alt" Text - Use relevant keyword search phrases in all image "Alt" text to
    Publish Post
    appropriately describe the images. Keep the "Alt" text to a brief sentence or two, and make sure it is relevant to the rest of page. Leaving the "Alt" text blank is a common missed opportunity to not only improve your web page optimization, but to improve your website's accessibility to visitors with disabilities.
  • Meta Description - Even though the meta description is not viewable on the page, search engines will often the meta description as the snippet to describe your page. Keep the meta description brief and to the point (around 150 characters or about 25 words), and use relevant keywords near the start of the description. Just like titles, search engines will trim the end meta descriptions. Remember... the meta description is often the first thing people will read about your site when using a search engine, so it should entice potential visitors to click on your link!
  • Use Semantically Related Keywords - Search engines are getting smarter at finding relevant pages, therefore you need to be smarter at making your pages more relevant. For instance let's say your keyword is "Car", you can use other semantically related keywords such as automobile, vehicle, SUV, sedan, Ford, etc. in your content. Search engines will see these as related terms and give more relevance to the page. And since the word "car" is not repeated a dozen times throughout the page in a potentially unnatural way, this will also make the page more enjoyable for your visitors to read.

Tip #3: Optimize your URL Extensions

This tip may be a bit harder to implement depending on the size and complexity of your site. But if you can do this, using keywords search phrases in your URL extensions that are relevant to the website page will help your SEO efforts. For example, lets say you are selling watches online and your current URL extension is www.watches.com/products/used.html. However, are targeting the keyword search phrase "cheap used watches." Bam! Change your URL extension to www.watches.com/products/cheap-used-watches.html.
NOTE: If the page URL that your are changing already exists on your website, be sure to create a "301 Redirect" so that the search engines and external links know how to find the new and improved optimized URL.

Be Patient & Monitor your Results!

It takes time for the Search Engines to pick up your changes, so be patient. Monitor keyword search phrase rankings using Semantic Discovery's Site Visibility search engine rank report. Simply set-up a report to take snapshot of your current Google search result ranks for each of your keyword search phrases. Then re-run the Site Visibility report weekly to monitor your keyword search rank improvements!

03 February 2009

Frequent monitoring part of improving organic rankings

I stopped by my local Walmart pharmacy the other day to check my blood pressure on the Vita-Stat Computer. To the right of the digital readout display is a warning which in part reads:

“Blood pressure normally varies. Studies show that changes can range as much as 10 to 30 points within a few minutes. The average of repeated measurements over a period of time is the best indication of your blood pressure.”

It’s interesting that we have to be reminded that “one” check of your health just isn’t the best policy. We all know a better way is to monitor and measure over time. This gives you the best indication of how healthy you really are and the effectiveness of your get healthy efforts.

Great personal advice. It applies nicely to your business health as well, especially if you are doing business online. In any economy your website is an essential component of your economic health.

A well designed website can be the primary connection between you and your customers. A website impacts your image, your message, your best and often first chance to impress and demonstrate the value and worth for someone to begin and maintain a business relationship.

So how do you monitor the health of your website and keep it at the front so you can be found and seen. First you need to find out where you are. This is easily accomplished with a ranking report of the keywords that are at the heart of your intended message. Knowing how visible your website is can guide your efforts to make sure that your website is found and seen everyday.

Staying in shape on the web requires regular attention. Internet and competitive conditions vary meaning the best indication of your ongoing efforts to be found is to monitor and measure repeatedly and often.

Semantic Discovery’s Visibility search engine ranking reports provide an easy and convenient way to quickly find and track your organic search ranking. Each report can be scheduled for timely email delivery saving time and money by automatically gathering the key information about your website and how it ranks. It will also give you a snapshot of the competitive landscape and how it is changing.

Now is the time to begin enjoying the benefits of our visibility ranking report as it helps guide your search engine optimization progress.

02 February 2009

Why NLP Technology Beats Out SEO Experience in the Long Run

A quick Google search and you quickly learn there are thousands of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies out there offering a wide variety of products and services. How can we tell them apart? And how do we know what types of companies will last and what types will take us on as clients today and go out of business tomorrow? To help answer this, I classify them into three categories:
  1. Black-hat SEO Companies
  2. White-hat SEO Companies
  3. Technology Companies Doing SEO
Black-hat SEO Companies
Black-hat SEO (sometimes called spamdexing) is basically using tactics to trick search engines into ranking websites high. This is often considered unethical and is not in the best interest of the search engines or the users. This can be in a variety of ways: creating artificial link farms to trick search engines that a domain is valuable, keyword stuffing certain terms over and over again in content, placing content in an unviewable position or font color so that search engines will index the content, but the user doesn't see it. There are a couple major problems with these flawed approaches:
  • Search Engines (especially Google) are getting very smart about detecting these techniques and actually penalize such websites for attempting them
  • The user experience is compromised because the user is tricked into visiting a website and doesn't find what he is really looking for. So while the website may increase in traffic, sales often don't.
  • The target is constantly moving. Again, because search engines are getting smarter, it is difficult to come up with sustainable techniques.
In short, I wouldn't want black-hat SEO techniques applied to my website, nor would I want to invest in an SEO company using them. Beware of black-hat SEO!

