Archive for the 'advanced SEO' Category


5 Optimization Targets Most People Miss

Whenever somebody asks an SEO pro to tell them the most important page elements to optimize, they usually get something like “titles, <h1>, alt tags, body text.” Which isn’t wrong. Those are definitely worth paying attention to. When push comes to shove, if you’ve got your titles and <h1>s lined up, you’re doing better than many.

That doesn’t mean you can do those things and forget it though. Not if you want to succeed at search marketing. Today, competition for ecommerce business is hotter than ever. Any business website worth a nickle has done their basic optimization. That means the battle comes down to off-site tactics like backlinks and old-school promotion and maybe—just maybe—gaining any on-page edge you can. And that is where the devil’s details come to the fore.

Here are some page elements that by themselves won’t count for a hell of a lot. But taken together (and combined with all the other stuff you can come up with) they just might be the edge you need to go from Google #10 to #2.

  1. Image file names. Ah, and you thought it was good enough to put in a few alt tags.  Nope. Make sure every useful visual element uses a keyword variant in its file name. (By useful, we mean don’t worry about design graphics like lines, bullets, spacers and the like.) Don’t worry about hyphens—people don’t have to read these, just spiders. So instead of “image-00203032.jpg,” use “disposablerazor10pack.jpg.” This, along with the alt tags, will help Google’s Image Search find your pretty pictures. And at the same time, pump up your page rank.
  2. Image captions. Captions are an awesome way to improve your site’s accessibility. Most text readers look for alt tags when trying to describe an image—that’s what the alt is for, after all—but why not take an extra step and get another opportunity for related keywords? Just don’t make the alt tag and caption the same. Variation is the spice of life.
  3. Folder names. The best time to start your SEO is when you first start designing the website’s architecture. It always pays to think ahead, and here is no exception. If you know the keywords you want to target, you can name all of the folders (and database records) with them. This pays big dividends. It is, however, somewhat difficult to do in a retrofit. Not impossible. Just difficult. If you do try to retrofit your folder naming conventions, be very careful to check for broken links throughout the site when you’re done.
  4. Link title tags. Did you even know you could do these? Lots of folk don’t But you can, you can! Like so: <a href=”; title=”disposal razors cheap”>Disposable Razors R Us</a>. Used on links to important internal pages, title tags can be a reinforcing element when the spider reads your link text. Again, no exact repeats.
  5. Menu heads. When you build a modern CSS pull-down-or-out menu system, you get to use whatever HTML elements you want to identify the menu’s properties. The right and proper way to do lists of links in a menu is the HTML list element, of course. You know, <ul><li></li></ul>. Works great and is easy for spiders to parse. But if your menu system has headers (see image) you can use an <h> tag to define them. <H2> would be a good choice. (Sure, you could define them all as <H1>, but there’s only supposed to be one of those per page.) This tactic gives them a little extra weight when the Googbot comes a’callin. As always, use good keywords.
Menu head illustration

See? The menu head is that one thing up there in a menu that may not even be a link.


SEO Success Metrics–Get Some

It's raining money!So yesterday we poked around the edges of success metric identification and came up with a few possibilities. Okay, says you, so I figured out which one is right for me, now what?

We’ll tell you what. The success metric you choose will be the goal for your SEO campaign.  And of course, that means you should design the campaign to maximize your potential in that direction. Here are some thoughts:

More sales. If you want people to buy stuff from your website, first you’ll need to choose keywords that used by people looking to buy. There are two very important aspects to consider. The first is the “Purchase Cycle.” These are the five steps most consumers follow through the process of buying stuff, whether online or at the store.

  1. Awareness. Consumer learns of a product, becomes interested.
  2. Research. Consumer investigates product type, variations, uses etc.
  3. Comparison. Consumer checks differences in brand, cost, availability.
  4. Decision. Consumer picks one and buys it.
  5. Relationship. Consumer builds post-purchase opinion of the process which will color any future potential interactions with the seller.

If your only concern is shopping cart completions, then you need to enter the cycle at #3, the point where consumers are comparing the product in order to decide whether or not to buy.

And what that means for SEO is choice of keywords. Keywords designed to attract comparison shoppers are different from ones designed to attract product researchers. “Best widget” is a better keyword for this end than say “About widgets” or “the use of widgets.” Choose keywords that appeal to consumers who already know what they want, they are now ready to buy and looking for the right specific product, the best price, free shipping, or the like.

The second thing you need to worry about is your “Purchase Path.” This is a linear representation of the steps required of a potential customer in order to

  1. Find the product they’re looking for
  2. Gather the information they need to make a decision
  3. Enter the shopping cart environment
  4. Navigate the shopping cart environment
  5. Successful conclude a purchase

A failure at any point in this path makes even the best SEO campaign irrelevant. You can drive 100,000 visits a day on the keyword “buy little black dress” but you won’t make a single sale if arriving visitors can’t find the dress, can’t figure out what sizes it comes in, can’t find the “add to cart” button, can’t figure out an eight page order process, and can’t get the form to accept their credit card.

Purchase paths absolutely need to be simple, transparent, and rigorously tested. That is, if you want your SEO to result in sales.

More sign-ups. If all you’re looking for is a list of people who might someday be interested in your products or services, you’ll need to start at an earlier place in the cycle,  at #1 or #2.  Here, you’re going to try to identify the keywords that might be used by people who don’t quite know what they’re looking for. Maybe they’re trying to solve a problem. Maybe they just found themselves interested in something new to them. Keywords like “what is a widget” and “how to fix fraggits” are more appropriate here. Once you’ve got those keywords, to succeed you need to do two things: 1) serve information that directly answers the keyword queries in an interesting and understandable way; and 2) make it so easy to sign up for a mailing list that even your 90 year-old grandma could do it stoned. Put another way, drive keyword requests for specific information right to that information, make it easy to digest, and even easier to sign up for more of the same.

Higher ranks for vanity keywords. Vanity keywords are defined as particular keywords that are chosen for rank improvement based on criteria other than successfully driving qualified visitors. Maybe somebody high in the food chain always wanted to be number 1 in Google for his mother’s maiden name. Or for something generic like “summer.” There may or may not be increases in  likely visits or sales or anything measurable except search results page rank. Sometimes, this is an impossible task. If the boss wants to win for the keyword “MP3” well, there ain’t enough money to make that happen, unless your name is Trump. Usually, though, vanity keywords are less competitive and can be reached by basic SEO tactics. Heard of Google bombing? That’s when you decide to force high rank from a keyword by placing a multitude of backlinks using that keyword as link text on a wide spread of sites. Ask Rick Santorum whether or not that works.

More magic pixie dust. ‘K. Maybe you’ve identified something else entirely that you need from your SEO campaign. Doesn’t matter what your chosen success metric, you just need to pay attention to these things:

  • Know whose searches you’re trying to capture
  • Learn to think like they do when they’re looking
  • Give them what they’re looking for
  • Make it easy for them to do what you want them to

Easy peasy.