Search Engine Optimization Marketing
Search engine optimization marketing is the collection of tactics designed to improve your web site’s traffic. It includes the tactics of both search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).
While it all may sound a bit confusing, some definition should help:
Search engine optimization (SEO) are the tactics employed to help a web site appear higher in search engine result pages as well as appearing more frequently in searches.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the collection of activities that relate to attracting search engine users to your site. While this can be either paid efforts or organic efforts; these days, SEM typically refers to pay for placement efforts. For purposes of this page, we take the more liberal definition.
In optimizing your web site for traffic, the first step is to make sure you have relevant content on your web site. If you have to trick search engines into finding you, it will not last. If the content is not interesting, people will not show up. Boring just does not show up on the internet.
The second step in search engine optimization marketing is to have a basic understanding of how search engines work and rank results. To do that, click here for how they work, then here for how they rank.
Now that you have the basics, let's get your site optimized as much as possible in the search engines and directories (organic search) so that when Internet searchers look up terms associated with your web site, your Internet site will come up on the first search results page (hopefully at the top) and not on page 27 (which we know, no one goes to).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
It is important that your web site is built in a way that is easy for the search engine spiders to find information. Clean, well-defined and simple code structure is a must for search engine optimization (get rid of extra blank spaces and line breaks in your HTML code). Obsessing over tidy code may seem a bit anal-retentive, but it is important to have HTML that can be easily processed by web browsers and search engines alike (thus having a Web site entirely built in flash, makes no sense). Be sure the HTML is implemented with all key structure tags placed in the right order. It is especially important to understand the right placement of the Meta Tags, tables and heading structure.
Search engines use algorithms that read the content of Web sites. It reads the meta data and the body content. If you sell widgets and your site does not mention the widget anywhere on your pages, then you will not rank for that widget keyword. What improves your rankings with regards to content is "keyword" placement, keyword density & frequency and how all are used on your site.
Hence why "keywords" become important in search engine optimization marketing. Keywords are how your site visitors find you. When they do a search, they put keywords into the search engine's search box. As such, you will want to know what keywords potential customers are using in their searches and what key words you want your site to be associated with.
When considering keywords, consider stopping by Google's keyword suggestion tool. While these research tools are primarily for the use of their advertisers - they do give you a good sense of words and phrases being used by your customers in their searches.
Now that you know what is being searched, you can imbed these key words/phrases into the text of your site. Don't try to stuff your site with keywords for the sake of traffic results. You will want to strike a balance between content making sense to the reader, and using enough of the keywords in sentences throughout the site to satisfy the search engines.
|If you are serious about your search engine optimization marketing efforts, you should consider a subscription to Word Tracker. The great advantage of Word Tracker is that it uses Meta-Crawlers when sourcing search phrase frequencies. This eliminates inflated search phrase frequencies from Overture users checking their own rankings and thus artificially increasing the popularity of certain phrases. In addition, Word Tracker offers a keyword effectiveness index which allows its users to analyze their chosen search phrases to determine the level of competition for that phrase. Another way to get a sense of the competition for a key phrase is to enter each identified search phrase at Google using quotations around the phrase e.g. "discount long distance." Google will then display the search results for all pages that target that phrase exactly as entered. These are your competitors.|
One piece of advice is with regard to hidden stealth keywords. Most of the search engines that this once worked on have taken notice, and it not only won't work, it can cause you serious grief and might cause the death of your web site.
With all that has been said above about keywords and content, keep in mind that it does matter how you put your content on the page (i.e. layout with the use of section titles/headers). Search engines also look for natural language and correct spelling.
The site map has long been a staple at large, commercial web sites, and for good reason. It is of essential importance for making sure that search engines are finding all of your web sites content during every crawl. A good site map can also be an important way for your users to find information on your site. The site map page should ideally be at the following URL
It is important to have a link to the site map on the home page so search engine spiders can easily find it and follow the links. This will guarantee your main site content is instantly accessible to spiders and humans alike.
Invisible Copy (Meta Data):
After the visible copy on your site has been written, the next step in search engine optimization marketing is to develop the "invisible copy." The most important components of your invisible copy are your "tags" - especially the Title Tag and Meta Description Tag:
Title Tag - The top of your internet browser window is called the Title Bar and is where the title of the window appears. If you look at the top of your web browser right now, you should see the title of this page: "Search Engine Optimization Marketing." For each of your web pages, write an HTML Title Tag - the contents of the tag will display in the Title Bar. Title Tags play a vital role in determining your site's ranking so you need to pay a lot of attention to the words that appear in the Title Tag and the order in which they appear. Develop a crisply worded Title Tags that include your most relevant keyword phrases and performs the function of announcing the summary of your web page's content. Begin with a capital letter and use sentence case for readability. Good title tags read like a one-line ad that solves a problem and shows urgency. Don't use your keyword phrase more than once in a title tag.
