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How to Get Great Organic Search Engine Listings
By Judith Kallos

All too often I find site owners are confused (or in denial) about how to achieve the search engine rankings they desire on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). So, I am pleased to offer you my version of "Organic Listings 101."

Several times each day I get approached by site owners wanting to be in the top 5, 10, top page for organic (free) listings. The organic results are those that display to the left and below "Sponsored Sites" or "Sponsored Results" at Google, MSN and Yahoo!. These "Sponsored" advertisement boxes are part of Pay-Per-Click programs where site owners bid for positioning.

What we're going to discuss today are the free listings that are gained by how your site is ranked based on a combination of unique variables (algorithm) of each search site. Which, to muddy things up further, evolve without notice.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad."
~Aldous Huxley

Let's first set the stage so that we have realistic expectations here. When I started my consulting practice back in the early 90s, it was relatively easy to get found. The volume of sites and the level of competition were not one iota of what they are today. Fast forward to 2005 and you have close to 12,000,000,000 (yes, that's billion) pages with a good 10,000,000 being added daily.

So how do you get visibility in the SERPs? Shuffling or adding keywords in your Meta tags won't do it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn't the end-all-be-all either. You have to have a well rounded, smart, long term marketing plan for your site that includes certain basics for you to rise in the organic rankings.

Issues for consideration to gain improved organic listings:

  Look at your Web marketing plan as a long term effort. New sites are in Google's sandbox for 6 months or more, and it will take time and effort to be viewed as more relevant than the sites that are already online in the free positions you seek.

 Part of putting your plan together is to do a search with your top keyword phrases on the various search engines so that you are aware of the competition and the volume of sites already successfully ranking for the terms you are targeting. This gives you a real-world understanding of the level of competition you will be up against.

 Understand that how your Web site ranks has nothing to do with how good you are at what you do. It has to do with how good your site is and how good others including the search engines think your site is. That requires a long term realistic marketing plan to grow your site to be the best most comprehensive resource on your product or service for your site visitors. It doesn't happen overnight or just because you say you want it to.

 Forget about trying to rank for one-word keywords - much too difficult and in some cases downright impossible. Concentrate and target 2-3 word phrases instead of one-word keywords and you'll get more targeted visitors as well. There are several tools to assist you in investigating what keyword phrases your target market is actually using. Use these tools to your advantage!

 Make sure each page within your site targets and is optimized for only one or two, 2-3 word keyword phrases each. Niche is what works for organic listings! The more you are about; the less you are about any one thing. Search results are based on numerous factors; one being relevancy for the terms the searcher is using. If you are targeting 10, 20, 30 terms per page, that page is not strongly about any given topic vs. another site that has a page or pages concentrating on just one or two phrases each. Keep in mind that less is more when it comes to targeting keyword phrases on a page by page basis.

 To "top" the sites already out there, you have to do just that! Top them! What makes your site better and more valuable to your site visitors? If you don't have anything unique and of quality or value to offer, you'll never push those who already hold these positions out of your way.

 Plan on adding new information to your site on an aggressive basis. Daily, weekly, minimally monthly! Resources, white papers, "how tos" not only add value but will naturally work wonders as keyword targeted pages. Offer the type of information those seeking your product or service will find useful and search for and that other sites will want to link to. Don't even think of cheating and using content generating software...You'll get nowhere with that approach. You need to have well written content of value; not keyword stuffed ramblings.

 Plan on having lots of patience. Rome wasn't built in a day and attaining great organic listings no longer happens in a day, a month, or even a year. Any business that hopes to succeed needs to take a consistent and informed long-term approach. This applies to organic listings ten-fold.

Yes, without a doubt, all of the above recommendations require your time, effort and a realistic understanding of how organic listings are accomplished. But this is the reality of how great listings, over time, are attained. It is really quite simple - strive to make your site the best it can be; THE site for your product or service and your rankings will improve!

There are no short cuts or trickery for fast top 5, 10, top page organic results. If someone tells you otherwise, they are trying to use what you don't know to get into your pocket book. Make a commitment to continually build your site to be the best it can be to your site visitors and your organic rankings will happen. Web sites and rankings are a work in progress after all!

Without implementing the above, you are left with only one choice in order to get visibility to those searching for your product or service. You will need to invest in a well planned Pay-Per-Click program and the corresponding budget necessary to reach your goals.

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