Browsing "seo strategies"
Whenever I ask a prospect what their goals are, all too often their answer is, “We want to rank in the top three results for keywords A, B, and C.”
Is that really a goal?
Now, I understand that high rankings (or, rather, organic search traffic) are important. I sincerely believe that a sound organic search strategy should be the core of every business’s marketing efforts.
This goes back to the old adage of running a business (location, location, location). You must be where people are actively searching for your product or service offerings.
However, imagine that you had the perfect retail location and yet your storefront was filthy. Perhaps there isn’t as much as a sign with your company’s name on the front of the building. Perhaps, once you get into the location, not a single item has a price tag and the salespeople are nowhere to be found.
That traffic coming through your parking lot isn’t going to help much, is it?
There are three basic rules that you need to follow to have a successful Web presence:
1. Brand matters.
2. Usability matters.
3. Search engine optimization matters.
The look and feel of your Web site is a key component to success on the Web. For example, last summer, a retailer that was enjoying great rankings in the search engines approached my company about a possible redesign of their Web site.
When I pulled the site up, it was very evident that these folks needed a facelift (the site was very ’90s, with no brand — not even a logo — and it was poorly organized). This e-commerce Web site was typical of many: it was graphics-heavy (not even formatted consistently) and had little to offer in terms of (keyword-rich) product descriptions.
Bottom line: there was no way that I would drop my credit card info on this Web site. I didn’t trust it. If I were a common searcher, I’d probably spend about five seconds on the page that I landed on, then hit the back button and check out the next result.
Build a Web site that exudes credibility and trust with your target audience. Because online, a competitor is always next door to your perfect location. And, next door to them is another competitor. You get the picture?
OK, let’s assume your Web site looks great now. So, if you manage to get the traffic to your site, you probably want people to fill out a lead form, call you, or buy a product.
Too often, prospects tell me that a phone call is a major point of emphasis for them, yet you can’t easily find their phone number on their page. Check some of the most successful e-commerce or lead-gen Web sites and you’ll notice that most of them display their phone number on the top right of every page. Little things like this can have a dramatic impact on your success.
Every click/visitor to your Web site is valuable. Yet many don’t put the effort to get the most out of every click.
Once you get people to your site, what do you want them to do? Download a white paper? Sign up for a newsletter? Complete a lead form?
Now, be honest with yourself. Are you making this action obvious to your visitors? People on the Web have very short attention spans.
Search Engine Optimization Matters
Now, just because I put SEO last on this list doesn’t mean that this is the last thing you should do. Oh no. The creation of your information architecture absolutely should be done in conjunction with your SEO efforts.
Your SEO team should research (or at least approve) the content management system and coordinate the design and site development. SEO is the foundation of your efforts.
Funny thing about how SEO and usability go hand-in-hand. Visitors to your Web site like content. They may be researching and need to read those detailed product descriptions.
And, coincidentally, search engines like that content, too. So, the more search engine friendly you make your Web site, the more usable the site will become. If your content is good enough, people might want to link to your Web site.
You know what else users like? Blog content. They love finding “unbiased” helpful/resourceful information. They love reviews. They love forums.
Guess what. Search engines love this stuff, too! Ever seen Wikipedia show up in your searches on Google?
So, next time you’re trying to determine your SEO goals, stop for a moment and think about the bigger picture. SEO is just one part of Web success.
Much has been said of links, but it’s mostly inbound links that get all the attention. Internal links – links that point from one page of your website to another – should also be considered a part of your overall link structure.
Internal links can have a big impact on your overall SEO. There are a couple of primary ways to make sure that you get the most out of your internal links. The first is to ensure that you use the proper anchor text. When you link from page A to page B you should use your primary keyword on page B as the anchor text for your link.
If you do that on every page then you should improve your SEO tremendously. Always use the primary keyword of the page to which you are linking no matter which page you are linking from.
The second way to use your internal links is to make sure they are html links and not dynamic links. Mouseovers, blinking text, and drop down menus are often used as features of navigation bars and they generally work against webmasters where SEO is concerned. The best way to improve your SEO with internal links is to make sure that your navigational bar is HTML-based.
