I'm a web developer by day and a SEO'er by night. I'm not claiming to be an expert with Search Engine Optimization, but my results show that I might be on my way! :P In this post I will explain what techniques I've used to get my sites ranked in very high in the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL, Ask and many others).

The first site I started optimizing for the search engines was WiiLoveMario.com. I wanted to see if I can creep my way up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) for Super Mario Bros related news and info. WiiLoveMario was launched in early 2007 using WordPress before I knew any better... It is now a Drupal site. :)

Finding a niche

I knew that I wouldn't come anywhere close to the first few pages for keywords like "Super Mario Bros" or any other highly searched keyword so I targeted people searching for "Super Mario Bros Myspace Layouts". This seemed more realistic as there's not too much competition for that keyword. My first task was to create some SMB Myspace Layouts. I spent a couple of hours throwing together some layouts and published them on WiiLoveMario. After a couple of weeks the search engines indexed the Myspace layout pages and I started to see around 150-300 unique users per day. It's working! It's working!:)

Targeting the long tail keywords* seemed to work like a charm! Within about a month WiiLoveMario bubbled to the 1st / 2nd page of the SERPs. Today the site ranks as the #2 result on Google for "Super Mario Bros Myspace Layouts". See here:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1C1GPCK_enUS338US338&q=Super+Mari...

SEO Tools

The most important thing, IMO, for effective SEO is to have analytic tools to see where, what and who is looking at your content. I used Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and a hosted version of Piwik. All of these tools are free to use.

* Google Webmaster Tools - This is a free service that Google offers that will allow you to submit sitemaps to their engine, monitor what keywords people are finding your site under and it gives you a good idea of how Google sees your site... like if theres any problems or missing pages, Webmaster Tools will let you know.

* Google Analytics - This is another free tool by Google that gives you reports on how many visitors come to your site and just about every stat about them like Where the user came from, Browser they use, Screen Resolution, What page they viewed and how long they stayed on the page and so much more info that will help you further optimize your site.

* Piwik - Piwik is a downloadable, open source (GPL licensed) web analytics software program. It provides you with detailed reports on your website visitors: the search engines and keywords they used, the language they speak, your popular pages… and so much more. I installed this on my server and use it more than Google Analytics because it gives you real time reporting whereas Google Analytics has a few hour delay.

Ok, so those are the tools I live by! Without the analytics data I would have absolutely no idea where I stand in the SERPs.

First round of Search Engine Optimization

I wanted more traffic! I went back and re-evaluated the site and made sure all of the images where named with keywords instead of some generic filename. I also added alt fields to all of the tags on the site. Every link on the site also had a "title" field. So for example, here's what I did:

Old image tags:
img src="http://www.wiilovemario.com/images/smb01-02.gif"

changed to:
img src="http://www.wiilovemario.com/images/Super-Mario-Bros-02.gif" alt="Super Mario Bros"

After renaming the images and adding alt tags, I noticed more traffic because now WiiLoveMario was showing up in the Google Image searches. Google Webmaster Tools also allows you to let them do a deep image search on your site.

So thats the first round of search engine optimization on WiiLoveMario. In my next post I'll write about how I managed to gain more ground on higher searched keywords and how I became an authoritative site for a very highly searched keyword.

Stay tuned.. here's what's coming up next:

SEO and how it worked for me (Part 2):

  • What keyword do you want to target today?
  • The art of analytics

* Long Tail Keywords are the 3, 4 or 5 keyword phrases which are very specific to what the user is looking for.

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