Free SEO Search Engine Optimization
Free SEO Search Engine Optimization
Copyright©2010 Larry Neal Gowdy - updated January 09, 2017
What is search engine optimization (SEO)? SEO is the designing, programming, and promotion of a website page with the goal of the page receiving higher placement on search engines. At present, since Google®, Yahoo®, and Bing® receive about ninety-nine percent of all search engine queries, they are therefore the only search engines that a website needs SEO. Typically, if a website earns a high ranking on the top three search engines, then the website will naturally earn high rankings on most all other search engines as well.
Why is search engine placement important? Search engine placement is important because websites that are ranked high on search engines will receive many visitors (depending on the popularity of the keywords), while websites not ranked well on search engines may receive few or no visitors. Not having a high ranked website is like not being listed in the telephone yellow pages: regardless of how good your website might be, if people cannot find your site then the public will not know that the website exists. Search engine ranking is vitally important for websites that promote businesses and other groups that want and need a large quantity of visitors.
Some websites like Facebook do not need extra SEO because the sites’ popularity is fueled by offering a free service that many people want and what the users tell other people about. For all the rest of us, we must rely on search engine optimization to attract visitors.
One of the first things that a person interested in search engine optimization may discover is that keywords are one of the most important items needed to create a popular website. A keyword is a single word or a short phrase that describes your website’s topic. If your website’s topic is about used cars, then you will want your website to be found on search engines when people type “used cars” in a search engine. You would get a huge amount of visitors each month if your website was the only one in the world that promoted used cars because about 55,600,000 people search the term “used cars” on Google each month. Since there are surely over 100,000 used car websites, plus an estimated one trillion URLs (Internet addresses), you must use search engine optimization techniques to make your website rank higher on search engines than your competitors’ websites. But which keywords are needed?
Let’s look at a few different keywords on Google’s Adwords so that we can get an idea of how the general online public thinks. When this article was first written back in 2010, under the keywords “search engine optimization” it was reported that about 4,400 searches were performed on Goggle for “search engine rank optimization” during one month. One of the most popular searches was for “google seo” with about 135,000 hits, and the number one search was for “search optimization” at about 1,220,000 hits. The quantity of searches for SEO is relatively small compared to many other terms, which illustrates to us that the general online public does not know about or else does not care much for search engine optimization (which is a good thing for you and me since that means we have fewer people competing for search engine ranking).
“Free” is searched for about 755,000,000 times a month on Google. It appears logical that if we were to use the popular word “free” in combination with the popular keyword “used cars” we would then have a very popular key-phrase of “free used cars.” Nevertheless, even if we did give away free used cars online, we would still likely receive very little traffic because very few people would search for “free used cars.” The lesson here is that keywords are needed, and that a website should be designed to promote the topic’s keywords, but keywords are only a small part of what is needed to create a high ranked website.
When I first began building websites in 1999, I spent months researching the numerous methods of increasing a website’s popularity on search engines. I learned about meta-tags, search engine submission, links, and a slew of other techniques, and although after some months I was able to find my first website on a search engine if I typed in the actual name of the website, still none of the techniques raised my search engine ranking. Since I had plenty of spare time in 1999 while living on my rural land, I continued visiting the many ‘free seo’ websites rather than pay a SEO professional. In retrospect, today I now realize that I spent well over a thousand hours to achieve what a common SEO professional can accomplish in less than one hour. “Free SEO” is expensive!
To date I have likely invested somewhere around 5,000 to over 10,000 hours experimenting with and learning various SEO techniques. It has now become common for one of my new web pages to be temporarily listed in the top-ten of a search engine within about two weeks of the page being uploaded. For various reasons I purposefully do not aim all of my own web pages for the top-ten, but I do know what will earn a top-ten spot on all search engines, and I do know that it requires a lot of work. When a customer pays me for an hour or two of SEO optimization, the customer receives a thousand times more than what they pay for.
