There is nothing like having an 800 Pound Gorilla perched at the top of the most competitive key phrases in your industry (staring you down) every time you even THINK about optimizing a new search term. Despite why they are there (usually as a result of patience, planning and persistence) what may be more disturbing is how 9 out of 10 searches for keywords in your niche include a page (or two) of your competitors as consistent, relevant search results. Before you scratch your head in frustration or disbelief, understand there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a way to throw in a banana peel of your own and enter the ranking game with verve. To the untrained eye, this is an intimidating experience, however to an SEO (who understands the amount of work required to acquire and maintain multiple rankings) it is nothing more than SEO basics and an exercise in tactful site promotion. SEO intrinsically by nature is basic, basic, yet extremely time consuming to manage. Search engine rankings are based on the a multitude of aggregate criteria from various overlapping algorithms. These algorithms in turn administer the quality and roster of the search engine index. Each algorithm executes a specific battery of litmus tests that conduct evaluations on each page either discovered during pre-indexing, on existing pages (for relevance and reordering) or evaluates which aged pages gain immunity from less stringent algorithms and advance to authority status through TrustRank, Phrase Rank and Search Engine Trust. SEO Basics: Getting your Foot in the Door Once a page makes it into a search engine’s index, it is constantly guaged for relevance and elevated or demoted to based upon the search query initiated from search engines using an array of calculations. Despite the complexity of the advanced SEO principles outlined above, the simple fact is, as long as you provide a sufficient quantity of the criteria those algorithms are looking for in the appropriate quantity search engines use to assess relevance, your pages will fare well as search engine result pages. Fortunately for us, the fabric of the internet is links, attention / engagement and popularity. At least those fundamental aspects are the primary considerations and serve as the building blocks of a solid optimization campaign. SEO Basics: Adding the Right Ingredients Rather than thinking of organic search engine optimization it as one practice alone, more specifically, it is a series of events produced in tandem that produce the phenomenon of creating consistent top 10 placement. Therefore, employing “Basic SEO” for your site (through and through) can provide more than just rankings. Over time, the streamlined use of SEO can provide your pages with an added advantage over less refined content. That advantage is the acquisition of authority status due to the quality of the content, accessibility from interested searchers and visibility through repeated exposure. Aside from getting a page or site to occupy high ranking search results, those pages that weight the anchor and remain in the top 10 or top 5 results respectively are due to calculations of user engagement (how long people stay on the site), link popularity (how many sites that are trusted link to theirs) and the merit and relevance of the content (the content must be enticing and appealing). It doesn’t matter if you are a fortune 500, fortune 100 or mom and pop shop, the results are the same if you apply the fundamentals of Basic SEO to garner the interest of search engine spiders for your content. Granted the resources are in favor of the company with deep pockets (as they can dedicate more man or woman power to the promotion process), but the underlying message is, not to be discouraged by those who may have got the jump on you and started months or years in advance. It is possible to catch up or surpass those who rest on their laurels in the search engine index, it is just a matter of content quality, the frequency of adding new content or resources and traffic. How to turn your Chimp of a Site into an 800 Pound Gorilla: Start from the bottom up, laying the groundwork is the key. The foundation supports the growth or stemming of continuity that resonates throughout the site. If you have your site established on the premise of a specific niche of information and continually add to that systematically, then chances are you are going to appeal to search engines as a resource for that category. One example is, making daily blog posts, adding articles or products to your e-commerce site, then the links per page ratio comes into play. Based on the keywords you are targeting, the less competitive the keyword the easier it is to acquire a ranking for. Granted getting in the top 10 for a term like “purple toenail clippers” may not draw traffic, the idea behind this is a page mentioning the subject in the titles, tags and content and a few links from a few pages and there is your top 10 ranking for the phrase. For more competitive terms, you will require (1) more content about the subject matter or (2) more links to the target site or page to increase relevance, how complicated is that? Yet each phrase has a threshold based on the activity in search engines for those terms. Call it the side effects of supply and demand or just plain competition, the more sites targeting a term the more difficult is will be to acquire it. This is why foresight in forecasting trends for root phrases or a entire series of keywords can start with purchasing a domain with those keywords and populating the site with related / themed content over time to produce the right signals that your site, pages and tags are 100% relevant to those phrases, once again SEO Basics in action. If terms are extremely