Monday, November 21, 2005
Your favorite thing about having a blog may soon be this - they naturally attract search engine traffic. Blogs already have optimized site architecture. Most are set up with a clear navigation, where every page is set up to link back to the other main pages. They also have the inherent potential to be well-linked.
Blog and search engine optimization tip 1: Lucrative Keyword ChoicesYou have a choice. You can target a general high traffic keyword you have little chance of ranking well for and get barely any traffic. Or you can shoot for a keyword that gets a moderate level of targeted traffic resulting in more subscribers and sales. I like to call this a "lucrative keyword". Whatever you call them, here's the most important thing: They may not get you the most traffic, but they often bring the most profit.
High Traffic Equals High Sales? Maybe Not You may be surprised to learn that there isn't always a correlation between high traffic and high sales. Many of the most profitable sites in the world get moderate traffic because their lucrative keywords result in a much higher ratio of visitors to buyers.
Length of Query is a Factor: A recent article in Information Week stated that the highest conversion rates from search engine traffic comes from people who do four word queries. The great thing about your blog is that it can get so well-indexed that you have the potential to show up for any number of four word phrases that are relevant to your industry.
Target Your Blog: It isn't just the four word phrases that get converting traffic - there are two and three word phrases that can bring you traffic and sales. Targeting your blog discussion to a two or three word phrase that has a high yield of traffic, and yet has little competition, is not a dream of past Internet days. Another recent study revealed that surprisingly high percentages of search engine queries debuted as late as 2004.As long as there are new developments, new products, services and trends, you'll never have a shortage of these terms if you learn how to discover them.
Blog and search engine optimization tip 2: Keyword PlacementYour blog can be set up to repeat the keywords that you want to target just enough times to establish a theme. You can take full advantage of this in your post titles, your category names, the pages URL names, or even a combination of Technorati tags and the text of your permanent links that appear after each post.
Blog and search engine optimization tip 3: Timely Posting Instead of pinging at 15 minute intervals when your site hasn't been updated, or even pinging after every single post, you can actually get better results if you update or ping just once during one of three sweet spots in the day. Here's one that you can use today.
Keep Track of Your Stats Check your web site statistics.if you're getting spidered every two weeks or even monthly, you can increase your number of spider visits by blogging on the anniversary of the period that the spider comes to your site. It takes a bit of monitoring, but you can often predict when the date of your last spider visit was. An even faster way is to ping at a time when the spider is reading a page that carries your update.
Blog and search engine optimization tip 4: Get Linked Turn on your site feed(s) and use them to promote your blog. Robin Good's guide can get you some great one way links.If you sparingly include the lucrative keyword you selected in tip two in your title and description, all those link backs will contain the keyword term you most want attention for, which is often noted by the spiders as they follow the link through to your site.
Search Engine Optimization - It's All About Words
I'd like to talk a little about words. In particular, I'd like to talk about a special category of words. Words that you may not suspect are important, vital really, to your online business success.
Not too long ago the promise, heard round the world was, "Build it and they will come." Today, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 billion websites already indexed by the search engines, and the number growing so rapidly that some are betting big bucks on the number doubling each year, for many years to come, a more accurate prediction would be: "If they can find it, they just might stop by."
Making sure that your site is easy to find, increasing the likelihood that once found -- they will stop by, and assuring that once there -- they will stay long enough to take the desired action: this is what organic search engine optimization (SEO), is all about. Some of the methods used to achieve those ends is what we will discuss here.
Now, we could talk about Conversion Rates (CR's) or Page Rejection/Abandonment Rates (PR/AR), Cost Per Visitor (CPV), Ratio of New to Returning Visitors (RN/RV), Conversion Rate, Average Page Views (APV's), Average Order Value (AOV), or my current favorite, Page "Stickiness", or any of a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPI's), which are all the buzz, at the moment.
All I'm going to say about the KPI's here is that they are all excellent ways to measure how well your SEO campaign is going. They will provide enough numbers to keep a mathematician happily counting, for days, and provide the basis for some very useful information, IF you've done your homework, taken advantage of optimal designing, including Organic Search Engine Optimization, and used the right words from the start.
Words mean different things ~ to different people You say (pō tāt' ō) and I say (pă tŏt' ō)... ... and Billy Joe Bob, over there in the corner, says (spŭd)
Stick close to me on this one. All of us, by reason of education, upbringing, geography, (probably heredity, but who knows?) have particular ways of referring to things. On top of this, there is the jargon associated with our professions, social institutions, and Alma Maters which most of us tend to use as a badge of identity and perhaps even superiority. But as anyone knows who has ever tried to get answers to simple questions from someone unwilling, or unable to talk in anything but the jargon of their own position, it doesn't work too well.
