Making Your Site Search Engine Friendly (Spiderability)

by John Buchanan

One of the keys to obtaining top rankings, or ANY rankings for that matter is making sure that the search engines can properly spider and index your site. This means doing whatever you can to make sure the search engines are able to reach each page of your site as easily as possible.

When I talk to my clients about spiderability, I’m generally referring to two things…

  1. Are all the links in the site true hyperlinks that can be picked up properly by the search engines.
  2. Are all the pages within the site reachable within 2-3 clicks from the homepage.

So let’s go over the above two areas of concern.

Hyperlinks

This may seem almost silly, but you would be amazed at the number of sites I run into when doing consultations and website analyses that have non-standard hyperlinks. By “non-standard”, I’m referring to JavaScript generated hyperlinks or hyperlinks embedded within flash files.

There is nothing inherently wrong with JavaScript or flash when used properly, but the simple fact is that JavaScript and flash are NOT search engine friendly. Google is pretty much the only engine that is able to pick up links within JavaScript or Flash code. At this time, I have seen no evidence that either Yahoo or MSN have this ability.

While Google may be able to pick up links, it is unclear as to whether or not Google places any VALUE on the links it finds in this manner. Remember, much of a page’s ranking in Google is determined by links, so you want to be absolutely sure that each and every link is valued.

So, be absolutely sure that your links are true hyperlinks (by “true” hyperlinks, I’m talking about hyperlinks coded with the normal href tags) if you want to make sure they are found, followed, and counted by all the engines.

Distance from Homepage

Ideally, you want your visitors and the search engines to be able to reach any page within your site within a maximum of three (3) clicks and preferably two clicks. The more clicks it takes to reach a page, the less chance there is that the search engines will index that page.

It is for this reason, that site maps have become so popular. By utilizing a sitemap, you are able to link from your homepage to a page that lists all or most of the links to the various pages of your site. The search engines (and visitors) are then able to get to virtually any page of your site within just a couple of clicks.

You’ll notice I’ve mentioned not only the search engines but the visitors as well in the above paragraphs. By reducing the number of clicks it takes to get from your homepage to any page on your site, you will find that you also increase the overall usability of your site.

While site maps can definitely help to increase the spiderability of a site, it is important to remember that they are not a total fix for bad navigational structure within a site. As mentioned, all of the search engines utilize page link popularity in one way or another in their algorithms.

In general, the homepage of a site will have the highest link popularity of any page within the site. This is because most inbound links to a site are pointing to the homepage. It’s from the homepage that all the internal pages derive their link popularity from a sort of “trickle down” affect.

A site map will only derive a certain amount of link popularity that it can pass on to the pages it links to. To understand this best, think of the homepage as a large river with each link on the homepage a smaller river branching off from the main river. Each river will be fed a similar amount of water by the main river. Alone one branch of the river will never be able to deliver as much water to the various areas as all the branches of the river can combined.

The site map is one branch of your sites link popularity river and it has value, but it will never have the same impact as a well thought out and implemented links structure that makes use of all the rivers of link popularity within your site.

To make the most use of the link popularity of your site, you should try and setup your sites navigational structure so that even without a site map, the search engines and visitors are STILL able to reach any page on your site within 2-3 clicks.

So…to make a long story short…always be sure to utilize true, standard hyperlinks throughout your site and be sure that your sites navigational structure allows any page of your site to be reached within no more than 3 clicks.

See you at the top!


John Buchanan is a veteran search engine optimization specialist with over 9 years experience. For more information, visit his site at http://www.sesecrets.com or his newest site http://www.seovideoanalysis.com where he will provide you with a professional SEO video website analysis of your site.

More Tips on SEM and SEO

Here is a down and dirty checklist I compiled a while back. Feel free to use it when you audit your own websites. Enjoy!

Matt

HTML Coding/Development

  • Add brief descriptions to the alt attribute of image tags. The attribute should describe the image, not be a summary of the article.
  • Use H1, H2, and H3 for titles and headings. Ensure the main body content is immediately after the H1, with no breadcrumbs or navigation in between.
  • Create a relevant HTML title for every page. Using the actual article title that appears in the page is a good idea.
  • Use style sheets as much as possible to keep the page size low.
  • Use brief and relevant meta tags (keywords and descriptions) to provide a backup for the description that appears in search engine listings.
  • Don’t fill the meta tags with words that don’t appear in the content of the page. The exception to this is to put common misspellings in the meta tags.
  • Don’t repeat meta tag content on every page. The content should be specific to the page.
  • Create separate sites rather than making a site a sub-site of a larger one.
  • Do not make every visit to a URL unique by appending a session ID or something similar.
  • Create a site map. This is as much for users as for search engines as it can serve as a gateway to deep content.
  • Don’t link to redirects. Better to link directly to the destination page.

