Does SEO Conflict with User-Friendly Websites?

Google’s so-called “Farmer/Panda” algorithm update rewards original, high-quality site content. Aggregators suffer under Panda, as do e-commerce merchants who rely on generic product descriptions that are not unique to their sites, or who offer poor content generally. We’ve addressed the Farmer/Panda update here previously, at “Google’s ‘Farmer’ Algorithm and What It Means for Ecommerce SEO,” and with my three-part case study on one store’s struggles with that algorithm change.

The importance of the Farmer/Panda update has spawned discussions on structuring a site for search engine bots, versus making it accessible for human consumers. That discussion is the focus of a session — “Panda vs. Human: Advance eCommerce SEO UX” — at the upcoming Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago on Nov. 14 – 18. The session is potentially interesting, as it reminds us that humans purchase products, not search engine robots. But without the search engines, humans likely wouldn’t find a retailer’s products to begin with.

Armed with that dilemma, I corresponded recently with the two moderators of that SES session. Jaimie Sirovich is president of SEO Egghead, Inc., a web development firm focused on search-engine-optimized sites. Greg Nudelman is CEO at Design Caffeine Inc., a web design and user-interface firm.

SEO vs. User Experience

Jill Kocher: Google’s series of Panda algorithm updates focused primarily on site quality signals, such as unique, high-quality content. How do user experience strategies help send higher site quality signals to the search engines?

 

Jaimie Sirovich: “One of the most important, yet oft-ignored UX [user experience] factors when viewing a web page is its trustworthiness. Having links only for the sake of internal linking structure ruins trustworthiness. Even though one might attain more traffic, the conversion percentage and long-term loyalty both take a dive, because customers exhibit less trust and become weary.

“Since the algorithm is based in machine learning there is no simple checklist of Panda factors. [Machine learning algorithms are forms of artificial intelligence that enable the search engines to generate ranking rules or predictions based on observable data, such as click-through rates, amount of content, linking factors, and keyword relevance factors.] From our experience browsing patents, it is apparent that Google prefers machine-learning techniques to simpler algorithms like PageRank. They [machine learning factors] are more difficult to game.”

Kocher: User-friendly faceted site navigation — which filters variables like color, size and price — can generate thousands of repetitive product listing pages. Even when URLs are appropriately controlled with facet ordering and breadcrumb tactics, millions of pages can be spawned instantly. Won’t these faceted navigation landing pages result in just more thin content, which could trigger the Panda effect and hurt search rankings?

 

Greg Nudelman: “Absolutely. However, a certain amount of this is tolerated by the various search engines. Google has also introduced a new feature in its ‘URL Parameters’ tool within Webmaster Tools that allows for indicating parameters that filter results. One of the biggest mistakes we see web programmers make is to rewrite the URLs for all faceted search parameters, as if rewriting URLs magically solves all the spidering problems. Nothing could be further than the truth. Parameters helps the robots understand what they should spider.

“I’ve actually seen a number of search marketers say that perhaps faceted navigation pages shouldn’t be indexed at all. This is nonsense. Websites with faceted search capability tend to phase out what were deeply nested category trees in exchange for shallower category trees for fundamental decisions, and then facets for the details. This works very well for humans in every usability study I’ve read. The unfortunate result of that, though — if you don’t let the ‘bots spider at least some of the facets — is a major step backwards in your organic search marketing capabilities.

“We recommend not letting robots spider more than one facet at a time in some way by default to prevent spider traps — and if it’s not a landing page— but that’s exactly what using that URL Parameters tool might affect anyway, if the webmaster indicates that a particular parameter filters results.”

Kocher: Interesting, but I disagree. For ecommerce sites with very large catalogs, preventing the spidering of more than one facet at a time would essentially hack off the long tail and relegate most products to a crawl path made up of low-relevance pagination anchor text rather than keyword-rich facet anchor text. For example, allowing crawlers to access only pages for single facets like “red,” “womens” and “boots” individually only prevents the ‘bots from accessing a page dedicated to “womens red boots,” unless you specifically create or optimize a page for that phrase and allow the bots to crawl it. Introducing the manual element of creating specific landing pages removes the scalable benefit of faceted navigation to the long tail of search. The page exists anyway and users visit it willingly via the faceted navigation. So from an SEO standpoint it makes little sense to cut off those lower-volume but higher-converting long tail organic visits.

In any case, since we agree that many faceted navigation pages without unique content beyond title tags and headings could easily represent thin, low-quality content that may fall prey to the Farmer/Panda update, what scalable methods do you recommend to create unique, relevant body content?

