Marketing Guide —Search engine optimization SEO

Introduction

No matter how popular your company is, or how unique your name is, people still have to be able to find you online. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) needs to be one of the tools you use in order to help you gain and maintain a digital reach that is both broad and deep. When you optimize your web pages, social media sites, blog, and wherever else you have an online presence, SEO helps you to get as close as you can to the top of search results — preferably to the top of the first page.

In order to get to the top of a search page, you need to select search terms and keywords that people look for, and then optimize your content to make it easy to find, or “search friendly.”

Your best SEO results come from having great content on your sites. This will also help you attract people who are interested in what you have to offer; the qualified prospect. Throughout our conversations about SEO, it’s important to remember that nothing is effective unless you offer good, strong content. Unless you appeal to visitors to your site, they don’t become qualified prospects and convert to customers.

Understanding Search

When it comes to getting found on the Internet, there are plenty of different tools that get used. We’re fortunate that a shared language has developed around them.

Spiders, Crawlers, Bots (or Robots)
These are automated processes that search engines use to visit all your sites and index what they find there.

Natural and Organic Searches
These are the lists of unpaid advertising sites that are generated after you do a keyword search. They are the result of the search engine’s algorithm (a set of mathematical rules). They are different than a non- organic result (which may include paid advertising). In the example below, we searched for “how to paint furniture” and we got about 115,000,000 results. They are all natural or organic, because there are no paid ads on the page.

Paid Searches
If we search for something more specific, like “Benjamin Moore Paint,” the results show a paid ad first (with a very pale yellow background) and even a map with the nearest location, before the natural leads follow.

If you want to test how your site ranks by using different search terms, you can use a open-source web application alexa.com or an inexpensive software based toolkit like seopowersuite.com (Neither of these sites is endorsed nor recommended by Velsoft, but are simply provided here as a reference point.) If you are working with a professional marketing company, they can and should be testing your site rankings.

Uniform (or Universal) Resource Locator (URL)
This is the address of an Internet page. For example, www.velsoft.com is the URL, or Internet address, for Velsoft Training Materials’ hub site.

How It Works
Search engines use tools like spiders, crawlers, or bots to trawl the Internet for new information. They are working all the time! Remember, though, that they may work on a different schedule than you do, so you need to prompt them to come look at what is new on your site by sending them a message.
You can update a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo by using their webmaster tools and submitting the URL of the new or updated page. You have to submit to each search engine separately, and they don’t like it if you are sending them all the same link.

Instead, you can choose to update one site and wait for the spiders from the other sites to find your new content, or you can stagger things. For example, you could send one site the updates for your hub site, another your blog updates, and the third an update to your social networking page. As you can already tell, this could get to be a big job, so you might find this easier if you use something called pinging.

Pinging is a process where you can advise the search engines that a change has been made. You can start pinging with a third-party service, or you can set up your website, blog, and so on to do it automatically. For example, large blogging sites such as WordPress, Blogger, or TypePad have pinging built in to their service already. For other sites, you simply have to submit the URL of the page you updated, the name of the page or title of your article or information, and then click Submit. The service you are using will respond by broadcasting a message that your URL has been updated.

The Search Engines
Once you get started with SEO, you will probably start getting sales e-mails from companies that want you to pay them a prince’s ransom to get your site submitted to hundreds or even thousands of search engines. In reality, though, if you get ranked on the top sites, you will be captured in about 94% of all searches. (As of June 2012, 82.63% of global Internet searches were done using Google, followed by Yahoo at 6.84%, and then Bing at 4.46%. Source: (http://marketshare.hitslink.com/search-engine-market- share.aspx?qprid=4 )

When you enter a search term, the search engine tries to offer you specialized results based on your past searches and what it gauges as your preferences. If you do a lot of research about fast cars, for example, that history also contributes to your results. Are you a researcher? If so, you’ll see recent search topics in your results, too.

