Search engine optimisation or SEO is an integral part of internet marketing. In the simplest terms, SEO is adjusting your website so that it appears higher in the list of search results when someone searches for a product like the one you sell. This is extremely important for competitive businesses, and companies that specialise in SEO have become mainstream in the industry.
An internet presence enhances a firm’s international strategic orientation and forms a core part of any marketing campaign. Many businesses are operating entirely from the internet, without any traditional brick and mortar store. This makes understanding website ranking all the more critical.
Websites are ranked according to how search engine algorithms assign them a value. Having the highest value, and thus the top position in a search can have a significant effect on the success of a business. Search engine companies consider their algorithms to be highly confidential. If it became known to the public, the potential for abuse would be extraordinary.
SEO has virtually become a science to website marketers. In the 1990s, website rankings could be easily manipulated. This led to significant abuse by marketers, but search engines responded by developing algorithms that filtered potentially junk websites. One of the ways they measured a website’s value was by tracking the incoming links from other sites. Many links from popular sites meant that a site had more value than one with fewer links, but marketers soon figured out how to abuse this as well. Then, search engines introduced the concept of authority: links from well-known and long-established sites carried more weight than links from popular websites. This went a long way towards preventing search engine abuse, and this system is still in use today.
Marketers who want to enhance their websites should look at a few of the common areas that search engines use to determine a site’s value. Rich information is essential, along with relevant keywords that you want your site to be associated with. Keywords are the words that a customer is likely to type into a search engine when they are looking for something. You want to try and add some of these words to the text on your website. The density of keywords is also critical, too many and the site will look like spam, too few and the site may not be associated with them. Finding the right mix is an art.
Keyword phrases are also important. These are phrases made up of two or three keywords that narrow down the subject of your website and further demonstrate authority on the subject. For example, if the site is about bicycles, the main keyword is bicycles, and some keyword phrases may be “bicycle tires,” “mountain bike saddlebags” or “bicycle pump.” Generally, the more specific the phrase, the better.
SEO is an ongoing process that must be re-evaluated regularly. Search engines are continually updating their algorithms and marketers have to pay attention to keep up.
How to Get the Most out of Your Web Site
The old adage “if you build it, they will come” at one time applied to web sites right up until the internet bubble shattered into a million soapy shards.
Nowadays if the web site is used as a marketing tool (electronic brochure) and the objective of your web site is to produce sales, the site has to be different and stand out from other web sites – something that no one else has thought of and has brought to the web.
That’s a very tough thing to do and will usually take a lot of hard work and maybe a venture capitalist or two to help with the development costs of your latest and greatest widget.
In today’s economy, the homeless are richer than most banks so to find a venture capitalist that will sink money into the web you better have more than just a what-if, if you build it, they will come (IYBI-TWC) rhetoric.
A service is tougher to sell to a customer because it isn’t a thing.
A customer can’t touch it or control it.
Service is not objective but subjective.
A customer can’t have a free trial download of service to test it out.
So how should the executive protection/security industry sell a service on the web and do it at a reasonable cost?
As an example, let’s take a look at two industry web sites.
The first Company, Company A, has a web site that contains high-end graphics; fancy action shots, and in there is a list of services that they provide and contact information.
Company A web site cost to build was $10,000.
The second Company, Company B, has low-end graphics – simple design, no fancy action shots, list of services with prices, and contact information.
Company B web site cost to build was $2,000.
Now which industry web site is getting more out of their web site?
One would naturally think the fancy, high-end brochure on the web, right?
But that is not necessarily the case.
The Company A web site is three years old and has the exact same content as day one.
Same services, same content information, same old, same old.
The Company has applied the IYBI-TWC principle.
Yes, it does get potential clients to use their services; but most of their clients have always used this industry service company for x amount of years, so why change.
Don’t get me wrong, this Company is making money, but the same money, from the same clients.
Same eyes are looking at the site, same eyes buying the services.
I call this approach the even keel – just hums along thinking everything is going great – but watch out for those icebergs.
Company B’s web site is also three years old; however, the Company is always updating the site with new services, new schedules maybe a couple of articles related to client feedback or the services they provide.
In other words, the Company is being proactive by managing their web site – keeping it fresh with new content.
This does bring to the web site fresh eyes, and maybe new clients.
But there is something else this Company is doing – looking over the web site statistics.
Web statistics sound like a college math course, but in reality, most Web Hosting Companies make it really easy for you.
