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by Stoney deGeyter
Many people think that SEO is a set-it and forget it endeavor. The theory is that once you optimize the site then there really isn't much more to do after that. This is something that many penny pinchers like to espouse so they can try to "save money". Others just don't like the idea that online marketing is a never ending process. We like to have goals and want to see things through a conclusion.

There are certain SEO strategies that are certainly goal oriented where you can get to a definitive end-point, but SEO as a whole is a constant ongoing process
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. Just like brushing your teeth, you do it ever day so you can keep yourself out from under the dentist's drill and not walk around with obvious stank breath.

But SEO also isn't about changing things for the sake of change. We don't brush our teeth just for the heck of it. Those who think that you always have to be changing your content, titles, and pages in order to keep it "fresh" for the search engines are pursuing a pot of gold on the other side of a rainbow. The truth about SEO is somewhere in between these two elementary schools of thought.

Do it once but do it right

There are elements of SEO that you really only have to do once, if you do them right the first time. When we take on a new client these are the changes we try to focus on first.

Website Architecture

The architecture of a website covers many things, far to much to go into here. The architecture basically boils down the the construction of the site and making sure that the search engines are able to spider and index all your pages properly. This is crucial. If the search engines come to your site and can't get access to the pages that need to be indexed then you simply won't be in a position to get good rankings.

Keyword Friendly site

Making your site keyword friendly really goes along with the site architecture as much of it is performed at the same time. But beyond the construction of the site you have to make sure you go through and strategically focus on keywords when developing your titles, description meta tags and your content. Many sites we review don't have a lot of text on pages and use duplicates titles and descriptions. These need to be customized and keyword focused for each individual page.

Making your site keyword friendly is a one-time process that can go quickly, depending on the size of your site. This is just the primer before you paint. Once you start doing hard-core optimization and keyword focusing a lot of the work you've done in this keyword friendly stage will be re-edited. The goal here is to make your site as keyword friendly as quickly as possible then go back and fine tune it later.

Internal linking

Internal linking of your site goes beyond having a good navigation structure. Here we want to focus on linking contextually from page to page. Look for opportunities in each page to link out to other pages, sections, products or tutorials on your site.

If you mention something found elsewhere on your site, link to it. If you can add a mention to something the readers of one page will find useful, do it and link it. The link text should be keyword rich. Rather than using "click here," use your keywords and calls to action in your link text. Go page by page taking advantage of every opportunity, provided it enhances the visitor's experience rather than detracts from it.

Do it, do it right, revisit it again

Most things that you change while optimizing your site have to be revisited on a regular basis, if for no other reason than to see how they are affecting "performance" of the site.

Title and description meta tags

There is no such thing as a perfect title or description meta tag... unless it puts you in that perfect spot of first page ranking and gets you maximum click throughs. You have to start somewhere so start with strong keyword rich titles and description tags. Keep in mind that there is more to these than just getting search engine rankings.

Anybody can build a "keyword rich" tag but not everybody can do so while making it compelling. The title and description both show up in the search results which means they both have to be compelling enough to entice the visitor to click through to your site. If they don't then you've got some pretty useless top search engine rankings.

Content

Once you've put together some great keyword rich content for each of your pages, you want to revisit that content to see how it's performing. The titles and descriptions may not be enough to get you top rankings so some minor adjustments may have to be made to your content. It never hurts to revisit your content to see if changes can be made to your headings or paragraphs to use more (or fewer) keywords.

Be sure not to stuff your content with keywords, which can tend to happen over time with repeated "tweaks." Sometimes you don't even need to add keywords but other words that are similar or often used in context with the phrase you are targeting. Either way, only do what makes sense when read from a visitor perspective.

Usability

Making your site more user friendly is a never ending process of implementing changes, reviewing how those changes affected your conversion rates, then tweaking again in order to improve conversions further. Each change will bring varying degrees of success, and often times you have to make several steps backward to make a big step forward.

