Innersync Studio Blog

Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that work PART 1

April 21, 2009

If you are not taking advantage of some SEO basics to make the most of your web site, you are not alone. Some organizations are too wrapped up with the bells and whistles of their sites, and not concerned enough about the content foundation upon which their sites are built. We have learned that your site is only worth as much as the connections it makes, which is why we take SEO very seriously. Building a web site optimized for search engine friendliness and usefulness is not as complicated as you might think. 

Pay to play

One way to employ SEO is through sponsored words, in which you pay the going rate for the keywords that support your marketing goals. The other is through pages that are "organically" found through search results: pages that are populated with just the right words, phrases and links that feed the world's most powerful search engines. Both strategies – whether paying for sponsorship or paying someone to create and maintain your SEO – require a financial commitment, but we've found the organic route to be an increasingly 'budget-friendly' alternative to Pay Per Click (PPC). You may be dealing with a site that is hard to work with for "organic SEO" and revert to the easy way by using Adwords which is the PPC internet advertising model. This $11 billion industry allows you to get results fast, but it can get to be quite expensive outbidding your competition for keywords.

Go organic and get your marketing budget healthy

We like to focus on organic rankings because they provide more of a long-term strategy, and you are not on the hook to be in an auction for keywords. In addition to having better quality visits – that is, users who stay on the site longer and get the information they need – organic rankings are perceived as a more legitimate sources as web surfers get more savvy and specific with their searches. Some people, frankly, put less faith in sponsored listings than compared to organic search results.

Fighting to get to the top in the organic search maze requires a lot of factors, but the most important is to have content that is focused on your keyword phrases. For example, Google loves sites that are updated frequently, and it gives you points for new content. By adding a news release, blog or some other fresh content once a month can help move you up in the ranking. 

SEO TIPS

Rules of thumb for making sure you are making the most of your site content:

Use good page titles, headings and file names

Think of your content being in a hierarchy that starts from the page title (shows up in the browser bar) all the way to the bottom of the page. Keep your focus on the content from the top down, incorporating keyword phrases in the page title, heading (H1) in the copy that follows. If you have your key phrases in the page title and heading, you have the most important things where they belong. Always keep in mind, this needs to be readable, and making compelling copy with the keyword phrases sometimes requires compromise between creativity and searchability.  Seek content specialists who can weave these functions artfully.

Example of a page optimized for "Fishing Worms"

Page Title: Fishing worms from Bobby's Bait & Tackle Shop

Heading: Fishing worms and other bait that help you catch the big one

Page name: Fishing-worms.html

First paragraph: Bobby has been delivering the best fishing worms this side of the Ohio RIver....

Meta-data

Meta-data: the red-headed stepchild of web development that does not get any attention until someone brings it up. We like to focus on "Description" and "Keywords" and try our best to make them unique and readable. Some say search engines do not pay attention to the them but there are two things keep in mind. First, when you look at the Google results page, the "Page Title" and "Meta-Description" are visible, so if you want someone to click your link, it is wise to write something interesting or inviting. Second, Google Webmaster Tools bark at you if you do not have good meta-data. So add good meta-data, and keep in mind, the "Description" copy is what shows up below the title, so make sure it complements the page title without repeating it.

Anchor Links

This one is pretty simple and straightforward. As you look at the content on your site, use the keyword phrases as links. For example, instead of using the term "learn more" for a link, try using keywords like "learn more about fishing worms." If you can get anchor links on the home page, that adds even more points. Try to fit anchor links into the first or second paragraph of a new release or blog. That way, if the content is aggregated to other sites, you will gain points for an anchor back-link to your site.

Inbound links (aka backlinks)

Our SEO specialist friends at Purple Trout tell us how important it is to have links to your site to improve SEO rankings. When Google – the godfather of knowledge bases – recognizes when a legitimate site has a link to your site, it rewards you with better status. The more backlinks from outside sites, the better it is for your site indexing.