If you do these two things on your website then your internal link structure will be stronger than ever before
When the economy turns sour just about every company starts to cut expenses and usually the first thing that goes is the one service where the perceived value is less. Search engine optimization is one of those services that could be threatened by the recession.
I would strongly caution against cutting back on your SEO for your business. Companies that I’ve seen do that have in the past regretted it. Typically what happens is they’ll see their search rankings decline. After dropping off the first page they’ll see fewer and fewer visitors to their websites and that will result in fewer conversions and less overall sales. Almost always these customers restart their optimization and they have to claw their way back up the search engine ladder to top rankings. That takes longer usually than the drop off and takes more resources long term.
It may seem that a recession is the time to cut expenses, but you don’t want to cut your marketing expenses. It’s really the time when you should be marketing more, not less. If you think of search engine optimization as a part of your overall marketing strategy then that puts it a little more into perspective.
Don’t you think?
As consumers are spending more and more of their online time on social networking pages as opposed to traditional brand websites, many business experts are now recommending that businesses incorporate
Facebook has made a huge impact online: there are now over 100 million monthly visitors to the site, and this figure is on the increase. While some businesses are beginning to use social networking sites in their marketing efforts, most business experts say that few companies are investing enough time and effort to make the most of this opportunity.
The benefit of Facebook, and other social networking sites, is that businesses can communicate directly with their customers. This provides an enormous marketing opportunity for brands, but it is crucial, say the business experts, to ‘get it right’.
There are a few key rules that are critical to making good use of sites like Facebook for marketing. Firstly, according to the business experts, consumers do not want to be advertised at. Instead, consumers want conversation, and they want businesses to add value to that conversation. Once you become known as a ‘good brand’ online, consumers will begin to start spreading the word for you, according to business experts.
Next, business experts caution that it takes more than simply having a high number of contacts online to leverage social networking benefits for your business. You need to ensure that you have a quality connection with each individual friend online otherwise you will risk not appearing genuine.
With the increasing popularity of social networking sites, some business experts are even questioning the need for traditional brand based websites. If you can build your branded social network page, they say, then you may not need the traditional website.
The run up to Christmas, 2008 has seen e-commerce become the focus for retailers across the UK.In the light of rising costs and consumers reigning in their spending to save money, the Internet is now seen as the place of choice for consumers, for comparisons and significant savings. Internet marketing for e-commerce sites has become the chosen method of promoting retail businesses.
“With Internet marketing and digital advertising budgets increasing, traditional advertising is being replaced by cost-effective, targeted, digital advertising and marketing campaigns”,
The credit crunch recession has seen closures of retail outlets, both in London and across the United Kingdom, leading to an increase in Internet sales with the Internet being viewed as the buyer’s market.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that between May and June 2008, retail sales volumes fell by 3.9%, the largest monthly drop since records began in 1986.
Yet online sales have been strong. In fact, Internet sales may be rising more rapidly than anticipated because hard-pressed consumers are determined to find value for money. Also, the rocketing cost of fuel means many shoppers are cutting visits to brick-and-mortar stores and turning to the Web instead.
Major online retailers are realising that to maintain a presence in the market, they need to offer true multichannel shopping and delivery/return options, as well as value for money. This strategy ensures they will gain and keep their market share in the future. The businesses that are not moving towards Internet marketing, and digital advertising, for whom traditional print or broadcast advertising is now too expensive, are likely to stagnate or go out of business.
One of our SEO clients is getting more than his money’s worth. In fact, I should be charging him loads more money than I am, but he is getting a whole lot extra work for free.
How does he do it? Am I a sucker? Maybe I am, but there is a method to his madness, even if he does not know it.
You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.
A company might pay anywhere form $1500 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.
In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client. This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.
My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite. He eagerly seeks out information and I swear he passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.
It makes his project exciting and, yes, he gets more out of me than he is paying for.
You know that old adage ”You get out of life what you put in”? It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.
So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website? Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a virtual no brainer when it comes to the long term marketing of your website. When you work to develop your website using SEO strategies you will likely focus most of your approach on the development of knowledge-based content filled with keywords or phrases that assist in positive site rankings.