When implementing and testing usability changes, focus on one at a time or a few that you can accurately measure in order to know which change had what impact. If you're not measuring then you're not doing it right. Some usability changes seem like a good idea but unless you measure you really don't know if it's working.

Do it right and keep doing it again

Keyword research

Keyword research is often done at the very beginning of the optimization campaign, but it is a never ending process. Keywords change. People's search patterns change. Phrases that were once popular have since fallen out of style. It's important that you refresh your research on a regular basis.

You also need to always be on the lookout for new terms to target that can bring in interested people. These may not be the "money" keywords but you can find phrases that people are using to find information, then provide that information to them. It may not lead to immediate sales, but it can lead to a loyal following that will eventually turn into loyal customers.

Link building / social media

There is never an end to getting new links. Many sites can coast for a while on their own popularity or lack of competition, but sooner or later a concerted effort will have to be made to bring in fresh links to your site in order to remain competitive. Everything from traditional link building to social media marketing or buying links should be on the table, but only move forward with the strategy, or combination of strategies, that will most benefit you and your audience.

And once you get links, you need to go get more. Budget this into your marketing campaign to ensure that you can have a slow, steady and consistent build with links. That's the best way to stay ahead of the competition.

New content development

Keyword research ultimately leads to new content development. As you find new phrases, questions asked, information being sought after, this opens up limitless opportunities to provide the information that people are looking for. New articles, tips, products, and resources can be produced simply by following the keyword trail.

As new pages are developed so do new opportunities to revisit some of the other things you've done such as internal linking. With each new bit of content you can review your site looking for ways to link your visitors to this valuable piece of information. Of course, no new tip or tutorial is complete without links back to your main information, products or services as well!

Set-it-and-forget-it SEO is a recipe for short-term success. Some sites can coast quite a while off the initial SEO but sooner or later you're gonna have to start revisiting what's been done, finding new keywords, building out new content, and getting more links.

After spending the money to invest in SEO, it rarely benefits you to lose the momentum you've built. Unfortunately, SEO is a marketing investment that you always have to feed. But along with that comes new and continued success for a long time to come.
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You can learn how to improve your search engine rankings using seo articles technique. Here is how to do it.
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To those who are not familiar with affiliate marketing, two-tier could be a new term to you but to those who are involved in this kind of money-making experience; it could mean a stream of income. Two-tier is an enticing feature of a particular affiliate program wherein, affiliates are allowed to [...]
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The purpose of the website is to procure business for the company. This is only possible if someone clicks on the website. The number of clicks and people visiting the website can be increased substantially if the website features on the top pages of the search engines. The process of hauling the URL of the website to the top of the website pages is called Search Engine Optimization. SEO activities are the main feature of any Search Engine Optimization Company offering internet marketing co
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by Mike Moran
Image via Wikipedia

Most people are familiar with the term "division of labor," which describes the specialization that companies adopt to promote efficiency. The assembly line is one of the best examples of the efficiency gains that division of labor provides. In a tiny company, such as a o
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ne-person firm, there is no division of labor, but as soon as you start to grow, even a little bit, you start dicing up jobs in the name of efficiency. The problem, from a marketing point of view, is that efficient doesn't equal effective. Division of labor can harm your marketing effectiveness and you must take pains to overcome this natural ineffective state.

All this was brought to mind by a recent bus ride, when the person next to me described how he is constantly working with clients to deliver the service the firm is known for, but hardly ever knows what to say to them to get them to buy more services. He realized it was a problem only after having a chance lunch with a friend at the company who is in sales, who had the opposite lament--the salesman couldn't get to see any of the decision makers that my seat mate rubs elbows with daily.

Division of labor is the culprit here. Certainly it is more efficient for one person to specialize in sales and another to specialize in client service, but it doesn't make marketing more effective, as that bus rider attested. And, as problematic as division of labor might be for traditional marketing and sales, it's even more difficult for Internet marketing, and social media in particular.