The point I'm trying to make here is that no matter how great your (pō tāt' ōs) / (pă tŏt' ōs) are, Billy Joe Bob isn't going to be able to find them in a search, and thereby know anything about them, till you break down and start calling them spuds, at least some of the time.
Q- Hey mack, you got any swage lube? This rebated boattail won't slide.(* explanation at end)
The words that will bring people to your site and keep them there, long enough to take the action that you want them to take (sign-up, join, buy, etc.), are the words we need to find and use. The important thing to keep in mind here is that, just like you weren't looking for the Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) I mentioned earlier, so too your potential customers won't necessarily be looking for your products and/or services by the same names which you call them.
The first thing I tell a new client who is looking at establishing/ improving their position on the web is to start talking with their customers and find out what they call the services and or products that their business offers. After getting past the strange looks and raised eyebrows, they find out that their customers use completely different words to describe their business than they do.
Search Word Optimization
Now we come down to the real crux of the matter. What words will your potential customers/clients use to find your particular goods/services? In the world wide world of the WorldWideWeb my number (#1) one advice is, "Assume Nothing." There is no reason to guess. Anything you don't know (I try to start with the idea that I know nothing) can be checked out and proven, one way or another.
One way to find out what most people are calling what they are looking for, is to use one of the handy Search Term Suggestion Tools you will find on our SEO Tools page. Here you can input words and phrases you would like to use for your site keywords and see how many times they were searched for on an average day. Here we can quickly find out the differences between the words "we think" people would be looking for in order to find the services offered by this site and what they actually use.
For Example:When checking the keyword phrase website development, a common phrase among those who do that sort of thing and one I've always used to describe what I do, the average number of searches per day comes up to around 750.
Now, that's not a bad number but being as the operative word here is "optimization", we decided to try a few alternative phrases. When we checked the phrase web design the number of daily searches jumped to just under 14,000.
Any guesses as to which phrase we decided to use? The phrase web design & development not only says it more clearly to our human visitors but it also is searched for 2,100% more often than "website development" and is therefore much more "search engine friendly".
A Word of Caution
There are those who believe that, by using less than honest tactics, they can influence the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) in their favor. Having subscribed to this theory once or twice, in the past, let me just say that while it is possible to gain some short term advantage in this way, the likelihood is that you will be found out, the url will be banned, and what ever time and financial investment you have put into it will be lost.
Be sensible with your copy and optimization efforts. Google, Yahoo, MSN, and all the rest have buildings full of brilliant engineers and statisticians who stay up all night studying ways to beat the cheaters. Just like your mama told you, honesty is the best policy. You might want to keep that in mind when shopping for an SEO firm. It's Only Words . . .
Here, at Emerald Coast Entrepreneur, we strive from the start of every project to work towards a site optimized for both humans and robots. A site which will show up on the first page, in your main keyword searches, and have the look and feel to draw people in and keep them there long enough to take the desired action. And first, last and always, a site which we can look on proudly together as having earned its placement by good honest effort and applied principles of organic search engine optimization.
With a start to finish holistic approach to business strategy, professionally written copy, Internet Marketing, design development, all carried out within an integrated plan for optimized results, we can bring your business to a place of prominence and assure the leads/sales that you want and need, in order to grow your business.
Time has proven three indisputable facts pertaining to Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
1. SEO is the most cost effective form of internet marketing available. 2. SEO usually provides an extremely fast return on investment. Many times within 30 days. 3. SEO continues to provide returns, long after an individual project is completed.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Having a website that gets found in Google, Yahoo, and MSN, etc. isn't hard to do, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are my latest and greatest tips to get you started:
1. Do not purchase a new domain unless you have to. Due to Google's aging delay for all new domains (see this forum thread), your best bet is to use an existing domain/website if at all possible. If you're redesigning or starting from scratch and you have to use a brand-new domain for some reason, you can expect to wait a good 9-12 months before your site will show up in Google for any keyword phrases that are important to you.
2. Optimize your site for your target audience, not for the search engines. This may sound counterintuitive, but hear me out. The search engines are looking for pages that best fit the keyword phrase someone types into their little search box. If those "someones" are typing in search words that relate to what your site offers, then they are most likely members of your target audience. You need to optimize your site to meet *their* needs. If you don't know who your target audience is, then you need to find out one way or another. Look for studies online that might provide demographic information, and visit other sites, communities, or forums where your target audience might hang out and listen to what they discuss. This information will be crucial to your resulting website design, keyword research, and copywriting.
3. Research your keyword phrases extensively. The phrases you think your target market might be searching for may very well be incorrect. To find the optimal phrases to optimize for, use research tools such as Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker, Google AdWords, and Yahoo Search Marketing data. Compile lists of the most relevant phrases for your site, and choose a few different ones for every page.