competitive, then your pages will have to pass a higher degree of scrutiny from the various algorithms. It is important to note that each algorithm has a reward and penalty based mathematical trigger, so it is not just about adding 1000 pages or adding 1000 links it is about developing each area of the base phrases, the keywords and the content equivocally to produce a natural progression of the ranking factors that contribute to a high ranking position. That is the art and science of SEO, knowing when, where and how to perform each stage and more importantly why. With the right focus, the right content and the right volume of internal and external links, you can essentially elevate dozens of keywords simultaneously for your pages through a delicate optimization / balancing act to systematically increase search engine relevance. SEO Basics: Increasing Relevance through Consistent Updates Rather than leaving it to chance, it is better to give search engines what they want and have a content development strategy to add consistent content on a regular basis for 2 reasons (1) it gives people a reason to come back and (2) search engines reward fresh content. Oftentimes for the sake of branding a company has their hands tied regarding the amount of content that add to the site. If it is painfully obvious that the red tape is just too think (speaking of large corporation here) then creating a content rich site for the sake of lead generation may be an option you wish to consider. With so many ways to rank using various tactics, none are more powerful than solid content. One strategy is, to add 3-5 blog posts per week, write niche articles or content that pertains to the the phrases you want to rank for then inter-link your content and build quality external links from trusted sources. Aside from that, let trust and authority develop over time. After the on page factors are well established (which can be done through creating an optimized website template and tagging your pages appropriately) you are ready to embark on the true journey which is populating your pages with (a) useful posts, articles, statistics and (b) links to other resources. Why, because these are the trappings of creating website authority which is the goal of organic SEO. The human visitors provide traffic, search engines (if appeased) will add your pages to their index to provide even more pre-qualified traffic, it is a pure win/win situation. SEO Basics: Basic SEO Factors involve facets such as: 1. Forward linking - This implies who you link to, if your site has limited information on a topic and you link to another source which has a more thorough grasp of the subject, you get a gold star and can give your site a sliver of promotion when it comes to building search engine trust. 2. Acquiring Targeted Back Links - Acquiring back links implies that other sites have found something you said useful and are endorsing your content to their readers, visitors, clients, etc. Acquiring a back link for a newer site implies that based on the reputation of the site offering it, you are a trusted resource worthy of passing the word on (so to speak). By acquiring the right type of back links for your site from trusted sources, your site takes on the characteristic of an authority site, which once again, ultimately is the premise of organic optimization. 3. Tagging your content for the most relevance - Simply put, if your pages is about green widgets, then make sure the tags and title of the page is about green widgets and try to mention the “exact match” phrases than one may type in search engines to find it, in the body text 2-6 times. 4. Letting time work for you not against you - If your content is optimized (meaning linked appropriately internally and externally) then it will have the right trappings to gain authority in search engines. Roughly translated, if your content is indexed (because you optimized it, or managed to toggle the phenomenon of getting a quality link, etc.) then that link can age in the search engine index. Depending on how frequently this page is called from the bin (the jar where all of the information about your site is stored, based on search engines crawling your pages) those pages then gain a degree of link juice or link weight in the index. Every 3-4 months, your pages can graduate to higher degrees of trust and the pages that had links pointing to and from your site, now have the ability to affect search results on their own vs. just trying to play catch up using external factors alone. For example, a link from a page in your site that links back to another page in your site (this is called a deep link) can now provide more than enough link weight to provide the target page with it’s own top 10 placement. So, the value of tending and pruning your pages from the perspective of the long-term SEO value they possess becomes more apparent as you realize that a site can sustain itself from it’s own internal linking if constructed properly. That may very well signify the conclusion of this article as the last principle is most assuredly bordering on Advanced SEO. Through understanding the basics, it provides you with less refinement down the line and since it is a competitive marketplace out there for millions of keywords that bear traffic, adhering to fundamentals that when matured are well worth the investment can be your best bet for advertising in the long run. Who would have thought that great content, website structure and popularity could be broken into so many facets. This is another testament to the fact, that keeping things simple and focusing on Basic SEO structure is all it takes when combined with timing, exposure and relevance to manage your very own 800 pound gorilla in the SERPs (search engine result pages).