Meta Description Tag - This HTML tag is important because it's often used by search engines as your site description in search results. It's also used by search spiders to summarize Web sites when indexing. Make your description compelling and relevant to attract potential customers. Copy should contain several strategic keywords from the page. Place essential copy in the first 150 characters as copy is sometimes limited (150-400 characters).
Use keywords in the title tag, in the header tags above your main body of text and in the first few lines of text on your page, then sprinkled those keywords about throughout the body text at a rate of between three and five percent of total words within the page text. If you have a page with 400 words of text (like we do), using your keyword phrase between 8-12 times on the body copy on that page would be best for optimal ranking (hence: "search engine optimization" scattered about this page). Use that same keyword phrase to link to other pages within your site that are relevant to that phrase and link to filenames that use words within your keyword phrase. Other optional tags are:
Meta Keywords Tag - Most search engines have stopped supporting the meta keywords tag but Inktomi (now owned by Yahoo) and Teoma still use it, so it can't hurt if you have the time. This tag should contain your most important keywords for each page, up to 1,000 characters including spaces. Place your most important keywords first, with or without commas. It never hurts when developing your Meta Tags and have a sense of what real people search for - to make sure your Meta Tags are as relevant as possible.
Alt or Image Tag - This is hidden text behind each image on your page. The alternative text attribute tag requires text to be placed in the tag within quotation marks. Some search engines index alt tags, so it never hurts to describe your images with a keyword message.
Robots.txt - This is a very simple text file that is put in your site's root directory. You can read more about the pros and cons of this file at: robotstxt.org. In a nut shell, the use of a robots.txt file helps search engines effectively allocate their resources and is a tangible sign of respect and courtesy. If you don't have a robots.txt file on your web site set one up now. Use it to inform the crawlers on how your site is organized, and how often it is changing.
Be wary of orphan pages in your search engine optimization marketing efforts i.e. pages that are not linked to another one and thus cannot be found by spiders. To avoid having orphan pages on your web site, check regularly that all your pages are linked to each other. Search engines consider sites with orphan pages to be unprofessional, and not worthy of getting a high rank.
Dynamic web pages include dynamic content - images, text, etc - which change without the page being reloaded. Client-side languages like Flash, Java Script and ActiveX are usually used to create these types of web pages. Search engines have a hard time with these pages
Put .CSS and Java Script into external Files - For a search engine, improperly formatted code will have a negative impact on your rankings.
<Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Depending on your industry, you may want to focus your site's search engine marketing efforts on the major general purpose search engines: (or search engines associated with specific industries). Now that you know what search engines are out there, you may also want to consider who feeds them.
Armed with this information, it is now time to focus on tricks to optimize your site's ranking. Some of these include paid listings and keywords. If you're going this avenue, don't forget to consider the cost of this when putting together your marketing budget.
Relevancy of your site is an important element in search engine rankings. A proxy for relevancy is 'What sites are linked to yours?' As such, search engines identify favored and non-favored sources.
In attempt to get links to your site from "favored" web sites, consider these tactics:
Free Directory Submissions
Submit your site to web directories (both general and industry specific) as being listed in these will help your search engine ranking. It does take time to get listed, so start early.
At one time a listing within DMOZ (human-edited open directory) just about guaranteed your Web site a high ranking within a search engine. Alas, DMOZ has been neglected over the years. It seems that that neglect has finally caught up to DMOZ. Search Engine Land reports that DMOZ is no longer showing up in search results for some DMOZ specific keywords - although pages from its subdirectories and several folders deep still show up in search results. As such, if you can get yourself listed in DMOZ, do so. There are plenty of other directories out there as well.
Paid Directory Submissions
Free directories typically only allow you to link to the main page of your web site, but most also allow you to choose the title of your link. This gives you the opportunity to build your links according to your keywords, which is an essential component of link building for search engine rankings. Paid directories, on the other hand, also usually allow deep linking to individual pages of your web site.
Join Forums And Post Relevant Comments
Forums are, in reality, becoming less popular with the advent of social media. However, a lot of people do still use them and they do offer the opportunity to garner your web site with some traffic. Join forums that are relevant to your industry, create a signature link using your more important keywords and then browse. Post comments, without linking to your site, and rely on your signature link to do the rest. If you provide genuine, helpful information then you may find that you pick up some traffic along the way.
And don't omit the obvious - like professional social networking web sites like Linkedin. Linkedin has a fairly high PageRank in Google. As such, get all your employees to add links back to your web site from their Linkedin profile page along with relevant keywords.
You don't get anything if you don't ask. Find relevant web sites, though not in direct competition to your own site, and request a link. Point out a particularly useful section of your web site content that is easily link able and offer the HTML code to provide a link. This isn't, in all honesty, the best way to spend your linking time.
Tagging And Social Bookmaking
Join a social bookmarking sites, create a list of useful sites including one or two of your own, and then publish them. Some search engines are known to be particularly fond of using links found in this way. Also, if your list is genuinely useful then you should find some traffic diverts to your own site as a result. Here is a good sampling of such sites. Here is a good article about how to get your site bookmarked.