Nevër shoot for general keywords such as "travel" or "vacation," as they are rarely (if ever) indicative of what your site is really about.
4. Design and categorize your site architecture and navigation based on your keyword research. Your research may uncover undiscovered areas of interest or ways of categorizing your products/services that you may wish to add to your site. For instance, let's say your site sells toys. There are numerous ways you could categorize and lay out your site so that people will find the toys they're looking for. Are people looking for toys to fit their child's stage of development?
5. Program your site to be "crawler-friendly." The search engines can't fill out forms, can't search your site, can't read JavaScrïpt links and menus, and can't interpret graphics and Flash. This doesn't mean that you can't use these things on your site; you most certainly can! However, you do need to provide alternate means of navigating your site as necessary. If you have only a drop-down sequence of menus to choose a category or a brand of something, the search engine crawlers will nevër find those resulting pages. You'll need to make sure that you always have some kind of HTML links in the main navigation on every page which link to the top-level pages of your site. From those pages, you'll need to have further HTML links to the individual product/service pages. (Please note that HTML links do NOT have to be text-only links. There's nothing wrong with graphical image navigation that is wrapped in standard tags, as the search engines can follow image links just fine.)
6. Label your internal text links and clickable image alt attributes (aka alt tags) as clearly and descriptively as possible. Your site visitors and the search engines look at the clickable portion of your links (aka the anchor text) to help them understand what they're going to find once they click-through. Don't make them guess what's at the other end with links that say "clïck here" or other non-descriptive words. Be as descriptive as possible with every text and graphical link on your site. The cool thing about writing your anchor text and alt attributes to be descriptive is that you can almost always describe the page you're pointing to by using its main keyword phrase
7. Write compelling copy for the key pages of your site based on your chosen keyword phrases and your target market's needs, and make sure it's copy that the search engines can "see." This is a crucial component to having a successful website. The search engines need to read keyword-rich copy on your pages so they can understand how to classify your site. This copy shouldn't be buried in graphics or hidden in Flash. Write your copy based on your most relevant keyword phrases while also making an emotional connection with your site visitor. (This is where that target audience analysis comes in handy!) Understand that there is no magical number of words per page or number of times to use your phrases in your copy. The important thing is to use your keyword phrases only when and where it makes sense to do so for the real people reading your pages. Simply sticking keyword phrases at the top of the page for no apparent reason isn't going to cut it, and it just looks silly. (Purchase and read our Copywriting Combo for exact tips on how to implement this correctly.)
8. Incorporate your keyword phrases into each page's unique Title tag.
Title tags are critical because they're given a lot of weïght with every search engine. Whatever keyword phrases you've written your copy around should also be used in your Title tag. Remember that the information that you place in this tag is what will show up as the clickable link to your site at the search engines. Make sure that it accurately reflects the content of the page it's on, while also using the keyword phrases people might be using at a search engine to find your stuff.
9. Make sure your site is "link-worthy." Other sites linking to yours is a critical component of a successful search engine optimization campaign, as all of the major search engines place a good deal of emphasis on your site's overall link popularity. You can go out and request hundreds or thousands of links, but if your site stinks, why would anyone want to link to it? On the other hand, if your site is full of wonderful, useful information, other sites will naturally link to it without you even asking. It's fine to trade links; just make sure you are providing your site visitors with only the highest quality of related sites. When you link to lousy sites, keep in mind what this says to your site visitors as well as to the search engines.
10. Don't be married to any one keyword phrase or worried too much about rankings. If you've done the above 9 things correctly, you will start to see an increase in targeted search engine visitors to your site fairly quickly. Forget about where you rank for any specific keyword phrase and instead measure your results in increased traffïc, salës, and conversions. (You can sign up for a frëe trial of ClickTracks, which easily tracks and measures those things that truly matter.) It certainly won't hurt to add new content to your site if it will really make your site more useful, but don't simply add a load of fluff just for the sake of adding something. It really is okay to have a business site that is just a business site and not a diatribe on the history of your products. Neither your site visitors nor the engines really give a hoot!
About The AuthorJill Whalen of High Rankings® is an internationally recognized search engine optimization consultant and host of the frëe weekly High Rankings® Advisor search engine marketing newsletter. Jill's handbook, "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" teaches business owners how and where to place relevant keyword phrases on their Web sites so that they make sense to users and gain high rankings in the major search engines.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Understanding what your visitors do on your site is crucial information. If your visitors proceed to purchase a product but then a large majority leaves the site when they get to a specific page in the order process, you need to know about it. It could be that this page is confusing or hard to use. Fixing it could increase your sales by 200%. This is just an example; there are many reasons why you want a detailed analysis of your site visitors.Most website hosting services offer a stats package that you can study.