You see, with Internet marketing, the experts need to be part of marketing. That client-facing services person understands the problems being solved and how well they are solved. That might make a good blog entry, or tweet, or video interview. The sales person won't ever be able to communicate as effectively as the expert.

The problem is that the expert doesn't always understand the client problems, where the sales person does. So, in businesses that rely on product development, the engineers know a lot about the technology but little about the clients, with the sales people just the opposite. Effective marketing communications relies on a merger of both.

So, ask yourself what you are doing to foster communications within your own team. Are you making sure that relationships form between the people who have key expertise that must be shared? And are you ensuring that those (now) more well-rounded experts are blogging, tweeting, and doing videos that show off that expertise? Only by breaking down the divisions of labor will marketing effectiveness emerge from the specialties of efficiency.


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Rudy Fernandez has shown he can play in the NBA, but he's not happy with his role in Portlant.
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by Stoney deGeyter
The idea for this post has two sources. The first was a post on SEOmoz about someone's failed attempt to get quotes for SEO. In light of that firestorm, I was asked if I would write a blog post about how potential clients should approach SEO companies they are looking to do business with. A few days later, while reading David Ogilvy's classic
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as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=039472903X">Ogilvy on Advertising, I came across the chapter which is an "open letter to a client in search of an agency." This post is modeled after (stolen from?) that.

Sir or Madam,

If you have decided to hire a new SEO firm or consultant, permit me to suggest a simple way to go about it.

Don't delegate the selection to a secretary, webmaster, your IT department or a low-level employee. They usually get it wrong. Do it yourself.

Start by looking at search results. No, not searches for "SEO" or "Search Engine Optimization company." Those don't produce quality leads so most SEO agencies don't bother trying to rank for them. Instead, look at sites that rank in the search results and then find out who does their search engine optimization and online marketing.

Read articles on SEO and make note of the authors that you find most knowledgeable and helpful. Talk to them, find out if they do SEO or who they recommend. Get recommendations.

By this time you have a short list. Research each company yourself. Read through their websites not just the testimonials page. Look to see if their knowledge and experience in SEO is clear.

Call and talk to the head of each agency and their head SEO (it may be the same person, that's OK.) Make sure the chemistry and communication between you and them is good. You'll be working together for a long time so make sure you're a good fit.

Don't worry about meeting the whole team. Each agency is different and you may or may not be working directly with anyone else. Not all SEOs are good with customer interaction and you have no real way of judging the talent of an individual. Good SEO is the result of the everyone working together, not just that of an individual.

Ask each agency to provide you with client references. Not printed materials, but phone numbers of current clients that you can call and talk to. Find out if the SEO has improved the overall success of their business, not just improved search engine rankings. Pick the consultant or firm that you feel has the best record of success and is most likely to help you grow your business.

Ask for a quote. If you get a stock cost of services then you've got the wrong company. If you get a price range, pursue it further. If you get a customized quote but it falls out of your budget range, consider it anyway. Find out what services the company will be engaged in while marketing your website and the cost/benefit of each.

Don't haggle over price only over the specific services provided (cost will change as services change.) Its entirely possible that the SEO company can reduce their fees by trimming services such as social media marketing, link building, content development, etc. You can always add those back in later if they are determined to be necessary for the success of your campaign. If you haggle over cost then you'll likely come up on the short end in the long run. You can also ask for the same amount of work be performed over a longer period of time. This will create a slower path to improved performance, but will fit your budget better without cutting essential services.

Insist on a twelve-month contract. SEO takes time to implement and to see the results. The larger the site, and the more keywords there are to target, the more work needs to be done. SEOs can cram everything into a few months, but the up front cost will be extremely high. Longer contracts give both you and the SEO more security and reduce the pressure of having unwarranted expectations that cannot be met.