White-hat SEO Companies
White-hat SEO is not trying to trick the search engines or the users. It is simply the art and science (yes, a little of both) of organizing web content and building legitimate web communities to improve search engine rank position (SERP). These are the good guys, the ones the search engines like. These are the guys who use the published SEO guidelines from the search engines, have good netiquette, and not only increase a website's SERP, but also the user experience. As search engine technologies evolve and improve, the user experience is highly correlated to a good SERP.

In short, these are good companies to use as SEO suppliers, but might not be (as I will shortly explain) the best candidates for investors.

Technology Companies Doing SEO
Companies who actually develop technology in areas of natural language processing, web-crawling, text analytics, information retrieval, machine learning, and anything related to understanding text and the web and then apply this expertise to SEO represent the strongest category of SEO companies. These are companies who are deploying white-hat SEO techniques, but in a more intelligent way. The vast majority of white-hat SEO companies are very tactical. They closely monitor the search engines and how the search engine rank positions (SERP) change with every little tweak and adjustment. Some are very good at this. Through experiments and experience, they learn what works. This is not bad, but it is not sustainable. Google and other search engines are constantly working to improve the user experience and are quickly developing new technologies to (as Google puts it) make the world's information universally accessible and useful. This is a moving target! Bets are off as to whether or not SEO companies can keep up with the ever changing technology. Likewise, as the vast number of SEO companies increase, it becomes more and more difficult for them to affect SERPs for all their clients when they compete against other SEO experts.

This is why technology companies have an advantage. Technology companies are working to solve the same problems the search engines are: understanding data and bringing it to users in useful ways. Instead of just using empirical data from search engine experiments, technology companies actually know how to analyze websites and text the same way search engines do. This is a clear competitive advantage over regular SEO companies, who are a dime a dozen. This is how they distinguish themselves from other SEO companies. These are not only great SEO suppliers, but good companies in which to invest.

At Semantic Discovery, we did not start as an SEO company. We started as a technology company in a completely different market. We develop web-crawling technology to capture data from the web. We develop natural language processing and machine learning technology to understand, extract from, and classify webpages. We capture blog data, detect common topics, and detect sentiment related to topics. We use information retrieval technology to index our data and make it searchable and useful. In short, we develop much of the technology that the search engines use to bring users relevant content.

At Semantic Discovery, we soon learned that it made sense for us to start selling SEO products and services because our technology was a perfect fit for SEO! This is a huge advantage for Semantic Discovery in the SEO market!

20 January 2009

Semantic Keywords: Latent Semantic Indexing and SEO

Latent Semantic Index (LSI), in a nutshell, seeks to index documents (e.g. webpages) based on semantically related concepts and keywords, not just syntactically related keywords.

Let me illustrate with a couple simple examples. We all have seen how Google recognizes that when you search for "car", you might also want webpages that contain "cars". This is a syntactical similarity - plural / singular, different tenses of a verb, etc. Search engines have long used syntactical variations on searches. Makes sense, seems pretty obvious. Latent Semantic Indexing, however, takes this to the next level. LSI basically learns from the web what keywords are most commonly related to "cars", for example. Then these keywords, which may or may not be synonyms for cars, are used in ranking webpages. If, for example, the top related keywords to "car" are "used cars", "new cars", "car rentals", and "car reviews", then perhaps when I search for "car", webpages with these additional keywords might rank higher than a page that mentions "car" but does not contain any of the commonly related keywords.

Why LSI and what does it mean for Search Engine Optimization? Both questions are answered the same way. Search engines seek to optimize the user experience by providing the most relevant, authoritative content for any given search. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is our effort to organize our information in a way that search engines can easily understand so that it ranks high for the keywords we are targeting. Both work together to ultimately bring people to our websites who are looking for what we have to offer. How to do this is both the art and science (and yes, a little of both) of SEO.

So why LSI? Latent Semantic Indexing gives the search engines more information about the content of a webpage and helps rank the pages better. I might create a webpage about cars, but only use the keyword "car" a couple times, but when I am describing either the car parts, the economy around the car industry, or issues related to car rentals, I am using language specific to those subjects. Basically, LSI uses natural language processing techniques to learn this language. Now, using LSI, a search engine can take webpages that contains the keyword "car" and differentiate which ones are more relevant based on what other keywords are used.

I drove to school in my car, took my test, then came home early.
I can't decide if I want to buy a new or used car. Since the accident, I have been driving a rental.

Both of the above sentences mention the word "car" one time, but the former is not about a car at all, whereas the latter is entirely about a car. In fact, typical Information Retrieval techniques would rank the first sentence higher because it is shorter (meaning the word "car" represents a larger percentage of the total content). Using LSI techniques, a search engine might learn "new", "used", "rental", and "accident" are related to "car" and therefore rank the webpage containing the second sentence higher than that of the first when someone searches for "car".

LSI enables search engines to better rank relevant webpages to searches. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that LSI techniques are being used more and more by Google and other top search engines. This does have an effect on SEO techniques.

