Search Engine Optimization 101 *Revised* (Part 1)
by John Buchanan

Search engine optimization is the cornerstone of many 
webmasters' online businesses. If you are just starting 
out or on a small budget, it may be your only true form of 

While there are many articles on the basics of SEO out there,
many of them are outdated. With that in mind, and knowing the
numerous changes that have taken place with the search engines 
in the past year I decided to write a somewhat revised guideline 
to SEO. While some things have stayed basically the same, other
areas have seen some pretty big changes.

So...let's jump in.

1. Know Your Target Keywords

Without a doubt, knowing your target keywords is the single most
important part of your marketing campaign. If you don't know the
words and/or phrases your target audience uses to find sites such
as yours, you have almost no chance of generating the kind of
targeted traffic you need to succeed.

The suggestions below are assuming your site is targeting a
specific area. If your site targets multiple distinctly different
areas, you should repeat this procedure for each distinctly
different genre your site targets.

While there is more than this, I am going to cover three of the
best ways of developing a comprehensive list of keywords for your

The first way is to visit competing websites and analyze their
sites. Look at what words and phrases they are targeting. You
will find the target words and phrases in the title tags of the
pages, the meta tags, and scattered throughout the body text.
Grab a sheet of paper and copy down the phrases that they are

The second way is by using the Overture keyword suggestion tool.
It can be accessed at:

Enter a word or phrase and it will return all associated searches
that use that phrase as well as the number of times they were
searched for in the previous month. Use your list from your
competitors sites and gather additional phrases with this tool. 
I also like to write down the number of searches so I know which
phrases are the most popular since this will be helpful later.

Finally, the third way is by using Wordtracker 
( It's not a free service, but it can be a
huge time saver. Again, enter a word or phrase and it returns a
list of searches utilizing that word or phrase and the frequency
of those searches. It will also show you similar terms that may
give you other ideas. Write these down on your list along with
the number of times they were searched for.

The next thing I would suggest doing is taking your list and
rearranging them in order of importance with the most searched
for phrases at the top and working your way down.

Depending on your market and your site, this could be a list of
only 10 or 15 keyphrases, or it could be MUCH larger.

Now that we have a good, solid list of keywords and phrases, 
let's move on to number 2.

2. Make all Your Pages "Doorway" Pages

No, I don't mean the old style "click here" doorway pages we all
know and hate. What I mean is that you should begin to look at
each and every page of your site as a potential entry point or
"doorway" to your site.

Many people believe the homepage is the only page they should
focus on. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Don't make 
the mistake of trying to make your homepage target each and 
every keyword and keyphrase on your list. You will be sorely

Look at your list of keywords and determine your 2 or 3 most 
important keywords or keyphrases. These are the words/phrases 
that you need to target on your homepage. Don't dilute the focus 
of your homepage by trying to target 75 different phrases. Keep 
it focused.

What about the rest of the words and phrases on your list? Well,
that is what the rest of the internal pages on your site are for.
Take each page of your site and focus it on another 2 or 3 
phrases on your list, continually working your way down your list
as you work deeper and deeper into your site. In this way, each
page stays tightly focused on a particular "theme" and has the
best chance of ranking well for those phrases, while at the same
time, you have lots of pages all focusing on different phrases,
giving you that many more chances of achieving a top ranking for
numerous phrases.

3. Title Tags..Your Best Friend

Staying with the same theme as section 2, let's talk title tags.
Your title tag is truly the single most important on-the-page
factor in determining the ranking of a page. Numerous webmasters
completely waste the potential of the title tag, often by placing
their company name in the title tag instead of their target

In section 2 I had you pick a set of 2 or 3 phrases to focus each
page of your site on. Those same 2 or 3 phrases should be
incorporated into the title tag of that page. Leave the company
name out of the title tag as well as the "About Us" or "Contact
Us" titles. Focus each page and make the best possible use of the
title tag by placing your target keywords and phrases in them.

Also, don't make the mistake of using the same title tag on each
page. Remember, each page should be focused on 2 or 3 keyphrases
that are different from the other pages and the title tags of
each of the pages should reflect this.

4. Meta Tags

Wow are these STILL the most over-hyped tags in SEO. A few years
ago these were fairly important, but today, they are of almost no
use whatsoever. Google basically ignores both the Meta
Description and Meta Keywords tags. Inktomi does read the keyword
and description tag, but doesn't place anymore importance on them
than anything else on the page. In fact, Inktomi doesn't even
make use of the description tag unless you use it's PFI program.

To be honest, I rarely even use either of these tags on the sites
I design or optimize anymore. If I do, I add a brief description
tag and that's it. I certainly don't waste any time on crafting a
killer description and stuffing in as many different keywords as
possible. Just a simple description... after all, almost no one
will ever see it anyway. :)

John Buchanan is the author of the book "The Insider's Guide to
Dominating The Search Engines", and a search engine optimization
professional. Visit him at for more
information or with any questions.