One of the easiest and quickest ways of getting traffic to your website is by using Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. The two most popular PPC programs are Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing. To clarify what PPC actually does, you begin by creating short ads that will be displayed on the search engine results pages (SERP) as Sponsored Links. When you create the ad, you are also identifying the keywords that will draw the ad to the SERP.
Editor's Note: This article will be first in a series of 14 reprinted articles on web optimization. To get the remaining articles, please sign up for this blog in the box at the left. The first (and maybe the second article) will be published using Constant Contact. The rest, just through normal blog publishing.
In the past several weeks, we have covered the content requirements in order to develop your website as an authority in your field. While this makes sense, sometimes it is difficult to get a handle on how to approach this task of creating perfect content that is appealing to your viewers and at the same time, attractive to the search engines. As a suggestion for organizing your thoughts about content, think of the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why. When you can answer the 5 W questions, you have covered your content needs. Let's look at the 5 W's individually.
As you review your website for the attention the search engines will give it and for its authority content, you need to determine if you have a clear call to action. A call to action on your website simply asks your viewer to do something. Are you asking the surfer to call you, to buy your product, to engage your services or simply to subscribe to your future communications? Think carefully about what you want next from your website visitors. This is your call to action (CTA). The purpose of a CTA is to create another contact point for your potential customer. It takes seven encounters on average before your prospect becomes a customer. If you don't ask or create a clear opportunity for your viewer to create a relationship with you and your business, you may not get your additional six contacts for the sale. Beyond the initial sale, you will want to set up an ongoing relationship with your customer. Business is not built on one sale, but on a continuous business relationship where you customer becomes a return purchaser. To build this loyalty, you must continue to place your name and image in front of your customer. Think of it this way: you spend most of your marketing efforts and dollars to get that first customer. When your customer returns for another purchase, you aren't spending much more in follow-up dollars. With techniques we are going to cover in future SEO SOS lessons, you will see that this cost is minimal and, therefore, yields the greatest return on your marketing dollar. Some examples of CTAs might be:
- Provide relevant and substantial content. We have already discussed how content is King and keywords are the Queens. Just throwing keywords at a page without thoughtful content may get people to your site as a result of a keyword search; however, if your page visitor doesn’t find something of value at that website, they will leave as quickly as they came. And if they clicked on one of your Google AdWords ads, you have just paid for that useless visit with nothing to show for it.
- Google also suggests:
The page should contain information that is useful and accurate about the product or services searched.
- If your landing page is not relevant to the keyword searched, it will be viewed as a waste of time and the viewer will flash away hoping to find what they want on someone else’s page.
- Provide information that is relevant and useful before you require them to subscribe or register. If the pre-register content has value, they will be eager to register to get more. Lay those crumbs out there clearly on the path to commitment to your site. After all, asking a viewer to register or subscribe isn’t really free. The price is their name and email address.
- Keep your ads, banners and affiliate links to a normal non-overloaded minimum. When a viewer arrives at a page filled with loads of ads and little content, off they scamper. You see, “It’s all about me,” the viewer says. The viewer isn’t arriving at your website with the intention of making you money, but to find answers to their questions or solutions to their problems. Don’t saturate them with ads.
- Your content must be unique. If your page mirrors 100 other web pages on the Internet, why would someone choose you over the others or ever consider you an authority? The importance of this non-mirrored content has to be handled delicately if you write and publish articles. [More on this topic in a later lesson.]
- Avoid misleading your visitors by providing exactly what you ad stated. No loss-leaders here. That tactic may work at a grocery store, but it can keep people from ever coming back to your website.
- Honor your deals and deliver as promised. In fact, the most successful businesses, either online or offline, make their offer, then over-deliver. Think in terms of delivering over and above what you offer and you will distinguish your business in the eyes of your customers. They will come back again and again. Remember, the first sale is not the business-building sale. It is the second, the third and fourth sales that make your business a success.
We have now captured the attention of our viewer by telling them clearly the benefits of what we offer. They like what they see and they want more. How you present that "more" is very important to keeping your visitor around long enough to respond to your Call to Action (more on Call to Action in a later lesson). Think of a website navigation scheme as a pyramid where the information offered is more specific and succinct at the top of the pyramid and becomes broader and deeper as you delve further into the website. The information is more complete and offers a greater explanation of the topic pursued as you go further down the pyramid and deeper in the navigation. This allows the visitor to decide how much they want to pursue, rather than having to slog through too much or more information than they want too soon. Most newspaper articles and press releases are written like this.
