Search Engine Optimisation Tips

[Disclaimer: I am not an expert in SEO. The comments made here are not guaranteed to reflect current best practices and do not necessarily reflect the latest nuances of the various search engine algorithms.]

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is more black magic than rocket science! The best value for money can be had by finding someone who understands the principles and who takes particular pleasure in slowly but surely getting a page from a ranking of > 2,000,000 to #1 [Yes, I do know someone who has done that, but his name is my secret!].

Before you hire someone, let them show you how good they are by demonstrating how the modifications they make to a test page actually improve rankings. Another good test is to ask about "no foal, no fee" arrangements, whereby payment is based on revenue generated or some other easily measured metric. The really good SEO-gurus usually love that type of arrangement!

Alternatively, you can at least apply the simplest guidelines yourself and learn as you go.

Appropriate search terms

In the true spirit of Customer Activity Cycle thinking, start by asking yourself what terms your (potential) visitors might use when searching for your (or your competitors') company, products and services. General terms ("widgets", "big widgets") are less useful - and harder to manage from a ranking viewpoint - that more specific ones ("high pressure widgets", "corrosive, widgets"). Remember that your customers do not normally think in terms of brand names, product names or part numbers unless they are already very familiar with your offerings. Also, terms used internally, do not always make sense for external 3rd parties.

When brain storming search terms, think about

When evaluating potential search terms, check the results generated on a variety of search engines. Does your company/product appear in the search results? Your competitors? Do the search terms produce irrelevant or confusing results (e.g. "drive train" might produce lots of results relating to train drivers and none relating to the application of your products).

Tip: To avoid trawling through 2 million results to find your page, trying combining "search within the results" with a refined search that includes the string site:www.yoursitename.com
Tip: Avoid using "super clever" search strings (e.g. phrases enclosed in quotes, site: inurl: or other qualifiers, etc.). Sure, some percentage of Internet users search using advanced search terms, but the majority do not! Testing using advanced techniques will result in biased results.
Tip: Here is the complete list of Google Advanced Operators, as well as the so-called Cheat Sheet

Landing pages, perfectly matched

Tip: This applies to entry points for Google AdWords (and other online advertising), as well as organic search

Once you've decided how your potential visitors might search for you, the next step is to create the perfect landing page for them to come to. This landing page serves three purposes:

  1. it provides exactly the content that the user expects to find based on the search term used
  2. it is easier to fine tune a (small) landing page to get optimal search engine rankings
  3. the landing page can contain Conversion Points that exactly match the expected behavior of the user, as indicated by the search terms used - a query "widget, 4.7 bar, 7000 rpm" indicates someone ready to configure and purchase, whereas "widget, high pressure, high speed" is more likely to come from someone exploring application options.

Strict adherence to some simple rules

The landing page - and all pages on your web site - should adhere to some basic rules, if it is to rank well in organic search results. [In view of the changing rules relating to online advertising - specifically Google AdWords - these rules will also help to prevent your ads being "bumped off" high-demand keywords]

In the following examples search-term and search term refer to the full search term for which you are trying to optimise the landing page for, e.g. widget high-pressure.

And whatever you do, do remember that cheating does not pay! Today's search engines are based on finely tuned, complicated algorithms, which are constantly developing better semantic skills. Tricks like repeating search terms over and over, but using a white font on a white background will more likely result in your site being de-listed - in its entirety! - than in improved rankings.

Constantly fine tune

Would it surprise you if I told you that the Internet is constantly changing? No! Then it will come as no surprise, when I tell you that your landing pages - and the associated rankings - need to be constantly monitored, evaluated and managed. As soon as a competitor - or anyone else - come up with content that better matches a given search term, your rankings will disimprove. You need to constantly fine tune all aspects of your landing pages - and indeed all pages of your web site - if you want to continue winning at this game!

Building Better B2B | e-Business |

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