Posts Tagged 'SERP'

The Easy Way for Agencies to Do SEO

The Easy Way for Agencies to Do SEOSearch engine optimization (SEO) can be a little intimidating for the non-technical person. After all, it’s a mysterious science filled with unknown algorithms, metadata, XML sitemaps, HTML tags, linking schemes, and much, much more. And to further complicate things, it’s always changing.

Then there’s the agency that is not even responsible for the client’s website. How in the world is an advertising, public relations, or marketing communications agency supposed to get involved in SEO? Actually, it’s pretty easy these days. I’ve compiled some tips to help get you started.

Take advantage of others’ SEO technology.

SEO has matured to the point that there are countless platforms optimized for search. You just have to add the content and the search engines do the rest.

  • Social media sites like YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Merchant Circle, to name just a few, are large in size and highly optimized. Posting content on these sites will help you get listed in the search engines. Just be sure to use your keywords in the postings for the various sites. And include a keyword in the file name of any photo or video file you upload to a website too!
  • Blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are free, easy to set up, and highly optimized. However, the biggest obstacle with a blog is that it takes some time to grow the blog to a size large enough to be noticed by search engine
  • Press Release wire services like PR Newswire and Business Wire provide optimization of press releases and host the release on their site. In addition, the press release is distributed to media news sites that also host a version of the release on their site. This gives one press release numerous opportunities for listings on a search engine results page (SERP).
  • Lead Maverick is an SEO platform developed specifically for agencies with integrated optimization tools for content, customizable landing page designs and real-time tracking stats — all in a non-technical, user-friendly interface. Lead Maverick agency partners use the SEO platform to get their clients to the top of organic SERPs or to add additional listings so their client owns more of the SERP real estate.

Write well, rank well.

There are a number of guidelines for developing content that will enhance its findability in organic search. The goal is not to trick the search engines, but to provide quality content on a subject while following SEO best practices.

  • Length of content should be at least 300 words.
  • Each content posting should focus on one keyword, keyword phrase or keyword theme. Putting too many different keywords in one posting will dilute its effectiveness.
  • Headline should not exceed 70 characters and should include a keyword ideally placed towards the beginning.
  • Subhead should not exceed 160 characters and should include at least one keyword ideally placed closer to the beginning.
  • If there is not a subhead, treat the first paragraph of the content as the subhead by making it bold, keeping it under 120 characters, and include at least one keyword.
  • Emphasize a keyword by making it bold and emphasize other important points with bold or by using a bulleted list.
  • Rule of thumb for keywords is one keyword for every 100 words. If you repeat a keyword more than this, the search engine may think you are keyword stuffing and not add the page to the index.
  • Include at least a couple of hyperlinks to your website. Also include a link or two to a third-party website, preferably ones with good size and traffic. For example, Wikipedia is good to use for a definition.
  • Link your various content pages with hyperlinks on your keywords. Be sure the page you link to discusses the keyword that is hyperlinked.
  • Avoid posting duplicate content from another website by making some edits to your posting. Add a link to the page with the original content so the search engine will know that you are not trying to trick it.

Spread Keywords Across the Sales Decision Process.

One of the greatest benefits of search marketing is the ability to track responses and conversions. For that reason, many advertisers focus keywords on driving a purchase. But, searchers use the internet throughout every stage of the sales decision process. They search for information on categories at the beginning of their research, all the way through to searches on specific products to check pricing.

Keyword Sales Decision Process

Be sure you focus keywords and content for every stage of the sales decision process. Just set your client’s expectations for ROI. The earlier in the sales decision process, the fewer click throughs on the landing page. Early on in the process, you are trying to educate and build awareness for a purchase down the road. And you’ll have keywords and content covering those later purchase-related stages where click-through rates and conversions will be the key success metrics.

Leverage Existing Assets.

