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Browsing "website optimization"

When is keyword density enough

Jan 7, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   keyword, search engine optimization, website optimization  //  5 Comments

One of the discussions that new content writers like to engage in is the keyword density discussion.

Somewhere along the line someone told them to make sure their keyword density was at least 1% and not more than 7%, or something like that. Is there any truth to it?
Not really. What’s really important to getting rankings in the search engines is not how many times you use a keyword in your content, but where you use your keyword and how you use your keyword.

In terms of search engine optimization, one keyword placed in the title of your content – an h1 tag at the top of the page – is worth about half a dozen of the same keyword filtered throughout your content. That’s pretty powerful. By the same token, one keyword placed inside an anchor text link is equal in value to about three or four of the same keyword repeated in your content.

Again, that’s fairly significant.

Keyword density may have been important at one time, but it’s not important today. You’d be much better off learning what the search engines are looking for overall and forgetting about keyword density.

SEO Internal Link Stucture

Jan 7, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internal link, seo strategies, website optimization  //  183 Comments

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

The Internet, the Success of Your Winnipeg Business

May 22, 2008   //   by FreshTraffic   //   fresh traffic, website optimization, Winnipeg  //  1 Comment

Winnipeg business owners of companies both large and small can achieve rich improvements in their operations if they start to ask themselves regularly, “I have just been handed a powerful new tool. It essentially lets me communicate with anyone on the planet. How can I best use it to my advantage?”

Business owners must first ask themselves a question: As a business owner, what am I trying to achieve?

Benefits of Internet to Your Business:

1) Availability Completely under Customer Control. With the Internet, visitors?potential customers ?come to Web sites at their convenience, making them far more receptive to what companies have to say because the customers aren’t being intruded upon (as happens with telemarketing).

2) One-to-Many Communications Performed Seamlessly. The Internet offers one-to-many communications systems without losing the privacy or interaction possible by phone. A single posting at a Web site reaches as many people as visit the site that day

3) Reduced Effort, Time, and Cost. The Web makes things easy and affordable.

Not all businesses are currently bringing in added profit via the Web yet; nonetheless, every business needs to be working on it in order to be competitive today.

The Web makes it possible for companies both large and small to develop new communications processes that save time and money while enabling faster responses to customer needs.

Many industries rely on widely distributed field sales forces that may consist of independent agents or company employees. In today’s fast-moving business environment, providing these front line soldiers with the most up-to-the-minute information and the best possible tools and support is critical to success, and by using the Web, companies can do so at far lower cost.

The Internet has now led to a new definition of what customers have come to expect: In the emerging era, businesses are almost required to provide twenty-four-hour Internet communications, so that the consumer can shop from home whenever he or she wants to. Sites that prosper will be more than order-taking vehicles; they will provide a creative, educational experience that builds knowledge about their products and services and engenders sales as well as ongoing customer loyalty.

Whether your business specializes in luxury cars or real estate services , the Web offers you the opportunity to find people who are looking for what your company sells.

Need advice on Internet Marketing or Website Optimization?
Contact Fresh Traffic Winnipeg Today for a free evaluation. Contact

Extracts from Shaun Stevens

SEO all the way to Pics

Mar 10, 2008   //   by FreshTraffic   //   search engine optimization, seo strategies, website optimization, website principles  //  3 Comments

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.

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Mar 10, 2008   //   by FreshTraffic   //   fresh traffic, internet advertising, online marketing, website optimization  //  127 Comments

Or do they?

A new analysis of online consumer data shows that large Web companies are learning more than ever before about the details of what people search for on the Internet. The analysis was conducted for The New York Times by the research firm comScore, provides what advertising executives say “is the first broad estimate of the amount of consumer data transmitted to Internet companies every day.” What’s indicated is that Web companies are, in effect, taking the trail of crumbs people leave behind as they search the Internet and analyzing them to anticipate people’s next steps. So anybody who searches for information on topics such as sports equipment, clothing, hotels and soft drinks may see ads for those products and services later on.

Web firms once could monitor the actions of consumers only on their own sites. But over the last couple of years, the Internet giants have expanded their reach by acting as go betweens that place ads on Web sites, and as a result, can follow people’s activities on far more sites.