Let’s look at how the three top search engines responded to a query for “marketing online.”

Alternative Search
Portals, directories, resources, multimedia, and social networking sites all offer search functions, and your consumers are using them. We use search functions on sites like eBay, Kijiji, Squidoo, Amazon, and others to look for almost any kind of product. According to researchers at Comscore (http://www.comscore.com), we used all of them more in 2011 than we did in 2010, and the reliance on these alternative sources is growing.
Although these searches may not be what we would think when we think of search engines, people are using them, so you must be monitoring them, too. What does this mean for you as a company embarking on Internet marketing? You must be found by people who may not even know they are looking for you.

Optimizing Keywords

What Do They Want?
When people look for your company or your products, they will put terms in a search box on your site or a search engine page. People are different and live in different parts of our global community, so not only do you need to know what they are searching for, you also need to figure out how they will ask for it. For example, fizzy sweet drinks in America are called soda; in Canada, they are called pop; in the United Kingdom, they are called a fizzy drink, soft drink, or pop. In all three places, some versions are referred to by their brand name (such as Coke, Pepsi, or Dr. Pepper) as well. Even though everyone is speaking about your product in English, they are all using different words to express the same thing. This happens with other items, like anoraks, jackets, toques, knitted caps, chesterfields, and sofas.

Keywords, Search Terms, and Tags
Allow us to introduce you to keywords and search terms (which in social media are referred to as tags).

When a potential customer is looking for your product, they are only going to type a few words into a search box. The total number of words can vary by search engine, but as a rule of thumb, the fewer words they need to find you, the larger your profile gets. However, some marketing resources also tells us that longer search queries tend to lead to more conversions (sales), possibly because the searcher already knows exactly what they want.

Search engines ignore certain words, so you can leave them off your phrases. (You can leave them in so they make sense to you, but just know that search engines ignore them.) This includes prepositions (about, beside, of, than, under, etc.), conjunctions (for, and, but, yet, etc.), articles (a, an, the, etc.), and punctuation.

To keep your keyword list reasonable, words that have the same root when in plural form can be entered as a singular word. You would use the words dog, skunk, or car but you don’t have to use dogs, skunks, or cars. However, knives, mice, and companies will need both versions of the root added as a keyword, because they change from knife, mouse, and company.
Metatags

When the programmer (or you if you are a do it yourselfer) create your webpages, there will be a space for a metatag where you can list and track your keywords. These metatags are not required for the search engines, but they do help you to keep track of your keywords. Visitors to your webpage don’t see the metatags either, but they do appear in your coding. A good strategy is to vary where you position search terms on different pages because the search engines truncate the keyword tags at different lengths.
The images below show the homepage for www.velsoft.com. We have circled the keywords that are right on the page:

Here is how the keywords and metatags are captured in the source code:

Tips and Tricks
Here are five tips to getting a solid list of keywords:

  1. Brainstorm a list of every potential keyword and phrase that you can think of.
  2. Marketers should not isolate themselves. Ask your colleagues, friends, and employees for ideas.
  3. Use the names of all your key products and services, company name, subdomains, and nicknames.
  4. Include industry and geographic (location) terms and jargon. If you have a popular name, try to secure as many versions of it as possible. For example, London is a city in England and Canada.
  5. Use a search tool like the Google Keyword Search tool (used for Google AdWords) to help identify lots of keywords and phrases.

Remember that searchers have to be desperate before they will look onto a second page of search results.

Monitoring Search Engine Ranking

Understanding Rankings
Now that you’ve invested all this time and effort on search engine optimization, you need to collect, analyze, and make adjustments to maintain your ranking at the top of the results list. Good rankings come from having popular pages, and popular pages come from having great content and lots of traffic (visitors) to your site.

