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General Outline for Search Engine Optimization and Marketing

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) there is no such thing as a canned solution where a single approach works for everyone.

Question: What does it cost, and what results should I expect?

Answer:   Whatever the market will bear, and how long is a piece of string?

For SEO/SEM there is no single answer to those questions – and one question leads to another.  What do you want to achieve, and what resources can you commit to it?  Resources are more than just funds; they include management strategy and work effort.

The following is an outline of strategies and available options for successful internet marketing.  Specific recommendations and scope of work proposals require evaluation and discussion of the client’s needs, and the current status of website(s) and maturity of internet presence.  Scope and scale of work (what, when and how much) are directly related to available budget guidelines.

We hope you find this information valuable.  Please contact us if you have specific questions or comments.

SEO / SEM

Onsite and Offsite

While they must be aligned and share common strategies, work is fundamentally separated by efforts done on the website, and work done off the site.

SEO and SEM should also be coordinated to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

While there are numerous technical issues, the key to successful internet marketing is employing an organized and systematic approach, together with application of common-sense (assume nothing, everything for a reason).

Fundamental:  the better everything connects together, the better the desired results will be achieved.

Goals

Internet Presence, Generate Quality Traffic, Conversions, and Other Goals

Establishing well thought-out and communicated goals and expectations is important to do from the very beginning.

Internet Presence

Build foundation to support other goals by having a baseline of presence on the web.  For example if someone researches the company/website and specifically searches for it, how many results are found?  Six or 60,000?  Quality matters most, but quantity is important too.  Over time this also affects PR (page rank – ratio of incoming/versus outgoing links) and means better quality score, and should improve effectiveness of strategies.

Generate Quality Traffic

Targeting the right audience means using appropriate language, presented in the correct places and methods, and matching these to the website content.

Conversions

Keeping in mind the end-game at all times is important.  All roads lead to placing an order or ‘doing business’.  Of course, conversions can mean different things and often have multiple layers.  Relationship marketing might have a conversion goal of signing up for a newsletter, and this could be accomplished by the goal of people requesting free information or a product trial.  Usability, site architecture and visitor flow and behavior are related to both SEO and SEM.  People tend to do what you ask them to do, and make easy to do – the sooner you start asking the better.

Other Goals

Every organization has their specific ideas as to what is important.  Marketing must adapt to meet those goals.

Strategies

Content, Incoming Links, Keyword Phrases, Anchor Text Links, Quality Score, Strategic Promotions

Reach and relevancy – what is the message, who is it presented to, where and when.

Content

Make no mistake; there are no shortcuts and tricks.  Everything starts with quality content that is formatted correctly for usability and SEO.  Write for people first, then adjust and edit or SEO.

Incoming Links

The holy grail of SEO.  Google and the other search engines determine SERP (search engine result position) on numerous factors that are heavily weighted toward a website’s perceived value by the internet community.  If other websites (people) think your site is worthy of linking to, then you deserve to be ranked higher on the search results page.  The quality and type of these links is very important as the search engines map the web, and have sophisticated algorithms to evaluate and categorize websites.

Keyword Phrases and Anchor Text Links

What words do people use to find the content you want to present to them?  Can you compete against more established and organized competitors or should you find niches to exploit?  Anchor Text Links are extremely important and valuable – they should be relevant keyword phrases used in outside links coming into the site, and from within the site to connect pages and strengthen understanding of what content is about.

Quality Score

An extremely critical concept to keep in mind and that should be part of every element of the website and the off-site efforts.  From clean code to relevant words – it directly affects both SEO and SEM performance results.

Strategic Promotions

The shotgun blast approach of widespread targeting, or throwing spaghetti against the wall, to see what sticks do have a place in internet marketing strategies; but the reality of limited resources and time sensitive economics means picking targets and promotional offers that are competitive, effective and efficient is very important.

Target, try, test, evaluate and repeat.

Tools/Tactics

Analysis and Evaluation

  • Google Analytics – powerful tool for free, other analytic tools are good, but GA is recommended
  • Google Webmaster Tools – critical for evaluating the site, and presenting to Google
  • Yahoo Site Explorer – similar reasons to Google webmaster tools, not as comprehensive
  • Bing Webmaster Tools – similar reasons to Google webmaster tools, not as comprehensive

Content

  • Authoritative and Relevant content is what gets found and noticed. Keyword rich content and anchor text links throughout the site. Challenge: typical descriptions are worded differently than the usual way people search.
  • Blogs – a WordPress blog is almost mandatory. Sites must have a quantity of high-quality, original non-duplicated content formatted properly for SEO.
  • RSS Feeds – for human interest and critical for SEO
  • Word Count and Page Count – more words, more pages do matter.
  • Landing Pages – should be different than typical content.

Site Structure

  • Clean Code – must have proper coding without excessive errors. ‘no-follow’ outgoing links
  • SEO Architecture – URL, Page Title, Meta Description, Meta Tags, H-tags, Content, Images, Links & Navigation, dynamic XML sitemaps

Backlinks/Bookmarking

  • Articles – Quality articles (authoritative and relevant content) are a very good way to get quality links, labor intensive
  • Article Spinning – great way to generate links, presence and real direct traffic, semi-automated tools available, very labor intensive
  • Social Bookmarking – looked for by engines, also generate traffic, semi-automated tools available
  • Forum Profiles – good way to generate links, semi-automated tools available
  • Forum Postings – can be good for links and traffic, need to be relevant and allow ‘follow’, labor intensive
  • Blog Comments – can be good for links and traffic, need to be relevant and allow ‘follow’, labor intensive
  • Evaluation Site Submission – good to start getting site crawled and for backlinks, semi-automated tools available
  • Search Engine Submissions – hundreds of search engines exist, semi-automated tools available
  • Directory Listings – one of the original backlink strategies still plays a role, but not a priority, semi-automated tools available. DMOZ very valuable, but arbitrary inclusion
  • FFA – “free for all”, for the right niche can have surprising results, but not necessarily recommended
  • Reciprocal Links – if done properly as part of real community networking and resource sharing they can be very effective however heeding Google admonishments about bad community and paid link farms is important. Quality matters – doing this correctly requires resources and involvement from site owners.

Advertising and Miscellaneous

  • Press Releases – once a week (more or less) of real, quality news, properly formatted – free or paid
  • Videos (you tube etc)
  • Article Incubators – manually provide information and solicit interest from vertical market media/authorities
  • Search Engine Marketing Text and Banner Ads – Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook
  • Classified ads, Sponsorship Banner, and Text ads on relevant forums, authoritative blogs, and websites.
  • Email Marketing – solicited and unsolicited – must adhere to best practices guidelines

Initial Steps

  • Establish Budget Guideline
  • Establish Goals
  • Market Analysis – target audience, keywords – usage, competitive rankings, competitor sites and strategies
  • Strategic Marketing Plan – targets, reach and relevancy, methods, schedule
  • Site Development – evaluate site architecture, update according to strategies
  • Content Development – onsite and offsite
  • Daily Activity Work Plan

Resources

Design Chemical has an 88-point website SEO evaluation outline available – click here

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