Sometimes it may seem daunting to sift through all the things you hear about how to improve your organic search marketing, but you can take it one step at a time.

Step 1: Get Your Site Indexed

Any page from your site that is missing from the organic search index can never be found. So if your pages are not in Google’s index, no Google search can ever find that page. You must check each search engine you’re targeting to see how many pages are indexed and rectify conditions for those missing in action:

  • Remove spider traps. Many commonly-used techniques prevent the search engine’s spider from finding your pages to put in the index. Eliminating those problems allows the spider to do its job.
  • Provide spider paths. Create site maps, country maps, product maps and other list pages that link to the other pages on your site—that makes it easier for the spider to find those pages.

Your Webmaster and other technical folks need to take on this issue—getting your pages indexed is your critical first step.

Step 2: Choose Your Keywords and Landing Pages

What good is it to be ranked #1 for a search keyword that no one searches for? Take care in selecting keywords that are popular with searchers so that you get the traffic from search marketing you need. But don’t go overboard. Selecting popular keywords that aren’t great matches for your site might get you traffic, but it won’t get you sales. Ensure that you choose keywords that are just right for your customers and for your site.

And for each of these keywords you choose, also select a landing page from your site. Make sure this page contains the information that your customer wants to see for that keyword, not just your marketing information. First seek to satisfy the customer’s information need, only then spinning it for your marketing message.

Step 3: Audit and Optimize Your Landing Pages

Now that you have chosen a landing page for each target keyword, it’s time to raise the appeal of those pages—their appeal to search engines and to your customers.

You’ll follow a simple process where measurements for each page are checked. You’ll check the page’s ranking in search results for the target keyword. You’ll look at referrals (the number of searchers who click) from search engines for that keyword to that page. Finally you’ll look at the number of conversions to that page—how many customers actually bought what you’re selling after they found you.

With this baseline of measurement, it’s time to start tinkering. If you have low rankings, then add more occurrences of the target keyword to the title and to the page’s text (but not too many, because then it will not be appealing to the searchers themselves). If you have low referrals, then take a look at the title of your page—maybe it is not causing searchers to click on your page in the search results. If your conversions are low, check out the marketing message on your landing pages (and the other pages on your site that lead to the conversion)—maybe you are not persuading people to take the next step.

You can continue to analyze your metrics over and over again as you continually change your pages to improve.

Step 4: Make Your Site a Link Magnet

Optimizing your content is important, but it’s not enough. With so many millions of Web pages out there containing most keywords searchers use, the search engines need something more to decide which pages are the best.

Search engines use a technique called link analysis to identify which pages have the highest number of links from quality sites for the subject the searcher is looking for. So you need to get those links pointed at your pages.

Make your site a link magnet—a site whose content is so interesting, so fresh, and so unique that other sites just have to link to your pages. Don’t just stop at content, either—if you can provide a unique tool that your customers like, do it. If your site is valuable, it will draw links.

And don’t sabotage your efforts with long URLs or forced registration before allowing this great content to be viewed. Other sites won’t link to your pages if unless they are confident that your URL will be around for a while and you offer a good experience for the visitors they are referring to you.

Any site can improve its search marketing, so get started. Download the complete set of slides for this talk, called Step-by-Step Organic Search Success. For even more ideas, check out the book Search Engine Marketing, Inc.