If you're not sure where this is, call up your hosting service and ask them. Statistics are a vital part of tracking your marketing progress. If you don't have access to website statistics get a package that can help you in this area. Do not get a counter that simply shows how many visitors you've had. You'll be missing out on vital information that can help strengthen weaknesses in your site.A good website hosting service offers traffic logs that provide an invaluable insight into the traffic being referred to a web site from various sources such as search engines, directories and other links.
Unfortunately traffic tracking provided by web hosting services is often in the form of raw traffic log files or other difficult to understand cryptic formats. These log files are basically text files that describe actions on the site. It is literally impossible to use the raw log files to understand what your visitors are doing. If you do not have the patience to go through these huge traffic logs, opting for a traffic-logging package would be a good idea.
Basically, two options are available to you and these are: using a log analysis package or subscribing to a remotely hosted traffic logging service. A remotely hosted traffic logging service may be easy to use and is generally the cheaper option of the two. WebTrends Live and HitsLink are two good, remotely hosted, traffic-monitoring services worth considering.
However, WebTrends Live is a more complicated system and is suitable for larger ecommerce websites. "SuperStats" is another recommended traffic logging service.
These services do not use your log files. Typically a small section of code is placed on any page you want to track. When the page is viewed, information is stored on the remote server and available in real time to view in charts and tables form.
Log analysis packages are typically expensive to buy and complex to set up. Apart from commercial packages there are also some free log analysis packages available, such as Analog.
A good traffic logging service would provide statistics pertaining to the following:
" How many people visit your site? " Where are they from? " How are visitors finding your site? " What traffic is coming from search engines, links from other sites, and other sources? " What keyword search phrases are they using to find your site? " What pages are frequented the most - what information are visitors most interested in? " How do visitors navigate within your web site?
Knowing the answers to these and other fundamental questions is essential for making informed decisions that maximize the return on investment (ROI) of your web site investment.
The most important aspect of tracking visitors to your website is analyzing all the statistics you get from your tracking software. The three main statistics that will show your overall progress are hits, visitors and page views. Hits are tracked when any picture or page loads from your server on to a visitor's browser. Hits, however, can be very misleading. It is quite an irrelevant statistic for your website.
The statistic that is probably the most important for a website is Page Views/Visitors. This gives you a good indication of two things. First, how many people are coming to your site, and secondly how long are they staying on your site. If you have 250 visitors and 300 page views you can figure that most visitors view one page on your site and then leave. Generally, if you're not getting 2 page views per visitor then you should consider upgrading your site's content so your visitors will stay around longer.
If you see the number of visitors you have increasing as well as the number of page views per visitor increasing then keep up the good work! Always look for this stat as an overall barometer of how your site design is going and if your marketing campaigns are taking hold. Also, a good stat to look for is unique visitors. Once a person visits your site they will not be added to the unique visitors' category if they visit again. This is a good way to track new visitors to your website.
Page views are a good indication of how "sticky" your website is. A good statistic to keep is Page Views divided by the number of Visitors you have. This statistic will give you a good idea if your content is interesting and if your visitors are staying on your site for a long time and surfing.
Some people are intimidated by web traffic statistics (mostly because of the sheer volume of data available), but they shouldn't be. While there are many highly specialized statistics that can be used for more in-depth web traffic analysis, the above areas alone can provide invaluable information on your visitors and your website performance. Remember- this data is available for a reason. It's up to you to use it.
About the Author: Alden Smith is an award winning author who has been marketing on the internet for over 7 years. His site, http://www.for-the-record.biz, is loaded with articles and information for the beginning blogger and internet marketer.
Monday, October 10, 2005
When you get an e-mail from SEO Company with content similar to this:
"We submit your site on X00.000 search engines and directories…"
Stay far away from companies which offer you to submit your site on thousands of directories and search engines.
What they do is: they use submission software and advanced scripts and they submit your site to different guest books, local search engines, search engines in other languages, post your URL in comments in different Blogs, FFA etc…You will not have any benefit from this.
FFA stands for Free For All, pages which are designed to carry a designated amount of links on each page. Have in mind that when comes to link popularity relevancy counts and links form this pages will not going to help you much. Add to this that FFA pages have very limited life span, you will get the picture.
When some SEO company claims that they can guarantee #1 on Google
No one can guarantee #1 on any Search Engine! (Except the owner of course)
I can guarantee you first place in the search results in my Greek Business Directory, since I am the owner, but there is no chance that ethical and honest SEO company will give you such a guarantee in real life.
Even the biggest companies in SEO industry do not give such a guarantee. There are companies who claim that if they don’t achieve specific number of top 10 positions, you get your money back. Take even this with great caution, and be sure to read their guarantee 2 times, including the small letters on the bottom (if there are any). Many of them will attempt to propose you non competitive phrases, which will give you no traffic and therefore you will have no benefit from this.