Another angle of search engine optimization is that a well-established SEO professional can promote a website better than all techniques combined because the SEO professional is already established in the search engines. Regardless of how good and knowledgeable a SEO programmer might be, a new programmer cannot achieve as good of results as what an old-timer in SEO can achieve. As an example, a manufacturer’s website had been online for more than a year without any search engine finding the website or even the company’s name. The manufacturer’s website was generally useless and only viewed by the owner and the website designer. When I built a website for one of the manufacturer’s associates the manufacturer’s website quickly jumped up to the number one rank on Google, and the ranking later dropped to number two with the associate’s website being ranked number one under its keywords. The SEO techniques that I use for websites improve linked websites even when the SEO enhancements are not directly intentional.
Another interesting example of SEO is that when a customer decided to save a nickel by using their own in-house server for hosting (which actually cost them more for electricity than what my hosting costs; go figure), after several months I stopped promoting the customer’s websites because the company’s IT employee had made errors in Apache® (server software) that I sensed were harming my own websites’ reputation on search engines. The customer’s websites had high local and national rankings, but after I withdrew my SEO techniques the websites quickly dropped rank within two weeks, and soon afterwards the websites vanished off of search engines. I know for a fact that the company lost no less than $50,000.00 in revenue by trying to get something for free. The lesson here is that regardless of how good a website’s SEO may be, the website may still depend on additional outside SEO promotion.
A thing to be aware of is that some of the popular SEO methods taught on “free SEO” websites are not always exactly correct. In recent years I built a new web page that was very similar to other pages of mine that had earned high search engine rankings, but my new page was pushed into oblivion by the search engines. The page rapidly gained rank for a couple days before being hidden by the search engines, and repeatedly the page would climb back up towards the top of search engines before once again disappearing. At the time of first writing this article, the page was only found under very specific and very uncommon keywords, which simply meant that the page was rarely ever viewed. I made two major mistakes, one was with a common SEO technique that is today popularly claimed on at least one ‘free SEO’ website to no longer be important for search engine ranking. The second mistake was one that is rather difficult to describe in under ten-thousand words, but in general let’s just say that I got dumb and lazy with the page’s layout. I invested about forty hours creating the web page, which merely produced another unknown page among the billions of other unknown web pages in the world, but I did learn from my mistakes, and I now know not to repeat the mistakes on my pages, nor on a customer’s. (Update 05-14-2011: the page is currently back up to #12 on Google and #5 on Yahoo/Bing. The page has received a fresh update, and it will be interesting to see how the page's rank fares in the weeks to come. Update 08-24-2011: After not seeing the page's rank move, it was decided two weeks ago that I had waited long enough. After a few quality improvements that I rarely use except for important pages, the page is now ranked #7 on Google. It is not likely worth the work to raise the page's rank to the top three, but it is now definitely known that the page could earn higher ranks, and once again the SEO techniques proved to work well. Too, the number of hits on the page have already increased over 1,000% from its previous #12 rank. Update 02-21-2013: The page climbed to the national #2 rank on Google and #3 on Bing/Yahoo, but after achieving the rankings I have focused on other work and let the page's rank slide a few points. The important thing is that the SEO techniques were proven to work well.)
If you have plenty of spare time — measured in years — and only want to learn SEO techniques as a hobby, then the free SEO websites can be interesting and useful. Study meta-tags, keywords, links, and all the other stuff too, and experiment with the techniques by building dozens of different websites while including SEO techniques in some websites and not in other websites. Within a few years you should begin getting a good feel of what works and what doesn’t work. There is a very nice sensation of joy when you find your first website page being nationally ranked as #1 on Google: it only took me about five years, but it was ‘free.’ ;-)
If you need search engine optimization for a website soon, please consider my sincere suggestion that you pay a SEO professional to promote your website. “Free” is not cheap; it costs much more than what a SEO professional might charge. For many of us who do SEO work, our techniques are confidential, and just as no one expects to work for us for free, so likewise can we not give away for free what cost us so dearly to learn.
Two common mistakes for individuals new to the Internet are (1) they choose to save money by building a website themselves rather than paying an experienced web designer, which almost always results in having a buggy website that few if any visitors will ever see and what search engines will rank lowly, and (2) they choose to save money by attempting to use ‘free SEO’ services to fix the unfixable problems with the free website. One of the fastest and most sure methods of wasting time and money is to use free SEO and free website designing services.
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