Company B is getting the following information from visitors to their web site:
• What pages visitors look at and how often
• How often visitors stay on a page
• What time a day most visitors come to the site
• What web site referred their web site
• What search keywords led visitors to their site
• What country or state visitors are from
• Visitor ISP’s – military, government, education, commercial
Most of the information is standard, and the hosting provider puts the data into a nice bar and circle graphs.
So how does Company B make stats work for them? Let me give you a few practical examples.
Search keywords are keywords that visitors have typed into Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc. and clicked a search result that led to the Company B web site.
For example, Joe the Plumber is looking for a defensive driving course for his teenage son, so he typed in Defensive Driving; Company B comes up in the search results. Joe, the Plumber, clicks the Company Blink and visits the site.
The upside for using this data is that Company B uses these keyword results to introduce new services and new content so that these visitors will purchase these services rather than continuing their search elsewhere.
Now you wouldn’t want to do too many new services as that wouldn’t be financially prudent, but even posting new information such as links to articles or writing your own is doing two things – keeping visitors on your site and potentially getting new clients.
This bit of data tells the Company what ISP’s people are using while visiting the site. Some are the usual suspects – Cox, Time Warner, Verizon, but a few might stand out like an ISP that ends with ‘.mil.’ or ‘.gov.’
Let’s put this to work for Company B.
In checking the web statistics for December, Company B notices several visits from an ISP named bragg.army.mil.
At the weekly Company B meeting, the web statistics are reviewed with staff.
A staff member knows someone over in Fort Bragg who does some training.
She places the call and gets Company B and Fort Bragg talking about some of their services.
Fort Bragg says they have gone with Company A for several years and are satisfied with their services, but are interested in what Company B can do for them.
Now in this hypothetical situation Company, A’s even-keel approach could be steering right into an iceberg, and Company B could be starting a long term partnership with Fort Bragg.
Some visitor ISP could be commercial like Raytheon, Fidelity or Starbucks.
Large companies like these run their own ISP’s and could also provide potential leads for clients.
One word on Starbucks though, they rent out their ISP at local coffee shops, so if you see Starbucks in your Visitor ISP data, it most likely means someone logged into the Starbucks ISP and visited your site.
Web referrals work like this: Company B posted an article related to their services but also gave good practical advice; another company, abc.com, put a link to Company B’s article on their web site.
The web statistics will show a referral from abc.com.
These statistics are also a good aide in garnering new eyes and potential new clients.
It also does something else – networking and potentially supplemental income.
Now that Company B knows that abc.com posts articles a dialogue has begun.
Company B and abc.com now post articles and shared services on each other’s web sites.
Things are going well between them; they are talking about putting referral finder’s fees for the referral traffic.
A Thing about Hits
All Company B activities are going on while Company A sits and waits for the phone to ring or the email to ping.
Company A has web statistics available, but they don’t think the data is important – except for hits.
They have a counter on their home page for all to see. One hundred twenty-nine thousand five hundred eighty-two hits – looks and sounds quite impressive.
But hits can be deceiving.
Technically speaking, a hit is a call to the server where the file is hosted and presents that file on the browser.
So what does that mean?
Let’s say there are 15 images on Company A’s web site home page if one visitor clicks on the home page, that produces 16 hits – 15 for the image files, and 1 for the page itself.
Now the counter will go up only one notch, but the web stats hit data for Company A will add sixteen.
Let’s say that one visitor clicked on the home page ten times; the counter goes up to ten – the hit data goes up to 160.
Company A thinks several different visitors went to their site when it actually was only one person.
So when you look at hits as a gauge on how your web site is doing – bigger isn’t always better.
Search Engine Optimization
Do a Google search for what your company is selling.
Chances are there will be millions of results.
You find company A’s web site ranked 20th and on the second page and Company B’s website ranked 2nd on the first page of results.
How can Company A improve its ranking?
SEO is the use of various techniques to improve a web site’s ranking in the search engines and thus attract more visitors.
Some of these techniques are free and help a great deal and some techniques you can pay for.
The free techniques are usually slower to move up your web site in rank but in my opinion, are longer-term results.
Here are a few free optimizations that you can do:
Go to Google.Com and do a search for Google site submission.
Enter your site and a one-sentence description of the site.
Do the same to other search engines like Yahoo, Bing, etc.
Whether you have designed a website for yourself or hired someone to develop it, there must be Meta tags for a description and keywords for each page.
