Too often, an online business wants to throw money at SEO or SEM to drive traffic to their site because they’re not getting enough sales. While this may be the right thing to do - at some point - the first task is to optimize the existing site and the existing traffic for higher conversions. Conversions reflect the action you want the visitor to take - make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter, or download a .pdf file are all valid conversion actions. You want to make sure the website is converting at its highest possible efficiency for the visitors that are already spending time on your site. Is there room to increase conversions by another 10% or more? Start by looking at your site analytics and evaluate visitor information. How are they finding you, where are they coming from, which content pages most appeal to them, how long are they staying on the site. There is much valuable information available to apply to optimization. Define goals in Google Analytics. A goal could be someone reaching the sign-up confirmation page. Tracking goals and conversions helps you measure the effectiveness of your site. Always be looking for small ways to improve efficiencies before investing heavily elsewhere.
There are a small handful of search engines that are relevant on the world wide web. According to this report on Search Engine Market Share by Net Applications, we see that Google (as measured globally) has 83% market share at the time of this writing. Yahoo! Global is a distant second with Biadu (China) and Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine that replaces MSN, remaining in terms of real competition and choice. Another company that does a better job of organizing the content returned from a search is Kosmix. Kosmix is not trying to be a Google-killer but instead, be the leader in its niche which is about “search aggregation” - aggregating the content from different sources and media types and presenting it in a more organized, user-friendly manner. What this means to business owners is that when service providers offer you an SEO package that includes submitting your site to hundreds or thousands of search engines - be wary, and do not hesitate to question them further. Maintain the same skepticism you have when watching those infomercials about making millions in real estate.
Many people new to marketing on the web confuse Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with Search Engine Marketing (SEM). It helps to think of SEO as doing “on-page” work and SEM as “off-page” work. SEO is the process of making your website 1) Easily indexed by the major search engines; 2) Funneling your visitors (including search engine spiders) to the desired page or call-to-action. Just a few SEO techniques would include:
- Put keyphrases in title (H1, H2,..) tags
- Link to funnel page using keyphrases in anchor <a href=”"> tags
- Link other pages to funnel page.
- Put most important content at top of page
- Use clean XHTML/CSS page layouts
- Avoid putting keyphrases in media (graphics, Flash, audio, video)
- Setup a blog on your site and regularly write articles that contain your keywords
SEM should be part of an overall marketing campaign in which you define a strategy for driving traffic to your site - and more specifically, a particular page on your site - for your desired keyphrases. This campaign can include Google Adwords and other pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social bookmarking, social networking, user forums, directories, backlinks, and any other “vehicle” that provides a means for linking back to your site using your desired keyphrases.
When people want to “SEO their site” - that’s good, but there is more involved in getting your site ranked on any search engine. You have to view the full picture and have a strategy that makes sense for your business, content, and objectives.