Images, Flash, Video

  • Avoid creating images that contain only text (i.e. if an image contains just text, consider using HTML instead.)
  • Ensure all images are named appropriately, have alt tags and are placed near text that is relevant to the image.
  • Don’t put content in Flash movies. Better to have the content outside of the Flash and in the HTML.
  • Provide transcripts for video or audio interviews.

Copy and Content

  • Create a title that uses words that describe the main theme of the article.
  • Use headings and sub-headings that describe the main theme of the copy that follows.
  • Don’t automatically swap out repeated words and phrases in favor of less common words and phrases.
  • Post all content on the web site including newsletters.
  • Keep all special content such as Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving specials on-line.
  • Don’t use pop-up windows for content. If pop-ups are necessary, provide an alternative link to the same page that isn’t a pop-up.
  • Don’t remove content from a web site.
  • Ensure all content—in particular old content—has a link pointing to it. Use a sitemap or archive list page if necessary.
  • Allow search engines to view forum discussions. This is free content.
  • Update content as often as possible. Search engines like frequently updated sites and will visit more frequently.
  • Don’t worry about writing articles that are too long. The longer the better when it comes to SEO.

Links

  • Use link text that is relevant to the destination page. Avoid creating links that read “click here” or “read more”.
  • Don’t create links out of entire sentences.
  • Don’t fill the page footer with links to other sites. Better to keep the list short.
  • Cross-link between pages in the web site.
  • Link to external sites.
  • Encourage external sites to link to specific content. Many sites are open to sharing links.

More SEM and SEO Tips

  • Decide what search phrases you want to target. Use a tool such as the Google keywords suggestion tool to see what search phrases are popular, and optimize your site for these. You can optimize for any number of phrases; a bigger site can target a greater range of phrases.
  • Clean up URLs. No capital letters, no spaces, no special characters. Separate each word with a “-” dash. Make sure each URL accurately describes the page.
  • Remove query strings from URLs. No question marks in your URLs.
  • Redirect the non-www version of your site. When you enter domain.com into the browser, it should redirect you to www.domain.com using a SEO friendly 301 redirection.
  • Make sure you don’t link to “index.htm” or “index.php”. Instead, link to “/”.
  • Remove frames from your site.
  • Ensure the title is different on every page of the site.
  • If your main navigation is flash or image based, ask yourself if it can be done using CSS. If it can, do it.
  • If using CSS styled text for navigation is unthinkable, then add text based footer navigation on every page.
  • Add a Google XML sitemap, even if it’s just a simple list of all the URLs on your site. Submit this to Google through the Google Sitemaps program or Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Is your website tables-based? Consider a cleaner CSS-based layout for your site.
  • Have you got a website statistics program installed? Do you know how to access it, and do you check it regularly? If not, discover Google Analytics.
  • Do you know where your website currently sits for your main phrases? If not, check Google, the localized version of Google (e.g. google.co.nz,) Yahoo and MSN. Remember: few visitors will search past page three.
  • Check the optimization of each page. Pick one search phrase that is relevant to the content on the page. Ensure the page contains the phrase in the title, H1 heading, twice in the meta description, twice in the opening paragraph, and also in the URL if possible.
  • Have good content? SEO will be much harder if you don’t have plenty of original text content, so engage in more time writing good content.
  • Check the source order of your page. Good source code will have the page content as close to the top of the HTML document as possible, and the least important elements such as sidebars and footers last. If you can get the content above the main navigation, great.
  • Action all recommendations that it makes, such as fixing broken links. Look carefully at the list of URLs, and make sure they are clean (no spaces, capitals, etc.)
  • Check the search engines to see how well indexed your site is. If the search engines have indexed pages that have since been moved or deleted, setup a 301 redirect to redirect all traffic that these pages generate (or lose it).
  • If you are a local “bricks and mortar” business, make sure you use your town / city / country on every page, in the title if possible, and in close proximity to your chosen search phrase.

