Posts Tagged ‘Website Optimization’
Optimization projects normally start with keyword research to identify the most promising “head” search terms (short, frequently used keyword phrases), and over time, a site’s rank for these terms is closely watched (and often much fretted about).
Nothing wrong with that—head terms are critical to optimization efforts. But it’s also important to note that when it comes to on-site conversions, the leads often come from multi-word, infrequently searched “tail” terms.
Looking at multiple b2b websites, in the U.S. and Canada, with a combined 150,000+ visits during the first half of this year, it’s clear that head terms drive traffic, but tail terms drive leads:
Okay, that’s a bit of an oversimplification; obviously, head terms are vital to lead generation as well. But the point is, across site after site reviewed, the common pattern was that a relatively small number of keyword phrases (typically 50-60 out of several thousand) drove well over half of all traffic. At the same time, a larger group of head terms drove a smaller share of leads.
This makes sense. Searchers often use broad head terms early in their buying research process and longer, more specific terms as they get closer to a decision. So what are the implications?
1. Use AdWords (and SEM in general). First, head keywords matter, but some terms are so competitive that it’s nearly impossible for a small to midsize company to rank for them. Second, rankings vary between individuals based on factors like personalization and location, and they also vary (sometimes considerably) over time as the search engines continually tweak their algorithms. Finally, some head terms are great for driving traffic but less so for producing leads.
Search engine marketing programs like AdWords enable marketers to identify which keywords actually drive conversions most effectively, and to always have their site appear on the first page of search results for those terms, regardless of variations in organic rank.
2. Use SEO best practices. Specific tactics change over time as algorithms change, but certain basics remain vital: create quality content, utilize all aspects of on-page website optimization, and build quality links (including social links). This won’t guarantee your site a consistent #1 ranking for any specific phrase, but it will optimize your results over time across both expected head and unpredictable long-tail terms.
3. Continually produce new content. Even the best keyword research is, by its nature, point-in-time and backward-looking. Publishing a steady stream of optimized new content, driven by customer and social intelligence, will position your site best to take advantage of new, trending and previously unanticipated head and long tail phrases.
In short, optimizing a b2b website for conversions isn’t simple enough to do in your head (terms only).
While search engines use hundreds of signals to determine how any particular web page should rank for a given search phrase query, all of those signals feed into two primary measures: relevance and authority.
Relevance is principally determined by content and other site-wide or on-page factors. For example, on a search for information about a specific breed of dog, a page devoted to that breed would typically be deemed more relevant than a page about dogs in general. And a page on site solely focused on dogs would likely be judged by the search engines to be more relevant than a page on a site about domestic pets, or animals in general.
Authority is predominantly determined by the quantity and quality of external links to a site. One common technique for building links in the past was to submit a website to hundreds of general online directories. The major search engines have now caught on to this tactic, however, and discount links from low-quality directories to the point where they are nearly worthless.
It’s still helpful to be listed in a few of the well-respected, higher-quality online business directories, but the focus of link building is now through social media, content sharing and online PR activities. In short, links can’t be bought (at least not without risk) and they can’t be spammed—they have to be earned by producing great content and exposing it to key influencers in your industry.
On-page search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques for making it clear to the search engines what each page, and your website overall, is about. Think of these signals like the dust jacket of a book; you can discern quite a bit about what a book is about just by the cover, promotional blurbs and table of contents. Similarly, the search engines use meta tags, page headings and other signals to assess the relevancy of your site for given search phrases.
Each page on your site should have one main search phrase assigned to it, though often the page will also rank well for associated phrases (in the example below, the page optimized for records management software may also rank well for phrases such as “records management software system” and “records management software solution”).
Here are eight ways to utilize that key phrase on a page to help search engines understand what your site is about.
1. In the body text. The target search phrase should appear at least twice in the body text of the page, and more than twice for long content pages. There’s no need to overdo this, however, and search engines may actually penalize your site for “keyword stuffing”—using the same phrase with unnatural frequency. The text should always read well to a human visitor. Mix in synonymous phrases as well, such as, in this case, phrases like “records management system” or “RM software.”
2. In page headings and subheads. Not every word on a page has equal value. Putting the main idea (your target key search phrase) in headings and subheads emphasizes its important.
3. In the meta title tag. This is one of the most important single elements for SEO, akin to the title of a book. You have (depending on who you believe) somewhere between 65 and 85 characters to tell the search engines what is most important about this page. Use them carefully, wisely and judiciously. You can find more detailed guidance on writing effective title tags here and here.
4. In the site navigation menus. Too often, websites use generic menu text like “Products” and “Services.” Using specific phrases instead is more meaningful both to site visitors and to search engines.