A search engine algorithm ranks your pages from 1 to 10. Right now if you were to visit Google’s page, they rank as a 10, but if your page ranks at least a five, you will probably reach the first page of search results (although there are no guarantees). In order to monitor your page ranking, you can download the Google toolbar and then enable it for your browser (or you can just use Google’s Chrome browser). (As of this writing, the link was http://google.com/toolbar. BOLC takes no responsibility for the accuracy or content of this link, and does not endorse this plugin.) Then you can use the page rank tool to rate any page that you like by following the directions.
If you want to maintain a decent ranking, you must commit to checking your rankings regularly and to adjusting your content. Remember that your webpages must be visible and easy to locate if people doing searches are going to find you.

Improving Traffic
If you measure your rankings and find that you are not getting enough traffic, here are some suggestions.

Improve your inbound links (also called backlinks) by making sure that your links appear in places that your customers visit. (Your blog and social networking sites may allow this. You can also ask to have your links placed on other sites with complementary products and a shared target market.)
Check and see what kind of traffic your competition is getting. You can get help for this with specialized sites such www.quantcast.com . (These links were accurate as of the time of publication. BOLC takes no responsibility for the accuracy or content of these sites and does not endorse the sites mentioned.)

Know who and where your target market is. Links to your site from other related sites will help direct qualified traffic to your web site. Get to know site owners and work with them to increase traffic to your mutual benefit.
Improve your page ranking. Make sure your page(s) score five or higher on the Google PageRank tool. Highly ranked pages help with your own visibility and help increase your traffic volume.

Advertising Online

What is Advertising?
When your Twitter feed is peppered with interesting or helpful links, you are connecting to your community. When your Facebook page offers a contest, you are highlighting your brand. When you have a blog post that offers some kind of free download, you are providing content to your readers. When you send out an electronic newsletter to a list of people who have subscribed to your missives, you are waving in front of them.

Some of these methods will cost you money, and others are indirect without a particular cost. Whatever you call them, all of these methods of connecting to your consumers can be considered marketing and advertising, since both get defined as activities of promoting commercial products or services.

An extremely popular form of advertising today is called pay per click (PPC). Using pay per click is straightforward and allows a business to tightly control their advertising costs. In essence, you pay to place an ad with a particular number of clicks. When that maximum is reached, the ad stops running until the beginning of the next cycle.

Pay per click ads appear on the top and sides of screens that display your search results. You can see an example along the right margin of the page below, where we searched for “pay per click:”

If you sign up for pay per click advertising, your job is as easy as signing on with a service, providing a credit card number, writing up your copy (the words for the ad), and then setting up your parameters. The parameters you set are important, because they control the cost of the ad. You can set geographic parameters so that only people in your physical region see the ads. You can also set up keyword parameters, so that if someone searches for “red shoes” (for example), your ad for “red leather pumps” appears as an ad on their landing page. You can also set a budget so that your ad stops running after a particular number of clicks.

You can see examples of pay per click ads on any search engine page when you do a search and on many social networking sites. These ads will always reflect the type of search terms you use and your history, unless you tailor your browser settings not to allow that, or you use an ad blocker.
Most pay per click advertising includes a comprehensive reporting element which is very important. You will be able to determine a range of information about people who are clicking on your ads, such as where they come from. (This includes which pages on your website they landed on and what country they are in.) If you have a shopping cart or ecommerce feature linked to your advertising campaign, you can also determine exactly how many of those visitors became a purchaser (called the conversion rate).

Service to use
The three big search engine providers (Google, Bing, and Yahoo!) have the most popular pay per click advertising, but there are small niche sellers too. If you have a niche product, the smaller providers may make more sense, but you also need to be confident that they are there to serve you well.

If you are just getting started in pay per click advertising, check with the company that hosts your website and see if they have an introductory offer. Many of them do, and this will allow you to learn and experiment without as much expense.

For most services, the process is very simple.

  1. Set up an account;
  2. Choose keywords;
  3. Write your ad;
  4. Set the limits

Set Up an Account
First, do your research and decide which service you want to use for your pay per click ads. Depending on your campaign objectives, the number of products or services you want to highlight, and your budget, you can set up accounts with different services. Just make sure that your ads are different so you catch people’s attention and don’t end up putting three identical ads up at one time.