Sirovich: “Our recommendation is to choose certain combinations of facets that represent high value to the business and the customer, and optimize those specifically as landing pages. The pages take little time to create and may be used both for organic search marketing and pay-per-click campaigns.

“Regardless, these pages need to be indexed, and one must help the robots crawl the right content. Even then, a landing page would be created without any added content, and when the site has an auto-updating XML sitemap it helps the robots find it.”

How to Build In-bound Links?

Kocher: Link building is another way to increase quality signals to faceted navigation landing pages. What are your recommendations for building links ethically?

Sirovich: “Anyone who promises ‘ethical’ link-building at scale is probably lying to you. The downside of getting caught for ‘unethical’ activity exceeds the benefits. Google succeeded in making automated methods of building links risky and short-lived. Those people we know who are doing it are sophisticated, expensive, and do it in coordination with more ‘ethical’ methods as well.

“When we code less and blog more, we get our share of Diggs and links from various other blogs. It does work. What we worry about is that there are areas of ecommerce especially where blogging or link building are pretty much impossible. If you’re selling something boring, what, exactly, can you blog about that is worthwhile or interesting? That’s a discussion for another day.”

Kocher: Search engine optimization and usability professionals tend to have a love/hate relationship. What tips can you give to ease the tension?

Nudelman: “When we speak to UX folks, we describe the robots as just another demographic with special needs. That’s a bit of stretch, but it fits. Robots have no intent. The goals of search engine optimization and marketing really do parallel those of usability. Both aim to ensure that a particular ‘demographic’ is able to view and understand the website. Both go hand-in-hand with holistic marketing, aiming to connect with users and ensure they tell their friends.

“Interesting enough, many accessibility recommendations also tend to ease issues for search engine robots. For example, when it comes to introducing sliders, Flex and other fancy user interface controls, accessibility suffers at the same time as SEO. And we find that simply throwing some fancy elements at the user interface often creates more problems than it solves, even for folks that do not require improved accessibility. For that reason, many etailers like Amazon will occasionally flirt with fancy user interface controls, but almost always revert back to standard HTML controls — like links and checkboxes. At the very least, when creating fancy user interface elements, good designers also make sure they provide ‘back door’ accessibility features, which also help people with disabilities — as well as robots — access the pages and improve search engine rankings. Some of the outdated design practices such as pop-ups and iframes are also considered harmful across the board, because they hurt both usability and SEO.

“Lastly, we’d add that the Panda ranking factor itself arms a usability professional with the argument that a website should not totally compromise its usability for the latest fad in ranking factors — not only because it stinks for users, but also because various aspects of usability are judged indirectly as part of Panda. Pointing that out might not ease the tension immediately, but it’s certainly a valid argument.”

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The B2B of SEO

The challenge to online businesses is to make sure their company comes to the attention of potential customers as often as possible. But a little known way to break into the eyeball space of possible client is to cement search engine results that guarantee widespread marketing results and generation of qualified leads. Even with the popularization of SEO value present in the current online media community, actual search engine penetration is rare. But the cause of this is more counter intuitive than even the most qualified exerts can defend.

Is this due to some unknowable formula? No, but too many business entities believe that a limitation to publicizing or organizing public relations or distribution of press releases can communicate the effective minimum of bytes that coalesces search engine requirements for meaningful results. But the secret to B2B leverage of SEO results is the non-mathematical and creative approach to defining a place in the cloud for archival data entities and notation for any given company and product.

But after almost two decades of full time Internet existence, too many companies look for shortcuts. The B2B service provider of SEO results is a breaking opportunity for serious business entrepreneurs.This is because harnessing a business entity and identifying its role in the cloud information space as well a the public domain is a freedom, not a restricted limitation. In the world of World Wide Web, the results are unlimited. And yet standards and practices that deliver limited results formulae are what these companies most pursue!

Google authorities also underscore the need of fresh content to cement the existence of a company as relevant in the online universe known as the World Wide Web and the online business a nd publishing web space. The use of news feeds to mine news is only one piece of the online search engine optimization pie. Yet too many websites depend on duplication and reduplication of the some news item to promote their company, product or service. And even the best in the industry have a perspective on search engine optimization based on formulas of return on investment

This is not a viable and profitable strategy. First of all, the results can be matched by any other company working within the same limitations. Secondly, the impermanence of the results of any quick-time SEO service will never deliver meaningful customer interest or longevity in client relationships or revenue because this is not the areas or arena of information likely marketing targets read or learn about their product. The semantics of a statistical SEO value for any product has yet  be shown to correlate to any guaranteed profit or revenue.

Independent SEO specialists can build custom proprietary formulas for website relations and press release for varous media channels but this does not man anyone relevant will necessarily read the materials. The concept that extant Internet dominance of any SEO terms will generate validated leads and marketing strategies that can address gaps in the sales charts is only part of a advertising campaign.