We have focused on keywords for positioning and for content in past lessons. Now we need to look at traffic generation soon. But first, let's consider what a visitor sees when they do arrive at your site. Does your site convey authority on its topic? Does it get to the point of what you do and what you offer right away? Is the navigation logical and easy to understand? Yes, we want traffic; but we want that traffic to stick around, too. Your web statistics will show where a viewer enters your website, where they exit and how long they stay. So you will be able to easily determine the success of how well-like your website it. We'll cover more on web stats in a later SEO SOS lesson. Two things are of paramount importance in your web design: 1) The first impression you make, and 2) The navigation style you use. Let's explore first impressions of a website in this lesson. We've all heard the expression, "You only get one chance to make a first impression." With the breadth and depth of the Internet, this statement couldn't be more important. Factors that impact how well your website is received include:
Sometimes it is difficult to find ways to add keywords to your content without the copy sounding completely phoney. The goal is from 2% to 7% keyword density and while it is not always easy to find ways of using those keywords, there is a technique you may not be aware of using the keyword ALT tag. When you place an image in your HTML code, one of the parameters that can be added is called the ALT tag. This tag is simply a place in the image tag to put a description, name or title related to the image. It does not show unless you have a browser that show ALT tags when you hover over the image with the mouse. Another time you may see this text is when the image is loading. But the search engines do see this text description and will index it to help you gain keyword recognition for the website. This technique is more effective if you vary the ALT tag content so it is not just a repetition of the same keyword or keyword phrase over and over.
The search engines do not understand a whopping 99% of the websites on the Internet because they are not deemed to be relevant. There are millions of sites that should be considered irrelevant, but yours shouldn't be one of them.
What makes a site relevant? Content that relates to the theme of the site. That is, if your site is about coaching, then it is important to clearly define whether that coaching refers to little league coaching or football coaching or life coaching or business coaching. If the only keyword emphasized on your website is coaching, it will be difficult for the search engine to provide consistent results on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when a search is performed. Your business coaching website will come up along with all the little leaguers, the football coaches as well as your competitors, depending on what additional words show up on
your page content.
A complex algorithm known as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a technology used by the search engines to check not only the keywords on your website and the positioning of those keywords but also other related words that should commonly appear with your keyword or keyword phrase. This is how a website is determined to be relevant. Algorithms like LSI have come into being because there are so many websites on the Internet that simply throw up a
website with just their keywords listed and no other content. LSI takes into consideration additional related content that would naturally show up if the content is relevant to the keyword or keyword phrase and is appropriate to the theme.
Therefore, if your website is not showing up in the top 20 to 30 results in a search query, you can bet that the search engines do not find your website to be relevant or an authority on the topic you have chosen for your website's theme. Granted, there are other factors involving the creation of authority, but it all starts with keywords and content related to those keywords.
So how do we find out what the LSI technology considers important and related content that should appear along with your keywords to give your page weight and relevance? There is a simple technique you can use to determine what additional words will help with this goal. Using Google, put a keyword into the search box with a tilde (~) in front of the keyword. The SERP will show up with all the words that Google thinks are relevant to this keyword in bold.
For example, put ~meditation tool in the search box and the resulting bolded words are: meditation tool, tool, techniques, relaxation tools, tools, Yoga tools, relaxation tool, and spiritual on the first 3 pages. The lesson here is that if you want your website that offers a meditation tool to place well in the SERP, you will want to include some of these other related words and phrases.
Using this technique will give you a great start to building a website that will be considered relevant and an authority by the search engines once they know you exist. While it is important to drive traffic to your website, it is equally important that once traffic arrives at your website, the viewer finds content of value. And the most important visitors your website will ever host are Google and Yahoo and MSN, the Big Three.
Looking back at the past SEO SOS lessons, remember, good content is not English 101, but Marketing 101. You can deliver the message of your site without ignoring the very important search engine technology that places you well on the SERP.
After selecting a series of keywords that your potential customer will use to find your website, you need to focus on those keywords as part of your web page content. If you have several keywords, you may want to have a web page that focuses specifically on that keyword. For example, let's say your keywords are:
- meditation tool
- habit control
- focusing tool
- learn to meditate
- how to meditate
- meditation supplies
By focusing on each of these words with a page that corresponds to
the keyword phrase and hitting an appropriate keyword density ratio - somewhere between 3% and 7% is often considered a good range - you assist the search engines in finding your page for those keywords. However, if you exceed the keyword density by too much, the search engines will probably consider your site to be artificially stuffed and penalize your website. So you need to watch carefully how your keywords are dispersed. It is not just the keyword density that is important but also the placement and usage of those keywords. It is important that your keywords appear in the following locations:
- Page title
- Meta tags
- Very early in the website in a <H1> heading tag
- Within the first 10 to 20 words of the first paragraph
- Bolded within the body content
- Alt tags on your images
If you find your competitors' website consistently placing higher than your website on a search for your keywords, it is likely that your website is not utilizing these keyword positioning tactics. Remember that in Lesson #1, we emphasized that it is all about keywords. Keywords are the crumbs that lead your customers to your website. Those crumbs have to be well-placed on your web pages so that the search engines can create the trail to your website for your potential customers. The only reason the search engines will create that trail to your website is if your web design illustrates to the search engines that you are an authority for that keyword phrase. More about creating authority in Lesson #3.
Your assignment this week is to review your website for keyword placement to see if you can improve the way your content is displayed. Look for your keywords on each page and determine whether you are trying to place too many keywords on one page thereby diluting the keyword density. If that is the case, consider breaking your content into separate pages that will be more easily found by the search engines.