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Is My Search Engine Optimization Working?< Previous | Back to List | Next >
by John Krycek at August 08, 2005
You've just built a website and can't wait to start popping up in the top listings of search engines. After all, you've paid this company even more money to create "optimized, search engine friendly pages, start building links and add lots of fresh content." If it takes weeks and months for the search engines to notice me, do I have to wait that long to see if the money was worth it?
No! It's true that it takes time…weeks, even months to build up your web presence, but there are ways to follow your progress. It's important to note that if you already have an established Internet presence and wish to further optimize your site, it usually happens much faster than a site that is brand new with a brand new domain.
If you are already listed in various directories and your existing website has been up and running long enough the search engines have probably already indexed your site and those linking to it. (to see if your site is indexed with a particular engine, in the search field type "site:www.yourdomain.com"). As you modify your pages and add new content the process of moving up in search rank is much swifter than starting from a brand new, un-indexed site. ? The ranking process has an inherent unchangeable variable of time. Sponsored search listings are one of a few ways around this hurdle to get you to the top instantly while the search spiders dig through your new site. But for the long haul, while you wait for that big chuck of cash you just paid your SEO to start returning, here are some ways to tell if he or she did you justice.
Ways to keep tabs on your progress:
Monitor Search Engine Positions
If you're a brand new domain name the first step is to watch for yourself to be indexed. Chances are that your optimizer submitted your site to the most prominent search engines at the very least. While the search crawlers will ultimately find you on their own, there is some merit in submitting your site manually. It may take some weeks before a check of site:www.yourdomain.com reveals any activity though. Take care not to be over anxious and resubmit your site. That will only hurt your efforts.
Once you find yourself being listed by particular keywords in a search engine, monitor how your rank moves every week or so. (Frequently, the more you add fresh content, the sooner the crawlers will return to your site.) Change the preference settings in search engines to speed up your research efforts.
Google will display up to 100 results per page, MSN up to 50 in "advanced search." This makes it much easier to find yourself if your down in the 300th position. Don't be discouraged though! Being listed even at 300 is an accomplishment. And as you optimize you will see your listing move up in the ranks.
The best, and easiest way to see who is reaching your site by search engine and particular keyword phrase is to implement some sort visitor tracking system. These are not complicated and can cost only a few dollars a month. Take a look at a company like www.webstat.com for example.
A small piece of code is placed on each page you want to track. When you log into the online service, you can tell the exact word and phrase someone used to reach you and from what search engine... not to mention scores of other useful data about your site traffic. This quickly gives you a snapshot of which keyword phrases are most successful and in which engines. This data is invaluable to further optimize your pages.
Are your top search engine rankings on par with the industry percentages?
Again using visitor tracking you can see if the people reaching you by Google are close to the percentage of people that use Google compared to MSN or AOL. If the industry shows that overall 25% of searchers are using MSN and 5% Lycos, your results should be similar. If they're not, it's a sign that some modifications might be in order.
Monitoring these processes will show you that there's actually quite a lot of activity. And there's nothing more exciting than watching that 300th position search climb to the first page!
John Krycek is a creative director at theMouseworks.ca web and graphic design in Toronto. Learn more about search engine optimization, internet marketing, web development and graphic design in easy, non-technical, up front English at http://www.themouseworks.ca!
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