Posts Tagged ‘seo resource


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.


SEO Success Metrics–What’s Yours?

Why are you doing all this SEO stuff? What do hope to gain from the expense of time, money, and irritation that goes into a serious search marketing effort? You really should know the answer to this question before you embark on an SEO campaign. Otherwise, you’ll never know when you get where you’re headed and you’ll know if the trip was worth the effort.

Is it more visits? For some web endeavors, just getting people to the site is victory enough. Perhaps you have funding contingent on putting eyeballs on pages, or if your model involves selling space ads, the more visits, the higher the rate you can charge.

Is it more leads? Those businesses that rely heavily on sales professionals to close the deal, getting the contact info of qualified potential customers can be worth a whole lot of trouble. Of course, your sales staff still needs to be capable of closing.

Is it more sales? Well, there’s the obvious winner, right? Ecommerce sites with online purchase capacity can pretty easily connect the dots between search visits and completed transactions. Cha-ching!

Is it more sign-ups? What if all you’re looking for is a list of people who might someday be interested in your whatever. A list you can email newsletters, special offers, and the like, or a list you can sell to some filthy spammer somewhere. Nah, you wouldn’t do that.

Is it higher ranks for vanity keywords? Here’s every SEO pro’s favorite success metric. The Marketing Manager comes to you with a blank check and says “All my CEO wants is to get number 1 rank in Google for ‘arglebargle.’ Cost is no object.” This used to happen more, but still does. Maybe makes sense for branding campaigns, but who cares? This kind of campaign i’s an SEO’s wet dream.

Is it more magic pixie dust? Hmm? Is it? Well? Do you even know what you want from the SEO? You better find out. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at how these different metrics call for differences in SEO campaigns.


Keywording Made Reeeeealy Simple

It Ain’t Rocket Science

  • Step 1: Figure out what your page is actually about.
  • Step 2: Figure out what folks online actually type into search engines looking for what you figured out in Step 1.
  • Step 3: Rank the list of phrases you figured out in Step 2 by descending order: highest traffic potential on top.
  • Step 4: Test the top 5 or 10 phrases in the list you made in Step 3 for competitiveness. Pick out the three highest on the list that you can actually compete for.
  • Step 5: Use the best of the 3 phrases you chose in Step 4 as your lens name and title; use the other two as module titles. Use each of the three <i>once or twice</i> elsewhere in the lens: body copy, image file names, link outs, etc.
  • Step 6: Profit.

You can find the information you need for Steps 2 and 3 using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. For Step 4, enter each keyword into Google and note the number of sites where that keyword phrase appears and the number of AdWords that show up. You can also find a “Competitiveness” score and an “average CPC” in the AdWords Keyword Tool reports Keywords with lots of competitors, lots of AdWord ads, and high average CPCs are going to tough to win position for.


SEO: Wheat, Chaff, Blah Blah

Data and graph courtesy of SEOMoz

If we believe that SEOMoz’s webmaster poll has culled the kernel of truth about Google’s search algorithm—and we do, yes we do—then this is the way it breaks down.

Just three factors account for 2/3 of the total rank weight. Beat your competitors on those three ranking factors, and you will prevail.

Trust Authority: the age of your domain, plus the size of your domain, plus the traffic history of your domain. It’s hard to say just what the right mix of those ingredients is, but equal thirds can’t be far wrong.

Link Popularity: The sheer number of relevant links pointing to any given page, strongly weighted in favor of links from sites scoring high by these same measures.

Anchor Text of External Links: Of the links mentioned above, how many use text relevant to the current search? If you’re trying to rank for “keyword,” how many of the links pointing to you have “keyword” in the link text?

Of these things, it’s obvious that links and link text are the thing you have the best shot in influencing, although you can improve your Trust Authority by adding quality content.

So is it even important at all to do all the other things SEOs want you to do?

Well, yes.  A lot of what your SEO is telling you has to do with getting your pages indexed in the first place: text link navigation, site maps, title and <h> tags, spider-friendly URLs, etc. These things have to happen if you want the rest of it to follow.

Do that stuff first. Do it all. Then create or gather the best content you can absolutely manage to acquire and keep doing that forever. But the best thing for your long-term lasting success is clear.

Links, links, links.

Quality links, quantity links, link-texty links. That’s right. The secret is links.


SEO Tips: Subdomain or Folder?

Sometimes you hear people talking about SEO and they might as well be speaking Klingon.

“So I H1ed the gateways for semantic indexing, then ported all the overoptimized content to a subdomain.”

What? You what? Okay, every industry has its own lingo. Search marketing’s lingo just happens to be kind of geeky.

All the other tripe in the quote aside, the word “subdomain” is one you should know, and maybe even use.

A subdomain is a way to organize and separate content on a website. You’ve seen them. In this web address, guess what word is the subdomain:

Correct! Translate is a subdomain of How is that different from:

In the second instance, translate is in a folder. They don’t necessarily have to be different at all.  Both URLs go to the same place. In the instance above, Google redirects the folder version to the subdomain, but they wouldn’t have to do that. Each URL could, in fact, lead to completely different pages.