ComScore analyzed 15 major media companies’ potential to collect online data. The analysis captured how many searches, display ads, and page views occurred on those sites and in their networks. Yahoo came out with the most in a month on its own sites, MySpace, owned by News Corp., and AOL, a unit of Time Warner, was not far behind. Google also has scores of data-collection points, but the company says it is unique in that it mostly uses current information rather than past actions to select ads. The depth of Yahoo’s database helps explain why AOL is talking with Yahoo
about a merger and Microsoft is willing to pay more than $41 billion to
purchase.

The comScore figures includes the data that consumers leave behind as they browse, and does not take into account voluntary exchanges of information such as, registering for sites or e-mail services.

–N

Organic SEO is not a Vending Machine

Nov 8, 2007   //   by FreshTraffic   //   organic, search engine marketing, seo, seo strategies, website optimization  //  143 Comments

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.

Outsourcing SEO

Sep 23, 2007   //   by FreshTraffic   //   fresh traffic, seo techniques, website optimization  //  181 Comments

Often it becomes difficult to devote proper time and attention to the different aspects of a business. It may be that you are running short of manpower, or you may not have professionals who have the proper qualifications and in situations like this you need to resort to other methods to get the work done. Outsourcing is one method that can easily take care of all your worries and help you earn money. Outsourcing basically means to hand over the work of certain aspect of your business to a third party within the country or overseas who are better equipped to deal with it. SEO is one aspect of any online business that needs to be done and outsourcing SEO is one method through which this can be done perfectly. If you are into online business, you must make sure that you get SEO done for your site.

SEO is search engine optimization and this is a method where a site is promoted on the World Wide Web. Outsourcing SEO is getting bigger day by day as many businesses have been benefited by this in an enormous way. Now finding out a firm that will actually take up the SEO work of your business is not difficult, but what is difficult is finding out that firm which will do the work for you efficiently. There are several ways through which you can choose a firm to take over the outsourcing SEO work of your online site and the best way is through the internet. While surfing the web, you will come across several online sites that provide outsourcing SEO services to clients. What you can do is find out the kind of work they are doing and decide if they can do the work for you or not.

Outsourcing SEO firstly helps you in getting highly trained professionals handle the work for you. Since they are skillful professionals they know exactly what needs to be done for making a site rank high in all the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista and Lycos. Make sure that you have a talk with the professionals who are handling your work and tell them on what aspects would you like to make your site become popular. Generally when professionals take on the work for a site for outsourcing SEO, the first thing that they do is analyze the site and analyze the competition in the existing market.

Based on all these factors and several other factors as well, the professionals will make a strategy to go about doing the outsourcing SEO work for your online business. You must make sure that you know exactly what is being done for the SEO of your site, after all this is your business and you have all the right to decide what is right and what is not for it. SEO has made it possible for websites to get recognized easily and if the whole process is done properly the benefits will be immense. Outsourcing SEO is one of the best business decisions that one can make.

The Power of SEO

Sep 5, 2007   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internet strategy, seo techniques, website optimization, website principles  //  151 Comments

Optimizing your Web site to take advantage of the power of search engines to put you in front of customers gives you a huge competitive advantage. Even now, only 25 percent of Fortune 100 businesses have completely optimized their sites in this way. If you act now, you’ll have an edge over competitors who haven’t optimized their sites.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

Wrong — unless of course your business has a Web site. Search engines like Google and Yahoo troll the Web constantly, categorizing and ranking sites so users can find what they’re looking for.

The Best Exposure Money Can’t Buy
Why should you care? Here are a few reasons:

It’s free.

You don’t have to pay Google, Yahoo and the other search engines to rank your Web site. It’s like a free listing in the yellow pages, except that you get listed in as many categories as apply to you — by product, inventory, service, geography or a dozen other classifications.

Also, it’s a global listing. Imagine paying for an ad in the phone book to cover all that territory.

That doesn’t mean every Web site gets equal treatment. Each search engine uses different methods to rank sites. Understanding how search engines work — and adapting your site accordingly — can move you up in the listings.

Everybody’s looking for something.

Online searching is the third most frequent activity for people who are online — only e-mail and general surfing rank higher. Search engines not only help users find you, they act as virtual tour guides by taking users directly to the page with the information they’re seeking.

People trust search engines.

Studies show that people trust user-based rankings (those based on searches people do on their own initiative) more than paid rankings (those based on clicks on paid ads) by a wide margin — as much as 70 percent. Visitors who come to your Web site through a free search engine listing are more likely to engage in the desired response (make a purchase, request information) than those who come through paid ads.

