1. SEO at Sea
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    Real Life SEO - Realistic Expectations!

    Im not sure if this long post will be welcomed or not. However, I was thinking that when I first started getting into SEO, all I really wanted was some real life examples of sites that have gone through some SEO and what I could expect. I also wanted to know what I should do and in what order.

    So, I decided to write a summary of my SEO efforts on one of my sites, and then show you what I got out of those efforts, right or wrong as they were.

    Please feel free to criticize or comment but remember what was done has been done. My hope is that you will reply with your own examples, or comments on what a new SEO should not follow, or do differently, in the example I am giving.

    My Goal: To rank well in Google. I knew that Google was the big guy so I decided to do everything with Google as my target, ignoring MSN and Yahoo. (Hind site tells me this was a questionable decision. Some suggest starting with MSN..then progressing to Yahoo and then when your site is ready, going for Google.)

    The Beginning:
    The domain SuccessWithAuctions.com was registered a long time ago but nothing was ever done with it. If you are looking to buy a cheap domain name from an auction place like GoDaddy, you would probably see about the same results.

    Note: Throughout the entire 6 months I spent roughly 2 months doing hard-core SEO work and another month doing site development. The entire time I followed the forums and kept up to date.

    What I did:
    Step ONE: Read the forums, ask questions, and share your results and findings when you experiment on your own or try to prove a theory!

    Even when my site was being built I began asking questions. More importantly however (and to avoid making everyone mad at you) I read through the archives. Almost any question you can ask has been asked before and answered a dozen times over.

    Keyword research! SEOMOZ has a great new tool to help with this. I decided to try for a long tail approach and have had limited success.

    Step TWO:
    On page optimization: As I built the site, I tried to design it from the ground up using good on-page optimization. I think most will agree that while on-page optimization is not as important as quality links, if you skip it you are shooting yourself in the foot.

    I wont go into too many details here. Suffice it to say that:
    1.each page had a unique title, description, and used all of the h1 through h5 tags accordingly.
    2. All of the content was original and well written. The content was designed to help the reader find what they were looking for.
    3. I decided to use layers and CSS so that I could position my BODY and content above the navigation and links. Please feel free to view the source code on the home page to see what I mean.
    4. I ensured that I had good internal linking. Ensuring that all my pages could be access from one or two links deep from the home page ensured that the SE spiders cold find everything.

    Step THREE:
    Indexing! By this time my site was build, looked good but had no links and the SEs did not know about it. I knew that it would take time to get rankings and that there was a good chance I would get sandboxed, but I had to get the process started.

    So I:
    1. Made a site map (which is way out of date now and on my to-do-list.) The site map was an html page that contained links to all my pages. Then, based off of a comment rmccarley made, I used an RSS site map generator that created an xml formatted site map for me.
    2. I submitted the site map and signed up for Google SiteMaps. (It was very useful and educational to see some of the errors they found after indexing my site. )
    3. Started link building (cont step 4)

    Step FOUR:
    Links, Links, and more Links!
    1. I knew I wanted to get indexed as fast as possible so after spending two weeks with directory submitting, I forked out the $300.00 to Yahoo to be included in their directory. My site was indexed 2 days later by both Google and Yahoo. I spent another week or so submitting my site manually to more directories.
    2. Everything I was reading in the forums was screaming links and more links, so the next three months or so (when time permitted from my other work) I submitted articles to article sites and contacted webmasters in hopes for a link or link exchange.
    I know this is simplified but again, just trying to summarize my efforts. There was in fact a lot more involved!

    Step FIVE:
    Analyze results: After 6 months of doing the above steps, I have gone from a new site not even being indexed, much less ranking to the following:

    Per SEOMOZ page strength tool:

    Links pointing to full URL: 22% = 697
    Links pointing to domain: 25% = 1942
    Position at Google for first four words of title tag 70% #3
    Age of Domain: 64% = 1458 days old
    Links from domains with .edu TLDs: 13% = 1
    Links from domains with .gov TLDs: 0%
    Alexa Rank 13% = 515687
    Domain name visibility 21% = 643
    Internal Link Percent 100% = 100.00%
    Number of links according to Technorati 25% = 7
    Number of search results for URL search at del.icio.us 20% = 3
    Listings in DMOZ (ODP) 0%
    Links found in Wikipedia 0%
    Google Pagerank of full URL and Domain 0%

    This changes all the time, some weeks I have over 2500 links. As my link building continues, I notice I loose links if I dont keep up with getting new ones.

