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9.26.2009

Competitors at the SEO search engine Game

How to Trump Your Competitors at the SEO Game
by Erin Emmerson

The recent release of the free first issue of our new StartUp online success guide generated a flood of positive comments!

Thanks... we're really glad you like it.

But one reader, Joseph, had a question for us, based on the article on how to optimize your site for Bing, Microsoft's new search engine:

Why should I be placing my best keywords in my title tags so that my competition can easily see them and use it for themselves? Isn't it better to use my "best" keywords on my off page optimization efforts and other somewhat lower quality general keywords in my title tags instead?
Well, Joseph, since this question occurred to you, I'm guessing it has probably occurred to other people as well. So I shared your question with Geoff D., one of our top in-house marketing experts, and here's how he responded:

Not putting your best keywords in your title tags because you're afraid someone will find them?

That would be like owning a coffee shop and not wanting to put up a sign out front saying, "coffee" because you don't want your competitors to know what you sold! ... It's like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

If you want to rank for keywords, you've got to USE them

When you market a business on the Internet, many of your efforts are completely transparent.

For example, all your competitors need to do to discover your search optimization efforts is go to the "View" option in your browser and click on "Page Source" (if you use Firefox) or "Source" (if you use Internet Explorer) and they will gain access to the entire HTML architecture of your site.

Of course, the flip side is also true... if you want to see what your competitors are doing with their keywords, all you need to do is take a look under the hood at their HTML source code.

And we recommend you do just that -- you might get some fresh ideas on how to strategically use keywords on your own site.

Content is your trump card
So, if you and your competitors are all playing the SEO game with your cards face up on the table, how can you ever possibly get the edge on them?

I asked Geoff, and here's what he said: "Content! You need more content, better content, and fresher content -- that's how you win with the search engines."

All of the optimization tricks we teach you -- such as putting your keywords in your title tags, in your content, in your image alt tags -- these are common SEO ploys that Google can easily identify. And even though these are all "white hat" strategies that won't get you penalized, Google doesn't really want to award website owners with a great ranking just because they know how to rig their sites to rank well with the search engines.

What Google does want is to reward website owners who offer lots of valuable content to their visitors -- and the tech wizards at the world's most powerful search engine are constantly fine-tuning the algorithms to focus more on the depth and quality of a site's content.

So the way to make sure you give the search engines -- and your visitors! -- what they're looking for is to offers lots of free valuable information.

... And the easiest way to do this is to add a blog to your site and update it at least three times a week with information that will benefit your visitors. (And if you can include your top keywords in your blog content, even better!)

The Future of Search

In the next issue of StartUp, we'll be taking a closer look at what the future of search is going to look like.

(Hint: does the term "latent semantic indexing" mean anything to you? We'll break it down in layman's terms and explain exactly what you need to do to make sure the increased focus on "semantics" actually HELPS your ranking.)

Plus, we'll also feature a short video that explains how to make sense of your keywords so you can use them more effectively.

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