December 19, 2008
November 3, 2008
October 6, 2008
The fact is that you can’t afford to miss all the potential opportunities. While many small businesses don’t have a huge marketing budget, that’s no reason for a lack of search engine visibility. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the top-performing tactics in online marketing and outperforms traditional media like TV, radio and print. You can save money by doing the work yourself, but it’s also wise to hire consultants for some vital tasks like SEO copywriting, analytics and conducting the SEO review.
This article will show you how, on a small budget, you can use SEO to drive more business to your site from people who never even heard of you before you became visible in the SERPs. We will review the SEO techniques that result in high rankings, increased conversions, and improved marketing ROI.
Defining website goals
Your site objectives will depend on the type of site you are promoting. For instance, if you have an ecommerce site, your objective is likely to increase sales. A few examples of website goals are shown below:
B2C site objective: increase sales
Content management site objective: increase readership
B2B site objective: increase leads
Self-service site objective: increase customer satisfaction while decreasing customer support calls
Blog site objective: create links and interest in product, service or topic
Your SEO campaign will target your site goals by identifying and measuring your site’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Your KPIs should be measured before and after your SEO campaign to determine effectiveness. Some examples of SEO KPIs might be:
Traffic from branded keywords vs. non-branded keywords
Number of unique pages crawled
Number of pages yielding traffic
Number of visitors per keyword
Knowledge of web analytics is important because it can tell you how to tweak your campaigns for better performance. Hire a consultant if you don’t have analytics expertise yourself.
Know your customers and review your site
Knowing your customers
You must be in touch with the demands of the marketplace if you’re going to create successful SEO copy for your website. Many site owners think they understand their customers but merely use their own preconceived notions of customer needs. To really understand your customers, you must interact with them as often as possible. Below are a few ways you can do this.
Gather keyword intelligence from your site logs or site search
Survey customers to get feedback after every sale or periodically
Provide customer reviews on your site or conduct an annual customer audit
Use blogs and social networking to interact with customers
Communicate with customers through newsletters based on their interests
Before starting an SEO campaign, it’s important to review your site to learn how it is currently performing.
Conducting an SEO site review
The purpose of an SEO site review is to assess the current search effectiveness of your site and spell out what needs to be done to improve performance. The data is also used as a baseline to track performance over time. The site review can reveal unknown facts about your site’s code and structure that might be impeding your search engine rankings.
It is wise to hire an external consultant to conduct your site review because this person comes with a different perspective and can open your eyes to things you wouldn’t think of yourself. If you hire an experienced SEO consultant to identify and prioritize the changes necessary to improve your site’s performance, you’ll have a blueprint for success.
Another option is the Website Health Check Tool offered by Aaron Wall, which provides some of the information you need to improve your site. It can tell you if Google is indexing your site and how quickly it is indexing your new pages. It can flag duplicate content pages and point out canonical URL issues, etc.
After the site review, it’s time to implement changes and build web pages.
The anatomy of building web pages
The best way to attract search traffic is to create large quantities of keyword-focused, customer-centric web pages about your product, service or niche. Keep in mind that long tail keywords add up and will always create more traffic than your highly competitive keywords, especially for newer domains. Logical, keyword-focused site architecture with good navigation is important as well.
Title tag: Keep your title short (65 characters or less), forming a sentence beginning with your primary keyword(s). The title is the first thing users see in the SERPs, so use enticing, descriptive copy. Create unique title tags for every page.
Meta description: Create your description tag to grab the click. Use keywords as soon as possible and keep it short (150 characters or less) since snippets are usually truncated in different lengths by search engines.
Header: Include primary keywords and spark interest. Keep it short and relevant. Use only one H1 tag per page.
Body text: Build pages that have a purpose for your visitors and are focused on two to three primary keywords. Include your primary keyword at the beginning and at end of the page. Support your primary keywords with related keywords to establish context on your pages and facilitate spidering. Close with a call to action. Write in conversational style; focus on customer needs while being mindful of search spiders. Write concisely as web users tend to scan. Let your headers organize the copy with the use of bullets and bold text for emphasis. Leave plenty of white space. Use anchor text for internal and external linking and vary your anchor text by using related keywords. If possible, hire a professional SEO copywriter.
External links: Get listed in DMOZ and quality directories in your niche. When looking for one-way links, search your primary keywords to identify competitors, then find out who is linking to them. Create a list and be prepared to offer something of value in return for a static link with relevant anchor text. Start a business blog and post valuable information on other blogs relevant to your business. Write hot content in your area of expertise and submit to relevant publications or post on your blog. Hire a linking consultant to fast start your linking strategy.
Images: Use images to lend credibility to your content and create interest. Keep image size to a minimum for fast display. Use relevant alt text.
Sitemap: Create a sitemap of all the pages in your site to reveal link structure. This helps search spiders find all relevant pages of your site available for crawling.
Site validation: Ensure your pages are indexable and links can be followed with the free W3C Markup Validation Service.
SEO tools to simplify tasks
SEO tasks are time consuming, so you need tools to save time and simplify your tasks. Some tools are free and others cost money. Below are selective lists of tools for analytics, keyword research, competitive research, link analysis and search engine rank checking.
Analytics tools: Used to optimize site content and design, maximizing performance. For more information on web analytics, see Avinash Kaushik’s blog, Occam’s Razor.
