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In this course, search engine optimization (SEO) expert Peter Kent walks step-by-step through the process of reviewing the content and markup of an existing web site to improve its ranking in search engine results. This course offers a consultant's take on how to analyze each component—from keywords to content to code—and determine what improvements are necessary to become more visible to search engines like Yahoo!, Bing, and Google.
This course was updated on 10/12/2012.
As I mentioned in an earlier video, Google's original name was BackRub, from the term backlink, which means a link pointing to a web site from another web site. Google's link analysis was revolutionary, and the other major search engines followed suit, using links to help them figure out what individual web pages are about and how important they are. Links help your site in a number of ways. First, they help search engines find your site. The search engines have search bots, programs that in a sense travel around the web going from site to site, page to page, by following the links they find.
If you have no links pointing to your site, there is a good chance that the search engines won't bother indexing the site, even if you submit a sitemap, as I showed you how to do it in an earlier video. Why? Because, as the theory goes, if nobody cares enough to link to your site, why should such engines care enough to index it? As we also learned earlier, the anchor text in a link tells search engines what the page being linked to is about. If the search engine finds the words 'Olive Oil' in a link pointing to a web page, there is a good chance the page has something to do with Olive Oil.
If it finds dozens or hundreds of links with the words 'olive oil', there is a really good that the page has something to do with olive oil. Links also tell search engines how important the site is. The more links pointing to your site, the more popular the search engines assume your site must be. Better still, lots of links from sites that are popular themselves suggest popularity. That's the basis of Google's page rank, an indication of page popularity based on links.
A link from a major newspaper site is more valuable than a link from a little- trafficked blog for instance. So you need links, and the more competitive your business, in terms of SEO competition--the number of sites competing for the same keywords--the more links you need. A good place to start is by finding out how many links you already have pointing to your site, if any. There are many link analysis programs, and none are perfect. First understand that the major search engines won't show you all the links pointing to your site.
Google for instance has a special syntax, link:domainname, but it doesn't work. It may show you some links, but it won't show you all. It's really misleading, essentially a waste of time. So play with it perhaps, but then forget about it. Yahoo provides slightly better information. Go to Yahoo and search for linkdomain:, and then your domain name, no spaces. When you get the results then select Except from this domain in the Show Inlinks dropdown text box. Yahoo even lets you download the results in a file that can be imported into a spreadsheet. But for a real link analysis you need to use a Link tool.
My favorite is Majestic SEO. It's a bit complicated to use, but it provides more information about more links than probably any other tool. This is a subscription-based tool, but you can get some basic information about any site, including a competitor's, for free--and in fact, you can get full information about your own site for free if you verify ownership of this site. What are you looking for in these reports? First, are there any links at all to your site? If you find none, or virtually none, that's a real problem.
You must have links. If you do have links, how many? It's worth comparing your site with high-ranking competitors to get a feel for the work you need to do. If your competitors are ranking with a couple of hundred links, that's great news. If they have thousands, well, you have a lot of work to do. You also need to know what keywords are used in the links pointing to your site, and competitors' sites. I often see sites with plenty of links, but no keywords in the links-- a sad waste of a big opportunity.
So how do you create links to your site? There are many different ways. And unfortunately, that's a course in itself. We don't have room to go into detail. The first thing to think of is what I call friends and family links, anyone you know who can create links to your site, literally in some cases friends and family, but also perhaps employees and business partners. Do all your employees have LinkedIn accounts with keyworded links back to you, for instance? Other techniques people use are distributing press releases with keyworded links in the body, distributing articles to article libraries, or even just sites, such as Examiner.com and Suite101.com-- again, with nicely keyworded links in them of course.
If you're selling products, how about your suppliers? Are they willing to link to you? Consider industry associations, too. Respond to relevant questions in online forums or in Q&A sites and link to your site. Try to encourage bloggers to write about your site, and so on. Linking is a big subject, beyond the scope of this quick-fix video of course, but it's very important. You must have links, especially if you're working in a competitive arena.
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