Now that you have your SEO firm or consultant, are you going to get the best out of them? Clients get the SEO they deserve. Some clients tie their SEO's hands by disagreeing with most change recommendations. Others use up all their account time keeping the SEO on the phone "discussing" the account. Some clients slow the process by not responding to the SEOs queries and requests. Others are an absolute dream to work for, responding promptly, providing feedback as needed and letting the SEO do their thing. There is nothing wrong calling your SEO provider if it helps the SEO campaign progress, but too many "updates" slow the process to a crawl.

Anybody can perform their own SEO based on an article they once read somewhere. It takes a genius to leave the SEO alone to do their work and implement the changes they request. I had one client rewrite all the copy we fixed. He believed his audience was too sophisticated for calls to action. He's wrong.

Give your SEO access to your website analytics data as well as all sales and conversion data. This will help them assess performance (real performance, not rankings) of their optimization efforts. It will also help them steer the optimization efforts into the most profitable direction.

Give your SEO a single point of contact, and make sure it is someone who has the power to make decisions. Too often SEO recommendations are shot down by someone who is not involved in the process and has very little understanding of why the recommendation was made. These people can include VPs, web developers and IT staff. I have found that web developers are often the least knowledgeable about SEO but can be the biggest hindrance to it's success. They don't want anybody telling them that their product needs to be fixed. It's too bad, because it does.

If you do have to reject recommendations, be sure to investigate it first. Too many recommendations are shot down because someone doesn't feel it's necessary, when in fact it is critical to the optimization process. Yes, some recommendations are lower priority than others and some will cost money to implement. Reject a recommendation only after you have discussed the reasoning, urgency and impact with the SEO. Then you can reject it with full knowledge of the potential result. Never reject a recommendation because a developer says it can't be done. It can be done, but perhaps just not by them.

I have one client that has gone through three different development companies since we started working for them. None of their developers have liked me. People don't often like those that point out their flaws. I also have clients where the developers are quick to work with me on any and all recommendations. We don't always do it my way, or their way but together we develop solutions that work for everyone. Those are often our most successful clients.

There is a convention that SEO firms should never have more than one client in a particular industry. When we work for a site selling kids winter clothes, we are not supposed to work for a site that also sells kids clothes for all seasons. It sounds simple but its impracticable.

Suppose our client sells kids winter clothes and another that sells winter clothes and snowboards for adults only. Then one year the snowboard shop starts selling clothes and gear for kids while the clothes shop starts selling kids snowboards. Do we have to fire one of these clients, and if so which one? The one that was with us longer or the one that pays more? I see no conflict when optimizing two or even three sites in the exact same industry. Often what is learned on one site can benefit the other, and vice versa. After all, there are ten top 10 positions. But even still, it's likely that the keywords being targeted will vary. And where there is some overlap, one site may rank slightly higher with one keyword and the other will rank slightly higher on another. You are competing for business, not rankings, and the visitor will click the other top ranked spots regardless of who optimized them.

I'd think twice about demanding exclusion. If the SEO improves your business, then that is all you need to care about. On the other hand, if the SEO gets a better paying client in your industry, you may be the one that gets fired.

Stoney deGeyter

P.S. If your budget is too small to interest a good agency, find one that offers hourly consulting. Good advice is worth a few hundred dollars an hour and you won't have any long-term commitments.
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by Stoney deGeyter
One of the things I like to tell my clients when I'm trying to get them involved in the SEO process is that they know their business better than I do. This is true. What do I know about flow meters, motorcycle batteries, baby diapers, ski jackets or cost segregation?

An argument can be made that as soon as I take on these clients I need to learn everything I can about their industry so I can market it properly. This is also true. But no matter what, I'll never be an expert at cost segregation. Nor do I believe my clients want me to be. They want me to b
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e an expert in SEO and that takes enough of my time as it is.

And this is why clients need to be involved. I can do the keyword research, weed out the junk, and help them organize them into strongly optimization groups. But I still need the client's help telling me what's good and what's not. How am I to know that "net present value equation" is a good keyword while "net present value annuity" isn't. The client, that's how.