Most companies have a wealth of information already developed about the company. In developing your online posts, leverage the existing assets that already exist, incorporating targeted keywords:

  • brochures
  • white papers
  • fact sheets
  • executive bios
  • advertisements (print, broadcast, etc.)
  • trade show schedules
  • speaking engagements
  • press releases
  • product photos
  • how to videos
  • power point presentations

This list is just the beginning. Try to identify all existing assets. Each asset represents a potential posting for a search engine. Spread the posts out across the sales decision process as mentioned above. Supplement with new content developed with your keywords in mind. Just be sure to follow the content writing guidelines above.

Get in the Search

Leave the website optimization to the geeks experts. Now that others are taking care of the SEO part, it’s easier for agencies to get their clients to the top of organic search — with keyword strategy and content.

6 Ways Organic Search Results are Like Superbowl Ads

When it comes to advertising, the Superbowl is the granddaddy of them all. During this one football game, viewership is huge. Advertisers shell out millions of dollars to run just one thirty-second spot and agencies vie to produce THE spot that will have everyone talking, blogging and tweeting long after the MVP’s trip to Disneyland.

It occurred to me as I reviewed the January search stats that organic search is the superbowl of online marketing; here are six ways:

  1. A very large number of people tune in.
  2. Nielsen Media Research reported that Super Bowl XLIII, which aired on February 1, 2009, drew an average of 98.7 million U.S. viewers. By comparison, the highest rated broadcast television show last week was Fox’s American Idol which drew 24.8 million viewers.

    According to monthly search engine tracking by comScore, Inc., there were 13.496 million searches on the five major search engines during January.

    comScore January 2009 Search Report

  3. Audience size is on the rise.
  4. Below is a chart from tvbytheNumbers.com showing Nielsen Media Research’s data for the number of viewers of the Superbowl each year, beginning with Superbowl I in 1967 through Superbowl XLIII in 2009. Although there are some years that were flat or even dipped in total viewers, the overall trend is up.

    superbowlthrough2009-550x383

    I charted comScore’s monthly search engine ranking data for the past twelve months. Like the Superbowl viewership, some months remained flat, others actually decreased, but the overall trend is up.

    ussearchvolume1

  5. Placement is everything!
  6. Superbowl XLIII began at 6:18pm eastern on Fox. Nielsen Media Research reported that the most-watched quarter hour of the game was the 9:45-10:00pm ET spot, with an average audience of more than 106 million viewers. The most-watched minute was 10:07pm ET, which amassed 111.6 million viewers. Advertisers were fortunate that this superbowl game was competitive up to the last play of the game. It’s been more common in previous years that one team dominated the game, dropping viewers as the game progressed.

    For search engine results pages, Cornell University conducted eye tracking studies for users’ behavior, including click distribution as well as the time spent looking at each result. As the following image shows, the top three positions on page one received almost 80% of the clicks, with the number one position receiving a whopping 56% of the clicks!

    click-distribution-serp

  7. The ad must stand out.
  8. For several years, Master Lock devoted its entire annual advertising budget to the Super Bowl in the form of one :30 spot. You may recall the spot from the 1970’s that even today is considered to be one of the best Superbowl ads of all time.

    Many point to this Master Lock spot as the beginning of the big Superbowl ad hype that exists today.

    When it comes to a search engine results page (SERP), there are three key components: the headline, the snippet and the URL. The more specific to the keyword and the more descriptive, the better – which is to say in the world of SERPs, the more likely the searcher is to click on your link. In the SERP example below for “supebowl XLII,” look at the headline and snippet for the second result; this result is so vague that I doubt it would get very many clicks.

    googlesuperbowlserp

  9. There are no guarantees for the effectiveness of your placement.
  10. superbowl43logo1Although advertisers purchase an ad during a specific time period of the superbowl game, there are many uncontrollable factors that contribute to the viewership of the ad:

    • all NFL teams do not enjoy the same popularity
    • the teams competing in the superbowl are not determined until two weeks prior to the event
    • audience size varies from year to year
    • the competitive nature of the game is not predictable

