Getting To The Top Of Search With SEO
Search Engine Optimization – SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the design and development process used to elevate a website ranking on search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo. Statistics show that 98% of search engine users click on a website that is listed on the first page of search results. The goal of online marketers applying SEO is to receive free traffic from targeted prospects searching for their products and services on the search engines.
SEO can be broken into two parts:
- On Page – where the design and content of the website are optimized for high search engine rankings
- Off Page – optimized content is distributed throughout the internet that points back to your website by way of back links
On Page Search Engine Optimization:
First let’s dive into ‘On Page’ search engine optimization and the key elements of our web design.
The first step in the SEO process is to determine your market depth and focus:
- Broad market focus like “Insurance”
- Narrow market focus like “Arizona Boat Insurance”
And, the type of website you are going to construct to address the market:
- Authority or Review website
- Product or Service website
These decisions will drive the architecture of the website, the content of the website and determine the focus of the research required to address the search engine ranking.
SEO Keyword Research – Get This Wrong And You’ll Waste Time and Money
Keywords are what search engines identify to index and categorize the content on your website. As someone types a keyword into a search engine like Yahoo, the search engine retrieves the most relevant content from the internet related to keyword.
When researching keywords related to your market, it is important to think like a buyer of your products and services. Ask yourself, “What would a buyer type into Google in order to find my company?” The reality of what a buyer actually types into a search engine and our best guess might be two completely different things. Also, the most frequently used keyword search terms may not be what we expect.
To get the most traffic to a website, you need to optimize your website for the most frequently used keyword search phrases. SEO professionals use specialized software programs to determine the exact keyword phrases buyers search with, the volume of search traffic generated for those keywords and how many competitive websites target the keywords in a particular market.
The keywords generated from the research will be used for On Page content, Off Page content and search engine marketing campaigns so it is important to group and categorize keywords around each of these activities.
Does A Domain Name Impact SEO?
Search engines can reward websites with a keyword-based domain name. For example, if you were searching for a “Arizona Dog Walker”, Google would give ranking preference to the website phoenixdogwalker.com. While there are many other factors that would be considered by Google’s algorithms (site content, age of the website, back links, etc.), points would be scored for having a keyword rich URL.
So how should you select a domain name for your business website?
For companies doing heavy offline media and brand building, it makes sense to use the company name in the URL. Example: Ford.com for Ford Motor Company. In our local Arizona markets we have some attorneys who do a lot of radio and T.V. advertising and their business name should also be the domain name.
For smaller companies who are relying on the internet as the primary form of lead generation, I suggest using a primary keyword as the domain name. Example: ArizonaInternetMarketing.org for Halo Effects. The argument is that any competitive advantage received from the search engines outweighs the ego stroke received from yourcompanyname.com.
If you are torn between the marketing benefits and your company name, buy both domains and forward the company name to your website. Or, use the keyword rich domain for a blog site that points to your company website.
Photo and Video Optimization For SEO
Photos and videos on a web page are considered premium content by search engines because of their heavy online consumption by internet users. Pictures and videos can be titled and “tagged” with keywords associated with on page content to increase the search relevancy of the web page.
Search Engine Submission
Once your website is ready for launch you’ll want to manually submit the domain name to Google, Yahoo and MSN. There are many other search engines you’ll want to submit to for free but these three provide the largest traffic sources.
Google has requested the submission of an XML site map for all websites to speed the rate at which they crawl website content, identify changes and properly index the site. The XML sitemap should be submitted through a Google webmaster account.
Off-Page SEO – Search Engine Optimization:
Now let’s focus on Off Site SEO and the process of creating back links.
The internet has drastically changed in the last 2 years with the popularity of social networks and social media. Social media is user generated content in the form of videos (YouTube), photos (Picasa), blogs (Facebook) and micro-blogs (Twitter). These resources can be used to drive free traffic and also score back links to your website.
Here is a short video explaining how this concept works:
Social bookmarking websites allow you to share your favorite web addresses with other users. They are also useful to store your favorite websites in one place that is accessible from anywhere on the internet. For business purposes, you can create an authority account for your industry, product or service by gathering relevant sites and posting them to a social bookmarking platform like Delicious.