You can still get in early.

Optimizing your Web site to take advantage of the power of search engines to put you in front of customers gives you a huge competitive advantage. Even now, only 25 percent of Fortune 100 businesses have completely optimized their sites in this way. If you act now, you’ll have an edge over competitors who haven’t optimized their sites.

This advantage won’t be around forever, though. Businesses will get smarter about search engine optimization (or SEO — the art of making sure your Web site stands out in the crowd), so now’s the time to capitalize on it.

The Cat and the Mouse
So how do you go about optimizing your Web site? You probably can’t do it yourself. SEO is just one aspect of search engine marketing (SEM, which also includes such techniques as paying to be listed or to be ranked higher when certain keywords are used).

Search firms are constantly changing their methods to remain competitive among each other, so it takes the expertise of a professional firm specializing in Web services to keep up with them.

However, it’s an investment with a payoff you can’t afford to ignore. SEO is so effective that some companies gain a complete return on their investment in the first month.

Here are four important guidelines that will help ensure potential customers can find you on the Web.

Choose your keywords.

Search engines use keywords and phrases to rank Web sites. You need to define a set of keywords targeted to your audience and based on your business goals, competitive advantages and key messages. Try to think from a user’s perspective: What words and phrases will they use when trying to find you? You may sell hats, but your customers may call them “caps,” “lids” or “fedoras.” Choosing the right keywords is the crucial first step to search engine optimization.

Use those keywords.

Get your keywords into the URLs, page titles and content of your Web pages. There are lots of little tricks to this. For example, the most effective page titles are about 75 characters long and include the most important keywords at the beginning. On each page, keywords and phrases should represent 2 to 3 percent of the total content.

Make links and influence people.

The more links to your site from relevant and trusted sources, the higher you’ll rank with search engines. For example, always list your site with online business directories, even if you think no one will find you through them. Those links may not produce any direct leads, but they could bump you up in the search engine rankings, especially if they are popular or highly visited sources.


Know your audience.

People searching the Internet don’t all use the same search engines. Research shows that older audiences still like AOL, and professional audiences tend to like MSN and Google. Younger audiences often like Yahoo. Only about one third of users use one search engine consistently. Knowing your audience will help your Web services firm decide which search engine to optimize for.

Time, Effort and Money
Those are just a few tips to search engine optimization — there are many, many more. Once your site has been optimized, check to see how you’re doing in the search engine rankings. As time goes by, you’ll need to keep tweaking your Web site to stay on top of the heap. The average user won’t scroll past the first two or three pages of a search listing, so you should aim to be listed on the top one or two pages, typically the top 20 listings in your search category.

It takes time, effort, and money to optimize your Web site for search engines. However, what’s the cost to your company if you don’t optimize? Lost revenue? Decreasing brand awareness? Unlike other investments you might make, it’s easy to measure the results of search engine optimization — more clicks, more visitors and maybe more sales of that new, improved mousetrap

Social Media Marketing

Aug 28, 2007   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internet strategy, online marketing, website optimization  //  Comments Off

Today’s high traffic web world can prove to be quite elusive in making your company seen and heard amongst the millions of other sites competing for the same business. People can put anything they want on their websites to drive traffic to them and hopefully catch that client they’ve been waiting for. But have you stopped to think about whether these efforts are really helping you to make an impact to interest viewers, and to ultimately draw them in to spend money with YOU?

Enter Social Media Marketing – one of the newer phases of popular sales methodology being used online. Only problem is that there seems to be no clear cut methodology or systemization to this loosely defined sales tool. It’s like a free-for-all in the web marketing world with every person having a different take on what will and won’t work, what the objective of it is, and how it can maximize your website’s efficiency. So let’s arm you today with a few key points for you to consider for yourself in order to earn your own fair share of the pie in this online arena.

Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing (SMM) combines the goals of internet marketing with social media sites such as MySpace, YouTube, Site Pal, and MyVirtualSalesPerson as well as many others. The SMM goals will be different for every business or organization, however most will involve building ideas or brand awareness, increasing visibility, and possibly selling a product or service. SMM may also include online reputation management.

