Friday, 12 October 2007

Optimising content & links

These are all steps I've known about in the search engine world for over 5 years, now putting finger to keyboard and sharing with you.....

Search Engine Optimisation steps to take:

Step 1:

You need to review target audience, what are their needs, optimise site around these needs. Look for online studies for demographic information, visit other sites, social communities where audience reside online.

Step 2:

The selection of keywords should be based on campaign strategy, competition, products & volume. We research keywords using, tools such as WordTracker, Overture keyword checker (currently offline) & data from Google & Yahoo search marketing accounts. E-consultancy reported (2006) that over half of the online audience now use phrases that are 3 words or longer in their search queries, this further indicates need for key-phrase analysis to determine the most appropriate. Studies have highlighted that it is important to note the different themes used in search, when choosing appropriate key phrases:

Search themes (courtesy and thanks sent to e-consultancy) include:

Comparison: compare hotels
Price: cheap holidays
Intended use: family holiday in September
Product type: package holiday
Product spec/feature: Hotel with spa facilities
Brand: Seymour Hotels
Location: Hotel Jersey
Action: Book Hotel Jersey

Google’s keyword tool is a great way to generate synonyms and variations of your existing keywords. It also predicts monthly search volume on Google for previous month, based on campaigns locaiton and language settings, and gives indication (if interested in PPC) of the number of advertisers bidding on each keyword across all of the Adwords.

With regards to competition analysis, the below tool could be used to identify the most common key-phrases listed on each page of competitiors sites, showing 2nd, 3rd and 4th most popular key-phrases.

We also use the advanced search syntax for competitor benchmarking in Google and identify pages that perform well through googling [“keyphrase”].

Step 3:

Base site architecture and navigation on the audience & keyword research in step 1 and 2, ie: If site sells Shampoo, consider how could categorise so people find what they are looking for in natural search, ie: are people looking for Shampoo for Coloured Hair or are the searches more brand related. Set themes, as this will assist with setting future objectives, performance, and ongoing optimisation. For example for retailers themes would be based around product ranges, categories and subcategories.

Structure of the site is also about labelling content in the most appropriate way & making link journeys relevant for spiders and humans with this in mind place appropriate keywords in filenames.

Step 4:

Make sure the website is suitable for users and search engine spiders. Spiders are unable to fill out forms, read JavaScript links, and they sometimes have trouble with Flash. We can use these areas, as long as we make sure that we provide alternative HTML links in the navigation. Ask E-scape Interactive about the document (in continual progress) titled ‘code considerations’ document for more details.

Step 5:

Where possible you should look as every link as an opportunity, and be descriptive (within reason) with every link, be it general more information ‘on subject’ link, link to image, video clip – it is important that using Alt & Title attributes that we let the spiders know what they can expect at the other end of the link . The online sitemap should be given close SEO attention.
We have experiene in optimising both videos and images, ask E-scape Interactive for details.

Step 6:

Search engines need to read keyword rich text to help them determine what the website is about. As mentioned before the copy produced should be based on the chosen keyword phrases and the sites target market needs. Looking at generating a keyword density of 3 – 7%. (No more than 10%) within the text.

Step 7:

Place the important and page relevant keyword phrases into each pages unique Title Tag. Typically between: 10 to 15 keywords (60 – 70 characters). The information you place in this text will appear as clickable link in search engines. Also make sure that the meta description is focused on the page content. Remember that just 15-20 words (approx: 150 – 180 characters) of the meta description are visible within the SERPS of Google. Keywords in the meta data are now not deemed as vital, however useful for engines which use meta crawlers. Use 5 to 8 keyphrases maximum otherwise there will be a dilution effect which will decrease keyword density

A good example of keyword density can be found by Googling, Yahooing, or Live searching for Cycle breaks Jersey: There are 266 words on this Seymours page (which ranks 1 or 2) 10 of which are the keyphrases, giving a keyword density of 3.75%. Which is about right for number of words on the page, note also the link off the page.

Step 8:

All the search engines place weight on the sites overall link popularity when determining the natural search engine placement. With this in mind it is important to make sure that the site is link worthy ie: is it full of useful information, updated content. Then people will link to the site without asking. Another way of creating links is contacting directories (relevant & quality ones), increase reach in Blogs, Forums, niche portals, and if e-commerce site shopping portals (ie: Froogle & Ebay).

Hint 1: You can find people to link to by putting this into Google "niche word""add url" or "niche word" "add site".

Hint 2: You can find all links to your site by putting this into Google to exlude internal links put in, and to find niche directories put in: intitle:"word directory".

Link building is an important practice, as with all other steps, relevancy is key. Steer away from link farms and be selective in who you decide to create link partnerships with.

The best way to assess links in is to use the Site Explorer tool at Yahoo, placing relevant code within your meta data.

This is your basic list - next step is integrating your results with your sales & marketing strategies.

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