It seems these days everyone is an SEO expert. What they don’t tell you is they are self-proclaimed experts in SEO with very little technical background and no credentials to back them up. Trying to find a quality SEO expert (a true expert) is becoming a frustrating task for webmasters. It is rare to come across a webmaster who’s employed the services of an SEO firm and did not get burned in one way or another. SEO experts promise the world and more often than not under-deliver. In order to save money and frustration, many webmasters have branched off and tried to apply SEO on their own. So, are these webmasters heading down the wrong path or have they figured out that SEO is not as difficult as the SEO experts lead people to believe?

Promising The Moon and The Stars, Delivering a box of Lucky Charms.
Many SEO companies you come across are going to promise you a top-10 ranking. That’s a top-10 ranking as-in showing up between 1 and 10 of the search engines results pages (SERPs). Research has shown that close to 90% of all web users do not browse past the first page of SERPs. If you’re not in the top 30 you can forget about getting ANY traffic from search engines. A guaranteed top-10 placement is a very bold promise, one that probably sounds too good to be true. In fact, it isn’t! Almost any SEO firm can guarantee they’ll place your website in the top-10 of SERPs within a mo and deliver 100% on what they promised! Now… what EXACTLY did they promise? They promised a top-10 ranking, that much is fact. Beyond that, no specific details were provided. Here’s the problem. Top-10 ranking only means something if your website is placed in the top-10 of highly targeted and relevant keywords or keyword phrases that users are actually searching on. Most of these SEO firms are simply targeting very niche keywords that have little to no competition. By doing so they are delivering on their promise of top-10 rankings. The problem is the keywords with little to no competition most likely have little to no searches against them by real users. It sure does look good for an SEO expert to type in “Chartreuse Colored Keyboards” and have your keyboard website come up 1st in the results set. How many REAL users are going to be conducting a search under the specific keywords “Chartreuse Colored Keyboards”? If you’re lucky, maybe a half-dozen in a year. One thing to be careful of with any SEO company is a promise that seems too good to be true. Vagueness is the ally for SEO’s as they can make deliver on what they promise, which is often just an illusion of what you expect.

When In Doubt, Do It Yourself!
SEO is not rocket science. You don’t need a degree or a strong technical background to apply effective SEO. All you need is a “can do” work ethic and a basic understanding of core SEO concepts. Let’s explore several easy to apply techniques that are the core of effective SEO! Through out this article we’ll refer to a fictitious online reseller of rare keyboards for examples and illustrative purposes.

Content Crazy
Content (or copy) is the actual text that appears on your web pages. Your goal should always be to come up with unique and intelligent content for your site. The best thing you can do is write daily or weekly articles that are relevant to your website and will add value to your users. Believe it or not, adding content to your website is a HUGE aspect of SEO. Search engines crawl websites at varied intervals, and the more content you add to your site the more “important” it will be. As importance grows, so will the frequency of web crawls. Every page that’s indexed in your site is a potential point-of-entry for a user conducting searches in their most adored search engine. For example, if you add an article about “Fine Brazilian Keyboards” the article is likely to get indexed by the search engines. When a user searches the web for “Brazilian Keyboards”, you have a very good chance to appearing in the SERPs… if your article is targeting the correct keywords.

Keywords For Life
Keywords are your main source of getting targeted traffic to your website. Any new page or content you add to your site is likely to have a very specific theme that is relevant to your overall site theme. If you’re an online reseller of rare keyboards, any article or content you add to your site should in any way relate to keyboards. Note that “keyboards” is your main keyword for your site and “rare keyboards” is your keyword phrase. The words “rare keyboard” should appear several times throughout your homepage. The more times “rare keyboards” appears, the higher the keyword density. Your goal for any content is to include the keyword or keyword phrase enough times that is prevalent on the page but does NOT reduce readability! By doing so you’re increasing the likelihood that a search on “rare keyboards” will result in your page shooting to the top of rankings based on the frequency of your keywords (appears more relevant to search engines). Keywords have more emphasis to the readers and also search engines when they are bold or in the header. Use the following tags when constructing your page header and emphasis words:

– [ H1 ]: Should appear as the top text line on mostly all page and contain the keyword phrase
– [ strong / b ]: Keyword phrases in the main body of the text should be emphasized where it makes sense. You may also consider having a sub-header under the header with a secondary keyword phrase.

