Friday, January 16, 2009

10 SEO and SEM Tips

A lot of my job involves increasing web traffic through search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), so I was happy that the conference I attended spent a good amount of time on these strategies. Here are some of the tips we covered on increasing your ranking in search engine results:

1. You may have noticed a new, recent feature of Google searches: When you type in a word in the search field, Google automatically fills in the word or phrase. These are keywords and phrases other people have used, so this is a great way to do keyword research to see what keywords your audience is using to find yours and competitor websites. The longer the phrase, the more qualified the interest (i.e. someone searching for “Dell Inspiron Laptop with high-def widescreen” is a lot closer to purchasing than someone searching for “laptop computer.”) This is called the long tail of search.

2. Ranking in organic searches (i.e. when you don’t pay to have your website in a prominent place in search results) can be improved by keeping copy to 200-400 words per page; ensuring your copy aligns with your keywords; keeping keyword density to 4 or 5% on a page (don’t oversaturate copy with keywords); and ensuring you don’t have duplicate info on multiple pages.

3. Create an engine specific external site map (in Google Tools, look at site map).

4. Search engines don’t pull keywords from Flash; always make sure keywords in Flash pieces are also incorporated into the page content.

5. The more in-bound qualified links that come to your website, the better your ranking.

6. If your company has a blog, make sure it’s on your company website, not on a third-party site (like Blogger) so that search results promote your site not a third-party site.

7. Videos should be hosted on YouTube in addition to your company site because YouTube videos are ranked in search results.

8. Ads are now available on Facebook and YouTube and are very inexpensive and allow for a lot of niche targeting.

9. All websites should offer RSS, a news feed that web visitors subscribe to. On my sites, the RSS pages are always the most visited.

10. If you’re doing paid search (i.e. Google Adwords), create a different landing page for each campaign. Consider putting a form with an offer on the landing page to better generate leads and track campaign success (i.e. fill out this form and we’ll send you a free white paper).