Users on social bookmarking websites will search for bookmarks and discover your link, creating traffic to your website. Posting your web address on popular bookmarking sites also creates a one way back link to your website and can increase search rankings.
Press releases create a unique opportunity for business owners to pitch and brag about their business. There are paid distribution services like PRWeb.com and free services FreePressRelease.com. Both websites have tips and guides for creating an effective press release. If you write a release effectively, it can get syndicated across other PR websites, spreading your message and website link across the internet.
Articles can be considered more comprehensively written blogs and should be between 400-600 words. There is a lot of bad advice and poorly written content on the web. Good article sites have strict guidelines for the length of your article, formatting and content. You don’t have to be a professional writer to do article marketing, just follow the rules during submission and you’ll get published. Once an article is published, it can also get a high search engine ranking if the content is unique and the keyword competition is low.
The disadvantage to article marketing is that you cannot write promotional articles and most article editors don’t allow links to websites within the article. You are given an opportunity to provide a link to your website at the bottom of the article in the “Resource Box”. This is where you add a direct response advertisement and lead the prospect over to your website where you can continue the conversation.
Blogging is the one of the easiest ways to generate traffic to your website if your content is relevant and valuable. A blog is short for “web log” and can be thought of as a journal. For example, you could write about your field of expertise and useful information you learn. Unlike a news article, the content style and format are not critical. Blogs can also trigger discussions and comments that further development the content.
The key to blogging is valuable content and high frequency. Post things that are timely, relevant, useful and helpful. The goal of blogging is to drive traffic to a web page, however, it cannot be forgotten that blogs can be viral – if done properly. By blogging consistently, you have the opportunity to position yourself as a trusted advisor and provide professional direction to the readers.
Here are some quick tips on how to drive more traffic to your blog:
- Monitor similar blogs to make sure that your content is fresh, different and better.
- Post brief messages on other blogs that mention your own blog site.
- Swap links with other blogs. When you see blogs whose visitors might also be interested in yours, contact the blogger and suggest swapping links so that both blogs have links to each other.
- Give visitors an incentive to spread the word about your site. Reward the visitor who posts the best new information with special recognition on your site.
- Use niche keywords that will give your pages higher search engine rankings.
Micro-blogging is a recent phenomenon that is gaining in popularity as a practical way to track people’s daily lives. The most famous micro-blogging website is Twitter. Almost like a ‘chat room meets reality show’, micro-blogging allows you to peer into the lives of active users as they post their moment-to-moment activities.
Catching on to the idea, some social networking sites have integrated “status” features so people within your network can keep track of what you are doing or working on. Micro-blog posts are short descriptions (< 1000 characters) of every day events, emotions, thoughts, challenges and adventures. Just like traditional blog posts, followers can comment on posts and begin a conversation.
For business purposes, a company can use micro-blogging to update followers and customers about new product launches, a grand opening or special event and any promotions that may be occurring.
Currently, over 50% of all web traffic is video and 12% of all web traffic is going to YouTube. With almost half of internet users using broadband and other high-speed internet connections, there is a real opportunity to deliver multi-media advertising online. A video message can be one of the most effective delivery systems for your advertisement. Both audio and video messages can be added to social networking sites like YouTube. Just like a direct response ad, you’ll want the purpose of your video message to have the viewer take action – click on a link to visit your website.
Here are some tips for generating your own video or audio advertisements:
- Make your message short and sweet – 10 min. max for You Tube
- Provide real value – just like blogging, make the content timely, relevant, useful and helpful
- Write the script ahead of time and rehearse what you are going to say and how you are going to say it
- Direct the viewer/listener to take action during the video – click a link or visit a website address
- Add your website address (URL) at the bottom of the video so the viewer can write it down or visit right away
Now that you’ve learned the basics of On Page and Off Page search engine optimization, it’s time to take action and start pushing your website up the search engine ranks. Halo Effects is a local SEO company that provides SEO services to businesses and can help your company achieve top search engine rankings. Contact us for a free assessment of your SEO, website design and internet marketing plan.