    In the world of organic search, you don’t buy your placement, but rather are at the mercy of the search engines’ double-top-secret algorithm to determine your SERP ranking. All you can do is follow SEO best practices and hope for the best:

    • write quality content
    • limit keywords to one “theme” per page
    • link to related content
    • include keywords in your headline (h1) and early in your first paragraph
    • use bold to emphasize keywords
  11. Anyone can do it!
  12. Every year, superbowl advertisers range from the companies who are there every year, like Budweiser, to first-time superbowl advertisers like Go Daddy. There are big budget spots like Audi and even Doritos spots produced by amateurs in a contest. It’s an example of a medium that anyone (with the $3 million+ dollars for airtime) can participate in.

    Likewise, organic search is now a medium for everyone. It’s not just for web developers and SEO consultants anymore! New online services — like the SEO platform from Lead Maverick — and optimized social media sites, like YouTube, enable advertising, public relations, and marketing consulting agencies, in addition to web developers, interactive agencies, and SEO consultants, to publish optimized content that appears at the top of organic search.

Get in the Game!

White Paper - How to Grow Your Agency in the Downturn: SEO Answers the SOS

These are the days when agencies are beginning to figure out how huge search marketing is — in audience size, in ad spending, in measurable ROI. Those who engage now will no doubt be the winners.

White PaperHow to Grow Your Agency in the Downturn: SEO Answers the SOS

The Reasons for Agencies to Offer Organic Search are Growing

You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing at least one story about the economic conditions ─ bail outs, bankruptcies, cutbacks, layoffs and more. Marketing and advertising dollars are usually the first slashes made in the budget so it’s no surprise that industry analysts are projecting advertising spending in all categories to be down in 2009 ─ all areas except one: online advertising.

Online ad spending is expected to grow between 6 – 10%  in 2009. The largest category of online advertising is search, which is expected to comprise more than 47% of the ad spend online. Clearly, this creates an opportunity for agencies, but many advertising, public relations and interactive agencies have not yet jumped into organic search.

Ecordia White Paper: SEOIf you are one of those agencies, you’ll want to read the white paper titledHow to Grow Your Agency in the Downturn: SEO Answers the SOS.” Written specifically for owners and managers of advertising, public relations, interactive and marketing communications agencies, this white paper addresses the current market conditions for the advertising industry and shines the light on the opportunities with search engine optimization (SEO).

Topics covered include:

  • 2009 outlook for ad spending
  • analysts’ projections for growth in online spending
  • income potential of search
  • challenges agencies face in providing SEO services
  • proven, SEO platform developed just for agencies
  • historical similarities to the current agency environment

How to Grow Your Agency in the Downturn: SEO Answers the SOS” is freely available for download on the Ecordia website at www.ecordia.com/soswhitepaper. It’s a must read for all agency professionals who are considering adding organic search to their service offerings. The reasons to do so are growing and with Ecordia, the barriers are shrinking.

When it Comes to SEO, the Color of your Hat Matters

SEO White Hat

SEO White Hat

In movies set in the wild west, the good guys always wore white and the bad guys donned black. The same is true in the world of search engine optimization (SEO).

“Black hat SEO” is a term referring to unethical techniques employed to “trick” the search engines to rank a web page in a top spot of its organic search, despite its true relevance – or lack thereof. Examples of black hat techniques include:

  • doorway pages — website entry pages filled with keywords that are crawled by the search engine bots, but visitors are immediately redirected to the “real” entry page.
  • keyword stuffing — placing a lot of keywords on a web page rather than quality content.
  • invisible text — placing keywords on a page in the same color as the background so that the human visitor doesn’t see them, but the search engine bots do.

Although black hat SEO techniques may deliver top rankings in the short run, sites employing these run the risk of being penalized — or even banned — from the search engines.