Some online business owners do themselves a disservice by stopping short of full optimization. For instance site development can include adding SEO keywords and phrases to meta titles. This is information visitors will not see, but search engines will. Since they pay attention to the meta titles shouldn’t you?
Some website owners also stop before they provide a full compliment of SEO strategies in other text based areas of their website. This may include the ‘about us’ section that allow visitors to learn more about the company. Presumably your SEO keywords relate to your business. The use of those keywords in this section is very important.
Site owners can tastefully place their keywords in product descriptions and the frequently asked questions (FAQs) segment of their website.
Your home page should also include SEO strategies. The truth is you should pay attention to every single page and every text entry you place on your site. This includes any forums or blogs you might host on your site.
One area that is often overlooked when it comes to Search Engine Optimization is the photos you might display on the site.
Visit virtually any website and roll your cursor over a picture. In most cases a small yellow box will pop up and a series of words will pop up to describe the picture. Most visitors do not use this function so enterprising web owners will use photos to increase their SEO exposure since search engines do pay attention. You can use the name of the website or the primary key phrase you are using to enhance search engine placement.
There are other areas where SEO principles apply, but the above principles should help you fully develop a website that is inviting to a system that can do more for the long-term marketability of your site.
SEO principles are not the stuff of overnight success. In fact it can take several weeks for search engines to crawl and index your website to improve your website’s placement in overall search rankings.
Think of SEO like you might a mutual fund. You invest in SEO, but the accumulated interest can take time to mature. Ultimately it is a sound investment, but your interest is always drawn later than your investment. It also has the potential to return more than you invest.
It always surprises me to see web owners who refuse to consider the use of SEO because they believe that the merit of their business is based exclusively on marketing skills that may be best applied in a brick and mortar environment.
The problem is the skills associated with online marketing operate on a different platform. You will help yourself, search engines and best of all your potential customers by making sure your site is optimized for search engines – all the way down to the photos.
For some reason, some clients tend to look at Organic SEO like a vending machine. Almost as if they want to put their money in a slot and instantly want the prize. Organic SEO depends on the climate of the competition, the industry and variables such as the content on your pages, if your site is new, if your website has links or if it is virtually unknown. The list of potential obstacles that an optimization specialist has to overcome oftentimes seems insurmountable in comparison to the expectations of a client.
In the event that time is not a luxury one can afford for long term results, there is pay per click marketing. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for solid organic placement, but before getting there, oftentimes an education and above all clarity needs to be established between the SEO company and the client before embarking on a voyage into the raging waters of the search engine marketing.
Patience may be a virtue, but in SEO it is the cornerstone to long lasting organic search results. If you have a newer website that barely ranks for your company name and you hire an SEO company with the expectation of taking over a 2 word phrase with 5,000,000 pages competing for that term, what likelihood do you have of achieving search engine domination (that lasts) within a month? 2 months?, 3 months?, bleak…you see the point. To acquire such (in the real world) and not just theoretically would mean that you would have had to start somewhere (with related keywords) to chip away at the tail or the term (sometimes for 3-6 months), before even considering attacking the head. Not to mention that your ranking potential is to a great extent based on your link popularity. Now those of you who are not familiar with link building, here is an analogy.
Say for example that you want to appear for a search term that sparsely appears for a fleeting moment on your website, you don’t really want to change your content and you want fast results (all SEO’s raise their hand if they have had to deal with clients like this) then I have news for you. Your better breaking it to them that they are better off sticking risk vs. reward, no guarantee, pay per click marketing. At least then they know what their getting, a shot at the top, with no safety net. One can easily burn through 2-3 times as much money using PPC than just observing a bit of patience to organically occupy a top 10 spot and have the users click happily ever after when they visit your site free of the toll of the PPC troll. But to expect this from Organic SEO right out of the box (from a newer site – less than a year old) is simply contrary to the principles (mainly the algorithms) that control organic rankings.
What is the solution?