The best evidence of a web strategy is that persons or public entities learn of the company offerings and website features irrespective of search engine values is mere language. The timeliness of a Google result or the density of a Tweet rating or the perspicacity of a Facebook friending doesn’t make people open their wallets. Te stripe of an SEO campaign was only meant to be one measure of the success of an internet saturation sweep, not its end sum gain.

The short lived SEO value of get-SEO-quick services fall flat in a serous regimen of public relations effort. But so many legitimate avenues of web publicity go ignored a specialist can provide individual client services in ways that change the visibility of the entity. True penetration of known communications can overcome any true algorythmic changes. Yet so many professionals bypass opportunities every day, every hour, every minute to release the information in a more strategic way that is absolutely not strategic in the slightest.

The compilation of information entities online spread wider every day. Looking behind the curtain of actual public relations via information dissemination is not just a mathematical sum gain drawn from the sum of a variety of emails, articles, and communications. It’s the bulk effect of the chain response answering to every type of response a variety of news and information connections make down the road. These iterations fully develop the idea of the cloud and its potential for optimum effect.

The planting of seeds of potential SEO growth should take place alongside material contributions to news, science, essays, book reviews, product reviews, discussions and other relevant information types. The online equivalent of a book passed from hand to hand, speaking over the back fence, an article in a newsweekly, or proper publication has changed with the way people live today. Boutique SO services can boost the profile or any company, website, business or service in strategic ways that go beyond mere page view statistics and total of Friend calculations.

SEO search term results and values are indicative of a company or product online. This in itself mimics the everyday awareness people have of this item overall. But the effect in real terms cannot be mimicked. People talk about things that interest them, be they business or pleasure, spiritual or competitive, and so on. Such literature or print media, audio or entertainment mediums targeting a professional or categorical audience whose outflow will be within a scientific or research construct, instead of a blogosphere or website environment, is the true value of a B2B publicity expansion that every entrepreneur can offer for consideration.

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Top 8 SEO Tips for a Better Google Places Ranking

Is your Google Places page showing up at or near the top of local business listings in search results? If you answered no, then keep reading.

Here are my top eight tips to improve your Google Places page’s chances of being found by local searchers:

1. Get Verified
The first step to get your Google Places listing on Google SERPs is to get it verified. This can be done through Phone SMS, Phone Call or through mail. Google will send you a pin code which you simply have to enter into your Google Places account.

2. Add keywords to your business description, but not too many
Throughout the setup process of the Google Places page you can describe your business in up to 200 characters. While you should use your most important keywords in this section, don’t just stuff keywords in. Write a useful, compelling description that will appeal to readers and Google.

3. Use the right categories to describe your business
With the categories you have to play by Google’s rules a little bit – you need to choose at least one or two categories that actually exist. Start typing and see what Google suggests to you, then you will still get the chance to invent three categories based what you actually do.

4. Make the most of the ‘Additional Details’ area
Not only is this a great way to get some more details of your business onto the page, it is also a great place to insert some of those keywords that will rank well. Most people just don’t seem to bother filling this in – stay one step in front of the competition!

5. Get list in other online business directories
Listings of your business in directories such as Local.com, Yellowpages.com, your local city’s chamber of commerce, or a directory affiliated with your profession can help boost your Place page’s ranking.

6. Space out the time when customers’ reviews are posted
Google will smell a rat if your reviews appear all at once. This might cause Google to push your Place page down in search results. So make sure your customer’s post their reviews in a steady stream.

7. Don’t forget to add videos and images
While this isn’t going to be a huge help to boost your ranking, geo-tagged photos and videos in particular may give you a bump. You can add up to 10 photos and up to five videos for free and these may make your Places page more appealing to searchers.

8. Monitor your Places page statistics.
By logging into your Places page account every so often you will be provided with a variety of statistics to help you better optimize your page. This includes the top search queries that caused users to see your listing and how many clicks occurred to your website over the past week or month.

These are just a few Google Places page optimization tips you must follow in order to get good rankings, do you have any additional tips? If so, we would love you to share them with our readers below.

Related posts:

 

New Google tools for SEO

 

Google has recently released a new tool in its Analytics product, which enables you to link your Google Webmaster Tools account to your Google Analytics account.

It’s early days yet, but I’d recommend that anyone involved with SEO should use this feature to enable some pretty powerful keyword research. You’ll see why in a minute.

First of all, I’ll take you through how to set this up; luckily it’s pretty straightforward.

Step 1. Jump into the new (beta) version of Analytics which you’ll see in the top right-hand corner of your account once you’ve logged in.

