Search Engine Optimization for SMBs

Over the past few weeks I have been evaluating a host of SEO tools in order to determine which ones are the most useful and which ones are next to useless. By trying each of these tools to see how they could help with a couple of different web sites, I was able to narrow a list of dozens of tools down to just a few, as well as describe a simple process for optimizing a personal or small business website.

Here is the complete list of SEO tools I evaluated. I am certain that it is not comprehensive of all the tools available or even the best tools. Most of these are free or have a free component. I didn’t use the paid version of any of them, but in some cases, the paid version is much more useful than the free. The most useful tools are bolded and underlined. Like this. The next most useful tools are only underlined. Some tools were broken; the code wouldn’t load correctly or returned obviously incorrect results. Other tools were confusing or even pointless. A few were very good.

  1. SEOToolbar for Firefox from SEOBook.com
    • Google PageRank
    • Yahoo domain and page links
    • Majestic SEO domain links
    • Directory listing verifications
    • Archive.org site age
    • Semrush.com
    • Competitive Analysis Tools
    • Search Engine Rank Checker
    • SEOxray
    • Keyword Suggest
    • Compare Sites
  2. Compete.com
    • Profile Tools
    • Analytics Tools
  3. Website.grader.com
  4. Blog.grader.com
  5. SEOmoz.org
    • Linkscape
    • Term Target
    • SEOmoz Toolbar
    • Rank Tracker
    • Crawl Test
    • Keyword Difficulty
    • Popular Searches
    • Trifecta
    • Backlink Analysis Tool
    • Term Extractor
    • GeoTarget
    • SEO Toolbox
      1. Strongest Pages
      2. Check Backlinks
      3. Check PageRank
      4. Find Domain Age
      5. HTTP Status Code
      6. Check Indexed Pages
  6. SEO Power Suite
    • Link Assistant
    • Rank Tracker
    • SEO Spyglass
    • Website Auditor
  7. SEO Elite
  8. Submitexpress.com
    • Free Site Submission
    • Meta Tags Analyzer
    • Link Popularity Check Tool
    • Keyword Suggestion Tool
    • Meta Tags Generator
    • PR Checking Tool
    • PageSnooper
  9. SelfSEO.com
    • Link Popularity Checker
    • Keyword Suggestion Tool/Keyword Popularity Tool
    • Number of Pages Indexed
    • Search Engine Ranking Report
  10. Google

There is a lot of overlap in the functionality of some of these tools, and in some cases, whether a person prefers one over another might be a matter of style more than anything else. In other cases, one tool is clearly better than another. A side-by-side comparison of two good tools in which one is used to optimize one site while the other is used to optimize another, similar site would be helpful, but beyond the scope of this short study.

The steps below portray a very brief overview of how the best SEO tools can be used for on and off page optimization.

Step 1: Determine Keywords

  1. Brainstorm list
  2. Borrow keywords from competition
    • Find the competition using Google
    • Get a list of other keywords on that site using Term Extractor
  3. Use SEO Toolbar’s Keyword Suggest and SEO Rank Tracker to find alternate keywords
  4. Determine CUSPs and SEPs
  5. Use SEO Rank Tracker to determine KEI
  6. Use a spreadsheet + SEO Rank Tracker to determine KOI.

Step 2: Deploy Keywords

  1. Page titles, descriptions, meta tags
  2. Header tags, text enhancements, etc.,
  3. Image tags
  4. Hyperlinks with keywords
  5. Media w/ appropriate tags
  6. Use submitexpress.com and SEO WebSite Auditor

Step 3: Create a sitemap

Step 4: Submit site to directories and search engines

  1. Get directory suggestions from SEO Toolbar and from Google.
  2. Write a brief site description including the best keywords and submit to directories.
  3. Submit to search engines

Step 5: Web 2.0

  1. Create a blog on your own domain using WordPress, Joomla, or some other content management system.
  2. Make regular content updates using on-page SEO principles
  3. Evaluate blog using blog.grader.com or SEOmoz.org’s Trifecta
  4. Make helpful comments on other people’s blogs
  5. Leverage social media sites and online forums

Step 6: Links

  1. Find likely sites using Google and SEO SpyGlass.
  2. Solicit links.
  3. Have a reciprocal link page and solicit link exchanges
  4. Get links from sites with higher page ranks

Step 7:Take a Break

Search Engine Optimization will probably never be a quick and easy task. It is time intensive and cerebral. The process of optimizing keywords, meta tags, and the like, should be done by a technician, someone familiar with website design. However, the ongoing tasks of link building through participation in online forums and social media and content creation through articles and blogging must be primarily done by someone knowledgeable in the website’s subject matter and products.

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