I would also recommend that each title on a page represent what is on that page.
Sign up for Google’s Webmasters Tools.
Google has fantastic tools at you or your developer’s disposal such as what keywords searchers are using to get to your site, who is visiting what pages, setting up a site map, a robots.txt file to name a few, all of which will bring your website up and rank.
Sign up for Google analytics.
In addition to the webmaster tools, Google has specific tools to analyze your web site. Keywords, visitors, referrals, bounce rate, how long visitors are staying on your site, how many from what country, etc.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is a term for improving a website’s technical aspects to rank better in search engine results.
With technical SEO, it is possible to make web pages easier for search engines to crawl and read.
Google’s objective, and the objective of search engines in general, is to give search engine users the best possible experience.
The best user experience refers to things like the relevance of the results, but it also includes technical factors such as:
Page Load Speed
One of the features that Google considers an important element in a web page is loading speed.
Users want web pages to open quickly.
According to Google, the likelihood of visitors leaving a website increases along with the page load time.
The bounce probability goes up by 32 percent as the page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds, according to Google (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks/).
Google believes that websites that open slowly provide a sub-optimal user experience and will penalize that site with a lower ranking.
That website’s faster competitors will be ranked higher.
Google has announced that they want HTTPS everywhere.
The HTTPS at the start of the URL (as opposed to simply HTTP) indicates that the website uses a technology called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).
SSL creates an encrypted connection between the web server and the visitors’ browsers.
The encrypted link ensures that the data sent over it cannot be intercepted.
Having the same content on multiple pages of a website can confuse search engines.
The result of that confusion is that all of the duplicate pages get low rankings.
The solution will be to indicate which of these pages should be seen as the canonical URL.
A responsive website design is one that allows the content on a website to be read on any device.
In other words, the website will be just as usable on a mobile device as it is on a PC.
Google considers responsiveness a key signal for ranking, especially since more of its users are gravitating towards mobile devices.
XML sitemaps help search engines to figure a website out as they crawl it.
It tells them where to find each page, the last time that page was modified, and how often it gets updated.
These are just a few basic aspects of technical SEO.
The technical SEO field covers all the areas wherein a website must conform to search engine requirements.
Not only will meeting the requirements help with a website’s ranking, but it will also provide a better user experience.
Three Types of Posts for Your Company Blog
The majority of brands now realise they need a robust content marketing strategy, and a company blog is a critical component within that. The following article explores some different types of blog posts to use.
It’s crucial to vary content to keep your audience engaged, and this piece will show you how.
Industry news and reaction
As stated, your company blog should be varied with the different types of content you use. Getting the balance right is crucial here. Your audience wants to be informed, so you should focus some of your attention on providing the latest news from your industry.
Keep in mind the intense competition in the marketplace for this type of content. Remember your competitors may be sharing the same news as you. Therefore, you also want to include some of your own commentary.
It’s crucial to pinpoint what this piece of news means for your business or how you are taking advantage of the latest industry trend.
Share your news
Another way to make your blog stand out is to include content that only you can write. The obvious example of this is sharing your own news. There are various ways you can do this, such as publishing a case study of the work you have done for a particular client.
An approach like this works well for marketing agencies; it’s not a hard sell but it does provide an opportunity to show what you can do.
There are other options as well, such as a report from a recent event of yours – you can even include video highlights or an interview you did. Always think about what your audience is interested in and which type of content they will engage best with.
Sharing good news makes your brand more personable and encourages engagement with your audience. Be careful though to avoid writing promotional posts regularly, and always look to add value through your company blog.
List-style evergreen posts
Latest industry and company news should certainly be shared regularly to keep your audience informed. However, one of the problems with this type of content is it only typically gains short-term views over a day or two when it’s fresh.
It’s also crucial to publish content that doesn’t age in the same way.
The best approach for this is list-style evergreen posts. To put it simply, this is content that stays fresh for months or even years after it is published. Again, ensure you are providing value to your audience by covering the topics they are most interested in.
Remember blog posts like this are fun to write, easy to promote and can be shared over and over again.
Content marketing is a significant trend and something most brands need to be involved in.
If you’re serious about this type of marketing, you will want to have a company blog that you update regularly.
It’s necessary to find the right balance with the content you publish, so this article has explored the topic in greater detail.
Remember to provide commentary on industry news, share your own news and create list-style evergreen posts.
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