Monday, November 21, 2005

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.


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