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Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

What You Need to Know About SEO (Website Architecture – Part 3 of 3) Fueled Friday

This is the last of this 3 part series on “what you need to know about SEO.” Originally, I only wanted to cover the main two aspects (web content and links) but I realized that many people are still unaware of what a search engine friendly website architecture is.

In short, you want to build a website with URL’s that have your keywords in them as opposed to those that have query strings and contain characters such as “&” or “=”. You normally see query strings associated with ecommerce websites and it is basically showing you where the web server is looking to produce the webpage – but it make for an ugly, non search engine friendly URL. It is also common to see non search engine friendly URL’s with websites that are constructed with a Content Management System (CMS).

Here is an example of a search engine friendly URL: http://www.azrebsi.com/blog/2010/01/owe-more-than-your-home-is-worth-help-is-here/. This is a URL produced by a WordPress blog. There are actually settings in WordPress that determine whether or not you will have search engine friendly URL’s or not (under the section called Permalinks). If you are using WordPress as a CMS or blog, you will want to make sure that these setting are correct. And if they are not and you change them you may have some issues with your old URL’s changing.

Amazon gets a lot of bad PR from SEO folks as their URL’s are very commonly used to show examples of non search engine friendly URL’s. I don’t think it matters because they are such a strong web property, and because over time the search engines will often index dynamic URL’s from strong sites such as Amazon. Here is an example of a typical Amazon.com URL: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0015T963C?ie=UTF8&tag=finamark-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B0015T963C

Take a look at your website and determine whether or not you have search engine friendly URL’s or not. If you do, then you are on the right track. If you do not, then you have a potential hindrance to obtaining search engine success. If you need help, let’s chat!

Have a great weekend. I am off to the races for three day!

What You Need to Know about SEO (On Page SEO – Part 1 of 3) – Fueled Friday

Search Engine Optimization (a.k.a. SEO) is a very confusing subject to many. Like anything else, once you learn the theory and the specific components of SEO, it starts to make more sense. Some might even say it’s not that hard, and I would agree. Not to beat a dead horse, I will define SEO as “architecting a website such that the search engines are able to understand what is is about and why it should rank well for its related terms.”

There are two general components to SEO; “on page” elements and “off page” elements. On Page SEO refers to how the keywords related to your business appear in the written content of your site as well as the behind the scenes code that only the search engines read. Off Page SEO refers to how other (relevant) websites link to your website. When speaking, I put it like this “on page SEO tells the search engines what your website is about and off page SEO tells the search engines that your website is important enough to rank for what its about.” There is a third component to consider for effective SEO and that is the website platform iteself. There are essentially search engine friendly and non search engine friendly web platforms. I am sure you can guess which one is best for SEO. In this post, I will discuss on page SEO in detail and in the next two posts, I will discuss off page SEO and web platforms.

The two components of on page SEO are the actual page content (what people read) and the page coding (which the search engines read). In days of SEO past, content was referred to as “king”. You would hear people in the SEO business using that phrase very often – in fact too often – “content is king“, “content is king“. So let’s chat about what kind of content and coding you need to have on your website to get great results in the search engines.

Themed Content
Your website content should be “themed” meaning that each page on your website should target a unique set of keywords. For example, if you own a financial services company, you would want to have a separate page on your website for each service that you offer. This gives each of those pages an opportunity to rank for its related keywords. Many people fall short here in trying to get a single page site (often their home page) to rank for multiple keywords, and that generally can’t happen. What the search engines are looking for is how relevant a single page is to a keyword or set of related keywords. If you have a single page website that talks about everything you do, chances are that it will not rank for anything that you do because the keywords are diluted in value.

Fresh Content
The search engines want to serve relevant and current content to the searching public. While it is often not practical to change your web content frequently, there are certainly things you can do to keep current content on your website. Here are a few suggestions:

– Whenever there are changes to product or service offerings, you want to make sure to use those opportunities to update your website.

– If you have events or news, always make sure to add those to your site as well (news websites tend to do well in the search engines due to continually having new content).

– Adding articles to your website on a consistent basis can allow it to grow into a resource website that will attract those search at search engines and others linking to and sharing your content; which should ultimately lead to increased sales.

