Google RULES the Search Engine World as they represent over 80% of all Search. With that much of a market share, Yahoo and Bing have little choice but to follow along with the SEO rules that Google uses. Interestingly enough, the 2nd BIGGEST search outside of Google is YouTube - the most recently reported having over 1 Billion searches/month.
While there is always a lot of speculation about the exact algorithm Google uses to rank websites, the most successful SEO strategies focus on some logical tenets. Besides the "Great Content" & "Architecture" we've talked about in previous posts, you need to do some homework to know your keywords and phrases. It's important to know your customers and start to think about what they do, shop, like, buy, value.
Good professional marketing and web design companies help you focus on your target customer - and use the various Google tools to enhance your Great Content. Discovering your keywords is approached as both a passive and active exercise. Half of the equation is an active search for keywords you believe best match your business intent or products, while the other half of the equation is based on studying which keywords customers have actually used to find your site. The correct combination creates the "common language" bridge you want to create to connect with your customers.
As was talked about in "Great Content," gone are the days of "keyword stuffing" or even keyword density. There are still several tools which will look for keywords in your meta tags or will calculate the percentage of a keyword vs. all words in a page (keyword density). These particular measures are no longer considered valuable. Keyword meta tags are generally not used anymore and Google's content algorithms are much more complex in judging your content than just counting words.
So what to do? Understand what keywords are correct for your site and then write clear, focused content to match the message you are trying to communicate to your customer. When you do this, your organic search results will be optimized and even your google adwords will be judged more relevant.
Do blogs help SEO?
Yes. Organic Search results are definitely enhanced by "new content" -- i.e., blog posts. We put blog post snip-its on the first pages of our sites to keep the content "fresh." At the same time, blog posts should be "tagged" with the keywords that you have developed for your site. Building content based on these terms will allow your site to become the "go to" site for these topics--just what you want!
Paid search can be a good strategy--especially for new sites. Again, you start with the keywords you THINK will give good results, and then watch to see what keywords DO give good results. There are various internet ad programs available, from Twitter to LinkedIn to Facebook, but by far the most popular is Google AdWords. Sometimes, you can use AdWords directly sell your product or service, while other AdWord campaigns are simply aimed at building an email list, etc. In either case, teaming your AdWords campaign with Google Analytics (free) will give you some powerful data to understand how customers find and use your site.
If you are trying to "look ahead" you need to checkout Google Trends to understand the variations in search engine traffic for various keywords and phrases. It is to your benefit to take advantage of these free tools to optimize traffic to your site. If you'd like to try to understand the biggest player in SEO, here are: