Monday, September 26, 2011

Pea-Finding Maximizers Improve Your Odds: SEO Tricks You Can Use Right Now.

One problem I face creating a new website is in the buzzy realm of SEO – Search Engine Optimization, right? Maybe I am branding the company. Maybe I’m crafting content for a new or revised site. In all cases, it is now a challenge – and good client service – to get the new site’s page ranking higher on Google and other search engines.

How to find and use the right search terms in copy, if you’re a marketer or copywriter? How to build them into your website, if you’re an in-house graphic designer or a outsource coder?

These days we pay more attention because the Internet’s a shell game. The complexity and competition of the worldwide web are the shells; your website’s optimized efficiency is the pea. Discover the pea and you win more…eyeballs. But the pea is elusive. You need more than guesswork. You need pea-finding maximizers.

I always try to find and use a set of current practices when creating a site. (“Current” is important because the game changes all the time.)

That’s just what I’ve done over the past few days. I completed a website’s content with the extra help of 11 simple but effective tricks. I learned – or re-learned – them at a Search Engine Optimization lunch seminar last week. The good people* at CITOC brought Toronto-based Stuart Crawford, President and Chief Marketing Officer at Ulistic, to lead the instruction.

Here’re my current pea-finding maximizers.

1. Start with a tight-and-right marketing plan. Every great website is based on one. Getting it nailed is harder than it looks. And it’s also where you evaluate key words and search terms.

I sharpen this by building in brand-related words, too – important when the client’s marcomms will help push customers and prospects to the new site: not just “oilfield sand screens,” for example, but “open hole expandable sand screens.”

2.  Use text and lots of it. (or Department of Music to a Copywriter’s Ears). Google searches text. The more of it there is on a website, the greater the opportunity for search programs to spot your key words.

3.  Optimize for where you do business. Adjust your website(s) to relate to prospects locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. All of these if you do business globally.

Searches that are effective in Hong Kong or Heidelberg may not work as well in Houston and vice versa – key phrases may be completely different from region to region. Example: “combat boots” in the US, “military boots” in the UK.

4.  Search engines work even better with “current events.” The fresher the news the better off your website is, search engine-wise. Frequency of fresh news is also a strong attractor. Which leads to…

5.  Easy updating is crucial. However you can do it, you need to be able to change up news, events and other elements on your site quickly and easily. Whether you’re the one, or you have an outside resource do it, it has to be fast and simple. Make it so.

Okay – keep a clock on your IT department, your outside vendor or freelancer. The sooner the news release is posted, the sooner search engines can get to work. No, I don’t mean it has to be done this New York minute; “timely” is the right measurement here.

6.  Enjoy more wham! from your website title tag. If you can transmit a key word or key term in the website title, do it. Putting “Jones and Company” is way less effective than “Cheap Diamond Rings ׀ Jones and Company.”

Or look at where the upper left title tag starts with “Richard Laurence Baron. Then comes “Signalwrite” followed by “Marketing Copywriter Houston.” My brand is built on my three-part name. I want people to search for – and find – me. Thank you to Brian Bearden and Zephyr Salvo for constructing it this way.

7.  Put a Convert Button on every page. Do not lose the chance to call-to-action right where your readers may be stopping.

8.  Use PR releases for backlink to your site. More frequent publicity releases, even for in-company celebrations, can boost visits to your website…remember to put hotlinks into your PR every time.

9.  Then get OPWs to link to yours. That’s Other People’s Websites. Your partners, vendors, customers – either from some social media site(s) or their own websites…this will drive traffic to yours also. Don’t forget to return the favor.

10. Take massive advantage of Google Places. B2B or Retail, especially Retail – put up a separate Google Places listing for each store, office and facility. Don’t forget to check current address details.

11. Test and measure, test and measure. Keep using Google Analytics and other options to see how your newly effectorized website is doing. SEO needs some care and feeding, you just want to know what, where and when.

These are nowhere near all the SEO rules, tips and tricks. And unless your life is spent online, that means another kind of shell game for you to confront. How do you pick the right SEO person or firm to help you with this?

Maybe “test and measure” applies here, too. C’mon, can I get some opinions on this from real social media experts?

*Nota Bene (which means “note well”): Signalwrite-sized thanks with loud tropical shirts on to Citoc’s BJ Farmer and his team for timely and tasty learning; to Ulistic’s Crawford, taking advantage of Houston weather before snow-flying time comes to eastern Canada; and Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) who shows that finding the pea has been much harder than it looks for centuries. From Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Excellent intro to SEO for us copywonks -- thank you, Richard.

As with so many things related to intertubes marketing, it's very easy to become overwhelmed by SEO. But my approach has always been that if you know your target market well, coming up with keywords is a snap, and then it's just a matter of placing those keywords where search engines are likely to find them.

One of the great things about Web marketing is that everything your competitors do is right there in the open. So if you're consistently getting outranked by another company for your chosen keywords, crack open their Web page, then click View > Page Source on your browser and see what they've got going on under the hood. Of particular interest will be how they structure any tags whose labels start with "meta."

Oh, dear, is my propeller beanie showing?