When SEO Company offers you to get paid on base on delivered traffic
(Though THEIR domain)
Many SEO Companies offer to the prospective client’s deals on base on delivered traffic. This traffic to be measured easily, they propose new domain, or sub domain to be created, optimized and to deliver traffic though this domain. Be sure to ask which property will be that domain or sub domain.
If SEO Company told you that domain will be their property, your site will not be optimized. Here is what will follow: SEO Company will register domain name on THEIR name, and will optimize that domain for your keywords. They will redirect all traffic from that domain to your site.
You will be forced to pay monthly maintenance to that company and if you decide to stop their services, they will redirect their traffic to some other company in same industry. Keywords which worked well for you, will work well for your competitors too.
Fair and honest company might offer similar deal because of many reasons, but the domain from which the visitors will come will be YOURS, so if you want to change SEO Company, you will have the traffic directed to your site until the new company takes over, and your investment (optimized domain and the traffic) will remain your property.
In case that SEO Company doesn’t want to disclose the techniques which will use to rank high your website.
Legal and ethical SEO Company will give you very clear idea what they intent to do with your site, and will give you detailed plan of activities. You have to know that some SEO Companies use techniques forbidden by search engines and your site may get banned from the search engines because of this.
For example if your SEO company use thousands automatically created so called doorway pages, which are full of your keywords only and are useless to the visitors, your site might get banned because of this.
So be sure to ask your SEO Company what they intent to do, and which techniques they plan to use. Good SEO Company is always ready to educate their client to some level.
When SEO Company claim that you will see the results within 1 months
In this case, don’t walk away. Run!
If your site is brand new, it might take up to 3 months to get listed on major search engines. To get some results even in less competitive results, you should count that 4-6 months is the timeframe where you can expect to see first results. Note that if your website has 5-10 pages only, you will need much more content that this. SEO Company will have to add much new pages to your site, and that is time consuming task.
So, if the SEO Company claims that you will be on the top within a month, they have PPC (Pay per Click) in their mind, and that have nothing with Search Engine Optimization.
About The Author
Search Engine Positioning Firm
It’s interesting how potential clients have preconceived notions about which aspects of search engine marketing have the most value. In fact, they tend to fall into two camps that are 180° apart. The first camp believes completely in the value of pay-per-click marketing (PPC). It’s easy to understand why. PPC provides immediate and measurable benefits. The ROI of PPC marketing is obvious. This group doesn’t understand why it’s necessary “to bother” doing SEO.
The second camp believes the only way to go is SEO. Clicks are free and the branding benefits of high rankings have been well documented.
The right answer is that they are both valuable. Each has its benefits and when you can afford to, you should implement both.
PPC makes sense if you want immediate benefits and like the idea of paying for performance. SEO provides branding benefits and longer-term will provide an ROI that is compelling. But unlike PPC, SEO revenue results aren’t as directly measurable and manageable.
Pay per click (PPC) gives you the ability to have complete control over your search traffic. With PPC programs you select the keywords and write the listings. You control where you’re listed and what the listing says. You decide what your budget is and can adjust your spend rate based on results or events (e.g. announcements, promotions).
By tracking results from a PPC campaign, you can build up a knowledge base with respect to your business, including which messages perform the best, which search terms have the best conversion rates, and what destination URL is best for specific users to land on. Over time, this knowledge can help you to improve and define your business.
One of the greatest attractions of PPC is the ability to easily track clicks and costs allowing you to understand your ROI from a specific marketing initiative. This gives you confidence to spend money and drive volume. You may have thought that spending $5,000 a month on a PPC campaign is way outside your budget, but once you measure the ROI, you may realize that it’s well worth the investment.
Search Engine Optimization
So, if PPC is so great why bother with SEO? Basically, because you will be missing out on a large number of potential clicks. How large? A number of recent studies have demonstrated that there are still a lot of users that do not click on the "paid" listings but rather will search through the regular editorial search results. The accompanying chart shows that 60% of the search users prefer (some exclusively) organic over paid listings. The only way to get optimized (high) rankings in these regular editorial results is through an effective SEO program. In most cases, once you have good positioning in the regular search results, you will continue to receive “free” traffic. Again, based on data from a number of marketers the increase in traffic due to SEO averaged 73%. Consider search engine optimization the same as you would word of mouth advertising or public relations. It’s exposure that comes with a very high degree of credibility and trust. Traffic coming from traditional search listings tends to have high conversion rates.
There’s another advantage to traditional search listings. They are considered unbiased and non-commercial. Traditional search performs very well at certain points in the buying process. When consumers are gathering information about a purchase, they show a marked preference for traditional search listings. When they are ready to buy online, they seem to have less bias against paid placement listings and their likelihood to click on one of these listings increases.
The Dollars and Cents of SEO
Perhaps the most compelling reason not to exclude SEO from your online marketing strategy comes down to dollars and cents. In an attempt to quantify the business case for SEO I have gone back and done some analysis on three recent SEO engagements and the results they achieved. I chose ecommerce clients that we had optimized and reviewed their average sales before and after SEO was implemented. In two of the situations the only change made was the optimization of the site. In another the optimization occurred at the same time we implemented a PPC campaign. In the first two cases the store sales rose 64% and 75% after the SEO was implemented. In the third case the store revenue actually went up a staggering 169%, but if you back out the sales that were a result of the PPC campaign, the store revenue that could be attributed to SEO improved by 49%. In other words, the average improvement in store revenue that was apparently due to SEO was 62%.
Can we be sure that all of this was a result of SEO? No. There could have been product, seasonal and other effects that contributed. But I think it's safe to say that there was a significant increase that resulted directly from the SEO. The bottom line: search optimization has a real and measurable impact on traffic, conversions and revenue (or lead generation) improvement. Given that these clicks begin to approach “free” after amortizing the cost of SEO over time, the ROI for SEO is compelling. Added to the branding benefits no marketer or business owner should doubt the value of search engine optimization.
About the Author
Scott Smigler has been an evangelist for a serious, ROI-based focus on the online channel since he founded Exclusive Concepts (http://www.exclusiveconcepts.com) in 1997.
Finding the Right SEO Company
I often talk to people who have lost faith in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firms because of bad experiences. Either they saw no results, felt that they were tricked into subscribing to a service that could not work, or that they wasted money on a firm that did them no good.
Although I agree that there are bad SEO firms out there, I know that there are also many good ones. It’s your job to make sure you find an SEO firm that will work for you.
Search engines are the basis of Internet existence and survival. Recent studies have concluded that over 90 percent of all web surfers use search engines to find what they are looking for. Thus, in order to be successful on the Internet, your website must be search engine friendly. If people who search the Internet for your products or services are not finding your Web site, you need search engine optimization (SEO).
Now some of you may take on the task of optimizing your own sites. For those people, there are plenty of “how to” articles on the Internet that can help you. If you need more help, drop me an email and I’ll give you some ideas. However, many webmasters decide instead to let an SEO company handle their marketing. Search Engine Optimization is a full time job, and many companies need to hire someone to do it for them. If this is your intent, you should know what to look for, and what to watch for, when selecting the right SEO company.
1. Make Sure They, and Their Clients, are Successful and Well Optimized
If your SEO company does not rank high on most major search engines under their specific services, then they probably won’t have the ability to get you high ranking on yours. For example, if you’re located in Boston, your SEO company should at least rank on the first page in Google, Yahoo, and MSN under such search terms as “Boston SEO,” “Boston Internet Marketing,” “Boston Web Marketing,” or even “Boston Web Design.” If you found them through pay-per-click or sponsored listings, this only means that they do not have the ability to optimize their own websites and are forced to pay for their clientele.
In addition, it is a good idea to check the success of their clients. All SEO companies have a client listing, if for no other reason than to offer front page links to their big spenders. Take a good look at these clients’ sites. Check for quality of content and keywords. View the source and see how well the meta tags are structured and how well they apply to the content given. And most importantly, go to the major search engines and find where these clients land on the search terms they are targeting. If the SEO company has created a successful marketing campaign for each of its clients, chances are you’re looking at a good SEO firm. However, if neither the SEO company or its listed clients have high rankings, I would recommend you find a firm that does.
2. Make Sure Someone Answers the Phone or Responds to Email
Although this may sound funny, I can’t stress how important it is to find a SEO company that will be there when you need them. Before choosing an SEO company, call them. If they pick up, you’re in good shape. If they don’t pick up, but call back within 2 hours, you’re still looking pretty good. If it takes you a handful of phone calls and emails, or a number of days to get a response, you might be in bad shape.
Say you’ve just received a new product that you would like to market. Say that product is seasonal, only for the holiday season, and your ability to sell it relies on the timeliness with which you can get it seen on the search engines. You need a company that you can contact to put immediate marketing efforts to your new pages and products. If it takes 3 to 4 weeks for your SEO firm to make changes and improvements, you might want to look for a company that can keep up with your fast-paced business and demanding customers.
3. Make Sure They Understand How Search Engines Work
Keeping a website at the top of the search engines has become a science. The best search engines frequently modify the way their databases list Web sites, and constantly change the search criteria used to find and present web pages.
To understand the quality of a company’s search engine optimization services, you must first understand how search engines work. Search engines list websites in two distinct manners: pay per click listings and organically optimized listings.