So what can you do if you are interested in increasing your rankings without spending a fortune? Invest your time in (a) looking at the top tier websites that are returned for the search terms you are coveting and (b) be frank with yourself to determine what those websites have that yours does not. Do they have 1000 pages and you have 3, do they have 25,000 back links to their site and you have 28, trust me details like this matter. What can you emulate and what can you do today to make changes that can provide relevance for your website aside from wishful thinking…
All kidding aside, if you are considering what it would take to be on top, usually the first thing to consider is what you need to be doing differently that can aid the process that is already known for being conducive with top 10 rankings. Because frankly, if you were doing that already, your wouldn’t need SEO to begin with. So if you are afraid of change, or quite simply just don’t have the time to commit 3 hours a day to your site (minor tweaks, revisions, polishing the content, building links, socially bookmarking to promote, etc) then your better off hiring an SEO company who does know how, and that can avoid the pitfalls in the first place.
Start from the ground up, content is the key
Organic SEO is based on maximizing the content on your pages to achieve the right balance of word density (percentage of keywords to non keywords) as well as proper use of signal flares or signifying elements that say HEY OVER HERE, HERE I AM, when it comes to that term. Not that repetition for the sake of redundancy occurs (otherwise known as SPAM), but your message should be clear, themed and concise, while being informative, compelling and engaging to consume (otherwise known as sticky) to ensure sales and conversion.
If you are a bit on the shallow side on the links, you can sign up for the Yahoo Directory to get the ball rolling, it’s the best $299 one could spend on investing in their websites instant recognition based on the process of affiliation with one of the oldest directories online. One site which was less than a year old went from a page rank 0 to a page rank 4, just on the strength of Yahoo’s back link, so this is a start.
My suggestion is to build links for about 3-5 months gradually sprinkling the terms you want to rank for in the anchor text (the text in the link) that reference your site. The idea is to have a balance of broad search terms as well as a combination of exact match terms to dial in the net and funnel the potential searches that may have any number of keywords that pertain to your industry. In this way, your site can become a catch all for various top 10 searches and create inroads with search engines as an authority in your industry.
This is what link building is for, building authority, from there once your website is viewed in that capacity, you can work smarter not harder to rank for more competitive terms. This is not intended to be interpreted as a tutorial, but rather a needed statement to address all of the misconceptions about organic rankings.
Organic SEO can work fast, but it depends on variables and since no two sites are alike, what works for one, may not work for another. Competition and the industry have the greatest impact on this part of the equation. Real estate vs. ant farming, sure you could rank in the top 10 for the best ant farmer, but then again the daily search volume may be 3 people a day if that.
The point being, the market is based on supply and demand and as any commodity is in great demand, it is taxed accordingly. In this case, the search engines view this as a commitment of time and energy. Visibility and links are crucial, but finding the right combination of old and new links as well as being present in the headlines, social scenes and other known factors that can produce rankings are all investments of time. So the next time you wonder why SEO companies charge so much, this should provide some incite into the logic behind the equation. They are essentially micro-managing thousands of steps and protocols, analyzing the results and systematically applying fundamentals to give your website the proper balance so that it appeals to the hungry, yet picky spiders and bots, whose purpose it is to catalog and retrieve useful content.
If you don’t make the grade, you can always build a few more links, clean up your code, your content and your act and then wait for them to breeze through again and catch a glimpse of your wares. If they like what they see, you should be ranking in no time flat. But if the results you are seeking fall short of your expectations, then it is either you than must come to terms with what you want and where your at, so that you can make the needed adjustments to find a happy medium between on-page SEO, off-page link building until you achieve your goal.
There are a lot of very good search engine optimization firms to choose from, and there are a lot (too many) of firms that say they do search engine optimization but end up being a waste of time and money. I hope today’s article will help you separate the wheat from the chaff.
When you begin your vendor selection process, you should start by defining your needs and goals. So many people enter into the selection process with no idea of what their goals may be other than, “We want to rank on page one of Google.” Here are some other issues to consider.
What Are Your goals?
Are you interested in branding, or more likely, are you interested in how search engine optimization can help you grow your business? To me, growing your business at a good ROI should be the ultimate goal. Just like you would measure any form of marketing, you should determine what the ROI should be from your search engine optimization efforts.