Step 2. Drill down into Traffic Sources and click the (new) “Search Engine Optimisation” report.

Step 3. The next thing you’ll need to do is link your Webmaster Tools account to your Analytics which you can see next.

Step 4. Pick the account you want to associate the Analytics with and you’re pretty much good to go.

Once this is all set up, what you’ll see is some really interesting new data about the keywords you rank for, how many visits you’ve received from them, the popularity of the search terms, as well as each keyword’s click through rate.

There’s an example below:

At an agency level, we’ve already started looking at this as a new keyword research tool. Our research using exact match impression keyword data from AdWords shows that the impressions listed in Analytics is pretty close to the impressions from AdWords on various keywords.

Using the impression column above means you can do some pretty accurate keyword research in my opinion.

The other interesting report is the Landing Pages report, which when you add a new dimension such as “Google Property” you can see where your traffic is coming from in terms of Google Image Search, Mobile search and the web.

For more Online Sales expert advice, click here.

Chris Thomas heads up Reseo, a search engine optimisation  company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

4 Graphics to Help Illustrate On-Page SEO

from SEO News

For many SEO professionals, on-page optimization is back to basics. But sadly, there seem to be a lot of us who still make some very basic mistakes. In this post, I’ll try to add on to my previous writing on perfecting on-page optimization by sharing some visuals that can hopefully help to hammer key points of the practice home.

#1: The Value of Optimization and the Danger of Overdoing It

I generally abide by the 80/20 rule when it comes to keyword use. 80% of the value to be had comes from 20% of the effort. Nail the title, the headline and make sure the phrase is on the page (and the page is actually on the subject of the keyword) and you’ve done your job. The additional impact on rankings to be gained from perfectly calculating the number of repetitions or ensuring every paragraph fits into the “theme” of the keyword and document is likely to be a waste of time better spent on other priorities. That’s what this graph tries to illustrate:

Nothing in the on-page world is going to provide exceptional ranking influence, but getting perfect is often only marginally better than just nailing the title and headline. If you’re spending a ton of bandwidth on the last 80% of work (providing 20% of value), I might re-consider your to-do list.

#2: On-Page SEO is More than Keywords

When I first got into SEO in the early 2000’s, the search engines seemed to have a fairly naive algorithm for content analysis, which led to SEOs adopting equally naive tactics for on-page optimization. Years later, these tendencies, sadly, still persist.

Yes, it’s essential to effectively target your keywords in your page titles, headlines (or early in the body copy), URLs, etc. But content analysis has become far more sophisticated with engines “reading” pages almost the way humans do and pattern-matching good content, design, layout and usability. There may even be some elements of on-page analysis that look at the authenticity and passion of the written word (or something that approximates it).

In the graphics below, I’ve tried to illustrate this:

I’m not suggesting one shouldn’t optimize for keywords or that using terms and phrases that stay relevant and on-topic won’t help. I’m merely noting that optimizing for the experience real, human users have and the value they derive from your work can produce outsized returns to simple, classic on-page optimization.

#3: How Search Engines Can Measure a Page’s Value

This one’s less of an illustration and more of a text-based diagram. I wanted to help explain all the signals Google can measure from their many sources of information, and how this can potentially affect SEO:

Google’s tremendous reach across the Internet, measuring nearly everything and every way people interact with web pages brings with it powerful data. That data is likely used to improve the quality of search results by helping the stuff that appears authentic, editorial and high quality to rise up while the junk falls to the bottom (at least when the data+algorithms work properly).

For on-page optimization, this means we can’t merely focus on keyword targeting. We need truly great content.

#4: Consolidation vs. Multi-Page Targeting

The question of whether to target two keyword terms/phrases on the same page or build individual pages for each seems to be a consistent struggle for SEOs. I field a question like this almost every week, and in 9/10 cases, the following flowchart would provide the right answer:

It’s not complex – and that’s the beauty. When targeting similar phrases or phrases that can work together and target the same intent for most users, a single page should suffice. When the phrases cannot logically work together in a title/headline or when the intents don’t have a high liklihood for overlap, it’s time to build different pages and target the keywords separately.


Feel free to use these in your presentations, websites and internal/client documents (though a source credit is much appreciated). And best of luck with your keyword targeting + on-page efforts!

5 Ways To Improve Your International SEO Strategy

from SEO News

If North American-based businesses are to reach the rapidly expanding, increasingly sophisticated international Internet audience, they must get smarter about international search engine optimization.

Just like domestic SEO, the international version boosts the likelihood that a particular website will rise to the top of search results, thereby enabling increased conversion rates.