– Having a blog as a part of your website is a great way to add content on a continual basis and can help to position your company as the thought leader in your industry.

Website Coding
If you are not technical, some of this may not resonate with you. This just means you need to get someone to sit down and explain it or do it for you. Website coding (for the pupose of SEO) refers to having your keywords in the specific tags that the search engines look for such as TITLE tags, ALT tags, and META tags. Some may disagree with me, but I will say this. If you focus on creating solid content and use relevant keywords in your TITLE tags, you will do well. You should add META tags as a matter of good practice, but NEVER expect the META tags to make a big difference in your website. In he past, they used to have value but they have been abused so the search engines simply devalued them. I have had website obtain #1 rankings with no META tags whatsoever. Using ALT tags to add keywords to your images is a nice way to reinforce their keyword relevance, but a bigger way to do this is to name your images with keyword terms rather than the default names (i.e. loan-modification.jpg vs. DSC0112.jpg).

I hope this gives you some great ideas for adding relevant content and coding to your website. Once you start to put it into place, I am confident you will see results. If you need more specifics on the coding aspects, my book on Internet Marketing spells a lot of this out.

So, while content may be king, links are the “queen” that turns the kings head. Stay tuned for next weeks Fueled Friday where I disucss links and off page SEO.

Have a great weekend!

Fueled Friday – Finding Your Online Market Potential

Online marketing is the most effective form of reaching a targeted audience. In this weeks Fueled Friday post, I want to show you how to find out how much online marketing potential exists for your business. This is critical because if you don’t realize what you are missing out on, you might never be motivated to go after it. I will tell you this as well; most of your competitors are not paying attention to this so it will be fairly easy for you to outrank them and get the customers you need. This holds true whether you are a local business or serve clients nationally or internationally.

The most critical factor in any organic or paid search marketing plan is having keywords that heave search volume. If no one is search for terms related to your business, then online marketing may not be the best form of outreach for you. It is rare, but there are definitely cases where it is not in a company’s best interest to invest in an SEO or Paid Search campaign.

So how do you find out what people are searching on? The simplest and most cost effective way is to use Google’s free keyword research tool. This will tell you what people are searching on and how many searches are being done in a given month. If there are lots of people searching, then that means you have a high online marketing potential. If the search volume is low, then you do not have a high of an online marketing potential, but this could also be a good sign if there are fewer competitors because most of the prospects searching would end up at your website. Below is a screen shot from a search I did for local accountants in my area.

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From this you can see what the search potential is for just two terms specific to “accounting in phoenix.” Let’s assume for a minute that you are going to target these two terms here which represents roughly 35,200 monthly searches. Now keep in mind that the percentage of these searchers that come to your website will be relative to where you rank for these terms. You really will need to get ranked on page 1 for to see any reasonable percentage of these searchers. Let’s say you get to position 2 and you generate roughly 8% of this traffic. That would give you roughly 2,800 visitors to your website, of which a smaller percentage will engage. We can conservatively use 3% which would give you about 84 visitors for the month. What percentage of those that contact you looking for your help do you think you can close? If we assume it’s just 20%, that would net you 16 new clients that months. Now let’s assume they are small business clients with an ongoing monthly retainer of $1,000. This would generate about $16,000 in additional monthly revenue for your business.

So now you have the formula to find out your online marketing potential. I encourage you to do your own search and plug in your numbers to see what the specific potential is for your business.

The exact formula is: “total number of searches” x “percentage of those that you can attract via paid, local, and organic search” (use 3-10% if you are on page one and zero if you are not) x “the percentage of people that land on your website then contact you (you can use 3% as an estimate) x the percentage of people that you close (use 20% but do track and find your actual closing ratio).

If your average cost per client is low, then you have to be a bit more cautious to how much you spend to generate leads online. If your average cost per customer is much higher, then you may need fewer clients to see a very strong return on investment.

I know you may be thinking that there is no way you can afford to get to the top of the search engines, but I have to tell you that it certainly is possible. Does it have to be expensive? No. In fact, there are plenty of low cost or no cost strategies that you can use to attract people to your website (mainly blogging and social media which I did not include in the calculations).