Contact Matt to optimize your website and help you with your search engine marketing.

Benefits of Link Building for Your Business Website

by Dane O’Leary

Having a strong web presence is an asset to any business. With technology and the internet being integrated into our daily lives to such a thorough degree, web presence could be considered the most important component of advertising, marketing, and customer acquisition for a business.

There are many ways to improve web presence and make a business’s site more prominent across the web and, in fact, sustaining a site’s findability requires ongoing maintenance. However, one of the most effective ways to ensure that a business’s website is easy to find is to list the site externally on other niche sites and web directories, which is frequently referred to as link building. Here are some of the benefits of making your business’s website available on other sites and directories.

backlink building

Via túatú

Targeted Traffic

You can find niche websites on just about anything these days. Hobbies of all sorts, science, and a plethora of industries are just a small range of the topical sites that span the worldwide wide. When an individual needs information on a subject, they perform a search using popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, which compile a list of sites based on the search terms or keywords that were used; according to estimates, the strategic use of keywords is one of the key components to getting web traffic and can increase a site’s views by 200 percent or more.

The websites that are listed in these specific searches are niche sites that get targeted traffic, which is a steady stream of visitors seeking the information that the niche sites offer. Contractors, for example, can benefit from this targeted traffic generated via search engines queries by listing their businesses’ websites on the niche websites recommended by the search engines. Users who browse niche websites were able to find those websites because they already had interest in the content and links the sites offer. In short, a niche site’s traffic becomes a targeted audience who are likely to click suggested links to sites that offer services they were already looking for.

Increased Visibility

Niche websites and directories offer businesses a way to significantly increase their visibility on the web. Making a website available in numerous places throughout the web increases visibility in several key ways. However, understanding link building requires a basic understanding of the way search engines work.

A search engine’s responsibility is to provide users credible, relevant, high-quality information in the form of a list of links to sites offering products, services, and information that corresponds to what the users are searching for. Search engines like Google determine a website credibility by observing how often it’s referenced on other sites, the site’s organization and user-friendliness, whether it consistently posts information of value, and as well as many other determinants. Search engines then rank sites with the most authoritative, reliable ones at the top of lists of search results. As such, sites that search engines consider credible and high-quality will be significantly more visible because search engines put them at the top of search results. Consider it like the difference between Wikipedia and a blog; Wikipedia always tops lists of search results while private blogs are typically buried in the list unless the blogger has taken steps to improve their blog’s visibility.

When the California Implant Institute increased the number of quality links to their website on authoritative sites around the web, the amount of traffic to the institute website increased by 79 percent, which has contributed to increased business in the long-term. It takes time to improve search engine rankings; however, link building on niche websites and in directories considered credible and authoritative by search engines will have a huge effect on a site’s visibility. By improving search engine rankings, a business’s website becomes more visible while the numerous links across the web provide more opportunities for users to discover and access the site.

Networking and Partnerships

Another benefit to link building is the potential for networking. Not only does this increased visibility make a business more visible to prospective customers and clients, but it also increases the chances of being discovered by a potential partner and developing lucrative professional relationships.

Web partnerships can be a great source of traffic, especially when the two businesses offer related services; for example, a business that offers carpet installation could advertise for and link to the site of a carpet cleaning business. Such a partnership would be mutually beneficial because customers needing the services of one business might need the services of the other, but each business’s services would be sufficiently different that there wouldn’t be competition.


Dane O’Leary is a full-time freelance writer and design blogger for Modernize.com. He has degrees in psychology and anthropology with additional study in journalism, graphic design, and public relations. Dane is currently working on his debut novel.

Marketing Mastery Series: 5 Steps to Powerful Article Marketing

Marketing Ideas Article Marketing

Today, article marketing is probably one of the most powerful and inexpensive forms of online marketing available to small business owners and non-profits. For those not savvy with the term “article marketing”, here is a quick definition:

In exchange for a little sweat and focus, an article author (you) shares their wisdom and experience with the world by posting their short article of advice or insight to blogs, social media and article publication sites. Within those articles are one-way links leading back into the author’s own website, raising their website’s “authority” karma with the search engines and increasing their qualified web traffic.

You Are the Expert

Here is a little mental preparation for you. I want to make sure you are looking at article marketing—and yourself—through the proper lens.