The challenge internationally is to select the right SEO strategies for an enormous number of locales, cultural norms and languages. For those creating and implementing an international SEO program, it’s helpful to adhere to five key principles.

1. Plan international SEO needs before launching websites abroad

International SEO is instrumental in helping businesses get found online and ensuring visitors stick around once they land on your site. Don’t make your international SEO strategy an afterthought. It should be part of your planning process from the moment you decide to expand internationally.

That planning process begins with keyword research. Determine what keywords your target customers are likely to use. Will they search for your products using the exact translation, or are there local slang terms you need to know?

This information is essential to developing an international website that is optimized for the key factors evaluated by search engine algorithms: meaningful, fresh content that is keyword-specific; descriptive tagging; rich media; social media distribution plans; and internal and external links.

Don’t make global SEO a follow-up item on your globalization to-do list. It should be embedded in every step of the marketing and sales strategy.

 2.  For authenticity’s sake, avoid completely automated translation

Particularly as you enter a new market or attempt to engage with prospects on social media, an authentic voice is critical. Consumers can easily and widely share any mistakes you make in this area, staining your reputation abroad before you ever gain a foothold in the market.

Multilingual brand messaging can be difficult, and companies should not leave this work to machine translation. Businesses need human experts who can quickly identify faults in automated translations and repair them before damage occurs in important markets.

 3.  Scrutinize your images as well as your words

The 1,000 words your pictures convey need to be as carefully chosen as the actual text you put on your website. An image can rapidly signal your company’s knowledge or ignorance of a target market.

Localization experts can be helpful here, too, as they are conversant not only in languages, but in cultural norms. For example, a company that fills its pages with images of structures around the world might face unexpected difficulties if one of its photo selections carries a negative connotation locally.

 4.  Let your prospects make choices regarding language preference

In many countries today, there are enough residents from other regions that it pays to give visitors a choice of language on your website. In Canada, a target might speak English, French, or any number of other languages. In Switzerland, a consumer might prefer to read your content in French, German or English.

Don’t presume to choose the “best” language option for your international websites. Instead, offer a dropdown menu with a wide range of language choices.

 5.  Monitor and update your content regularly

Just as with English-language search algorithms, pay close attention to content that is changing regularly and to keywords used on the site. If you’re not seeing results, consider updating your keywords and track the impact the changes have on your rankings. Make sure you re-submit your website for indexing every time you make a change to ensure your changes are captured by the relevant search engines.

Why International SEO Matters

A staggering 90-plus percent of today’s Web users live outside the United States, and many of them speak languages other than English.

To break into promising regions in the Americas, the Middle East, Europe and Asia, enterprises are applying the above principles to all of their electronic communication points with customers and therefore maximizing their prospects for success. Earning new business abroad starts with careful translation guided by localization experts and enhanced by smart technology.

In some respects, there has never been an easier time to reach an international customer base. And yet, there are complexities to optimizing international efforts.

A foundation of strategic international SEO removes many of those hurdles by building online outreach on deep awareness of language preferences, cultural norms and search habits of each prospective market.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Multinational Search

6 Best Practices for Modern SEO

Erin Everhart is the director of web and social media marketing at the digital marketing and web design company, 352 Media Group. Connect with her on Twitter @erinever.

Google’s search results aren’t what they used to be. Need proof? Just look at its results page. No longer solely comprised of traditional, organic site matches, Google now lists local maps, images, videos and social cues as well — and it’s affecting more than just what you see.

If you rely heavily on search engines for pageviews and sales, as many businesses do, Google search results will drastically affect how your customers find you. If your business needs to be seen and clicked, take into account the following six search engine tips.


1. Local SEO Is Taking Over


There’s a good probability that a large chunk of the Google searches you perform will display Google Places listings – and consumers are taking notice. SEO software firm SEOmoz did some eye-tracking case studies on Google’s SERP (search engine results page). The results show that users heavily gravitate toward any of Places’ listings, whether they’re mixed into organic lists, concentrated in a group of seven or even listed in the middle of the results page. The heat map above shows the activity around a Google search for “pizza.”

If your business relies on local listings, concentrate on scoring a seat at Google Places. You can do this by using:

  • Citations: Ensure that your correct business information is listed in as many (reputable) sources as possible around the Internet. As always, consistency is king. If you write “Blvd.” instead of Boulevard on your Google Places page, make sure your other listings reflect the same.
  • Google Places page optimization: Just like your website, make sure your Places page is properly optimized. Include categories that match exactly, and point your Places page back to a city-specific landing page if applicable.
  • Reviews: Google will only display reviews from Google, but getting reviews from aggregators like Yelp, Superpages or Trip Advisor will help increase your presence.

