In SEO there are many basics that are standard and remain that way.  For instance, the title tag has always been important, and will likely stay important for a long time to come.  It’s the way SERPs present the content of the page linked in the most concise way possible, so it’s the main construct of SEO.

However, there are some SEO elements that have changed over the years.  For example: the keywords meta tag.  This is something that is still used (by some search engines more than others), but is not nearly as prominent as it used to be.  In the past, many pages would just fill this tag with every keyword possible and rank very nicely because of it.  As search engines mature, they become more intelligent in analyzing pages, and tricky black hat approaches no longer have quite the weight they used to.

Another major SEO element that is not as prominently referenced as previously: keyword placement in content.  I can hear many of you gasp now – that’s one of the major SEO staples!  It is still used quite a bit, but it’s starting to change.  Particularly with Google.  Now keywords are still checked, but LSI is starting to play a larger role.  Latent Semantic Indexing is basically the search engine’s associating of keywords with related words.  In the past, you threw a ton of your main keyword up on your page, then made every other word “la la loooo”, you would still rank very highly for the main keyword.  It was easy to cheat.

Now that search engines have progressed, they look for FULL content, not just one or two keywords.  Nobody knows exactly how Google operates (except for the doctors working in their secret labs, with their NDAs chained around their necks), but we do know that they are starting to use LSIs much more when doing keyword rankings for search results.  If you have your keyword and several LSI keywords as well, you’ll do much better than if you awkwardly place one or two keywords in some manufactured content you wrote JUST to have somewhere to put your keywords.

Good SEO is starting to mean actually writing valuable content.  Personally, I think this is a good direction.  People searching through search engine results should be able to find what they are looking for, and quality results.  And to get to the upper ends of the results, you should be providing quality content.  SEO is beginning to progress more in this direction.

For now, it’s not perfect, and some little tips and tricks still do a better job for search engine optimization than they probably SHOULD (aherm, sloppy backlinks, hrm) where they do not always provide the searcher with a quality result.  But as the search engines get more advanced, SEO will have to adjust.

One of the overlooked parts of SEO is coming up with good backlinks.  Now any professional search engine optimizer knows very well that you NEED backlinks to get your site up in the listings.  But how many realize that exactly which backlinks you choose to use makes a huge difference?

This is where Page Rank comes into play.  If you’re trying to rank for a little search engine like, say… Google – you need to consider their rules in the game.  Google uses Page Rank to estimate how good a page is.  Good for consumers, good for business, good for quality overall.  This is done by estimating the amount of traffic the site sees, in addition to the sites that link to this site in question.

The way SEO comes into this equation can be explained through an analogy.  Referrals.  Say you are looking for a good doctor, to help you get over a nasty infection you got after you got a little overzealous making sushi and cut yourself.  If you had no idea where good doctors where, how would you find them?  Most people would ask a friend, or a colleague.  Someone they trusted.  Now if Jim Bob the back alley narcotics dealer mentioned to you this nice doc he knew that had great prices and could slip you a little extra pain relief (wink wink nudge nudge), would you trust him?  But if Mr. Oxford, the CEO in charge of the chain of banks in town – if he recommended the doctor he used, one that costs a little extra but is very effective, friendly, and knowledgable – which of the two would you choose?

This is a little like how Google does its Page Rank and how you can excel with SEO.  If a site has a backlink from some unrelated page (say, a site about lawnmowers has a link to your dog food page), that just doesn’t make a lot of sense and doesn’t carry much weight.  But if you have a link from a well-known source (i.e. Wikipedia) for a related keyword (i.e. DOG FOOD), Google looks at that and says, “Well now.  This page has a high quality site linking to it, with a related word.  It MUST be high quality, as well.”  And then your site jumps in rank.

This is very much like a referral system.  If a great source gives good referrals, you learn to trust them.  So if your page has good referrals with related keywords, you’ll move up much more quickly in rankings.  If your page has bad referrals with random keywords, your rankings may not move much – and in some cases, they may even DECLINE.

So keep this in mind when you’re trying to get some good backlinks for your site.  Don’t just go hunting for every single backlink you can get – higher quality ones are worth far more than a huge number of low quality ones.