Pay per click listings are the listings that appear on the top or right side of most search engines under the heading “Sponsored Links”, or some related term. This type of listing is paid for. Web sites that wish to get top search engine placement without optimization can pay a certain cost that is charged to their search engine accounts every time their sponsored link is clicked on by a prospective client. Cost per click rates range anywhere between $0.10 and $10.00 per search. Some bigger-budget eCommerce businesses can spend up to $50,000 a month on pay per click marketing.
Organically optimized listings are the listings that appear at the top of search engine pages without having to pay for these listings. This type of listing is free. However, your website must be properly optimized to appear at the top of all search engines using organic optimization. Search engines use unique programs which send agents referred to as “spiders” and “robots” to your Web site to collect data. Your website must be structured properly to aid these robots in their search for information.
A quality SEO firm will know how to properly structure your website for top organic optimization and, ultimately, top search engine placement. Watch out for SEO firms that take your money and invest in pay-per-click marketing. Although this will get you immediate results, it does nothing to optimize your site in the long run, will not be as profitable as an organic marketing campaign, and will keep you dependent on SEO companies for your success. And pay-per-click marketing is something you can easily do yourself; if that’s the route you wish to take.
4. Make Sure They Follow-Up with Internet Research
In addition to knowing how to optimize correctly, an SEO firm should be constantly investigating the Internet’s most popular search engines in order to stay aware of the latest techniques for promoting a Web site on the Internet. If they are not giving you monthly reports on the status of your listings, the increasing quantity of your links, and the number of unique visitors to your site, you might not be working with the right SEO company. These reports should not only show where your site is ranked on each of the major search engines for each of the major terms you target, but also show you how you have improved from the previous month and where your competitors stand.
5. Make Sure You Constantly Know What They’re Doing
The major problem most people have with internet marketing guys is that they don’t see them everyday. It’s not like these guys come into the office everyday, or even sit down with the boss for a daily conference call. Most of them work out of their homes, spending 12 hours a day on the computer. Now I’m not saying that they will take your money and do nothing for you, but it’s good to keep your eyes on them like you would any employee. On the days that they work for you, have them send you day-end reports detailing the pages they optimized, the content they added, the keywords they marketed, and the links they added. This will allow you a better understanding of what they do on your clock, and allow you to keep your eye on their progress and effectiveness.
Overall, you can find a good SEO company. There are hundreds out there. But it is your responsibility to make sure you find the right one. Don’t just pick the first firm you find, then complain when you see no results. Find your results before you hire any SEO company, and you will put your business on the right track for Internet success.
Nathaniel Long is an Internet marketing specialist for Allied Internet Productions, a Denver-based web design and marketing company specializing in graphic and flash design, internet marketing and search engine optimization. Visit their site at http://www.alliedinternetproductions.com
From the perspective of a business owner, webmaster, or marketing manager, the change exhibited by the Internet is profoundly exciting, yet profoundly disturbing. The information (and misinformation and disinformation) it offers, the business benefits it promises, and the rules it is governed by change at such a rapid rate that it’s almost impossible to keep up.
These changes have led to a growing appreciation of the value of quality web copy. This appreciation has, in turn, led to an influx of opportunistic ‘copywriters’ promoting themselves as website copywriters or SEO copywriters. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few excellent SEO copywriters out there, and you should definitely shop around. The purpose of this article isn’t to scare you; it’s to help you find the SEO copywriter who’ll deliver honest service and excellent results.
So with that in mind, take a look at the following ten tips. These are the things you have a right to expect from anyone wearing a name badge that reads “website copywriter”, “SEO copywriter”, “internet copywriter”, or “web copywriter”… (See also www.divinewrite.com/websitecopywriter.htm and www.divinewrite.com/makethemost.htm.)
1) An understanding of SEO
Obviously, your SEO copywriter must have a solid understanding of the essentials of Search Engine Optimization. They must know that ranking is essentially the result of a website’s relevance (i.e. keywords) and importance (i.e. inbound links). There are a whole lot of other factors involved, but if your SEO copywriter doesn’t understand these two basics, you should look elsewhere. If you’d like to ensure your SEO copywriter knows a little more than just the basics, take a look at www.divinewrite.com/SEOCEO.htm, www.divinewrite.com/seocopy.htm, www.divinewrite.com/seotradesecrets.htm, www.divinewrite.com/webcopyenough.htm, and www.divinewrite.com/seoarticles.htm for some clues as to what you might like to ask in order to assess their knowledge.
2) Proven experience
The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. It’s not enough that your SEO copywriter can talk the talk; they must also be able to walk the walk. Ask to see some examples of websites for which they’ve obtained some good rankings. Note that it may be very difficult to find an SEO copywriter who has actually worked on both keywords and link generation (especially article PR), so if you find one who has, and they write well, snap ‘em up! They’ll have a very broad and useful working knowledge of search engines.