When you produce articles, it is your goal to encapsulate gems of experience-hardened wisdom and share them with the online community. In doing so, you:

  1. Help to advise those who are seeking that knowledge, and you
  2. Position yourself as an expert on the topic. (Important!)

Warning: Don’t get caught on the term “expert.” Many humble folks who are vastly knowledgeable about their industry wouldn’t refer to themselves as experts because they are also aware there is much they don’t know. You don’t have to know it all. You just need to know more than your customers and then know where to find the answers when you are stumped.

Your Mission: Inspire, Inform, Entertain

Your primary goal in business is to help, right? Businesses and non-profit organizations provide products and services with the intent of helping people. (Naïve? Maybe. Choosing to see the best? Definitely.) That might mean helping to:

  1. Provide a solution to a problem,
  2. Offer inspiration, motivation or elevation,
  3. Foster greater awareness to a social concern, or even to
  4. Entertain and enthrall.

The best place to start? Begin with what you know. Offer advice. Offer your life experience. Offer sagacious words of wisdom. Expound and elucidate. Maybe even do a little research. Article marketing is your vehicle for taking your wisdom to your audience, answering their questions before their questions have bubbled up.

Step 1: Target Your Topic

What do you specialize in? What do you know a lot about? What is the point to your website? After all, the goal of any article marketing campaign is to place articles of value out into the world and grow your number of back links (links that point back to your website from another website.) Google and other popular search engines/directories see these links leading into your website as proof you must be something of an authority.

Translation: On the Internet, you are somebody important if other people say you are. It’s like high school all over again! Yeah!

Step 2: Write the Article

To begin marketing with articles, you must write the articles. No kidding. Sure, there is some work involved here, but the rewards can be great as qualified traffic to your website increases. Yes, I’m aware there are certain sources for pre-written articles on a myriad of topics, however I would recommend against putting your name on other people’s work. Call me paranoid, but here are some possible dangers with this:

  1. Loss of credibility and damage to your reputation when it’s discovered you’re not writing your own material,
  2. Being called upon to discuss a topic you barely considered to begin with, and
  3. Being accountable for someone else’s errors if they pop up.

Remember: One of the greatest things about writing is the fact you’re building an asset when you write. You are building a body of reproducible and shareable knowledge. This is what “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” author, Rob Kiyosaki, refers to as “doing it once and replicating it over and over.”

To write an article, you don’t have to be a Harvard literature graduate, but you should know how to complete a thought, hold a one-way conversation with a friend, and use spellcheck.

  • First, know what your goal is for your article. What is your point? Being clear on this will help keep you on track as craft your introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Next, pretend you are relaying this information to a friend. What would you say? How would you counsel this friend if they came to you seeking this advice?
  • Finally, use spellcheck. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Read the article aloud to test for smooth flow and phrasing. Ferret out all typos, grammatical errors and punctuation gaffs. If missed, these mistakes can detract from your writing and credibility.

The Resource Box

The last detail you’ll consider for your article will be your resource box. Your resource box is the little paragraph at the end of your article that tells the reader a little about you and how to contact you. It should always include a link to your website. Always. You want your readers to be able to find you if they desire more information and you want the search engines to see you as an authority through that back link, remember?

Key point: In your resource box, you don’t always have to use the same link back to your website’s homepage. In fact, you will likely have greater success by linking to the page on your site most closely related to your article’s topic. This moves visitors from the article directly to their topic of interest. (For example, if a web design company also offers web hosting, their article “How to pick the best web host” should link back to the page on their website that describes their web hosting services.)

Step 3: Launch!

There! You have produced a shiny little gem of literary brilliance. Now it is time to set it free.

  • Place it on your blog (if you have one and if it fits appropriately.)
  • Share it with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and your other social media outlets. You can post it over and over by hand or use tools like PingFM to automate this process.
  • Submit your article to free article directories! Here are the top 10 most popular article directories, according to list of the top 50, found at http://www.vretoolbar.com/articles/directories.php:
  1. seekingalpha.com
  2. ehow.com
  3. hubpages.com
  4. biggerpockets.com/articles
  5. ezinearticles.com
  6. brighthub.com
  7. buzzle.com
  8. textbroker.com
  9. selfgrowth.com
  10. knoji.com/articles/
  • Use an article submission software or service to shorten this process. One good example is isnare.com.
  • Feeling brave? Record your article as you read it into a microphone and post it to iTunes.
  • Braver still? Use your digital video camera and post your work to YouTube, Vimeo and the like.