At a start, Google AdWords looks like an advertising dream.  You put in your keywords, choose what you’re willing to pay per click, and then let the traffic come flooding in.  In reality, most people don’t know what they’re getting into; often not until it’s too late, and a lot of money has been spent.

One of most basic elements of AdWords that you need to be aware of is the different keyword matching options.  To begin, you need to make sure you have your ad groups broken into separate categories (so you can have targeted ads and keywords), but that’s a different topic.  For each ad group, you’ll want to have your keyword matching options carefully selected.

There are four different keywords matching options in Google AdWords: broad match, phrase match, exact match, and negative match.  They can all be used together, but don’t need to all be used.

The broad match is what the “default” option is.  If you enter a basic keyword or keyword phrase, it’s shown in your list as a broad match.  This means any match to any of the words in your keyword phrase will cue that keyword.  Your ad will show.  The search phrase can have the same words in a different order, the same order, or in some cases, even contain completely different words (based on what Google thinks the words are related to).  So if you’ve put in the phrase “buy dog food” (with no quotes), the search phrases “buy dog food”, “dog food buy”, “buy Alpo dog food”, and “where to buy dog food” will all trigger this keyword.

The phrase match is entered by using quotes.  So you put your keywords in with quotes around them, this is known as a phrase match.  It will only be triggered by searches that have that exact phrase in the search, uninterrupted.  If there’s an extra word in the middle, it won’t be cued.  So “buy dog food” will be triggered for the phrases “buy dog food” and “where to buy dog food”, but not “dog food buy” and “buy Alpo dog food”.

The exact match is entered using brackets.  You put your keywords inside brackets to look for exactly that keyword phrase, nothing more, nothing less.  For [buy dog food] in your keywords, only “buy dog food” in the search will trigger it.  “where to buy dog food”, “dog food buy”, and “buy Alpo dog food” will NOT be caught by that keyword.

And a negative match is done in one of two ways.  You can either put in your negative keyword with a negative sign in front of it, or else put it inside your Campaign’s negative keywords group.  Either way, a negative match works the same way as the other three – you can either have broad, phrase, or exact.  Just put a dash in front of them.  So if you entered -“buy dog food” (with quotes), any search with that phrase in it will NOT show your ad.  This is something that should be done often, especially if there are particular words you don’t want your ad showing for.  Common ones people tend to use are “free” and “crack” (the latter especially for software).

This is just a basic tutorial on PPC with Google’s AdWords, but they’re some of the most crucial details in making sure your own pay per click campaign is set up properly.

Google themselves have actually gone on and approved of this.  For anyone sitting on an empty domain, paying the yearly fee and having nothing but dreams of what giant business you’ll build on it can get old.  Google’s gone and offered to help out with parked domains using AdSense.

For anyone who isn’t completely sure what AdSense is, Google AdSense is one of the easiest ways to put advertisements on your site.  You sign up, set up your ad banner specifications, then place the code where you’d like the ads to appear in your site.  You earn money for every click a visitor to your site administers to the ads you’ve placed.

However, it isn’t all perfect – Google gets rather upset if you put AdSense on your site and then click on it many times yourself or have your friends do it.  Repeated clicks from the same source will flag a warning to them, and they can ban you from AdSense.  Permanently.

That, and any time someone clicks an ad, sure you earn money, but you also lose your visitor.  They’ve gone off somewhere else, and you’ve lost that potential client/customer.  Some people are fine with this, thinking that if the person clicked an ad they were leaving anyway – but there are often instances where an ad catches the eye of a visitor who would otherwise have spent more time on your site.  If you don’t want to distract your visitors from your own site content, I’d recommend minimizing your ads, be it through AdSense or otherwise.

However – having a domain that is unused is not going to lose you any visitors to a quality site.  So why not earn money through it?  If you have some domains that you’re not using and want to earn a bit of money from them, you can check out Google’s domain parking AdSense option.  As it IS Google, they’ll walk you through the how’s and to’s of everything, it’s pretty straightforward.

Welcome to the blog!  My name’s Eric.  In this blog I’ll be posting various bits of information about marketing, both online and offline.  Plus various tips and tricks about online marketing, SEO, PPC, and other relevant information.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment here or send me an email.