3) An understanding of how many keywords to use
You don’t want to fill every page up with every keyword you’re targeting. This simply dilutes your site’s relevance and reduces readability. Ask your SEO copywriter how many keywords they would recommend targeting on each page. Hopefully they’ll suggest no more than 3, preferably 2. By targeting 2 keyword phrases per page, you can use them a lot without impacting readability.
4) Clear agreement on who will provide keywords
Someone needs to perform a keyword analysis in order to figure out what words you should be trying to rank highly for. Your SEO copywriter should be able to do this for you, but it’s quite often more cost-effective if someone a little closer to the business does it. Either way, make sure your agreement with your SEO copywriter makes it very clear who is performing this task. Don’t assume the SEO copywriter is going to do it, because they may assume you’re going to do it, and then you’ll blow your budget.
5) Keywords or keyword phrases
Expect your SEO copywriter to offer some advice regarding how specific you should be with your keywords. In most industries, the competition for keywords is so fierce that you’ll be forced to target very specific keywords in order to rank – at least at the outset. For instance, if you’re in IT, you probably wouldn’t start out by targeting the keyword “IT”. The competition is immense (at the time of writing, there were approx 3,240,000,000 results for this search in Google.com) and the IT giants already dominate the search engines for this keyword. Instead, try using a more specific keyword phrase like “IT infrastructure consulting new york” (at the time of writing, there were only around 4,000,000 results for this search in Google.com). The other benefit to targeting more specific keyword phrases is that you’ll generate more relevant leads.
6) Agree on word count per page
Always make sure your SEO copywriter gives you an indication of the number of words they expect to write per web page. While it’s necessary to have a decent body of words on most of your web pages, you certainly shouldn’t have too many. What “too many” is all depends on your industry, the objective of the page, and the needs of your audience. It’s always a delicate balance, but it’s certainly possible to rank highly with only 100-200 words per page. So don’t be fooled into paying for copy you don’t need!
7) Density targets & measure
SEO of a web page is NOT guess-work. A good SEO copywriter will talk about density measures. This is a measure of the number of time the keyword phrase appears on the page. It’s expressed as a percentage of the total word count of the page. So if your page has 200 words, and your keyword phrase appears 10 times, its density is 5%. As a rule of thumb, your SEO copywriter should be aiming for a density of approximately 5% for your primary keyword phrase and 3-5% for your secondary keyword phrase. If your density measures are much higher than this, readability will be reduced, and you’ll risk being perceived as spam by the search engines. Make sure your SEO copywriter understands keyword density, is prepared to state the target density for each keyword phrase, and is also happy to be measured by that standard (should you decide to measure).
8) Where to place keywords
The question of keyword placement has been the subject of much debate amongst SEO copywriters. While it is still unclear how much impact placement has, there is a general consensus that it has SOME impact. Be sure that your copywriter is aware of this impact. Popular opinion has it that keywords are more effective if they appear in headings, bolded text, links, and generally toward the beginning of the page.
9) Some comment on structure & links
Websites are generally better indexed by search engines if their spiders can traverse the entire site using text links. This means your SEO copywriter should be linking each page to every other page using text links. If your site is complex, this may be impractical, so your SEO copywriter will need to create a hierarchical structure for your site. First, they should break your subject material down into categories. Then for each category, they should write a summary page. These summary pages should be accessible from higher level pages via text links. They should also be accessible from each other. Each summary page should link – using text links – to a number of pages discussing the finer details of the category. And each detail page in a particular category should link to every other detail page in that category (once again, using text links). This way the spiders are able to travel from the top of your hierarchy to the bottom, and from left to right across any level.
10) Don’t believe grand promises
SEO copywriters can play a significant role in increasing your search engine ranking. But they can’t do it overnight. By optimizing your site for your target keyword phrases, an SEO copywriter is simply declaring the relevance of your site. If you engage an SEO copywriter to write helpful articles containing a byline with a link back to your site, you can then submit these articles for publication on the Internet, and this will steadily increase your ranking. But if an SEO copywriter tells you they can dramatically increase your ranking in a matter of hours or days, be wary. NOTE: Your SEO copywriter should be able to submit your articles to various submit sites on the Internet. These sites are closely watched by hundreds of thousands of publishers of e-newsletters and article pages from all around the world. High quality articles are quickly snapped up and published prolifically. And each time your article is published, you’ve got another link back to your site, thus increasing the importance of your site (to the search engines).
An SEO copywriter is a valuable addition to your marketing function. But you need to make sure you choose wisely. When you know what questions to ask, the battle is half won.
Glenn Murray is an SEO copywriter and article submission and article PR specialist.