2. You Can’t Have Search Without Social


The separation of search and social has officially ended. Social cues such as Twitter shares, Facebook likes and social bookmarking heavily influence search rankings. Essentially, search results are personalized for each person. With any SEO campaign you put into motion, include a social aspect to it to facilitate information sharing.


3. Think of People, not Robots, When Optimizing Keywords


People search in Google because they have a question. Anticipate those questions — whether about the best style of yoga pants or where to get the lowest mortgage rate. Your keywords and the content on your pages should reflect the answers to those questions. Keyword research is tedious, but it’s arguably the most important aspect of SEO. Transition away from thinking of keywords like data, and put more of an emphasis on the person who will be typing in that keyword.


4. Content Links Are King — Good Writers Are Sorcerers


Google is not stupid — it can spot paid and spam links. For the most effective long-term SEO strategy, move the focus back to great content, both on your website and across other sites. Guest blogging is great, for instance, but to get a leg up on your competition, target blogs that aren’t direct matches to your industry.

For example, a client of my company sells golf carts, so we wrote a blog post about the most tricked-out golf carts for tailgates, and the link we got back was one their competitors didn’t already have.


5. Check your Backend: Schema.org, Microformats and Rich Snippets


The Big Three (Google, Yahoo and Bing) have worked together to develop Schema.org, a set of website standards that will tell search engines what your site is about, making it easier for those engines to read the site’s data and index accordingly.

By using rich snippets, for example, you’re able to tell Google what information to feature in SERPs: product reviews and prices, upcoming events, recipe cooking times, etc. The added data will increase your click-through rate because users are able to preview more about the link before they commit to the click.


6. It Doesn’t Mean Anything Without Data


Whether you’re a one-man SEO show for your company or working in an agency with several clients, your site needs to see results. While ranking reports of keywords is still a great indicator of progress, personalized searches make it difficult to get the most accurate readings. Plus, when Google defaulted to private searches for users signed into their Google accounts, the company made it harder to track how people arrive at your site.

Start relying more on simple key performance indicators (KPIs) to show results, for instance, the number of landing pages you have, the bounce rate of those pages, and the number of keywords driving traffic to each of those landing pages. Google Analytics displays all of this data.

What are some other things you see that are affecting searches, and what are you doing to improve your rankings in these areas?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hillaryfox

How To Devise A Psychology Based SEO Strategy

SEO consultants like me usually get called in at an advanced stage of website development. Design elements are already in place, graphics created, page structure determined, even selling and lead generation processes finalized before the owner or manager invites us over to “slap SEO on” to their creation!

Is that because to many of our prospective clients, SEO is a purely technical issue unconnected to marketing?

Personally, I don’t think that’s correct. At all. True, there is a technological side to any SEO plan.

But the strategy setting and business analysis components that draw upon a foundation in a Maslow-ian hierarchy of human needs isn’t “purely technical”.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Let’s take a home repair analogy. You could find a good roofing contractor to lay the shingles you’ve already ordered in the neatest, most efficient manner. But if a shingle roof itself is not the best choice for your building, you’ll only enjoy a sub-optimal result.

Ditto for any website’s SEO initiative. When SEO consulting is grounded in psychology and strategy, the entire method has more punch when it reaches the stage of coding and content structuring. It can harness synergies with marketing ventures like social media, press releases, public relations and more.

Indeed, as David Meerman Scott explains in his book about the new rules of marketing, to unthinkingly slap on ‘technical SEO’ to a Web structure wastes so much potential impact (and money) of a synergistic marketing plan.

Do you (like me) believe that, as an SEO Strategy Expert, you should always be engaged and deeply involved in the very heart of a business you consult for?

My hardest task whenever I’m called in for SEO consulting has been to convince business owners that, by adopting a strategic SEO approach, they will:

  1. Increase sales
  2. Reduce costs (saved on other marketing channels)
  3. Improve resource efficiency
  4. Create synergies (that often last for years)

My positioning efforts rely upon painting a stark contrast between a low-priced SEO firm that relies purely on keyword-stuffing and basic link building which leaves a lot of money on the table from missed opportunities. As Google evangelist Avinash Kaushik puts it, “Your keyword strategy shouldn’t be a fishing expedition!”

Many Internet marketers understand the importance of beginning with keyword research. Sadly, too many end right there. Keywords certainly matter. Done well, they will help you understand exactly what your market wants, in specific numbers, and suggest methods of optimization that best meet those interests.

But look at deeper intent and these keywords reveal a lot more about your prospective buyers that helps boost conversions. A keyword that’s a specific expensive food supplement suggests an affluent, health conscious prospect who seeks out quality products, and is willing to pay for the best.