    Per Google sitemaps (simply because its easy to cut and paste)
    1. home business ideas 23
    2. making money from home 11
    3. making money at home 11
    4. blogtoolkit 3
    5. iauctionwizard 6
    6. making money online 31
    7. making money 89
    8. make money at home 60
    9. make money from home 69
    10. money making ideas 90
    11. blogtoolkit review 3
    12. making money on ebay 33
    13. money from home 35
    14. business ideas 83
    15. makeing money from home 7
    16. setting up online auction 9
    17. money making from home 58
    18. ebay auction types 4
    19. "home based affiliate business" 10
    20. make money online 184

    I quickly learned that top positions in keywords dont mean jack if you are not getting any traffic. Some of the keywords I went for while, less competitive, did not bring a lot of traffic. The long tail approach is easier to rank with but has yet to produce a lot of traffic.

    Currently about 35% of my site traffic comes from Search Engines. The rest comes from links (80% of which are from other sites that my company owns). I have made roughly 100 bucks in adsense over the last six months (making it hard to justify SEO in my bosss eyes.

    Step SIX:
    Repeat! This is where I am right now and I plan to repeat the steps above. Obviously I will change some things, no more directories (Ive done my share). But, its important to note that after six months my site is in need of (and in progress of) an over hall. I am changing some of the keywords I am targeting and making the entire site XHTML.

    After I am done with the revisions, its back to link building hardcore!

    Again, this is MY experience with SEO on ONE of my sites. I wrote this intending to give a NEW SEO realistic expectations and to silicate FEEDBACK on what I can do differently going forward.

    Another good resource for a beginner is here http://whitehatcrew.com/downloads/SEO-Made-Easy.pdf

    Comments on this post

    • raz agrees : Jwatsonl, you have the makings of an ebook on SEO in this post!
    • SEO_AM agrees : Excellent chronology and activity guide. Wish the best of future rankings. Keep up the good work.
    • fathom agrees : Good job!
    • EGOL agrees : Nice Work. Thanks for the report!
    • Be_frank agrees : Useful information for Beginners..........
    • pteam agrees : Good resource!
  2. #2
  3. Stormfront Productions
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

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    Great information. I too did a very similiar process (over a longer period of time though...3_ years).

    SEO Chat is the most important step on that list in my opinion.
  4. #3
  5. Contributing User
    SEO Chat Hero (2000 - 2499 posts)

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    Very nice post Josh,
    You should add a link to this post from your sig line...

    #include <Cognac.h> -The only code I know How to Write!
  6. #4
  7. No Profile Picture
    Contributing User
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    I agree this is a helpful post.

    I spent a number of years running a web consultancy before joining a company as an employee. Whether doing in-house SEO or consulting, I find that the most important task is managing unrealistic expectations.

    Personally, in the last year, I've seen a direct effect of my SEO efforts on the company's bottom line. I likely have a lot more resources available than most on these forums.

    If I had to throw a number out and say what effect SEO has had on my company, I could say, without any hesitation, it has increased revenue by 25%.

    The unrealistic expectations I walked into were much higher, and I spent a lot of time and research and number crunching to come up with what I thought was a realistic expectation of 10%.

    My point is, in order to beat down those unrealistic expectations, it's great if you can come up with some real life examples such as you provided.
  8. #5
  9. SEO at Sea
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

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    Originally Posted by raz
    Very nice post Josh,
    You should add a link to this post from your sig line...

    Good idea! thanks again.
  10. #6
  11. Ditzy
    SEO Chat Adventurer (500 - 999 posts)

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    Yeah, interesting. Make sure you bookmark this post and come back later to give us updates.
  12. #7
  13. .:: ThE GoDFathEr ::.
    SEO Chat Explorer (0 - 99 posts)

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    Good Man.. Your This Topic Helped Me Alot
  14. #8
  15. SEO at Sea
    SEO Chat Discoverer (100 - 499 posts)

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    Originally Posted by umerkk
    Good Man.. Your This Topic Helped Me Alot
    Awesome...I had hoped it would help someone. good luck!
  16. #9
  17. No Profile Picture
    SEO Chat Mastermind (5000+ posts)

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    I think that Raz has a good idea... write an ebook on the steps to webmaster success.
    * "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Mark Twain
    * "Free advice isn't worth much. Cheap advice is worth even less." EGOL
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    the steps i have taken are similar, however i am competing for a much more difficult keyphrase free online games, for me the long tail is working for ex free online pool games.
    After 7 months i am still very much in google's sandbox, about 50% of my traffic is coming from msn 25% from repeat views and the rest various links. I have not recieved any money yet and have paid a bit for hosting however at the end of this month i should recieve my first check for about $200 One thing i have not done is article writing, this is the next thing for me to try.

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