At Semantic Discovery, we combine our web crawling and natural language processing expertise into building SEO tools that really make a difference. We have developed a keyword suggestion crawler tool that employs Latent Semantic Indexing techniques. Our keyword suggestion tool doesn't just provide syntactic variations of keywords. There are plenty of free keyword tools out there that do that. Instead, what we focus on is bringing back the top related concepts to the keywords you are targeting. If the search engines are using LSI techniques to rank pages, then why not use LSI techniques to learn what related keywords are best to use?

Try the SD Keyword Suggestion Crawler for free!

15 January 2009

Keyword Crawler: Semantic keyword suggestion tool now available

Semantic Discovery is pleased to announce the release of our Keyword Crawler semantic keyword research tool. Keyword Crawler is two great keyword research tools bundled together; Keyword Site Crawler and Keyword Suggestion Crawler.

Use the Keyword Suggestion Crawler to discover new semantically related keywords to expand your website content and reach a broader audience. Enter up to ten of your own keyword phrases and the Keyword Suggestion Crawler will find the top semantically related keyword search phrases on the web.

Use the Keyword Site Crawler to analyze your competition's keywords. Enter up to ten websites and the Keyword Site Crawler will provide a list of the semantically related keyword phrases for each of the website's most relevant pages, and a list of the overlapping keyword search phrases for all the websites analyzed.

Both Keyword Crawler tools feature discovery of long tail keyword results up to five-word phrases, detection of keyword overlap between the analyzed websites or keywords, same-day keyword results collected by our web crawler the day your report is run. See all of the features of the Keyword Crawler SEO tools by visiting our website.

Whether starting a new website or fine tuning an existing one, Keyword optimization is a critical task when considering natural or paid traffic from search engines. Discovery of the right keywords can determine the success of your website through increased traffic. Start using Keyword Crawler today and discover the keyword search phrases your successful competitors are targeting on their websites.

Try out the Keyword Crawler keyword suggestion tools for free!

14 January 2009

Site Visibility search engine ranking report available for subscription

Do you know how you rank for your keyword search phrases?

Our new Site Visibility search engine ranking report provides an easy and convenient way for you to quickly find and track the rank of your keyword search phrases on Google™. The Site Visibility report also exposes additional top sites competing for your keyword search phrases using our exclusive Auto-Discover technology.

Major features of the Site Visibility search engine ranking report include:

  • The ability to track your Google™ rankings of up to 50 search terms per report
  • No limit on the number of websites you can track
  • Visual indicators to highlight rank changes from previous reports
  • Summary statistics of all your keyword search terms
  • Report scheduling based on your preferred frequency
  • Administration screen to manage and view all of your reports
  • All reports are web based, no software to install!

These are just some of the great features available with our Site Visibility search engine ranking report. See all of the features of the Site Visibility report by visiting our website. Or try our free trial SEO Visibility Report today!

Why should you care about your website's search engine ranking?

Simply put, successful websites utilize natural search engine listings to obtain visitors for very little cost.

Why should a website owner use the Site Visibility search engine ranking report?
To track and measure the progress of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts, to ensure keyword search phrases remain in the top Google results, and to discover unknown competitors of your products or keyword search phrases.

Why should Website Design & SEO Firms use the Site Visibility search engine ranking report?
To utilize the exclusive competitor Auto-Discover feature to generate sales leads, to analyze the current search engine keyword rankings of prospective clients, and to track the progress of search engine optimization efforts of current clients.

Save time & money by using the Site Visibility report to automatically gather and analyze your keyword search engine rankings. View Site Visibility search engine ranking report subscription pricing on our website.

13 January 2009

Introducing Semantic Discovery

Welcome to Semantic Discovery's new blog! Our Semantic Discovery team has been working hard and is very excited to share our great new SEO products with the world. We have combined our expertise in web crawling and natural language processing to bring you our first two of many new SEO tools.

The first SEO tool we offer is our Site Visibility search engine ranking report. This tool allows you track the Google search engine rank of up to 50 keyword search terms for as many websites as you choose. The Site Visibility search engine ranking report can also track the Google ranking of up to five your competitors, and will auto discover an additional five competitors of your keyword search terms. This great tool is available immediately for subscription, or learn more by visiting our website.

Our second SEO tool is our Keyword Crawler keyword research tool. Keyword Crawler is actually two great keyword research tools bundle together; Keyword Site Crawler and Keyword Suggestion Crawler.
  • Keyword Site Crawler - Analyze your competition by utilizing the Keyword Site Crawler to crawl a group of websites, perform keyword analysis on the results, and provide a list of the keyword phrases being used on their most relevant pages.
  • Keyword Suggestion Crawler - Reach a broader audience by utilizing the Key Suggestion Crawler to find the current top semantically related keyword search phrases on the web from a list of your own keyword search phrases.
Both Keyword Crawler tools are available immediately for subscription, or learn more by visiting our website.

Bundle and save money by subscribing to both the Site Visibility search engine ranking report and the Keyword Crawler keyword research tools.

Please visit our blog often for news about Semantic Discovery, SEO tips, details about our existing and future SEO products, and thoughts on our core expertise in natural language processing, web crawling, and corporate information services.