I’d love to hear your success stories, so feel free to email me and let me know what you came up with in terms of your market potential. If this is a bit overwhelming, then feel free to contact me and I will provide a free online marketing assessment and this way you will know where you stand in terms of what it would take to get you to the top of the search engines.

Now that you have some work to do for the weekend, enjoy your Friday!

Is Your Staff Sabotaging Your SEO Efforts?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the best ways to connect with hot prospects for your business. If you are reading this, you most likely agree and have some understanding of the process. What many fail to realize is that like any other marketing strategy, SEO is not the end all, but rather a prospect generating strategy. It will allow those looking for your products or services to find you, but here is what is doesn’t do:

    Answer your telephone promptly and professionally.
    Greet your customers with a smile.
    Give outstanding customer service to your customers.
    Take messages for you when you are away.

I think you get the picture. Once you have invested in an effective SEO campaign, make sure that you have the right people to turn that prospect (or suspect) into customer, and then a brand advocate.

Yesterday, I went to a store to buy something… I can’t say what because I am in a weight loss competition and my wife will read my blog. Granted, I did not find this store via the web, but anyone who did might have had this same experience. I walked into the store and there was no one to help me. I could see someone in the back obviously doing something more important that taking money from a paying customer. I understand that people have other things to do than wait for me to walk in, but I said “hello” and was not even acknowledged. I then waited for about a minute and thought to myself “they just don’t deserve the business”, so I went to a local competitor and got what I was craving. The real good news is that when I stepped on the scale it did not have any impact. :-)

The moral of the story; bad customer service will end up costing you more in your online marketing campaign because you will need to generate far more prospects if you aren’t taking care of them. Not only are you missing out on new business, but you are losing potential referral customers from those that get bad service and tell people (as I did).

Why is SEO so Expensive? (and how to make it more affordable)

Many people complain about the high cost of Search Engine Optimization. It is true that in very competitive fields, it can be very costly to compete, but no one can change that – at least not for now. Paid Search (pay per click) often does not offer to get the job done much more affordably than SEO does and the competition factor also plays a huge role there as well. So what is a business owner to do?

First, I would say become a student of web marketing and search engine optimization. I don’t mean to try and be an expert, but I mean try to see what you can actually do on your own. I speak to people nearly every day that are looking to improve their online rankings and get more customers, and for rmany it is overwhelming because they have not taken the time to learn “something” about SEO. It is no different than if a CEO had no knowledge of finance or the production side of his or her business. It is no longer an optional form of marketing, given that people turn to the web more often than not for solutions.

Second, I would say “do something rather than nothing”. When I prepare a proposal for a client, I always try to walk them through it before sending it so they know what to expect. If I get a reaction over the price, I don’t just say “that’s the price… take it or leave it”, I try to find out how what has been proposed differs from their expectations. More than that, I try to help them understand the value of doing something as opposed to nothing which will make the next phase that much lesss costly, and hopefully they will see some results from the introductory level service. When people have “sticker shock” over a proposal, it still often boils down to a lack of education. I apprecaite when a prospect is up front and just says “we’ve never considered this so we had no idea what the costs were”. At least I know I am dealing with someone who is honest and realistic (as opposed to the insecure executive who thinks he or she needs to appear to know everything).

Last year, I wrote a book for the people that I just decribed. I realized that I had the same conversation with people time and time again and it always boiled down to not having any idea about the basics, and sometimes having mis-information (which is worse). I basically told my story of how I learned all that I learned (before they had classes in this stuff), which lead me to build several successful companies and websites. I spell out the A to Z’s so that not only will a conversation with a web marketing specialist not be confusing, but you will be able to implement many of the services yourself, saving thousands of dollars.

I am now at a point of (finally) getting that book in print – which has been a journey. Depending on the terms of the publishing agreement, I may not be able to offer it as an ebook (which I currently do), so I am making an offer to get it into the hands of those that truly need it. I am making the next 500 copies available for just $5 (it is currently priced at $29). For the first 100 to purchase, I am offering a FREE SEO Website Analysis and consultation (valued at $500), and giving everyone the opportunity to get some free exposure in the print book. For more details or to get your copy of my “tell-all” book, visit: http://www.anthonykirlew.com/

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