Monthly Archives: October 2017

How To Choose A Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization Philosophy

This is arguably the most critical factor when deciding which company to work with to improve your online business or brand identity. Employing a search engine marketing or placement company that only utilizes ethical search engine optimization techniques or “white hat” methods will ensure that you minimize the potential risk of being dropped, removed, penalized, deleted, or banished from the search engines. Nobody enjoys waking up glassy eyed to the unfortunate reality of being “Google sacked” for breaking or bending the search engines’ implicit rules or explicit terms of service.

Search Engine Optimization Methodology / Specific Expertise

Can your expert SEO Company only optimize static websites constructed in basic HTML? An upstanding SEO company will have experience working with websites in all the common programming languages and technologies, PHP, ASP, ASPX, HTML, Cold Fusion, Flash etc.

Does your SEO Company have experience optimizing both static and dynamic websites? Can your SEO Company optimize using various e-commerce packages and interfaces such as Monster Commerce, Yahoo Stores, OS Commerce, Storefront.net, Volusion?

Depth Of Optimization / Piecemeal Services

The most basic search engine optimization companies around don’t actually perform search engine optimization at all- they are merely submission services which either manually or automatically submit your site to various search engines or directories. Submission companies are typically very inexpensive since no actual coding, linking, or content development takes place on your actual website. Typical pricing runs around $19.95 to $399 per month for these submission type services.

A mid level optimization company gets their hands more firmly on the marketing handle by editing code, analyzing keywords, building links, and adjusting / writing fresh content for your site. They also may do a pinch of off-site optimization, such as press releases, article submissions, and blog writing. Typically, firms of this middle level range charge between $399 and $850 per month.

The highest level search engine placement firm performs the duties described for mid level optimization companies, but also is responsible for conversion tracking and analysis. The emphasis on off-site optimization is also much greater and time consuming. This means that high level optimization firms are essentially responsible for discovering what is working and what is not working throughout the entire customer experience – from initial search through conversion. More man hours per month also means a higher fee that search engine firms must charge to cover their costs. The usual pricing range for these firms’ are $850.00 all the way up to $10,000 per month, but on average, you’ll be looking at fees above the $1,000 a month range.

A piecemeal marketing company is one that treats various parts of an optimization campaign as separate entities. For example, an optimization company may charge distinct fees only for “linking” or “content construction.” This piecemeal approach can be detrimental. Successful optimization is the synergy of multiple efforts on multiple fronts, sometimes simultaneous, and sometimes in succession. Piecing together different aspects of an optimization campaign typically reaps poorer results than a comprehensive strategy.

System Of Evaluation / Reporting

The majority of search engine optimization companies cringe at the thought of empowering their clients to evaluate their work. An ethical search engine optimization company does the opposite. There are four tools we recommend using in tandem to evaluate a search engine optimization company’s work / performance.

  1. Real Time Statistics / Conversion Analysis Software

Being able to see traffic gains and conversions in real time can be a useful window in evaluating how your SEO Firm is performing. Having the ability to see who is coming to your site, from what search engines they are coming from, and the exact keyword phrase used within the search query is an essential tool.

  1. Positioning or Visibility Reports

Being emailed bi-weekly positioning reports on the specific keywords that you are interested in ranking highly for can be incredibly useful. A visibility percentage, which is the percentage of people that are finding you for keywords that are important for your business – on the Major Search Engines – Google, Yahoo, AOL, and MSN is also important. Make sure your firm doesn’t overdue the automated search engine queries however, the search engines may consider this spamming their databases.

  1. Alexa Rating:

You can download the Alexa Toolbar right now from alexa.com. This gives you a solid summary of the general traffic trend over the last three months for your website when compared to other existing sites. If you have a brand new website, odds are you will not even have an alexa rating or visible data at all. The alexa rating also shows you, in general terms, how your website stacks up- traffic wise- in comparison to your competitors or industry affiliates. The lower your alexa rating the more traffic your site is generating when compared to other sites in the alexa universe. Please note, if your site has an alexa rating of “1” this doesn’t mean you are the most visited site on the internet- it most likely means you are operating a Yahoo Store- in such a case, it is identifying Yahoo’s overall traffic, and not your individual site. A general tool like this can give you a quick overall impression of traffic growth and trends. Be careful though, the numbers are generalities (similar to the television Nielsen Ratings) and not absolute figures.