Step 4: Track Your Results

Just because you’ve accomplished the first three steps of deciding, drafting and delivering your article, don’t think you’re done! You should be watching to see how this article affects your traffic. Did you see an increase? Did your website’s conversion rate (the number of calls, emails, sign-ups, sales, etc.) edge up? If not, did your article compel people to want to know more? Did it provide enough value? Was it placed properly?

Marketing Tip: Use the powerful and free traffic-tracking tool, Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics). Design your Analytics reports and schedule them to automatically arrive in your inbox as frequently as you like.

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat

Now do it again. Find different-but-related categories to place your articles under so they don’t compete with each other. Discuss different aspects of products and services you offer. Determine how often you will produce and post your articles. This depends on how intensely you will run your article marketing campaign. You’ll need to weigh your priorities against your normal day-to-day workload, your goals and the competitiveness of your industry.

If you’re just starting out, aim to write weekly or bi-weekly articles using the promotional campaign in Step 3 as a model. If you are an ambitious writer or blogger, step up your efforts to daily and spread your articles across the media outlets.

Marketing Tip: Since you’re writing these articles anyways, you may as well post them to your website to keep your site’s content fresh. Then place them in your online newsletter and send them to your mailing list.

Afterglow

At this point, you have enough of a blueprint to successfully manage your own article marketing campaign. Writing articles can be a fun way to promote your website and your effort, but it can also be a great way to collect your thoughts and bring greater clarity to challenges you and your audience may be facing. Use articles to entertain, educate and inspire!

In support of your efforts,
M

Social Media Gone Bad: I’ll Like Your Page, if You Like Mine

Marketing Ideas Social Media Backliking

An interesting thing happened to me the other day. In the course of performing routine search engine marketing tasks, I received a message from someone who had just “liked” one of my Facebook fan pages, Marketing Ideas 101. The message read:

“Hey, I just liked your Facebook fan page! Please like mine back!” ~ Random

Now, I don’t know about you, but every time this happens to me, I feel awkward. What if I look at this person’s page and determine it’s junk? What if it’s spammy? What if it holds little value in the world at all? The burden! The obligation! All from a single note from someone I’ve never met!

Gasp. What if I don’t like their page?

I try to bring value to my websites. I try to inject interesting content, helpful tips and a wealth of wisdom in my contributions to the Internet community.

In addition, it takes a lot to “wow” me. I’ve never just “liked,” or “followed,” or “retweeted” someone just to be nice. Oh, wait..that’s not true.

In The Beginning

In the world of search engine marketing (SEM, commonly and erroneously referred to as SEO the same way everyone insists on calling all facial tissues “Kleenex,” there is a technique referred to as “back linking.” Back linking (spelled backlinking, back linking or back-linking, depending on who you talk to) is an activity whereby you add your website to niche directories, submit articles, post videos and podcasts, post blog comments and more – all of which include one-way links back to your website.

Of course, the result is simple to guess. The more conduits leading back into your website, the more traffic you have, and the more conversions (sign-ups, comments, calls, sales, etc.,) you should receive, right? That’s the theory, in a nutshell.

Well, humans are ingenious beasts. It wasn’t long before people figured out you could swap links and accomplish similar results. Google caught on, slapped everyone, and reciprocal link campaigns lost their value.

Then came link farms, where links between sites were less direct, placing sites in a circular chain of links. Google figured that out too, mostly.

During all this, social media was blooming. Blossoming. Exploding.

One booming social channel was called Twitter. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Personally, I resisted Twitter at first. The notion of a glorified text messaging system seemed a faddish time-eater to me. As a business owner and father of four, I am busy enough as it is. Eventually, I gave in, signed up and thus began my fall from grace.

I Blame Twitter

From day one, I began to see the “if you follow me, I’ll follow you” phenomenon in Twitter. Being new to Twitter country, I took this virtual exchange with random strangers to simply be part of the Twitter culture. “This is what you do with Twitter,” I said to myself. To play the game, you must first learn the rules and I figured following random people (especially if they followed you) was how you played the game.