For starters, submit your site to DMOZ open directory project, ZoomInfo business directory and Yahoo! Directory Listings. Yahoo! is $300 annually but it is worth the money for the back-linking. If it is local business, make sure it gets back-linked on local chamber of commerce sites and other local directories. Next, see if there are any directories that show up on the keyword phrases you are focusing on, you may find some that are easy and free to submit your site.

Look at social networks as increasingly important places into which you can pump your links. The more networks you can share your site links to, the better. We focus on the popular ones: Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, LinkedIn. If you really want to centralize your social networking, add all your sites through Ping.fm, which allows you to post information through one account.

Tags: Marketing , search engine optimization , seo , web 2.0 , web content management

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COMMENTS

Those are some great solid tips for the many seo rookies out there.
BaySeo 3:44PM 05/16/09

Marketing with Web 2.0

December 18, 2008

Web 2.0 as we see it

Web 2.0 is a broad term referring to a wide set of tools that enable people to connect, share and collaborate online. Already we hear people poo-pooing the term "Web 2.0" because of its randomly, multi-purpose application to every web-based discussion. To better understand what Web 2.0 is, it might be helpful to understand what Web 1.0 is (or was?). Think of Web 1.0 as the internet as a source of information for users, while Web 2.0 is a way users themselves participate in the building and sharing of information. MySpace and Facebook are popular examples of Web 2.0 at work, but there are many other networks where Web 2.0 technologies are creating and sustaining relationships and driving commerce in the process.

Just about everyone knows someone who's bought or sold something on eBay or Craigslist, or used Mapquest or Google Maps to navigate someplace new. Bloggers are surfacing on every topic you can imagine. These folks are all Web 2.0 practitioners. From simply posting some pictures and stories to keep your buddies up to date, or buying and selling through online auctions and stores, the beauty and strength of Web 2.0 is in the interactivity. Friends and family come together, lovers find each other, buyers and sellers come together. And it's in this realm of doing business that many companies, organizations and institutions are just now scratching the surface of the power of Web 2.0.

It's about shared interests: developing friends and partners

Following the same model of finding and getting friends (customers and prospects) and seeking partners (strong business alliances), Web 2.0 is a powerful method of communications that brings wider scope and application to how an organization builds itself. Take, for example, a company that creates distinct web sites that enable its customers, distributors and employees to add, delete and edit content that's shared. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) form patterns that customer service, product development or human resources can address and improve.

At the heart of a good, sound Web 2.0 strategy is involving the users. This approach organically draws valuable information from your user groups, enables the user communities themselves to promote your products/services, and creates a user focus that helps drive important business decisions.

Some basics in using Web 2.0 in helping your business...

  1. Get users involved
    Let the user communities promote your product or service, and use the knowledge gained from this built-in research tool to help manage your business.
  2. Give customers a reason to participate
    Consumers have to have some incentive to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences on a web site. Come up with a win-win situation. It's only fair, really. The information they're providing you is priceless.
  3. Experiment
    One Web 2.0 strategy does not fit all, and sometimes the best way to find out what's best for organization is to try some things out and see what happens. Some are finding new ways to use time-tested tools. Leaving comments regarding customer satisfaction is becoming commonplace. Some companies use instant messaging on their web sites to allow customers and prospects to chat with customer-service representatives. What about the notion of allowing customers or prospects to chat among themselves?

Web 2.0 at work...

Xavier University and Web 2.0

Consider this example of how a private university benefited from an online community and increased enrollment of accepted students. The Office of Web Services for Xavier University created a student portal that allows its accepted students to connect online, building an online community.  Through this portal, Xavier was able to:

  • Enhance its communication to this qualified market segment
  • Create a 24 x 7 space for students to interact with the school and other prospective students (create a 'buzz' about the University)
  • Enhance the all-important yield from accepts to deposits
  • Trigger other services and information (e.g., financial aid and student services) to be pushed to them
  • Benefit from daily metrics about who is visiting the site, how often, and what information they are seeking


Tags: Marketing , Social media

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