All right, I'll admit, the title is somewhat over dramatic. But, when you don't have much to offer, hype it up anyway! Kinda like the movies!

This post started from talking about How NOT To Do An Interview: The Basics. What was originally going to be an intro paragraph, turned into a full post. When this happens, I just do what I often do... take one idea and make multiple posts out of it. Love it!

What follows are 15 questions I felt were important for a business audience to know about SEO. And, now that I know what I meant when I wrote them (see introduction), I can provide the answers I intended. :) Here are questions 1-5:

1. What is the most important element of a successful SEO campaign?

There are a lot of factors that go into a successful SEO Campaign. There is content, keywords, titles, descriptions, usability, architecture, and link building. All of these play a significant role and cannot be ignored. But, to narrow this down into a single thing that is THE most important element to make a campaign successful is tough.

I think I'd have to go with website architecture. While this doesn't contribute directly to the keyword optimization, it does give the search engines the best "sense" of a site. Without good architecture, your site can be keyword optimized to the hilt, but it won't matter because the search engines are unable to read and decipher the content properly.

An unpublished book does no one any good. Getting your website content "published" into the search results is step one. Then you can worry about what kind of reach you can achieve.

2. What is the second?

The second, I would have to say is keyword research. This really goes hand-in-hand with the site architecture. You can build your site, but if it isn't structured around the keywords that are important, you'll either have a poorly targeted site or you'll have to go back and re-focus your architecture accordingly.

There are a lot of layers to keyword research, but when putting together the site architecture, you only need to worry about the basics. The goal is to find the "core" keywords that people are looking for that will drive relevant traffic to your site. Map out those core terms to individual pages, and you're well on your way to building a site that can develop a strong web presence targeting your core audience.

3. How do you determine which keywords should be optimized for which pages?

If you've built your site architecture right, then your keyword targeting for each page should already have been determined. In fact, your pages are built around the idea that you have keywords that people are looking for, so you're building your site content and pages to provide the answers to the search query.

However, if your site is already built, and you're not so inclined to go back and re-develop it with a keyword focused architecture, then you have to start at the other end and work backwards.

The best thing you can do here is to look at what your core keywords are and determine which keyword best integrates into what page. This is no small task and requires a lot of consideration.

Things to consider are: the current content of each page, ability to integrate a core term seamlessly, and to ensure that the page maintains it's value for its original intent AND those coming in for the optimized term. If any of those aren't 100%, then consider another term for the page.

4. What are the top three on-page factors that should be optimized?

The title tag is, as I have said many times before, one of the most important pieces of SEO real estate for a web page. If you get nothing else right, get the title right. That alone can work wonders on helping to get your pages to rank in the search results.

Next, is the content of the page itself. Your content must back up the title and has to maintain it's keyword focus throughout. Look for opportunities to reinforce the page's keyword topic (which should be the page topic). Don't stuff keywords where they don't work, but maintain a tight theme of content that provides answers for those searching for that topic.

The third most important element is internal linking. This is a factor partially covered with a solid site architecture, but also gets covered with content development. If you're addressing a topic on one page that is covered more thoroughly on another, link the relevant, keyword rich content to the fully optimized page that addressed that topic.

Linking in this way not only reinforces the page topic for optimization purposes, but it also improves the usability aspects of your site, allowing visitors to move around based on topics for which they are needing more information.

5. You didn't mention the Meta Description or Meta Keyword tag. Why not?

There's a good reason for that. Neither of these play any kind of significant role in the optimization of a website. The Keyword Meta tag is 99.9% useless to all search engines. Might it be considered again one day? Perhaps. Likely? Perhaps not.

The Meta Description tag suffers a similar fate when it comes to search engine relevance, however it does play a very important role outside of optimization. Since the Meta Description tag is used in the search results, it has a unique role in helping visitors decide whether to click into your site or not.

Because of this, the Meta Description is actually pretty dang important. Not for SEO, but for click-thrus and bounce rates, both of which can effect the success of an SEO strategy.

If this post has captivated you from beginning to end, then stay tuned for the next set of five questions coming at you soon!

February 11, 2011

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


I agree with everything that you said although one point that I like to adhere to above all else is to stop chasing an algorithm and just rely on quality content that people are searching for.

The other thing that I would like to say is that you made me feel better about my own stuff when you said at the beginning that this post went from one subject to another as you began to write it. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one that this happens to. Liked hearing how you handle it as well! Thanks!

So having a link to an "authority site" like a Wikipedia site on your topic will give you a SEO boos?

Does it matter if that link is no-follow or do-follow?

John, "boost" is the wrong word. Linking out to other authoritative websites helps your site build authority. Authority helps you rank better in the grand scheme of things.

Hi -thx
I´m not sure what you think off when you writing: "The goal is to find the "core" keywords"
What is "core" keywords" ?

Meta descriptions shouldn't be ignored. They may not be as important for SEO as they once were, but they are very useful in helping convince a visitor why they should click through to your site. The Meta description summarizes the content on the page and let's a searcher know if that page contains the information they are looking for. At the end of the day, the user is more important than the search engine, because a website visitor can actually act.

Morten, you can learn more about what I mean with "core" keywords here:

Good article so far... i hadn't read before today. it was a really good in depth post. thanks!

Hopefully this article doesn't fall on Stoney ground ... sorry can't resist lame puns! After having ploughed through David Mihm's amazing digest of ranking factors, this concise series of Q & As is what I needed to pull things back into the realms of the puny mortal newcomer to SEO. Have you any thoughts on Michael's comment's about architecture?

One of the things puzzling me at the moment is whether to include the geo modifier in internal navigation links / menu items etc where "appropriate". This doesn't get a mention in the Mihmorandum and yet from a relevancy perspective as well as user perspective there are many businesses where this would be a useful piece of architecture and not just a gaming the big G tactic?

I didn't have much input on Michael's comments above because he was just stating his opinion. Not much there that I agree, just didn't want to go point by point as to why. Though he's looking at things from the wrong angle. They may be working but it's not because he's adhering to a specific formula.

I don't see why you can't use geo-targeted modifiers in navigation where appropriate. Doing something because it makes sense for your visitors is generally a good strategy.

Thanks for the useful tips. Just wondering can ALT tags and images used in pages benefit you in optimization. As I have seen in many of our clients website a good amount of traffic is coming through Google referral mostly are from Images. So i think images and ALT tag is also important.

As far as internal linking: when and why to include rel="nofollow"? By including this in an href tag, aren't you telling the search spiders to NOT follow that link? And in so doing, wouldn't that obviate the importance of internal linking? I seem to have trouble wrapping my mind around this internal linking concept - please pull me from the fire and clarify this. Thanks.....

Ramesh - Yes, ALT attributes can be beneficial to on-page SEO and, as you have experienced, generating traffic via image search. As with everything else, just don't stuff them. Use them appropriately.

DanH - There is too much to be said about the nofollow that I can summarize here. But I will say you wan to be careful in how you use it. Generally I don't use it except on pages that I don't want in the search engine indexes. But like I said, that's too simple of an explanation, and others have written on this subject quite extensively. Just look for the most recent stuff because use of the nofollow has changed in the past couple years.

I have been working diligently on my SEO. There is so much conflicting information and what doesn't conflict confuses me.

Now, today, I read your post a learn of a term called site architecture. Huh?

I am pretty good with the keywords, but I do not know from this architecture.

Guess I will have to Google it.

This was a great read and I am headed to the other questions.

Shawn Mackey

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