This psycho-graphic profile assembled from keyword research is key to crafting landing pages that compel and convert at unbelievable levels.

Businesses need to look at every page as a ‘landing page’.  And they need to ask themselves these questions:

  1. What are visitors arriving at this page looking for?
  2. What problem are they facing and how can we help them?
  3. How can we deliver an experience they’ve been looking for everywhere else?

When any business stops looking at a website as a brochure to display all that’s happening inside their business and shifts perspective to view things from their prospects’ standpoint, dramatic changes happen.

Every time a visitor upon arriving at the business website, says to herself, “This is exactly what I need! Why didn’t I buy this before?” a significant battle for mind share has been won.

The optimized webpage has earned a new fan and evangelist for the business. This shifts the focus away from price and into the realm of value, of having an amazing product or service in their lives.

This is exactly how effective SEO consulting should work. It isn’t complex or confusing, even a child can do it!

SEO isn’t mythical or mysterious. At its core, SEO is merely applied psychology that integrates with other elements like economics, search engine function, Web analytics and website architecture.

What Does Intelligent, Effective, Psychology-driven SEO Look Like?

  • SEO is less about technology and more about human behavior. How and why do people use specific keywords? What concerns, worries and pain underlies them? How do you develop a content strategy that delivers solutions and value?
  • SEO is less about you, and more about your clients. Boasting and bragging about accomplishments can be counter-productive for businesses. The more relevant questions to ask about your content are “Who will +1 this on Google?” and “Is this ‘Likeable’ on Facebook?”
  • SEO is less  about ‘clicks’ and more about ‘sales’. If 9 in 10 visitors to your site leave without converting into buyers (or subscribers), then the #1 ranking on Google you worked hard for becomes less valuable. What can you do to better understand (and fulfill) a prospect’s needs?
  • SEO is less about ‘persona’ and more about ‘keywords’. Many businesses strive hard to develop an SEO strategy around a persona. But ‘persona’ is immaterial. Keywords your prospects use matter a lot more. How can your keyword strategy avoid becoming a “fishing expedition”?
  • SEO is less  about monitoring irrelevant metrics, and more about being smart. Set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Don’t let an obsession with page views, clicks and rankings detract from more important measures. How will your SEO boost sales, conversions and profits?
  • SEO is less  about cost-cutting, and more about treating your website like a precious and valued salesperson. After all, doesn’t your Web presence tirelessly act as a sales rep, pulling in prospects day and night? Why not treat it with respect and appreciation? Even spend a little more on it?

If parts of this post sound provocative, or even rude, I apologize. That isn’t my intention at all. I just had to let off steam about how SEO is widely perceived in the competitive world of online business.

I’ve worked as an SEO consultant and strategist in Norway for over 10 years, and one of my biggest grouses over this period is how an SEO expert is sidelined, usually being the last person to be consulted about a web development project. This leads to that most frustrating question every SEO specialist asks himself or herself from time to time: “Knowing how important SEO is to the success or failure of any online enterprise, am I getting enough respect and attention?”

My recommendations, therefore, are typically resented because they involve major restructuring and content rewriting – things which could be easily averted by getting an SEO consultant involved earlier in the process.

Speaking as an SEO consultant, I suggest that my fellow professionals also express an eager willingness to truly understand the business you’re consulting with. Get involved in understanding the heart of your client’s business. Know exactly what’s happening inside it and know its customers really well. Yes, it can be expensive in time and money. But then, it is an investment that pays rich dividends by creating a cost effective and successful online presence for that business.

Maybe I’m unconventional, but research and analysis play a major role in my SEO consulting and I believe it should in every SEO professional’s work too. Do you agree? Or not? Feel free to convince me… by sharing your thoughts in a comment!

Image credits: Crestock.com (Brain), Wikipedia (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: 100% Organic – Search Engine Optimization Tips | Beginner | How To | How To: SEO

Why Outsourcing SEO Program is Far better Than In-House SEO Service?

From Eva-News

As soon as the question arises concerning research engine optimization then, automatically the concern to your optimizers comes into the picture. Nevertheless SEO deals with wide variety of activities that include keyword research, link building services along with on article and off post optimization services. Ranking with the websites depends over a search engine algorithm. But look for engine optimizers must continue following their ethical way to your optimization of the websites. Search engine optimization is absolutely a critical work on the other hand it has to become done to excel in the on the net business.

Role of Optimizers:

Briefly, the recognized reality is, so that you can get quality targeted traffic into your website, it is advisable to rank higher in the look for engine result page. No doubt you will discover other mediums through which site visitors come and visit your web site but search engine brings practically 60% from the visitors for the website. So, additional emphasis need to be towards the search engines. To be able to get the ranking in the look for engine, role of the look for engine optimizers comes into the picture.