So what’s going on? On a map of a website, the difference is, perhaps, more clear.

Website map: Subdomain

A subdomain is on roughly equal footing with main, or root domain. (In fact, www is a subdomain.  Which is why and are equal. Also in fact, they don’t have to be the same website.) A subdomain can contain a completely separate website from the root domain, and it will be treated as a separate domain by search engines and browsers.

Website map: folder

A folder, on the other hand, is a categorization label, just like a folder on your desktop. You can have folders within folders within folders. The end result is much the same: just another way to organize data, sort pages, make your content easier to find and navigate.


(And did you notice that’s a pretty big “but”?)

There is a distinction between the two. Search engines, Google in particular, treats a subdomain as an almost completely separate and unique website. They treat a folder like a category within the root, or just an organizational level under the same site as the root domain.

Which has some implications.

One: if you have a link on a subdomain site that points to your root domain, it should count as a better link in Google’s algorithm.

Two: If you have content on your main site that is sketchy in some way—irrelevant, poorer quality, etc—and you put it on a subdomain, its negative effect on your rankings should be reduced.

Now, in either case, subdomain or folder, there is an opportunity to display one of your awesome-est keywords. It is known that your rank for a keyword that is somewhere insider your URL is generally higher, and that the position of the keyword in the URL—how physically close to the main domain name it is—carries some weight also.

Which is better? Or

This is debatable, and is often debated among SEO pros. The truth is, it probably doesn’t matter enough to worry about. Just try to use the two the way they are meant to be used and you’ll be golden.

Here are the main things to remember:

  • A subdomain is used for content that is fundamentally different from the content on the root domain.
  • A folder is used to organize and group content within a domain.
  • When naming either a subdomain or a folder always use a great keyword.

Now go forth and organize.



5 Things Your SEO Provider DOES NOT Know

Today's Lesson: Just what the hell do we DO around here?

CEO Schooling the SEO

You hire an SEO provider to improve your search position. You do the diligence thing: check references, make sure they use compliant techniques, get a written contract, and verify that you understand the way the fees and billing work. The minute it’s signed, you think, “Yay! Now I don’t have to think about this crap anymore! My SEO will handle everything!”

Well, yes and no. Because there are at least 5 things that your SEO provider almost certainly doesn’t know that you absolutely must school them on.

  1. What your business does. Sure, this seems like it should be obvious. But it isn’t. You’ve been doing it for a while and you understand what you do. Don’t assume that the SEO has any clue. School them.
  2. How your business does it. The business model you use to govern your operation is one of many possible models. The SEO needs to know—at least in general terms—the way you do what you do. School ’em.
  3. Who your business does it to. Who is your primary demographic? Not just who buys your stuff, but who might buy your stuff, what kind of people they are, where they live, what they’re likely to do and want. Surely you have this info close to hand. Don’t you? SCHOOL the SEO.
  4. When your business does it. If there are times of the day, week, month, or year that your business booms—or bombs—let the SEO in on it. School’s in session!
  5. Where your business rules. Geography is everything. If you know you have limitations on where you do business, let the SEO know. If  you know areas where you’re already kicking ass, let ’em know. To school!

Oh, yeah. And there’s one more thing you better be perfectly clear, up-front, and honest about. Just exactly what are your expectations? If the SEO didn’t ask you this well before you signed a contract, they didn’t do their job. It is absolutely essential to the success of any search marketing project that everybody starts out on the same page.

And preferably stays there.


Google’s Advanced Search Operators for SEO

Now what was I looking for?

We’ve been doing this stuff for so long now that sometimes we forget that not everybody knows all the tricks we normally take for granted. Google Advanced Search Operators, for instance.

In fact, we’re sometimes surprised to learn that there are even some SEO professionals who don’t use these little search operator tricks—even though we find ourselves using many of them pretty much daily.

So we put together a list of our favorites, in no particular order.

Also note that the usual useful search operators and filters work in cooperation with some of these: “quotes” around a string mean exact match, + (plus sign) means must include, – (minus sign) means exclude.

Useful Google Search Operators

site: All indexed pages under the search string domain


link: List of significant indexed links pointing to the search string domain


allintitle: All words in title
Search for documents with all the words in the search string  in their title. Can’t be combined with other operators

example: allintitle: quest solution

intitle: Word in title
Search for documents with the first word after the intitle operator somewhere in their title.

allintext: All words in text
Search for documents with all search string words the in their text. Can’t be combined with other operators

example: allintext:firefly tv character jayne

intext: Word in Text
Search for documents with the first word after the intext operator in their text.

allinurl: All words in URL
Search for documents with all the words in their url. Returns results with all words in any part of URL, in any order. Can’t be combined with other operators

example: allinurl:eugene west storage

inurl: Word in URL
Search for documents with the first word after the inurl operator in their url.

allinanchor: All words in anchor
Search for documents with all the words in an anchor. Returns pages with all of the words in the search string used in at least one hyperlink. Can’t be combined with other operators

example: allinanchor:most experienced seo

inanchor: Word in anchor
Search for documents with the first word after the operator in an anchor.