Google Analytics: Robust analytics tool
Google Website Optimizer: Test and optimize site content and design to maximize performance
Piwik: Open source web analytics
Webalizer: Free web server log file analyzer
Keyword research tools: Used to discover keywords to target and tells you how competitive they are. Keyword research can be difficult and time consuming. If you can’t do this yourself, SEO Research Labs will provide a keyword research and analysis package for $99.95.
Wordtracker Free Keywords: Generates up to 100 related keywords and get an estimate of their daily search volume.
Google AdWords Keyword Suggestion Tool: Generates keywords based on your keyword/URL input
Keyword Discovery: This free search term suggestion tool generates the top 100 keywords
Microsoft adCenter Keyword Forecast: Gives impression count and predicts demographic distributions of keywords
Competitive research tools: Used to determine how much traffic your competitors get and which search terms send them the most traffic.
Alexa: Gives you traffic trends for competing websites
Compete.com: Track and compare competitors with free site metrics for the top 1,000,000 web domains
Google Search Insights: Compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames
Xinu: Free competitive analysis tool that provides PageRank, backlinks, site age, social bookmarking and link data
Link analysis tools: Used to analyze your link profile compared to your competitors, identify and fix broken links and find new linking sources to give your site the authority needed for top rankings.
Xenu Link Sleuth: Free software identifies broken links, verifies internal links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and Java applets.
Backlink Watch: Free tool shows details on your backlinks including anchor text
SEO Book Backlink Analyzer: Free tool shows anchor text linking to your site or page
SEO Book Hub Finder: Free tool identifies hub sites/pages that link to related resources
SEO Book Link Popularity Tool: Free tool compares your link profile to leading competitors
Tip: Download Firefox for SEO plug-ins that streamline many SEO tasks. The Online Marketing Blog has a list of Firefox SEO plug-ins and descriptions.
Search engine ranking checkers: Used to track your site rankings in the SERPs for important keywords, tracking that information against competing sites (or your own earlier rankings) to gauge SEO effectiveness. Note: search rankings are not the only measure of success.
SEO Book Google Rank Checker: Free tool searches Google with 100 results per page to show you where your site ranks for a particular term
DigitalPoint Search Engine Keyword Tracker & Keyword Ranking Tool: Free tool checks Google Yahoo and MSN for search engine rankings and tracks those rankings historically
September 26, 2008
September 16, 2008
September 11, 2008
E-consultancy estimates that the total UK search market will grow 24% to £2.75bn this year.
That’s a healthy growth figure, considering the sector’s growing maturity and the economic constraints facing consumers and advertisers. [Read more]
July 26, 2008
July 23, 2008
Chester/North Wales company MSM.com also works with digital agency TBG and Doner Cardwell Hawkins.
MSM.com’s latest reported traffic figures showed the company was currently attracting just shy of 100 million visitors.
The value of the paid SEO business has not been disclosed but the company did recently announce that its total spend on digital advertising and search would exceed £50m. The company also announced that it planned to increase the budget for its newspaper advertising campaigns.
Alan Harding, head of search at moneysupermarket.com, said: “Search is one of the most important channels for us to drive activity to our websites and Efficient Frontier will now work with our in-house team of search professionals to help us manage our complex search campaigns, which span many different industries.”
July 16, 2008
Google grabbed 69.17 percent of all U.S. searches for the four weeks ending June 28, 2008, Hitwise announced today. Yahoo! Search, MSN Search and Ask.com each received 19.62, 5.46 and 4.17 percent respectively. The remaining 42 search engines in the Hitwise Search Engine Analysis Tool accounted for 1.70 percent of U.S. searches.
Note: Data is based on four week rolling periods (ending 5/31/ 2007, 4/26/08, 5/26/2007 from the Hitwise sample of 10 million U.S. Internet users. * - includes executed searches on Live.com and MSN Search but does not include searches on Club.Live.com.
In the U.K. market, Google search properties (Google.co.uk and Google.com) accounted for 87 percent of all UK searches in June 2008 representing a 10 percent increase compared to June 2007. Yahoo! search properties accounted for 4.00 percent of UK searches in June 2008, a 2 percent increase compared to April 2008. MSN search properties accounted for 3.72 percent and Ask search properties accounted for 3.07 percent of searches. MSN increased two percent compared to April 2008 and Ask increased 6 percent.
In the Australia market, Google search accounted for 88 percent of all AU searches in June 2008 representing a 12 percent increase compared to June 2007. MSN search accounted for 7 percent and Yahoo! search accounted for 4.00 percent of AU searches in June 2008.
July 16, 2008
But in a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust and the House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Task Force, Brad Smith, Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel, decried the potential impact of one company controlling up to 90 percent of the search advertising market.
“If search is the gateway (NYSE:GTW) to the Internet, and most believe that it is, this deal will put Google in a position to own that gateway and the information that flows through it,” Smith said in a statement.
Smith also noted that the $800 million in additional revenue that Yahoo claims the deal will generate will amount to “money out of the pockets of American businesses, big and small, who will pay higher prices for the very same ads they buy from Yahoo! today.”
Google’s stranglehold on the market would result in fewer choices and higher prices for online advertisers, and its ability to track users’ online search behavior could also create “significant” privacy issues, according to Smith.
Google insists that the deal would not boost Google’s search traffic, since Yahoo would run its own search and advertising programs. And since Google doesn’t set prices for advertisements, and allows advertisers to handle pricing through an auction system, the search giant says won’t have the ability to raise prices.