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Planning & Executing a New SEO Campaign
By Eric Lander - October 18, 2001

For the freelance SEO specialist, or even those of us with other job responsibilities, the successful planning and execution of a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign can be rather difficult. When time constraints further complicate the situation, it is best to approach SEO with a clear state of mind.

Understand the Value
First and foremost; one must understand the value of optimization within a specific web site’s existence. Is the site goal retaining visitor information? To obtain user feedback for content personalization? Increase sales? Promote a product? Regardless of the actual goal, a specific type of site user can be identified. That user type can be considered a targeted user, as they are the ones that the site is not only intended for, but optimized to attract.

Identify the Intended Audience Online
Once a targeted audience has been identified, research must be done to understand the user habits and search patterns of such individuals. For example, a middle-aged male searching for “car repair” is much more inclined to be seeking information so that he can perform the work himself. Whereas a teenage female may be searching for the same terms, expecting to find local garage and service establishments. While conducting research on such topics, the following should be identified:

• What motivates one to seek this site’s information?
• How will (targeted) users search for such information?
• Where are they likely to begin searching from?
• What other information may be relevant in obtaining site click through?
• How are the online competition approaching this market?
• What search terms are most used in such searches?

Do Not Be Something Your Site Is Not
All too often, websites try to become something they are not. The worst part is, site users and others looking to review your website can tell. Leave the information that you use as a resource just that – a resource. Link to it, highlight it, and send those seeking that information to the right spot. Trying to become something your site is not takes up time, money, and often ruins the impression of your site holistically.

Generate Usable Content
If you are working for the site owners, then work with them in generating content for the site that meets their needs and the needs of your SEO campaign. Be sure to analyze various ways in conveying information to the end user without being too verbose. Make the completed site informative, easy to use, and on target with the end goals.

Organize the Information Flow
A document dedicated to informing users about an organization should not contain information on pricing, contact information, or service information. Each and every document within a website should have one particular topic – and stick to it. As users get deeper into a website, the information become more exact according to user behavior. Organizing information and separating it allows more pages to be indexed within the search engines and ensure those pages are indexed for a more refined topic. Remember, the goal is not to gain millions of random users, but to obtain more traffic from those looking to find what you have to offer.

Execute SEO Applications within HTML
Nearly all websites will have been created using HTML or a variation of it. Even if not, the pages are delivered to the end user in HTML format so browsers can display the information as intended.

Before submitting the website to various search engines be sure to apply as much SEO preparation work as possible. Using the content you have generated and the system in which information will be presented, carefully create the following to each page or document:

• META Keywords
• META Descriptions
• ALT Tags
• Title Tags (both document and image, link attributes)
• Heading Tags as needed

Be sure to also have a robots.txt available for any spiders, bots, or crawlers looking to index your website and it’s contents. This will allow them to scan various directories within a site domain and either include or exclude information contained therein when generating an index to use for search queries. If you have a robots.txt file on a domain, access http://searchengineworld.com/cgi-bin/robotcheck.cgi to check its validity.

Hand Submit URL’s to the Top Engines and Directories
While many automated tools may exist, site submission to the top online directories and search engines should be done by hand – verifying a complete and successful submission.

Use the following links to submit a URL to some of the more popular engines:

AOL:
Alta Vista:
Direct Hit:
Excite:
All The Web:
Overture:
Google:
HotBot:
Inktomi:
LookSmart:
Lycos:
Open Directory:
Northern Light:
Yahoo!:
WiseNut:

Continue to Watch the Engines!
Search engine optimization could never be as fun as it is if it weren’t for the fact that the industry can change in a moments notice. Using the information above, you will likely be on the way to obtaining a prominent position within the engines and directories. From there though, remember that it is up to the site to do the work! As an SEO professional, it is your duty to get the traffic to the site – not make the visitors into clients or sales!