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What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
SEO is improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site or page from the search engines using natural organic and algorithmic search results (SERPs).

SEO is actually a component of SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Which encompasses many avenues with which to promote a web site or page.
If you have come here looking for SEO help, you have found a blog that can help you. There is much information here to be held and please feel free to comment anytime...Even with a question.

August 28, 2007

Successful Site Launch | Making a Plan

Today I am going to cover a highly overlooked area of launching a new site. It seems to me everyone always wants to talk about what its going to look like, or some cool new software. In the end, it will be your hard work, planning, research, and of course content that will yield the results we all seek. There is a logical order to try to stay with when planning a new site. It has natural beginning, but no end. If you are like me that natural beginning happens at 3am when you wake up from a dead sleep with a killer idea. Word of advice here, get up and write it down. Dang, if I never remember it right in the morning. So I'm going to kinda go through this in list form...Just because it feels more natural to me. These things are certainly not set in stone and the elements and the order will vary from project to project, but I think it does help me stay on the path. Maybe, you also will benefit from it.

  1. Idea! - Write it down, summarize a scenario and the theme (not too broad). Put it away for a day, then look at it again and edit it.

  2. Research - While I do a good bit of this, I neglected it in the original post. Thanks "mortgage company" for bringing it to my attention. When I research I look at the size of the pond. I mean, how many fish, and how large the pond are huge factors for how hard I will have to work, how long it will take, and how competitive it will be. If its going to be a really big job, I don't move away, I just spend more time on a intense strategy using long tails, pay per click, local advertising, and I try to NOT be like the others at the top of the search position ranks. I know that seems strange. Think about this, when you search for something are you like me, you check the first site...then maybe the next 3. If the following 3 all appear to have the same content upon your initial 10-20 second scan...boom, you're outta there? Well, that's why, I want them to stay.

  3. Input - Ask at least 2 people (anyone but my husband) what they think, how they would use such a site. Then, maybe edit again.

  4. Domain - You will have to decide which is the best option, brand or keyword strength. Either way keep it easy to type, snappy, relevant, and avoid a lot of hyphens. This is a good article to help you out. This Domain suggestion tool is addictive! Lastly, if the other aliases of a Domain you like are taken, pick another...Or you might just have to give it up, usually at the most inopportune time.

  5. Put a quick, coming soon page up with some proper Meta, and some relevant textual content..............NOT SPAM, and no Ads. If you want to use your web host's or registrar's holding page, that's fine...I just think if someone is going to gain visibility from it, it should be you.

  6. Begin site construction - Whatever kind of site you are doing, there are some common elements to be observed. Take care to include proper navigation, heading tags, anchor text, and watch the load time. I have a previous post here on page mechanics, if you need more information. Remember robots do not read Flash or Java in menus or presentations.

  7. Meta - It is positively imperative that each page have unique title and description tags. I know some people don't use description tags, but they are missing an opportunity to avoid duplication. I believe Meta information is making a comeback. Besides, many of the smaller engines around still rely heavily on it. Here is a post with some Meta examples you might use.

  8. STOP - I know you are getting excited, but don't launch that site just yet. This is a big mistake many people make, including myself. Launching a site prematurely can cause duplication errors, because you haven't protected the proper directories and files yet. People can be very frustrated when they think they have found what they seek, but instead find yellow construction signs.

  9. robots.txt - It is very important that you get this right. If you are developing this site using software like Wordpress, phpBB, or phpLD then you will probably need to do some research. Hit the forums for the software, ask about the duplication issues. Here are some resources: phpBB Forums; Wordpress; VBulletin. When you have completed your robots.txt validate it.

  10. Canonical Issues - For static pages this is pretty simple, 301 redirect your www to non www, or vice versa. This keeps the search engines from indexing both versions, and thus a slew of supplemental pages. Secondly, set up your directory default indexing. For non- Windows servers this is accomplished in htaccess. Check out these htaccess examples. Here is a post explaining server side SEO in more detail.

  11. More htaccess - Its a good practice to include "Last Modification" date in your server response. Additionally, you might like to keep snoopers out of your htaccess file. Custom error pages are a very good thing! There is code for all this and more in this htaccess document.

  12. Checking pages - You are going to want to check your pages for errors, spelling, load time, and overall SEO strength. I have stumbled across some free tools you may find helpful. Site Reportcard; Sitening; and SEOWorkers. I suggest you check the W3C to see if you validate or not also. If you are having Doc Type issues, have a peek at the list of Doc Types.

  13. Meta relevance - Your title and description will do very little for you if they do not match the content of your page. This post has a pretty clear cut method to execute relevant organic link baiting. In any case, you really want your title to be at least 90% relevant and your description 80%. This tool will help you check it out. Remember unique titles and descriptions for each and every page.

  14. We are ready...I think, to launch this site. The beauty is everything is done, and there aren't any duplicate pages already, or URLs that you scrubbed and need to be removed! Nice, isn't it?

  15. Sitemap - I know there is some controversy here, but I suggest you create a Google sitemap. I promise it will improve your crawl if you do it right. Also check out this post about adding a html version to your pages.

  16. Search engines - Sign up for Google Tools; Yahoo Site Explorer; and ping with your sitemap.xml.

  17. Directory submissions - Doing some manual directory submissions in tune with your launch can be very beneficial. Check out the directory...Avoid directories that: have the listings alphabetized, more that 15-20 on a page or are numbered, do not display anchor text, or have been banned in Google. Reciprocal links aren't going to help you any, at least at this point. I personally don't do reciprocals, and I don't think you should either unless there is a good relevant traffic reason for it...Even then limit it to just a few. Read the guidelines, there are almost always rules for length and format of your listing submission.

I do hope some of your have found this to be helpful, when I started...I would have for SURE! It seems that the information is there, but the framework for the understanding is so hard to come by. They will generally tell you what to do, just not why, or how. That's really my focus here at the Cog, to make sure you have the why and how to the questions you may even be to shy to ask anyone. I know how it can be, so if ever you are reading and I lose you...Feel free to ask. If you are too shy to comment...Click on the "Cog Home" button in the menu and send me an email from the contact page.

Peace and SEO

Melanie Prough

DIY Your SEO With The SEOCog
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Patrick Burt said...

Great article Melanie. I bookmarked it and will definitely use it as reference (I think you mentioned meta tags twice though)

Melanie Prough "Baby" said...

Hi Patrick,
The second mention is to check the relevance. I like to do this a little further down the line as I am an ongoing the later in the project the better for me. =-).
Thanks for the comment and the bookmark!
Hope to see you again.

mortgage company said...

Great article, I always include researching the existing area's as part of my planning. I think planning is more important then almost the development myself to be successful.

Melanie Prough "Baby" said...

Thanks Mortgage Company,

I edited the post. At 6am, things can seem a little fuzzy =-).
Especially these last few weeks.
Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again...