How you choose to do it is entirely up to you, but here are some general rules that can be of benefit to you when planning your online marketing campaign using Social Media:

Research
You’ve heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again “Do your research!”. To create an effective Social Marketing Campaign, you must first do your research and know your target market. As the owner of your business, you know what you wish to achieve, however, the site viewer is not interested in this in the least. They’re interested in how you can benefit them for the best price. In order words, your site must meet the visitor’s needs first before the owner’s needs. One way of doing this is to provide the most appealing brand you can offer. In order to do this, you must provide your visitors with immediate solutions to their needs, and answers to their questions, and the information they desire.

Customer Experience
Find a way to create a powerful, lasting customer experience. When a potential client visits your site, you have to provide them with enough stimuli in a quick enough time to make that visitor want to stay on your site and not click over to another one pulled up in their keyword search. So, how do you do this, you ask? Perhaps you can use video and sound. The technology exists nowadays to maximize the viewers’ experience. We are a visually stimulated culture, so perhaps put some thought into ways in which the viewer of your site can be ‘caught’, drawn in, and sold on whatever it is you have to offer. Some common ways of achieving this are with authoritative information, entertainment, humor or controversy. But be careful when planning on using audio files and video on your website. If not planned properly, they can be a huge waste of time and money. If they fail to capture the target audience’s attention, you may as well have not invested any of your money in the first place. Be wary of experience overload as you do not want to overstimulate your audience. Too much, and your message is lost. Too little forethought and your messaage doesn’t come through clearly enough to snag the viewer. It’s a balancing act really, so know your audience and what they are looking for. On the plus-side, using video and audio files are an inexpensive way to advertise your product, brand your company, and compete in the online marketplace. Remember that if you are going to use these strategies, your media files must contain information critical for search engines to find, index, and display in search results.

Build Relationships
It’s imperative that you use your Social Marketing Tools to build relationships with your viewers. The bonus of the web is that we can deliver our message informally so that the viewer feels a connection with the company. Rigid professionalism goes out the window in favour of a more comfortable, friendly, person-to-person approach. This lack of formalism breaks down corporate barriers and helps the viewer feel connected to you, your company, and your product. It’s realism in its truest form. So don’t waste your time with vidoes or sound clips that look and sound like they came from the annals of corporate literature. Be down to earth in your message delivery and watch people flock to your site. It gives them something to trust in, something to feel safe with. Why? Because it’s human, it’s real, and they can relate. Allow potential clients to see your integrity. This unique voice is what will set you apart from the many other companies also vying for the same business online.

Networking Quality
Effective Social Networking is about quality, not quantity. Make your web presence count. Do not create a website that overloads visitors with too many experiences or the novelty will wear off and you will be left with a website that does little to attract business and drive sales. Essentially, what I am saying here is do not spread yourself too thin with all of the online social marketing tools that are out there. Choose one or two very powerful tools that will best capture the essence of your message or your business and maximize its potential. Remember, it’s better to be in one great place, rather than in too many so-so places at once. Build your own presence effectively. Too much will be your downfall.

Call to Action
Lastly, use Social Marketing Tools to convey your business’s Call to Action and ask for that ever important Sale. The marketing tools you choose must create a need with potential clients. Show that your company, product, or service solves a problem that they, the viewers, have. Most importantly though, before you use these Social Marketing Tools, realize that you need to anticipate objection before it occurs and provide solutions in innovative ways so that they can’t say no. Use your Social Tools to kindly ask for the Sale. You will be surprised how an effective, well-thought out marketing tool can provide you with the Sales your company is seeking. For example, by using a Virtual Sales Person your company will have the power to influence, motivate, and persuade prospective clients to believe in and buy your call to action. So, you can use Social Marketing Tools as an online employee of sorts, you could say. Let these tools do the work of a salesperson and watch the traffic increase to your site.

In short, Social Media applies to everyone. That’s why businesses should harness the Social Marketing Tools available to them to give their business a competitive edge within the web environment. If you hope to survive in the virtual world of business, you must stand out. So make sure you do your research, employ the tools effectively, don’t overkill them on your site, and always provide quality over quantity. This combination, I believe, will provide your business with the edge it needs to stand above competitors and see a return on your call to Action.

Selecting a Search Engine Optimization Firm

Aug 14, 2007   //   by FreshTraffic   //   online advertising, seo strategies, website optimization  //  2 Comments

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.

Unique Challenges
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.

Experience
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.

Transparency
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!

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