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How Much SEO Do You Need To Get Top Rankings?

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions, perpetuated by industry SEO experts, is that a website must follow perfect SEO strategies to get top rankings. While adhering to simple common SEO standards does help the search engines both find and index your site more quickly, it doesn’t guarantee by any stretch of the imagination that following those SEO guidelines will propel your site to the top of the rankings.

If only search engine optimization was that easy!

No doubt, there are some SEO faux pas that will do harm to your site’s rankings, especially in Google, the ultimate hall-monitor all puffed up and ready to pounce on any misbehaving webmaster. Things such as keyword stuffing, keyword spamming or linking out to bad neighborhoods such as link farms, pharmaceutical or gambling sites may get you blacklisted.

But how much SEO do you need? How much search engine optimization do you need to get top rankings? Do you need a whole lot or do you need very little SEO?

Actually, after 10 years of marketing online, the answer to that question varies depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish with your SEO efforts? If you’re operating an online business in a very competitive (read lucrative) market, SEO will be high on your agenda as you go about annihilating your competition.

Even if you’re an ordinary webmaster or website owner you’re probably fussing over your rankings in the search engines. The higher the rankings you achieve for your chosen keywords; the more traffíc you will get. Good quality traffic that converts well into loyal subscribers and fans of your site.

Many webmasters and companies spend thousands of dollars each month in order to get their keywords and sites up to the top of the líst. If you’re into affiliate marketing, your daily income will rise and fall almost parallel to your rankings. Now, if my earnings go up, I know automatically my rankings have gone up, usually in Google. If my earnings go down, I know my rankings have gone south. Some times even a drop or rise of one place on the first page SERPs will affect how much you earn.

Obviously, because of this fact, SEO or how well I am optimized for the search engines is extremely important to me. I am constantly building quality links and quality content for my sites. Some keyword battles you win, some battles you lose. I have been fighting some keyword battles for over 3 or 4 years now!

But how much SEO is enough? How much SEO should you do with your sites? Many webmasters make sure all their on page set-up or lay-out is done exactly to what the SEO experts say you should do. This is not a bad idea. Make sure your Title, URL, Headlines, Keyword Density… are all laid out right. These are things we can control and adjust to meet the SEO standards.

Other SEO or ranking factors are much harder to predict, many of them are simply out of our control. How other sites link to us, what they put in the anchor text, what they say about us… simply things we can’t control.

I believe the over-riding reason why your site is listed at the top of any rankings has to do with the number, the quality and the quantity of sites linking back to your page. The higher the number of related quality one-way links you have flowing back to your site, the higher it will perform in the rankings. Your anchor text is very important (underlined part of a link); it must contain your keywords or variations of it. The content on the linking page should also be related to your chosen keywords.

Get this part right and you will get high rankings.

Or at least this has been my experience – all the other ranking factors do count but this is the over-riding factor in my opinion.

Another major ranking factor lately, has been the importance Google is placing on social media links. Get your content to the first page of Digg with lots of diggs and it will rank high in Google. This is not surprising when you consider the nature of these social bookmarking sites… it really is an actual “vote” for the quality of your content. Getting Delicious bookmarks has a similar positive effect.

Another prominent factor, from my observations, is having your major keyword in your Domain Name. Use hyphens if you want but having those keywords in there, does help rather than hinder your rankings.

Now if you’re wondering about how Google ranks pages or your keywords…. Google has around 200 ranking factors (with filters and penalties thrown in to make all our lives interesting) which it uses to rank your keywords/pages. This is still the best online resource that lists all of Google’s ranking factors: www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/internet/google-ranking-factors.htm

Now the question still remains, how much SEO do you need? How much time should you spend at optimizing, building links, worrying your head off over the latest Google Itch?

The answer always comes back to quality content. Create a site that has quality content and the SEO will take care of itself. People will link to your site, you will get bookmarks in all the social media sites, Google will find your content and rank it. Your SEO will grow naturally as your site grows. Keep building more pages, keep targeting more and more related keywords in your niche or subject area and you will get higher rankings.

Now, of course, some webmasters are a little more aggressive in how quickly they want their rankings to rise to the top of the search engines. Here’s something you can do if you want to go into the SEO battle full-force.

1. Download SEOquake and place this free SEO toolbar plug-in on your Firefox (or I.E.) browser.

2. Go to Google and type in the keyword or keyword phrase you’re targeting with your site or content.

3. Select the number one ranking and observe how many pages it has indexed, PageRank, how many backlinks it has, age of the site… and so on.

4. Then use the page info button and study all the on-page factors this site has and notice what it’s doing with its page and keyword density lay-out.

5. Check all the backlinks this site has in the different search engines. Copy or try to get the same backlinks for your site that your competitor has acquired. Then get more backlinks and/or higher quality backlinks than your competitor.

6. Watch your rankings rise…

Just a few more words of wisdom and we’re done. Some battles will be too tough to fight, the competition will be so stiff you just can’t compete. Other battles will take a long time; months, even years before you rise to the top. Your best bet is to choose long-tail (multi-worded) keywords that have little or no competition. You can rise to the top within days, even hours. The sweet thing is this: long-tail keywords are often the most lucrative and bring in the most sales. For in the final analysis, you just don’t want SEO, you want smart SEO. And you will quickly learn, most times you can often out-smart your competition, even if you can’t out-rank them.

About The Author
These 10 SEO Tactics Bring Me Over 2000 Visitors Daily: SEO Tips To learn more Internet Marketing Tactics try: Marketing Tools Copyright © 2009 Titus Hoskins. This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.