There is a great deal of overhead even though dealing with search engine optimization. Targeting the keywords, in accordance with that ranking the websites, generating article marketing, SMOs etc. a lot many items needs to be done so that you can get the research engine ranking. It truly is accomplished through in-house SEOs or by outsourcing the SEO services to some other firm.

In-house SEO are the a single who are in your firms and optimizing your corporate sites to obtain strong business. Although when you outsource SEO-services to a SEO services provider firm that offers the optimization services is named outsourcing SEO-services. These outsource SEO services provider organization offers probably the most services in exchange of some flexible rates. Outsource SEO Services are Better!

It just isn’t always advisable to opt for the outsource SEO services provider business nevertheless it offers specific benefits which the in-house SEO can by no means offer. Some of the rewards are as follows:

* Resource Limitations:

With in-house SEOs, resource allocation would be limited as a result of the company’s limitations. Since, the company may possibly not be dedicated fully to the SEO consequently it could provide limited resources for the optimization that might degrade the high quality in the business. Whilst by outsourcing the SEO-services to other corporations which are dedicated to SEO-services, 1 can obtain the maximum offered resources for your optimization.

* Productive Time:

While you will rely on your in-house SEO, most of your productive time is going to be consumed to your optimization jobs and much less would be used for some other purpose. Thus, the overall career schedule would be hampered but in case you will outsource SEO-services then, maximum of your organization’s productive hours would be dedicated for top quality work.

* Better Optimization:

When you happen to be hiring some external source for optimizing the sites then, obviously your site will get better services as you happen to be hiring the professionals for producing the job. In contrast your in-house SEO will lack on some or the other thing to give their finest for ones optimization with the websites. So you’ll get very best services on time by outsourcing the websites for optimization rather than trusting your in-house SEO’s.

Three major rewards which you can grab although you hire a outsource SEO-services provider organization to your optimization of the corporate websites. It’s never late when you realize probably the most choice is nonetheless waiting. Is not it!

Why Outsourcing SEO Assistance is Far better Than In-House SEO Service? – Check Out seo service and seo tools

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5 SEO Moves for More Traffic – By Aliza Earnshaw

Want more site visitors? These five top SEO (search engine optimization) tactics will help you rank higher in search results and attract more customers.

1. Choose and use the right keywords.

Lots of people use insider jargon on their sites. You may think you sell “performance-enhancing stabilizers for over-pronators” – but your potential customers are searching for “running shoes.”

Google’s free Keyword Research Tool is a great way to find the keywords people actually use to search for what you sell. Use these instead of jargon terms, and more people will discover your site.

2. Write a unique, accurate title and meta description for every important page.

The title of a web page tells search engines what the page is about, so be sure each page title includes the most relevant keyword or two for that page.

The page title appears in search results as the underlined blue link to the page. An attractive title with relevant keywords close to the beginning can entice people to click it in search results.

Search engines don’t use the meta description to decide what a web page is about. But they do use the meta description as the “snippet” that appears below the title in search results. People read that snippet, so a persuasive meta description and accurate title are like an ad for your page.

3. Make sure search engines index your site.

If your site isn’t indexed, it won’t appear in search results. Ensure search engines can find your pages by creating an HTML sitemap and/or an XML sitemap.

4. Get links from other websites.

Links from other websites, or inbound links, are like getting votes for your site. Inbound links are probably the single most important factor outside your site that help it rank higher in search results.

The best way to get links from reputable sites is by creating great content that people want to link to. Then promote it on Twitter and Facebook in a conversational manner. Don’t just post links.

Because you want people to “retweet” and “like” your content, do the same for them.

5. Don’t duplicate content.

When search engines see the same content on two web pages, they regard one page as the original, and the other as a lower-quality duplicate.

Low-quality pages won’t rank well in search results, and duplicate content doesn’t help your prospective customers, either.

Duplicate content also splits link juice. If two pages on your site are identical, and people link to both, the power of those links to boost your content higher in search results is diluted by half.

If you do have two pages with good inbound links, redirect one page to the other using a 301 redirect, to concentrate the link goodness on a single page.

Google Webmaster Tools helps you discover whether you have duplicate pages. Sign yourself up, go to the Diagnostics section, and then find the “HTML Suggestions” tab. From there, you can check the “Duplicate Title Tags” section to identify duplicate content.

Aliza is director of sales marketing at AboutUs.org, the largest index of websites.

Download the entire FeedFront issue 16 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/69193074/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-16

FeedFront issue 16 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2011/10