Occasionally, I would see a Twitter account that did not follow this pattern. Usually, this person was a celebrity, so they would have a million followers in contrast to the five people they were following. These examples were not the norm, however.

Enter Facebook

Born two years earlier than Twitter, Facebook was all about connecting friends. As time passed and dreams of monetization increased, fan pages were created. As fan pages were created, people and companies began to realize the power of “likes.” This power – similar to Twitter, whereby a broadcast became more powerful with the growing size of the fan base – was a real turn-on to anyone who understood the marketing principles of exposure and amplitude. Want to extend your reach on the most popular social network on the planet? Get more “likes.”

How do you get more “likes” you ask. Provide greater value. Increase your engagement. Maintain dialogues. Be entertaining. Be remarkable. “All that takes work, Matt!” you say. “What if we just trade ‘likes?’ That sounds easier.” True.

Welcome to “Back Liking”

I see a problem with reciprocal “like” campaigns. For one, social media is supposed to be about connection and engagement; not spamming. It’s similar to getting spam on your cellphone. Your cellphone is a very personal conduit into you, like your Facebook news feed. Who wants it junked up with spammy broadcasts and solicitations? Yuck.

Another problem with “like” reciprocity campaigns is the dilution of your “like” power. How can anyone trust you as a person of influence if you “like” 3,000 pages and many of them are junk or of little value. If you have “liked” 3,000 quality resources, that’s another matter; good for you.

Afterglow

This brings me back to my initial point. “Liking” someone back out of pure reciprocity and not from a place of belief in them or their message:

  • squanders your influence (a currency advertisers pay social networks handsomely for),
  • soils your news feed (and your attention) with posts and ads irrelevant to you, and
  • fails to reflect you and your tastes accurately.

I believe one of the best ways we can shine in the world – including the virtual world of social media – is to show integrity in our communications with others. Our daily challenge is to bring that integrity to every corner of our presence, both online and offline.

The next time someone asks you to “like” them back, make sure you can do so with a true heart and a clear conscience.

In support of your efforts,

Matt


Matt Schoenherr is a husband, father of four, marketing consultant and founder of Marketing Ideas 101. As a student, teacher and published author, Matt supports the worthy goals of service and commerce in the small business and nonprofit communities. Creative marketing ideas and marketing strategies may be found at MarketingIdeas101.com.

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Reference
Photo cropped from the work of Justin Blanton, http://hypertext.net/photos/112.

Dispelling 7 Common SEO Myths

Marketing Ideas SEO Myths
(Excerpt from Ideas Online, as seen in the Marketing Ideas Academy, Module 4, Online Marketing.)

Let us begin by dispelling a few myths about the art and science of search engine optimization (SEO).

Myth #1: If you purchase a new domain with maximum information per square inch, you’ll rank higher in the search engines.

Answer: Yes and no. Domain names are the first things a search engine looks at, so if you have the name of your product or service in your domain name, kudos to you. Google, on the other hand, uses what’s known as an “aging delay” for all new domains. This allows Google to weed out many of the fly-by-night’s and give priority to the sites that have remained staples the longest (thereby making Google a more valuable resource to those who use it.) This is just one of over a hundred metrics used by Google to ascertain where your site shows up in the search results.

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Myth #2: If you pollute your website with your targeted keywords, you’ll propel your site to the top of the search results.

Answer: Maybe. You may also be blacklisted by the search engines, causing you to plummet in rankings or disappear altogether. For months. Or years. Sound worth it?

You must strike the balance between optimizing your website for the search engines and optimizing your website for your target audience. Yes, construct your content with keywords and search engines in mind, but always write for your customer. What keywords are they going to use to find what you’re offering (read: What are they looking for?) The keywords your customers are using are the ones you want to target, so once you know those keywords, work them into your site. You will do this a number of ways:

  • Domain name (if the opportunity makes long-term business sense)
  • Your title (specific to every page)
  • Meta tags (description, keywords, et cetera, built into each page’s code)
  • Copy (your content about your, your services, ideas, etc.)
  • Your links (use descriptive links instead of “read more” or “click here”), and
  • Your image “alt” tags (which tell the search engines what the picture is)

While these are some important staples, there are still more items to consider. More about those later.

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Myth #3: Pick the top words for your keywords and stick with them, regardless of whether you ever see those keywords generate any traffic for you.

