Ten Ways to Stay Updated with SEO - dummies

By Peter Kent

The basics of search engine optimization (SEO) generally stay the same, but some details continually change. Where are people searching right now? What tricks are search engines really clamping down on? Why did your site suddenly drop out of Google? Here are some resources that you can use to keep up-to-date and track down the details.

Visit Peter Kent Consulting

The website for Peter Kent Consulting points you to important resources, provides links to a variety of web pages, and provides important updates. You also can find information here on pay per click, copyright law, and Google search techniques.

Search the search engines themselves

One of the best ways to find information about search engines is by using carefully crafted search terms at the search engines themselves. Say you want to find detailed information about dealing with session IDs. You can go to Google and search for search engine session id.

Or perhaps you have a problem with dynamic URLs and know that you need to use something called mod_rewrite. Go to a search engine and search for mod_rewrite or mod rewrite. (The former is the correct term, although many people talk of mod rewrite in the vernacular.)

It’s amazing what you can find if you dig around for a little while. A few minutes’ research through the search engines can save you many hours of time wasted through inefficient or ineffective SEO techniques. A good understanding of how to use search engines will pay dividends.

Visit Google’s webmaster pages

Google is happy to tell you what it wants from you and what it doesn’t like. No, it won’t tell you exactly how it figures out search result rankings, but good information is there nonetheless. It’s a good idea to review the advice pages Google provides for webmasters. You can find them at the following URLs:

Consult Google’s search engine optimization starter guide

Late in 2008, Google finally decided, “If we can’t beat them, join them,” and published its own SEO guide. It’s basic but useful stuff.

Review Bing’s SEO tips

You can find information about optimizing pages for submission to Bing (and, through its partnership, inclusion in the Yahoo! search results). You’ll find a wide range of information, from how the MSNbot works to how to handle a site move.

Visit the Search Engine Watch website

The Search Engine Watch site gives you a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the search engine world. This site provides a ton of information about a very wide range of subjects related to not only search engine optimization but also the flip side of the coin — subjects related to searching online.

In fact, perhaps this site’s greatest weakness is that it provides so much information; it’s really intended for search engine optimization experts rather than the average Webmaster or site manager. The site is divided into a free area and a paid-subscription area.

Visit the Official Google Webmaster Help Group

Google Groups hosts a very useful resource, the Official Google Webmaster Help Group, which has tens of thousands of members and hundreds of thousands of archived messages. It’s a great way to find out what people in the business are saying about, well, just about anything.

Here are a few more great ways to peep into the mind of Google:

  • Google Webmaster Central Blog: A very useful site, with information from actual employees of Google providing the Google view of search engine optimization.

  • Google’s Inside Search: This is really a promotional site targeting Google users rather than the SEO community, but it’s a great way to keep up-to-date with new search features as Google introduces them.

  • MattCutts.com: Matt Cutts is a well-known employee of Google (well known in SEO circles, that is) who works for the Search Quality team. He maintains a blog about a wide range of issues, including many related to SEO issues.

Check out WebMaster World

WebMaster World is a very good discussion group, with many knowledgeable people. It’ll cost ya, though: $89 for six months, or $149 for a year.

Check out the discussions at HighRankings.com

Hosted by a search engine optimization consultant, HighRankings.com is a pretty busy forum (free at this time) with discussions covering a wide range of subjects.

Get the search engine buzz

If you want to find out what people are doing with search engines — popular searches, for instance — check out some of the services in this section.

Google Zeitgeist is an analysis of what people are searching for, when, and where.

You can find the most popular brand-name searches, charts showing how searches peak for particular keywords during news events or in response to TV shows, the most popular searches for particular men, women, and fictional characters, the most popular movie searches in Australia, the most popular brands in Italy, and so on. Google provides weekly, monthly, and annual reports.

Here are some other tools that provide information about how people are searching:

  • Google Trends: This is a very cool tool; enter a list of search terms, separated by commas, and Google displays a chart showing how often the terms have been searched over a particular time range, along with news stories correlated with particular peaks. You can even select a particular country.

  • Google Insight: Google describes this as a tool to “Compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.”.

  • Wordtracker: Wordtracker provides free reports of the top 500 searches — with or without sexually explicit terms, both long-term (a year) and short term (48 hours).