Find blogs that are relevant to your industry and your site and sign up. Most blogs provide the opportunity to link to your site via your name so pick a name that includes relevant keywords. Like forums, only post relevant content and comments. Answers like "me too" don't count. If you don't have something valuable to add, then don't add anything, and move on to the next link building venture.
Write articles, or have them written for you, and submit them to syndication web sites. GoArticles and EzineArticles are among the more popular syndication sites and the article pages typically rank well. You have the opportunity to include two biographical links with most article directories, and these should point to the relevant pages on your site and include keywords as the anchor text. Article syndication is a very good method of building links, but only if you can create article content that is appealing to visitors and to webmasters. One good article could generate many links and hundreds or even thousands of visitors to your web site.
Offer Content To Other Sites
This is similar, although more specific, than article syndication. Contact webmasters of web sites that operate in the same industry as you. Offer unique content in exchange for a link or links to your web site. Again, if you can write well, then you shouldn't find it too difficult to find an avenue for publication of your work. A lot of sites actively look for submissions in this way, so keep an eye out when you are next browsing the web.
Press Release Submissions
Press releases have been around a long time, and are still going fairly strong online. Again, press releases offer the opportunity to drive interested traffic to your web site and some PR wires allow authors to include links to their web site. PRWeb is a popular and beneficial site to submit your PR to.
Reciprocal Links/ Link Exchanges
Once upon a time, a reciprocal link campaign was the most popular way of building links. You exchange links with another web site and you both benefit. They do still have their place, if you can negotiate a well placed link on a relevant web site with a lot of traffic. However, in terms of search engine optimization marketing, reciprocal links are known to have been devalued by the search engines. Consider every reciprocal link opportunity based on its own merit and, in most cases, ignoring the search engine optimization possibilities. Here is a great article on doing link exchanges correctly.
Note, paying a search engine for a paid placement will not affect your rankings in their database. It will only ensure your page is listed. Your page could be top 10 or it could be number one trillion seven hundred and three. It's still up to you to optimize your site using all the tools available to you. While we cover additional information about paid searches in our Internet Marketing Best Practices section, here is an interesting article on ranking for long tail keywords (vs short tail keywords) and associated benefits including: easy traffic, less competition, higher conversions and lower bounce rates.
Hiring SEO and SEM Gurus:
It is usually very difficult to get someone who knows everything (although there are many who claim to do so). Typically a search engine optimization marketing guru will not be an expert in paid search (organic search is very different) - not to say that there are not a handful of SEO pros that have the extra skills. For SEO (organic search) skills, try www.sempo.org - they have a listing of SEO professionals - some of whom may have any extra skills you may be looking for. Folks with prior experience with iProspect or QuinStreet (SEO firms) should also fit your bill. Our main approach at CRMTrends is to recommend SEO copywriters/developers, then use affiliates like Commission Junction to help with the link popularity part of SEO (SEO of course has two parts to it, content and links) -- otherwise, we don't bother with hiring affiliate marketers. Your business model will dictate your interaction, if any, with affiliate companies.
55 Questions to ask when hiring an SEO guru.
For paid search, go here.
Once you do have your site optimized. You're surely going to want to measure traffic to your site and your site's ranking within search engines. Here's a nifty tool that allows you to measure your site's link popularity in search engines. And, if you're curious as to who is lining to your site, go to Google Web Alerts and set up an alert to be notified when Google finds www.yourdomain.com.
Now that your site is all set up, test to see how search engine friendly your site is - These tools will allow you to see your site from the spider's point of view:
- Kenshoo - Automates the whole process of creating and managing search-engine optimization marketing campaigns. Kenshoo competes with bid-management software from all the giants in online advertising (DoubleClick, aQuantive's Atlas Solutions, and Omniture), but it goes a step beyond that to look at the quality of the campagns. It finds relevant keywords across search engines, and changes the campaigns to maximize their returns.
You can actually monitor your position in Google - this tool allows you to enter a keyword and a domain name, and it searches Google to see where your domain is positioned. A download is required.
For the curious among you, if you have access to the raw logs, and are able to analyze them yourself, you will be able to identify when a search engine has indexed your site because the first file it will ask for will normally be a "robots.txt" file from your root directory (they will normally ask for this even if you have not provided one as it might include your coded instructions for them). You could if you so wished identify the IP addresses from which the robots came and monitor these specifically to see how regularly your site is indexed and if you resubmit, how long it takes for the engine to send it's robot to index your new contents.
Okay, enough of the technical stuff.
Sites of Interest:
The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors
Continue onto Chapter 3 of Internet Marketing Best Practices & eCRM where you'll find more information on:
E-mail Best Practices
Customer Acquisition & Retention
Sites of Interest
In keeping with our site's mission to represent CRM best practices, we reiterate our call that should you come across content and links that, in your opinion, represent the best of the Internet, we strongly encourage you to pass them along so we can continue to keep our community abreast of the latest and best.