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Ten Steps To A Well Optimized Website - Step 9: Monitoring

Welcome to part nine in this search engine positioning series. Last week we discussed the important topic of link building. In part nine we will be covering the monitoring and the various areas you should consider and tools you may want to use.
 
While this area isn't directly related to attaining higher rankings it is definitely equally important.  Once you've got good rankings your competitors are going to work to beat you out.  You have to keep on top of it to insure you maintain your top positions.
 
Over this series we will cover the ten key aspects to a solid search engine positioning campaign.
 
The Ten Steps We Will Go Through Are:

  1. Keyword Selection - October 24, 2004
  2. Content - October 31, 2004
  3. Site Structure - November 7, 2004
  4. Optimization - November 14, 2004
  5. Internal Linking - November 21, 2004
  6. Human Testing - November 29, 2004
  7. Submissions - December 5, 2004
  8. Link Building - December 12, 2004
  9. Monitoring - December 19, 2004
  10. The Extras


Step Nine   Monitoring
 
After days, weeks, or perhaps even months of researching, optimizing, proofing and link building you've got your website into the top positions.  First thing's first:  congratulations!  It's no easy task to get your site where you got it and you deserve a break.  Take a week off and don't look at your site, at the very least this'll let you come back at it again with fresher eyes   at best it'll give you time to spend with those who missed you during your obsession with your site and rankings.  But don't take too long   your competition is right on your heals.
 
As important as the first eight steps were to getting you the rankings, so to is this step that will help you keep those rankings.  There are three basic yet critical steps to the monitoring process.  They are:
 
1.Monitoring your rankings
2.Monitoring links
3.Monitoring changes in the search engine environment
 
Monitoring Your Rankings
 
There are a number of ways that you can monitor your rankings.  You can run the searches manually, you can use software to check your rankings or you can use online services to check your rankings.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Checking Manually
Advantage   You will be able to visually confirm the results and also you will remain in full compliance with the search engine's rules governing use of their systems including the use of automated rank-checking software.
Disadvantage   This method for checking rankings can be extremely time consuming is checking for multiple phrases across multiple engines.  If you are targeting 20 phrases and want to check your rankings across the top ten engines and know when you re places as far down as position 50 you will have to check up to 1000 different pages for your site.
 
Rank-checking Software
Advantage   This method for checking your rankings is extremely efficient.  With software such as WebPosition Gold (http://www.beanstalk-inc.com/resources/recommended/webposition.htm) you simply enter the keywords you are targeting, the engines you want to check for results on, and how deep you want it to go.  After that it s a matter of running the program and doing some other work or grab a coffee while you await the results.
Disadvantage   This software often violates the search engines rules regarding the use of their systems by running a large number of searches.  If you are going to use this type of software please set the software to run courteously (a setting you will find in the options) and register for Google's Web API (http://www.google.com/apis/) which will allow you to legitimately run 1000 automated queries per day.
 
Online Services
Advantage - It is much faster than checking manually and doesn't have the cost associated with it that software does.  An example of an online rank checking tool can be found at http://www.mikes-marketing-tools.com/ranking-reports/.
Disadvantage   It is still far more time consuming than automated software and over a few months you will have made up the money spent on the software in time saved by using it.  Also, I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to entering detailed info regarding my SEO sites and targeted keywords.  I'm not a fan of anything that requires me to give my targeted phrases and URL to another marketing site.  But maybe that's just me.
 
Monitoring Links
Monitoring your links is equally important to attaining them.  When you were first starting your SEO and link-building you probably checked to see how many links your main competitors had and built more.  So what makes you think they haven't been building more links since then.
 
It's a good practice to schedule weekly checks of how many backlinks you have detected by the major search engines and also check to see how many your main competitors have.  If you document the results on an ongoing basis you will be able to note whether theirs are growing or not.
 
While you should always be generating more inbound links for your site whether you see your competitors doing so or not, knowing when they are and where they are can give you a solid advantage in reacting to this new threat.  Remember, as hard as you worked for your positioning, so too with others.
 
There are software and online services to check for links however the only one I would recommend has nothing to do with its link number abilities.  As noted in previous articles, Top Optimizer Pro (http://www.beanstalk-inc.com/resources/recommended/top.htm) is the link-building tool I would most highly recommend.  On top of giving you the number of links your competitors have it will tell you what the anchor text is, what the PageRank is of those links, and more. It will even help you find link partners.
 
Monitoring Changes In The Search Environment
The last thing you will have to monitor is for changes with the search engines themselves.  First of all, with changes such as MSN's upcoming shift from providing results based on Inktomi to providing their own results, you will want to know when this happens and what to expect when it does.  Additionally, you will want to know when changes are occurring in the search engine algorithms, when major ones take place, and what those changes are.
 
This is why there are full-time SEOs.  To monitor all of these things can be very time-consuming however assuming that you have the time and inclination here are some resources to help you keep on top if it all:
 
Newsletters
SEO newsletters can definitely help keep you on top of what's going on however you have to know who to listen to.  Here are a few from people/organizations I have found worthy of my respect (not to say these are the only ones but I can't list everyone here so I'm listing the three top SEO newsletters).
 
Climbing The Beanstalk (http://www.beanstalk-inc.com/)   Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning s own bi-weekly newsletter.  Of course we have to include it and if you re enjoying this article and the ones before it you re likely enjoy the newsletter as well.  You can find the subscription box in the right-hand navigation.
ISEDB Newsletter (http://www.isedb.com/)   a weekly newsletter with links to a variety of articles.  Gives a very balanced look at search engines, what s going on, and SEO tactics.  Subscription can be found at the bottom of the homepage.
High Rankings Advisor (http://www.highrankings.com/subscribe.htm)   a newsletter put out by Jill Whalen.  I may not agree with everything she writes but she knows what she's taking about and is definitely worth reading.  She gives a balanced look at SEO in easy-to-understand terminology.
 
Forums
Forums are perhaps one of the best places to find up-to-date information on the search engines.  Because they are updated constantly and by numerous individuals you will have the benefit of many opinions and perspectives.  The downfall is you have to know whom you can trust and who s knowledgeable.  Some quality forums can be found at:
 
Web Pro World (http://www.webproworld.com/forum.php)
SEO Chat (http://forums.seochat.com/)
Search Guild (http://www.searchguild.com/)
High Rankings (http://www.highrankings.com/forum/)
Li l Engine (http://forums.lilengine.com/)
 
There are of course tons of other resources out there and you'll just have to keep hunting until you find them all (or subscribe to some newsletters and ask in some forums where you might find additional information).
 
Next Week
 
Next week in part ten of our "Ten Steps To an Optimized Website" series we will be covering the extras not mentioned in earlier parts.  This isn't simply checking the rankings of your primary phrase every now and then but a scheduled check of all the key components on your optimization and search engine positioning efforts.
 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dave Davies is the owner of Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning (http://www.beanstalk-inc.com/). He has been optimizing and ranking websites for over three years and has a solid history of success. Dave is available to answer any questions that you may have about your website and how to get it into the top positions on the major search engines.  Read Dave s other search engine positioning articles.


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