If you are not an e-commerce Web site, but you have a lead form on your site, you can determine a value to place on each lead that comes through your search engine optimization efforts and measure against that. If you get a majority of your leads/inquiries through someone calling, perhaps your goal is an increase in relevant traffic to the site. In that case, you can determine the value of each “click” from your search engine optimization efforts and then tally up the total clicks per month, measuring this against the cost of the program.
Saying this, I should remind everyone that proper search engine optimization takes time, so it’s best to evaluate year-over-year increases. This valuation should occur after the recommendations from your provider have been implemented for a minimum of two to three months. It has been my experience that measurable increases from your search engine optimization efforts will occur no sooner than this timetable, but each Web site is unique.
No two Web sites are the same. Every search engine optimization project will have its unique set of challenges/needs. If there’s anything that irritates me, it is search engine optimization firms that have “packages.” Some Web sites are new to launch and will require a lot more work to get the ball rolling (link building, among other things). Some Web sites are high-quality but may lack visible text, so they may require copywriting assistance. And then there are some that have many technical challenges, which may require a talented Web development team to sort through the issues.
Another thing to consider here is your available human resources pool, or lack thereof. Do you have a Web developer who can take the recommendations provided by a search engine optimization company and can accurately implement these recommendations? Would your company allow an outside vendor access to your Web site to make changes that may be necessary to assist in the search engine optimization efforts?
The catch 22 of all of this is a smaller company will probably require the most amount of help. A smaller company would probably not have a copywriter on staff, a development team, a public relations department, or any other resources to assist in these efforts. That means you would depend on your search engine optimization provider to bring all of its resources to the project. The more resources needed, the more amount of time the provider would be involved in. The more amount of time needed, the more money you can expect to spend.
Once you have managed to match your needs/goals with a list of providers you would like to contact, it’s now time to ask some very important questions.
How many search engine programs has your provider managed? I’m not saying that a shear number of projects is the key in the selection process, but years of experience can be very beneficial. Knowing what works in the long term is key to your achieving results that last and are not overly dependant on algorithm updates.
If they guarantee top-ten rankings, run. Don’t walk. Run. There is no such thing as guaranteed top-ten rankings in organic search engine optimization. We (search engine optimization companies) do not own the search engines. We are similar to a public relations firm in that we know how to best position you with the search engines, but the search engines – ultimately – will rank you based upon their criteria. A good search engine optimization firm understands the criteria and can, over time, help you to enhance your presence in the major search engines.
If they tell you they are going to submit your Web site to hundreds or thousands of search engines, you might want to consider another provider. Submission to the major crawler-based search engines, other than possible XML feeds, is not necessary. Quality link building (internally and externally) will get your site well indexed.
Can they show you live examples of their work and the results? Any firm worth its salt will be more than happy to point you to live examples of rankings and testimonials from clients. They should have a deep pool of references for you to call and speak with.
I think this is one aspect of the selection process that is often overlooked. Many search engine optimization companies are not willing to divulge what it is that they do. Again, there are many very good search engine optimization firms that will want you to be educated in the process. The more you understand search engine optimization, the easier it will be to work with you.
After all, you will know why certain recommendations are being made, and you will become a champion in the efforts to get recommendations implemented and in pushing the program forward. There is little more frustrating than working with a large company that cannot seem to get the IT team to buy off on the recommendations or puts them on the back burner for weeks. So, the more you understand, the more you will be able to help the search engine optimization company do its job, and the more successful you will all be.
Hope this helps! If there are any topics you would like me to cover in future articles, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
“I would say that the most important policy regarding search optimization is never allowing your programmers to try any kind of SEO at all.”
A free tip for business owners, you need to be aware of what your internet staff are doing, because programmers are constantly learning new methods, new techniques and tips from each other and from the web. “They would not give a second thought to using this new but perhaps untested and dubious technique on your live website just to hone freshly acquired skills or to appear to be a bit more professional in their own minds.
Afterwards, if Google blacklists you, the only thing to do is to close your old domain down and start again, fresh.
My advice to company’s seeking an SEO Consultant
Check the SEO company you intend to use is listed on Organic Search (not PPC or Adwords) on Google for what they do, check out a few common keyword terms, if they cannot get there own site listed, how can they do yours?
Ask for references from clients they have done work for.
If your still unsure, leave them alone and find someone else.