Answer: Continually refine your keywords. You must know what your customers are searching on. It doesn’t matter if you sell the best widget in the world. If your customers call your widget a thingamabob, they will never find you. Worse, they will find your competition who may make a very fine widget as well, but they refer to their widget as a thingamabob, which brings them up in the search engines in front of your prospective clients. To see what people are searching on, use keyword research tools such as the Google AdWords keyword tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.) Create lists of the most relevant keywords and key phrases for your website and choose different ones to embed on each page (in the meta data and content.) The more specific you are, the more qualified your visitors will be to buy from you.

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Myth #4: We can save all this keyword optimization mumbo-jumbo until the end of our web project and just add our keywords in later.

Answer: Construct (or reconstruct) your site with your keywords in mind. Once you know what your clients are looking for, now you can ensure your site offers it in the way they would like to see it presented. For instance, if we go back to our earlier widget example, you might consider that people may be looking for a particular brand of widget, type of widget, size of widget or widget genre. The more you know about how they’re searching, the better you’ll be able to set up your site to show them what they’re looking for. When applied properly, your keywords will affect what you name your images, files and folders all across your website, so settle on them as much as possible prior to breaking ground on that big website overhaul.

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Myth #5: I made my site in Adobe Flash. It’s really killer. Whoever lands there will be really impressed.

Answer: Maybe, but they have to find you first. Back to optimizing your site for the search engines. There are certain things most search engines choke on:

  • Flash
  • Frames
  • JavaScript links and menus
  • Image maps
  • Dynamic URL’s

Search engines also can’t read graphics, so without descriptive alt tags and file names, the graphics may as well be ignored.

When search engines get caught on these things, years ago they would simply stop indexing your site and not dig any deeper. Obviously, this didn’t win you any visitors. Search engines are smarter these days and most can sniff past troublesome areas. You can certainly use these technologies on your site, however you also need to ensure a search engine can find what it’s looking for. Using text links, linking images to web pages (and using appropriate alt tags), including ror.xml and robots.txt files in your website’s home directory, and using sitemaps will help search engines make sense of your website.

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Myth #6: See? I have the same keywords at the top of all my pages. This should work, right?

Answer: Only if you’re in a very small niche or your local competition is just as lazy as you are. Make every page title unique. It’s terribly easy to use the same title for every page as you’re constructing a website. Take the extra time, however, to vary the title, meta description and meta keywords for each page. Ensuring each title is different and uses the keywords used within that page will take you further than relying upon the same title, description and keywords for every page on your website. The search engines rely heavily on page titles, so use them wisely. The title will be what the search engine presents as a link to your site (providing your site appears in the results at all.)

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Myth #7: Okay! I’ve optimized my site! I’m done! Right?

Answer: Not quite. Search engine optimization and marketing is a journey; not a destination. Even if you make it to the top of the first page in the search results, you’ll have to contend with other sites jockeying for the same position. Fostering backlinks to your website is a very important strategy for achieving search term dominance and maintaining it. How do you do this? There are a number of ways.

First, ensure people want to link to your site. If you’ve worked to make your site helpful, informative or just plain cool, you may earn the links from other websites that will increase your standing with the search engines.

What if your site is lame? Well.. it’s likely your search engine ranking will be as well. Don’t be afraid to approach other webmasters with an offer of “link reciprocity”. If your websites compliment each other, a reciprocal link campaign may be just what the doctor ordered to help drive traffic and rankings. Just be sure to link to only the best and the brightest; your links are a reflection upon you and your site to your visitors and the search engines. Other ways to grow backlinks may include social bookmarking, article marketing, news release sites, and posting your link when commenting on blog sites. All these methods need to be handled responsibly and maturely, otherwise you risk rebuke by the Internet community. Strive to provide value in whatever you post and you go a long way toward keeping your reputation in good standing.

How to Use Blog Comments to Build Backlinks

Marketing Ideas Blog Comments

When conducting search engine marketing, the quality and quantity of backlinks leading into your website provide the search engines something upon which to base your authority metric, bumping you up in the search results.

When making blog comments on sites that compliment your own, remember to mention your keywords 2-3 times, as well as your location (if pertinent.) Don’t be spammy. Make sure you are bringing value–or at the very least, validation–to the author’s blog.

Have patience: sometimes it takes a while for comments to be approved by the blog owners (if ever at all.)