Thursday, December 18, 2008

SEO - Search, Experience, Opportunity

SEO back in the day was the latest and greatest thing.  People realized they could improve their search engine ranking through optimization of their site.  Everyone jumped on the SEOwagon.   It started with meta-tags, and people packing their sites full of invisible keywords to get ranking.  You remember - white text on white background that nobody but the search engines could see.  That just doesn't fly anymore.  

SEO is really only a very small part of Internet Marketing - and to do it effectively you have to consider several variables when selecting your keyterms and where you will place them.  You will also need to know the why and the how.  Lets examine the "S" the "E" and the "O" in search engine optimization.  In my example SEO stands for Search, Experience, Opportunity.

S is for Search

Obviously we are optimizing for search so that is one of the key components - what  are people searching for?  To determine your keyterms you need to know the answer to this question to find your baseline.  This comes from knowing your customer and knowing their product or service.  One thing to keep in mind is that if your customer may sell 3 kinds of apples - they may consider "apple a" to be more popular than "apple b" or "apple c".  Does that mean you focus your efforts on "apple a" - Heck no!

There are more questions to ask before you can determine what your keyterms will be, and to take that a step further, to determine your baseline from which you will do your keyterm research.  Ask your client... Which product are you most passionate about and why?  What is your most unique product and why?  Which of your products has the highest profit margin for you or perhaps which is your "loss leader"?  How have your customers typcially found you in the past, and what are they NOT finding, but may be looking for?  As you start to gather these answers, you'll come up with other ideas for your keyterm  research.

E is for Experience

You truly need an experienced marketer to assist with your keyterm research.  When researching keyterms - you dont want to just pick the ones you think are most relevant.  Using the example above, there is far too much competition on the word "apple" - so we look for relevant AND related words that your customers may find you on.

Finding the right keyterms is only half the battle - you have to understand the competition and search volume on each keyterms and how effective you will be in utilizing that keyterm throughout your site.  While "apple" may in fact be the most popular keyterm, you should consider the fact that  if 5,000,000 other sites are competing on that term, the chances of you getting top 10 in Google is frankly slim to none and you'll probably want to enhance it a bit.

Start to look for variations of your keyterms that have high search volume and low competition.  Consider the differences between "apple a", "apple b" and "apple c" and broaden your research.  As you do this, you will start to see some suggested keyterms that may work for you with perhaps less competition but solid daily search volume.  

O is for Opportunity

As noted above - there are opportunities in search optimization and what variations you may use.  Lets for example say that "apple a" is actually a "chocolate apple".   You might want to consider common misspellings of the word "chocolate".  This does not work in all cases, but in certain situations if done properly - you can monetize that common misspelling by capturing those users who perhaps type a bit too quick and search on "chocalate" - believe me - it happens.  You certainly don't want to include these misspellings in your page content, but can strategically place them in your meta-tags.

Another way to look for opporunity is in examining the different products and competition for each.  "Apple a" may be your most popular product, but effective optimization on "apple b" or "apple c" can most definately drive traffic to your site, and the end result is that more than likely you'll sell a bunch of "apple a" as well.

Consider also your customer's expertise - perhaps beyond the products they sell.  But your site content should include keyterm rich content related to your business - there is alot of opportunity in getting ranking on content pages that are informative and useful that will drive traffic to your product or service.

SEO - A small piece of the puzzle.

While SEO is important - there is so much more to it than just loading your site full of keywords.  You have to know where to place them, how to structure your meta-tags and where they belong in your page content.  Be sure when you hire someone for the purpose of SEO, you hire someone who truly understands and has the experience to get you the results.

Add other aspects of Internet Marketing and Social Media to your online marketing and if done effectively can be a recipe for success.  Continue to monitor the success of your keyterms.  Find the areas of weakness and expand on them - your keyterms may still be the right ones, but you may need to reprioritize and develop relevant content to support those keyterms.

Listen to your site and what it's telling you.  Work your site and be proactive in updating content, adding products and getting involved in related online communities.  Always promote your site continuously through the various avenues of online marketing.

Good luck with your SEO - Hope to see you in Google's Top 10!

These are just my thoughts on SEO, I'd love to hear yours!  Leave me a comment or find me Tweeting as @SocialPMChick.

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