It would be foolish of us to barrel through an optimization campaign without seeking the client's guidance along the way. We have to rely pretty heavily on the client's expertise in many of the marketing tasks before us. Are these keywords targeted? Is this text spot-on? These are all common questions we pose to the clients before moving on to the next task.

Who's the real expert?

I found that the client isn't always the expert they think they are. So often we provide them keyword research and they just barrel through it and say, "yup, these look good." So we run with it only to have them remove those very same keywords from the text we had developed. "We don't do that," they say.

Or we send them text to approve and they say, "looks good," only to come back months later remarking that don't like how it's written. Fair enough, it deserves to be right, but couldn't they have mentioned that earlier?

These things happen and it does no good to get bent out of shape about it. Everybody makes mistakes, gets things wrong or is caught not paying close enough attention. But sometimes clients think they know more than they really do.

I recently had a client tell me that content focused on the benefits their customers get wasn't the way to go. They wanted to tout their knowledge and experience pretty much exclusively.

"It just doesn't work better, I'm sorry. I know my business. I know who my clients are. It just sounds trite and meaningless when you tell people [what the benefits are,] their eyes glaze over. The point is to undersell not oversell. This is a prestige business. People want to be treated like adults. "

The client is always right? Well, yes. Ultimately the client always gets what they want, even if it works against their best interests. You can only make your point so many times before you just have to say, "Okay, we'll do it just how you want it."

And you do it their way knowing full well that they won't like the results and will likely come back and blame you for it. I guess that's what paper trails are for! After a few more rounds of trying to share my knowledge of online marketing I was told, "I really think we just have to focus on technical stuff. I don't need help with marketing. Believe me."

I'll believe him. But will he believe me when the technical stuff isn't enough to get their site ranked for their keywords? Or if by chance we are able to get their keywords ranked without any on-page optimization and they don't see any improvement in conversions?

Follow the expert's advice

Just as SEMs (that stands for Search Engine Marketing) rely heavily on their client's to guide them through the maze of industry specific knowledge, clients must also rely on their marketer's expertise.

As far as the technical stuff goes, what's technical? Sure there is a technical side of marketing such as analytics, cleaning up junk code, researching keywords, etc., but it all goes hand in hand with the creative. Is it the technical side or creative side that determines which keywords are more likely to be better converters than the other? Is it the technical or creative side that writes search engine and user-friendly Titles and Meta Descriptions? Is it the technical or creative side that builds relationships with other sites for links?

I'm always one to compromise and look for solutions that make the client happy. I understand they come with knowledge that is valuable and we need to integrate that knowledge into what we are doing. But compromise is a two-way street. This goes back to clients who want SEO but don't want to make the changes required to SEO the site. What better way to do that than to test differing versions?

You like your version, I like mine, lets put them both out there and see what works!

The problem is sometimes clients have an ego stake in it. They feel superior in knowledge and don't want to be proven wrong. It's a shame because they are only hurting themselves.

Sometimes you just have to let go. And if you're right, hey then you've got the proof to back it up.

You don't know jack

Let's assume that SEOs don't know jack about your industry. We can also assume that most client's don't know jack about online marketing. Most clients think their audience is just like them. If they like technical details then that must be what the audience wants. If they like fluff then that's what you have to provide because nobody looks at the technical stuff. Right? Wrong.

But our audience isn't all like us. They search differently, they expect different things, and they respond differently. But there is one thing that all searchers have in common. They all want to know they landed in the right place. And if you don't show them that with your content, they're gonna bolt.

Searchers don't have time to figure out if you are going to meet their needs. Only once they know you do will they stay and read more or dig deeper. But you only have a couple of seconds to keep them interested or they move off. If at first glance they don't see their keywords on the page, they are gone.

Both SEOs and clients can learn a lot from each other. But it takes a genuine collaborative effort. Knowing your stuff isn't enough. Because you don't know jack about SEO. How do I know? Because you hired someone to do it for you.
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