Choose Keywords
Keywords are essential. Put some effort into creating compelling keywords and making sure they describe you well.

Write Your Ad
Your copywriting is what is going to catch people’s attention. Even though these ads are tiny, you need to make sure they get the same attention as anything else your company publishes. Write well, edit, rewrite, and re-edit, and then launch your ad.

Set the Limits
One of the best elements about pay per click is the ability to set limits. Your credit card will be charged according to the number of clicks on your ad. If you are paying five cents per click and have a budget of
$5,000 per month, your ad will stop appearing on pages once there have been 100,000 clicks on your ad. The timer resets until the beginning of the next cycle (usually a month). You can adjust the maximum number of clicks, the time of day (or night) that your ads appear, and geographic location to help aim your ads at your target market.

In Conclusion

SEO tools investigate the potential of Web pages for high placement on search engine ranking pages. They provide information on backlinks and keywords as well as insights into SEO competition on the Internet.

For SEO experts and webmasters, monitoring the domain is crucial to determining how to optimize for search. You should consider the following items.

Keyword Analysis is process of determining the most common search terms that relate to your website and the competitors using those words. They help search engines, like Google, determine which sites to match to users’ queries.

Website content should contain keywords to match search queries. Placing keywords in the titles, the descriptions or tags of the content are also important for search engine optimization (SEO). Content should not only contain keywords, but it must be interesting, relevant and unique to rank highly in organic search results. Complex algorithms measure all of these factors to provide Internet users with the best possible websites for their search.

Backlinks are also important for a good ranking. A backlink is a link to your site from another site. Sites with a high amount of traffic can help drive traffic to your site. The number of times your site has links from other sites also affects your ranking.

Domains are important for SEO because Google and other search engines scan the URLs for keywords so they can determine the content of the site. Having keywords in the URL helps Google determine what the page is about and is one of the factors in matching a site to a person’s search.

Many SEO tools are designed to measure the ranking of individual websites. They rank individual pages and entire websites by comparing them to competitor websites. To keep search rankings high, it is important to use keywords appropriately, publish unique content frequently and publish backlinks to the site whenever possible.

Some tools help measure the flow of visitors from external sources and within the website. It measures how often users come to the site, where they came from and how they navigate through the site. They can also show which keywords the user searched to then land on the domain.

Some SEO tools analyse data from social networks like Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. They measure roughly how many users access the blog or other sub pages of a domain, and they can measure how often blog pages or articles are linked via social media. In addition, many tools help identify trends in social networks by looking for frequently used keywords.

There are many providers of SEO Tools. They offer everything from free services to more in-depth and expensive options. The best-known provider of programs and associated services include Sistrix , Searchmetrics , Xovi , Ryte , Moz, SEMrush.

Costs and payment models for SEO tools:
Many tools are free — some are basic editions of a product and have limited usage. Providers charge a one-time payment for perpetual use or Subscriptions. Monthly or annual payments: Most professional tools charge on a regular basis, usually per month or per year. Payment per volume: Occasionally, vendors charge by volume, such as number of pages or searches.

SEO tools can be problematic when they try to help websites cheat the rules of Google or other search engine algorithms. Google recognizes low-quality content from “content farms.” These are companies that create low-quality content for the purposes of keyword ranking, which can cause the sites to be penalized in their rankings. When websites publish low quality content, duplicate content or have too many backlinks, this can negatively affect their search ranking.

SEO tools are an important consideration to help optimize a website for search engines. Many tools differ in the scope of their function yet also analyse different SEO factors. Some of the most important areas to be analyzed are keywords, content, backlinks, domain and social media.

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Dr Francesco Dergano

Dr Francesco Dergano

Product owner Ice Regime and National Security Framework of North Pole

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