5. In the page file name (end of the URL). Except for the home page on your site (which has to named either Index, Home or Default), you have complete freedom (within reasonable number-of-character limits) to name pages whatever you like. Using a specific phrase helps with SEO, and also makes your page stand out in the search results.
6. In the page meta tags (description and keywords). The description title tag isn’t specifically used by search engines, but it’s value lies in “selling” your page to searchers. It should give searchers a compelling reason to click on your link. Including the key search phrase in the description tag isn’t strictly required, but can help demonstrate the relevance of your page to searchers.
The keywords meta tag is optional. The major search engines no longer use this tag in formulating their rankings (or at least they say they don’t). On the plus side, the tag may still be used by some of the smaller search engines, and it’s helpful internally for organizing SEO efforts. On the downside, it takes time to craft, and it shows your competitors which search terms you are focused on (not that they couldn’t figure this out using other methods). In short, this tag probably doesn’t help much, but it doesn’t hurt either.
7. In image file names and alt tags. These attributes help with image searches as well as regular search. Instead of naming an image file IMG02134.jpg or something similarly meaningless, use a search-friendly file name like electric-blue-widget.jpg (or whatever is relevant for your product, service or topic). Also include a descriptive image alt tag; this is the text that appears in a browser with images turned off and also used for accessibility (e.g. speech browsers for the visually impaired). But the tag is also used be search engines to categorize your image, since search engines can’t “read” the content of the image itself.
8. In internal text links. Let’s say you have one page on your site completely dedicated to “electric blue widgets,” but you use that phrase in passing on other pages of the site as well. From those pages, link the phrase “electric blue widgets” (or variations of it, such as “blue electric widgets”) to the main page on that topic. Again, these links serve as signals to both human readers and search engines that they can find more detailed information about that topic on the target page.
The most fundamental element for on-site optimization is high-quality original content. Strive to write the “ultimate page” for someone searching on that particular topic. Then use these eight techniques to provide helpful guideposts for both human readers and search engines to draw them to that compelling information.
Stumped for that last-minute Christmas idea? Books make great gifts, and there’s still time to order for pre-Christmas delivery.
Since you don’t want to take the chance of buying a sleeper however, or a book that’s inappropriate for the recipient, here are nine ideas—books reviewed on the Webbiquity blog this year.
Defy Gravity by Rebel Brown
In Defy Gravity: Propel Your Business to High-Velocity Growth, Rebel Brown shows business owners and executives how to shed the weight of legacy baggage, filter out the noise and focus on those opportunities which provide the best potential for profitable growth…
Social Media Marketing by Liana “Li” Evans
With Social Media Marketing: Strategies for Engaging in Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media, the inimitable Liana “Li” Evans has provided the definitive handbook for social media marketers. From her no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point opening chapter on the basics of social media (“It’s Not Easy, Quick or Cheap”) through the final chapter on “Putting It All Together,” Evans tells anyone brave or foolhardy enough to venture into social media marketing what they need to know…
SNAP Selling by Jill Konrath
Don’t you love it when you pick up a book and realize in just the first few pages that the author really gets it? Even better, they don’t just get “it,” but offer a fresh and compelling approach to dealing with the specific problem, situation, condition of modern life, etc.? Well, SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers by Jill Konrath is that kind of book…
Social Media Marketing – An Hour a Day by Dave Evans
Despite its airy title, Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans is anything but a lightweight treatment of this topic. At roughly 340 pages of text plus another 42 pages of worksheets, this is a meaty book, but the end result of following Dave’s hour-a-day guide is a solidly justified, strategic social media marketing plan…
Maverick Marketing by Tom Hayes
In Maverick Marketing: Trailride into the Wild West of New Marketing, Tom Hayes invites readers on a gallop through the new west of innovative marketing campaigns, to help generate new ideas to stand out from the herd…
The Truth About Search Engine Optimization by Rebecca Lieb
Despite being a quick, almost breezy read (how often do you read that said about a book on SEO?), The Truth About Search Engine Optimization packs a tremendous amount of valuable knowledge into a compact barely-200-page space…
eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale by Ardath Albee
Without a solid content strategy to support movement through the marketing and sales cycle, marketing automation software is just a nice email system. The brilliant Ardath Albee provides the missing piece, a reliable recipe marketing automation, demand generation and content marketing success in her new book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale…
The Perfection of Marketing by James Connor
Despite it’s ambitious title, The Perfection of Marketing is a surprisingly accessible and fast-paced read. The book is written in case study fashion, taking the reader through a realistic scenario of a midsized company struggling to build on its past success and take sales to the next level…
Author Andrew King, president of Internet marketing firm Web Site Opimization, LLC has really done it. In Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets, he gives away all the secrets of creating a website and search marketing program that effectively sells products and services…
Need more ideas? Check out the Webbiquity bookstore.