Keywords should not just stop on the page content. Clever and consistent use of keywords also need to be applied to META Description and Keyword tags and appear on EVERY page. That is, mostly all page should have different META keywords and descriptions that flow with the targeted keywords for that page. Finally, mostly all single page should have a descriptive TITLE that includes the keyword phrase, preferably in the beginning of the title.

Of course, keywords alone will not gain you top-10 rankings for competitive keyword phrases. You also need to gain one-way links.

Obtaining One-Way Links, Not As Difficult As You Think
Any good SEO expert will tell you that you NEED to good source of one-way links in order to compete with websites in the same vertical market as your own. Search engines place any of the strongest emphasis on one-way links. A one-way link is any hyperlink that lives on a website outside your own that points to your website without the need for you to link back to it. One-way links are considered a “vote” of popularity for the other site. The more “votes” the site has the more popular search engines will think it is and the rankings will increase. It really is that simple. Here are any ways to obtain one-way links:

– Write and post articles online (http://www.articlesender.com)
– Write and post press-releases online
– Write a testimonial for your most adored site in exchange for a link
– Submit to web directories such as DMOZ (http://www.dmoz.org)
– Sign up for linking services such as Free Links Direct (http://www.freelinksdirect.com)
– start a blog and have links point to your website on wordpress (http://www.wordpress.com)
– Join forums and include a link to your site in your signature
– Exchange content to competing site in exchange for a one-way link

As you can see, there are many different ways to obtain one-way links. All of them will require any work on your part, but the payoff is well worth the effort. You’ll also need to consider how your links are constructed, specifically your anchor text (the text that contains your link). Any link that points to your site should contain the keyword or keyword phrase for the page that it is linking to. of course, that’s assuming you have any level of control over the link (which is not always the case). When constructing your links you want to stay clear of the popular “click here” or “click now” links. Although you’ll get points for the link pointing to your site, you’re not optimizing the link. Let’s look at an example for our rare keyboards web site. You want to construct your link so that the words “Rare Keyboards” appear as your anchor text and are within the body of a sentence. Take a look at the following three link sentences:

– NEVER use click here or click me for anchor text
“click here for rare keyboards at discounted rates”
– Although not bad, you’re not making the best use of your anchor text
“rare keyboards – your source to rare keyboards at discounted rates!”
– Now this is like it!
“View our catalog of rare keyboards at discounted rates”

The first link phrase is terrible. You never want the links that point at you to be non descriptive nonsense such as “click here” or “click me”. They are meaningless to the search engines and are not favorable to search engine spiders.
The second link is not bad at all. It is perfectly acceptable, but it is not as good as it should be. It seems too “forced” and very unnatural. You should always have a goal of making the link flow with the content.
Of the three, the last link sentence is by far the best. Your keywords are used as your anchor text and appear within the body of a sentence describing the website. It is not only better for SEO, it is also better for users and will more likely get you a few clicks.

Content: check, Keywords: check, One-way Links: check, Now What?
You may not believe this… but there really is no “now what”. Applying all of the above methods has just made you an expert in SEO! At least, an expert in theory. It is entirely up to you on how well you apply these SEO techniques. It will take time, effort, and most definitely trial and error to apply the correct SEO to your website. Once you have these basics mastered, you can move on to more advanced SEO techniques. Soon you’ll be a master in the SEO field and find your sites moving up the SERPs ladder. Best of all, it did not cost you a dime and you can apply these same techniques to any new website you establish.