“White hat SEO” refers to techniques used to aid search engines in understanding and ranking content based on adhering to SEO best practices. There are numerous things a website owner may do to improve a site’s SEO, but it all amounts to one thing: build a site that is very rich with quality content and people and the search engines will find the site. Google provides a lot of information about SEO best practices. Give it a read for an even better understanding of white hat SEO and you’ll be sure to have happy trails.

Happy Trails for the White Hat SEO

Happy Trails for the White Hat SEO

To Understand SEO, Get to Know Google First

When you pitch a new business prospect, you get to know a little about the company first. What business are they in? Who are their customers? Who are their competitors? How big is the company? And a million other things. You cater your pitch to appeal specifically to the prospect. The more you know in advance, the higher your odds of winning the account.

Well, it’s the same thing with search engine optimization (SEO). If you want to understand SEO, you first need to gain an understanding of how search engines work. And with a tight grip on 60+% of the search market, that means Google! Here’s a simplistic look at how Google works, from the 50,000 foot level.

Google has bots or spiders ─ programs it calls “Googlebots” ─ that “crawl” billions of web pages everyday. The Googlebots analyze the pages to determine what each page is about (keywords to match to your query) and the relevance of each page (incoming links from other pages that help determine the importance of the page). All this information is stored to create Google’s “index.” The index is constantly being updated to add new pages as well as to record changes to existing pages in the index.

When you place a keyword into a Google search box, Google checks its index to determine which pages are most relevant to the keyword and presents (or “serves”) a snippet of those pages in order of Google’s proprietary and highly complex ranking algorithm.

Here’s an illustration from Google that shows the search query process, which by the way, is usually executed in less than a half a second:

"Life of a Google Query" by Google

"Life of a Google Query" by Google

Think of SEO as a process of employing various techniques to:

    1) ensure that the pages of a website are easily and thoroughly crawled and indexed by Google
    2) maximize the relevancy of the web pages through quality links and other Google-defined factors
    3) closely match the content on web pages with targeted keywords

For a little more explanation of crawling, indexing and serving, check out what Google has to say on the subject. Soon you’ll be ready to make your pitch to Google.

The Anatomy of a Google Search Results Page

Natural listings, organic results, sponsored ads, SERPs — these are just a few of the terms used to describe elements of a Google results page. But do you know what each one means? If they’re Greek to you, then keep on reading.

When you conduct a search query on Google, the results page presented — also known as a search engine results page or SERP — usually contains links that are free as well as links that are purchased. Free listings are referred to as “natural” or “organic” results. They represent the majority of the results on a SERP and are found along the left side of the page. See the green box in Figure 1 below.

Purchased links are called “Sponsored Links,” but may also be referred to as “pay-per-click ads (PPC),”  “Google AdWords” or “paid ads.” Sponsored links are found along the right side of the page, and may also be the top three links on the left side of the SERP. See the pink boxes in Figure 1 below.

Organic results vs. Paid results

Figure 1 -- Organic results vs. Paid results

As suggested by the name, Sponsored Links are paid ad placements based on the purchase of clicks for specific search query keywords. Organic results on the other hand, are completely controlled by Google. Google bots crawl millions of web pages every day, constantly analyzing the context of pages and adding them to its index. Using Google’s proprietary and incredibly secret algorithm, it serves up organic results to your query, making every attempt to provide the highest quality web pages matching the keywords.

There is a lot more that may be said about how PPC and organic listings happen, but we’ll leave those for other posts. For now, if you would like a detailed explanation of all of the elements on a Google SERP, visit Google’s Web Help page (link).


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There are approximately 12 billion searches conducted on the internet each month. And that number continues to grow. As more companies look for ways to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive environment, marketers seek to integrate search engine optimization (SEO) into their marketing communications. And with the advancement in non-technical online tools, SEO is not just for programmers and search marketers anymore. Search Matters is specifically for marketers who want to learn about organic search and how to integrate SEO into their integrated marketing communications programs.

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