I do not claim to be an SEO expert, but overall, SEO is just applying common sense to your design and content. That is of course, highly simplifying all of the major and minor tasks it takes to make the best of the SEO capabilities of your website.
Recently, I have been mentioning the Orlando DotNetNuke® Users Group by its acronym all over the place in an attempt to market the upcoming user group meeting. So, I would say something like, "X days until the next ODUG Meeting."
If the person reading the text didn't know what "ODUG" stood for, then they would naturally do a search for it to find out. Just two days ago, searching for "ODUG" returned a search engine results page (SERP) that contained a bunch of user groups, but not this one. In fact, I went to the second SERP and we weren't there either.
Looking at a user group in the SERP that matched our acronym, but is located in a different area could really confuse some folks if they thought they knew where we were.
What Could I Do?
I immediately looked at the content on the home page. Instead of mentioning "ODUG" anywhere, it mentioned "UG" or "user group." Additionally, I looked at the page title, description, and keywords. There was also no more occurrences of "ODUG" in any of them.
I began to work on this by first replacing the inferred references to the UG name with "ODUG." I also added the acronym to many of the section titles and other areas where it made sense, without changing the context of the existing text.
Next, I proceeded to alter the page title, description, and keywords to include ODUG as well.
Finally, I created a Google SiteMap XML file and submitted it to Google for crawling. Just so you know, this step is incredibly easy with DotNetNuke®.
So, What Was the Result?
The default number of results on a Google search is 10. I have mine set to 20. This should paint you a pretty good picture of just how bad our SEO plan had been. (Was there a plan?) We weren't ranking at all for this term.
Searching for "ODUG" now (11/18/2008 11:32PM) returns our user group as the second and sixth hit on the SERP! This was within 48 hours of my changes. Our ranking will probably get even better, and we didn't have to pay anyone. ;)
That Wasn't So Hard, Was It?
You might be asking yourself, "how did that work?" It is actually much more simple than people think.
What you just saw me walk through was looking at a search term that I thought my site should show up when used. For example, if someone entered "ODUG" into a search engine, I would want the user group site to be as close to the top of the list as possible.
How does the search engine know to rank you for a term, unless the term is found in the web page you intend for it to rank? I basically used keyword injection to give the web page a higher ranking for the frequency count of "ODUG." By adding that word to more places on the page and in the page meta data (title, description, keywords), I effectively told the search engines that this page is very important if that word is being queried.
That is all there is to it! Part of this is intuition, part is knowledge, and the rest is execution. You just witnessed the execution and knowledge part. You need the knowledge to know what search term(s) a visitor will use to find your website. Then execute a plan to guide the search engine and eventually the visitor to the page(s) that match the term(s).
The intuition portion comes more into play from some folks than others. This basically describes a person who can forecast the valuable search terms without doing any research.
Hopefully, you now have the most basic knowledge to kick start your own SEO plans.