Making sure people value seo
SEO is an essential element to the marketing role of most marketing departments in most business. The main problem with SEO is that it’s difficult to measure. It’s therefore important for anyone carrying out SEO for a client or internally to make sure they scream and shout about what they are doing. Remember often the changes that you make in seoing a website will take weeks to have any real impact, so it’s important to log every single change that you make to the website – you’ve got to be really anal about it, being able to go back is essential, and sometimes you know what? Even this won’t help because your seo efforts are effected by other factors such as the seo efforts of a rival website, or changes to algorithms. he other thing is you can be adding 20 relevant pages a day with great content however they’ll probably only get what appears to be a small number of visits, maybe a few a day in some cases – so you’ve got to focus on the overall picture and strategy when talking to the decision makers, after all if you can add 20 really good pages a day to a website and you get a few visits to each the seo team are going to be generating some serious traffic overall in a week. It’s when the accountants get involved that you have a problem – seoing a weebsite is about the future of that website and the busines, it’s not like ppc were the returns are instant, with seo the returns take months and they are incremental and you’ve got to speculate about the success of a page. If you focus on the individual aspects of seo too much your decision makers will lose sight of the overall bigger picture and start to devalue the seo your are carrying out for them. As ever in business, and especially marketing, if it’s going to be done you better make sure you can back it up with data and it’s especially true when managing an seo campaign.
The importance of Alt Tags
One of the most important elements when SEO’ing a website is getting the keywords in the alt tags. This is especially true of most modern websites where the pages are built using a generic database. It’s important that the if you’re using a generic template throughout the site that consideration be placed on which keywords are used – this then has to be balanced out by the text that is being put on the page – the text and the generic alt tags have to be relevant, and on those pages that will go into more detail about your key keywords it’s important that the % of keywords is balanced so you’re not seen as being a keyword  stuffing website – ie a spammer. Search engine optimisation is a balancing act, and to do SEO right it’s always best not to use templates, to make sure that every single page is specific – however in the real world this isn’t always possible because you won’t have enough man hours in the day to be that anal about things. The other fatal flaw is to over look them all together, remember search engines do put a lot of weight on the alt tags keywords – some would argue more weight is put on these than the anchor link text – and they get far more weight than title tags do – so don’t worry too much about the title tags!!
Getting Started with a New SEO Project
It’s important to start every Web site development project by understanding the role of SEO in the project. The team of people working on the project has limited time, and most likely they have a schedule. Focusing them on the wrong things will produce less than optimal results. Let’s focus in on the role of SEO in the project plan in the context of developing a new site. But these principles can be applied to any new SEO project with simple modifications. Start the SEO effort before you write the first line of code. Search Engine Watch readers are probably aware of the following four points:
  1. You can easily pick a technology to build your site that will cause search engines to not crawl your site, or to crawl and index your site in a less than optimal manner. An SEO expert must review the Web development choices before any decisions are made on Web development technology.
  2. Performing keyword research before you start coding is also critical. This will help you learn the behavior patterns of your customers, and this knowledge is likely to impact the site architecture and navigation.
  3. You need lots of content, probably far more than you might think (or a smaller number of pieces of earthshakingly good unique content). Content drives link building, and is also essential for picking up search traffic from the long tail of search, which is where 70 percent or so of all search volume can be found.
  4. You need the previous three items to have a chance to compete for search traffic, but you need inbound links to drive rankings. Put another way, without links, you can’t rank. Far too often, people understand the need for technical SEO, but then think they’re done.
While you may already know these things, it’s also critical that senior managers who make decisions related to the Web site also understand them. They may need to receive some training on the nature of search engines and what needs to be done to obtain traffic from them. Try to get them to learn these critical points so they don’t unintentionally blow up the Web site’s chances of success. Start Strategic Even before we get to the nuts and bolts of SEO, we need to solve a couple of age-old marketing problems: What is the product and what is your plan for marketing it? In the case of a Web site, this starts with:
  1. What are the goals of the Web site? To sell a product? To develop leads? To disseminate information? How would you build the Web site if no special activity was needed to obtain search engine traffic?
  2. How will you market the Web site? What is your plan for getting people to link to your site, and why will they link to your site? The link building plans for a Web site are likely to change the organization, structure, and even the look and feel of the site.
Develop your Link Building Plan Early Because link building can affect your site architecture, it makes sense to figure out your plan at the start. Do you need a media outreach campaign? If so, what will cause the media to be interested in a site like yours? Are you going to focus on social media? What will your site need to offer to do well in your target environments? Whatever link building plan you settle on, you will need to answer this question: How will you stand out? You can’t win the Web site marketing game without answering this question well. Being the 25th site to present a set of articles on a given topic won’t get you anywhere. You need to do something different. Figure out what that is, and then map that into your site architecture. Summary Getting your SEO started at the beginning of a Web site project is essential to success. It’s better, and cheaper, to take the time to do it right, than to take the time to do it over. While this column was tailored to new site development projects, you can modify it to apply to updating existing sites. Review the site and determine how you would really like to structure it, and how you would like to market it. Then back up and take into account the Web development costs, and the impact of changing a Web site that the search engine has already learned quite a bit about (not something to be taken lightly). You will likely need to make some compromises based on these factors, but you will still be better off for knowing the optimal structure before you start.
Google’s Conflicting Push to Move Beyond Search
As Google has looked to increase revenues and move beyond being “just a search engine” they have put themselves at the top of the food chain in multiple categories. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, etc. 😉 If you search for books their book search is the result in natural search and when you search for movies they push their iGoogle application in paid search. Every holiday season Google tries to make further inroads in ecommerce by doing things like offering free Checkout services (at launch of Google Checkout), integrating Google Checkout with AdWords ads (and claiming this increases ad CTR by ~ 10%), and promoting Google Base / Google Product Search more aggressively in their navigation and organic search results. Some early Google Checkout users also got free links. As Google dives into music services a new one-box with links to selected partners will appear at the top of the search results. And as Google makes tie-ins with more software providers you can look for Google to promote Google pack and other such offerings across the spectrum of search results. Google has tested creating a mortgage marketplace in the UK and LendingTree is suing a business partner because they heard that the company might sell data to Google. Everything is a beta and everything is a test. And then one day a new competitor appears from nowhere. At times Google seems unbelievably savvy, but at times they seem unbelievably conflicted. Google claims that searchers are expecting more for advertisers and that advertisers need to start acting more like magazine publishers who publish (and advertise) great featured content. Sounds good, maybe. But then Google launches an AdWords ad translation kit. It is pretty safe to say that if a machine translates your ads in a competitive marketplace you are wasting an awful lot of profit margin. Google claims to like brands, that brands are how you sort out the cesspool, and to show brands for generic keywords to increase user satisfaction. But lets look at a recent search result for the eBay brand. Google knows that gets a 90%+++ CTR, that the keyword is a trademark, that the keyword is navigational, etc etc etc. And in spite of eBay even bidding on their own brand, this is perhaps the first time Google takes a valuable partner hostage. If Google claims that they need to show brands on generic search queries to increase user satisfaction then why do they pollute the associated brand search results with irrelevant nonsense? Navigational searches are the easiest ones in the world to get right, and if a site has historically got a 90%+++ click-through rate for a keyword, why would it ever make sense to risk putting a universal search result or a marginally relevant ad above the obvious #1 result? If people are looking specifically for news when entering a branded 1 word trademarked keyword then surely they would skip past the #1 result for the official site. Sure there is money in promoting apps for eBay, but it seems so counter to Google’s messaging when justifying their algorithmic editorial philosophy elsewhere. Sourced from SEO Book

est. 2009

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