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Strategic Content and SEO

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Though understanding and applying SEO (Search Engine Optimization) concepts can be challenging, it’s absolutely necessary to have a firm grasp on at least the basics. SEO firms and web developers throw out terms like meta-tags, backlinks, sitemaps and other other such technospeak, making internet marketing seem as daunting as writing a book on application programming or learning a foreign language. The complex algorithms involved in a search listing placement are well beyond the comprehension of most mathematicians. So don’t beat yourself up if it seems over your head. No matter your height, the sky is over all of our heads.

Implementing basic SEO concepts can truly set your online business apart from your competition. Your website’s position in search engine listings influences fluctuations in visitor traffic, and in many cases, viability. So your primary aim will be to do whatever you can (providing that it’s fair and ethical) to make it to the top of the list. It is this drive to advance beyond a competitor that makes SEO fun, and getting there can be financially rewarding.

To begin to unpack the complexity of marketing your website online, we will begin by discussing basic marketing concepts. Understanding the terminology comes with time, but steps can be made initially to understand how to organize your site and write content that results in increased revenue.

Measuring ROI
ROI or Return on Investment is a term most business owners are familiar with. So how does investing in a website give you a return on that investment?

The first step to creating a return on your investment is to define success, or in the SEO world, define a conversion. If a user visits your site, what is your desired outcome? Is it that they buy a product from your online store, sign-up for your newsletter, email your office, or give you a call? What is the purpose of your site? Websites must have a goal, a conversion goal. This will help you organize and optimize the direction your website takes. If your goal is to get users to sign up for your newsletter, where is the sign-up button located? Is it in a bold font on the front page, or is navigating to the sign-up page buried deep within the structure of your site?

Google Analytics are a great way to track what users do on your site, what pages they commonly visit, and where they abandon your goal path. Google Analytics can also help you determine which keyword searches produce the desired outcome (in this example, a newsletter sign-up).

Google’s SEO tools can also help you analyze trends over time and track the seasonality of your online business. To achieve the ROI you desire, set SEO goals, define the conversion, and track it with Google’s free online tools.

Creating Compelling Content
Writing content may seem like any other simple task in describing your business, but online marketing is multifaceted. Your customers will not be the only ones reading your content. Google’s web crawlers will “crawl” your site looking for keywords that describe what your business is about. Upon defining your business, they will categorize it and rank it accordingly. Consider the following examples of sites both selling balloons:

Our products are the best in the industry. The robust nature of our materials make them the most durable against sharp objects. Kids will love the variety of colors we offer and the shapes we carry. Our prices are competitive within the industry. We guarantee your satisfaction. Hours of floating fun await you.

Our balloons are made of the highest quality latex that offers hours of floating fun. Fill them with helium or air for hours of play time for children. We offer a variety of colors including unique ones such as indigo and pale blue. We have round balloons as well as long balloons. Our prices are cheap, but our quality is not.

In these two examples, if Google was crawling these sites, what are the keywords they would pick out? In the first example, maybe robust, sharp, kids, colors, floating…etc. For all Google knows, they may classify the first example as a child’s airplane toy. What words in that paragraph would make Google think the site sold balloons? Do these keywords convey your business? In looking at the second example, some keywords might be balloon, latex, floating, helium, air, children, indigo, round, long, balloons (again). These keywords describe the business of balloons much better, and therefore allow Google to understand what you are about and categorize you accordingly.

Stay away from keyword stuffing. This was an old strategy in attempts to trick Google into ranking you higher. Google has solved this problem and will now look for too many keywords and punish a site for attempting this strategy. Not to mention, keyword stuffing makes a website’s content frustrating to read:

Balloons are great to play with kids who love balloons. Our balloons are round balloons and we make balloons of different sizes. Our balloons are the best balloons in the balloon industry.

In considering an overall content writing strategy with Google in mind, combine your newly refined writing techniques with your ROI strategy to come up with site content that leads visitors into making a conversion. When a visitor lands on your site, it is important that your conversion goals are obvious to the potential customer. Consider the following tactics:

  1. Assign visual priority. If the largest item on your page is the sign-up button for your newsletter when your conversion goal is an online purchase, you are less likely to meet your goal. If online purchases are your goal, have a button right on your home page that encourages the visitor to visit your online store.
  2. Consider the visitor’s eye path. Most people read top to bottom, left to right. If the button for the online store is in the bottom right corner, it will most likely be the last thing they read on that page.
  3. Make the steps clear. If an online purchase is your goal and you have the button to enter the store on the top of your home page, what happens when they click on that button? Does it take them several steps clicking through the site to reach the online store? Take your visitor through a quick and easy process, leading them to your goal’s objective.
  4. Identify primary and secondary goals. You may have more than one goal on your site, but make sure you have identified them in order of importance. If your primary goal is an online purchase and the secondary goal to have the visitor call your retail location, then make the steps clear and the visual priority reflect those objectives
  5. Minimize competing objectives. In examining your primary and secondary goals, structure your site so that those objectives don’t come across as competing. Your home page should not consist of two equally large images telling the visitor to do two different things.

Track the Competition
Since websites are public knowledge and visiting your competitors is just a click away, checking out the competition is easier than ever. Since the World Wide Web is so large, identify 3-5 realistic competitors you wish to beat in Google rankings. Once your competitors have been identified, the next step is easy – visit them. The online SEO guru SEOBook.com offers an online tool bar that is free to anyone that signs up for their mailing list. This tool bar allows you, when visiting a site, to use analysis tools to determine why a particular site is ranked so high. It will give you the Google site ranking (a number between 1-10) as well as a link to examine the site’s backlinks. Backlinks are another way to improve your ranking. A backlink is any link contained on another site that has a link back to your site. The strategy? The higher the site is that links back to you, the higher Google will rank you in return. In short, it is an online website popularity contest. In using the SEO tool bar to examine your competitor’s backlinks, you can find which links are causing them to achieve a higher ranking. Many times, you can visit those same sites and acquire a backlink as well.

Entering the world of SEO can be an overwhelming learning process, but following these strategies can point you in the right direction. Be intentional and define your goals. Before you know it, the investment in your website will create the profits you desire.

~All websites developed by Sitehatchery.com are created using the latest SEO strategies.

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