  1. Google PageRank

You can download the Google Toolbar right now by going to google.toolbar.com. Click on the options tab and check off the “display PageRank” measure. You will be able to see how Google is rating the importance of your site on a scale of 0-10. As an optimization company proceeds with your campaign you can check periodically to see how the number is increasing. The typical website might see a PageRank increase of one to two points over the course of an optimization campaign. Keep in mind that it is easier to increase your PageRank at the lower ends of the spectrum. As you approach higher PageRanks it becomes more difficult for your rating to balloon.

Due Diligence: Corporate Goals / Industry And Keyword Research

How does the SEO Company you are considering perform its up front legwork regarding your organization, industry and corporate goals? Do they ask questions about:

What your corporate goals (both short and long term) are, your industry, your competition. What keywords are currently working for you? What PPC (Pay Per Click) words are currently effective? What PPC engines (Adwords, Overture, MSN/Live) are currently effective? How your site is designed? Is your site dynamic or static?

What tools does your SEO Firm employ to perform its keyword research?

How about Wordtracker, WebCEO, or Keyword Elite? What about the basic Overture keyword suggestion tool or the generic Google keyword suggestion tool supplied by Adwords. Do they utilize a combination of the basic tools? What about proprietary keyword analysis methodology? Do they have dedicated tools that have been developed in-house, or by a third party?

Client to Account Manager Ratio

Not many SEO companies like to publicize their client to account manager ratio. This is the ratio representing the number of clients that each account manager handles at any given time. The lower the amount of clients each account manager assists, odds are the better the service and the higher the level of personal attention. We recommend that a search engine optimization account manager supports less than thirty clients at any given time.

Man-Hours Per Month

The number of man hours per month your SEO production department actually dedicates to your business is crucial. It is more than smart to ask for a monthly time allotment estimate before beginning an optimization campaign. What you expect to receive and what is actually delivered should be right in line.

Company Structure and Size

Does your SEO Company consist of a laptop computer with your account manager working out of his basement sitting beside a salivating golden retriever? Is your SEO company a bureaucratic nightmare that forces you to fill out trouble tickets when you need help on the spot?

Your ethical search engine optimization company should be somewhere within the sweet spot of not too small and not too large. You want individual attention, but you would also like to know there is more than one mind, calculating your next business moves.

Management

Does your ethical search engine optimization company have a solid management team? Do they have a management team at all? Are the firms you are considering privately held or publicly traded? Is the owner of the optimization company an absentee landlord or an active member of the SEO community? It is not out of the question to ask for the curriculum vitae or resume of the powers that be, in fact, it makes perfect sense if you are entrusting this company with not only your business but your livelihood. After all, SEO practitioners have no board certification that you can rely upon to check their track record.

Reputation / Importance

Has your SEO Company received multiple complaints via the Better Business Bureau? Check the better business bureau reports and see if there are unresolved complaints. From time to time clients may file complaints, but we believe it is the timely handling of these inquiries which are even more important when considering an optimization company to work with.

Past Results / Company SEO Rankings

Every SEO Company should have detailed reports regarding past client successes. The reports should include specifics as to optimization goals and timelines. Reporting on past clients should also focus within and between multiple industries. You should always be aware of a base point – where a particular client started out prior to the optimization company commencing an SEO campaign. Is the SEO firm itself performing poorly in the search engines? A low Google PageRank (below a 5) may be an indication your SEO firm hasn’t been around for as long as one might like.

References / Company Shelf Life

Every SEO company should have solid references across industries and fields in both business to consumer industries as well as business to business arenas. References should stem from not only the past six months, but should originate from years prior to your introduction with the company. If your SEO firm performs quality work, clients should be around for years to sing their praises.

Costs / Pricing Structure / Up front Fees

Costs should be consistent with the service that the company is offering- a la the “Consistent Value Proposition” taught at Yale School of Management. A $49.00 a month campaign run by a credit card company that does not specialize in search engine optimization might not be the optimal choice for an in depth or high level optimization campaign. An SEO company should also only offer costing after they have a clear understanding of your business, goals, and the work involved. Blanketed cost structures can lead to frustration, unrealized expectations, and ultimately failure. Also be concerned if your optimization firm demands a full six month payment up front in order to simply “get started.”

The ideal optimization company charges an up front fee and monthly recurring fee which is commensurate with the services that are actually being performed. A high quality optimization firm that works on your site utilizing 30-60 man-hours per month cannot possibly charge a $49.00 every thirty days to perform its services.

Redundancy

A nasty case of the bird flu hits your unsuspecting account manager right where it counts! Does your optimization company have the ability to smoothly transition the current state of your campaign to another qualified optimization expert? Every SEO company should have a system in place where knowledge about existing accounts can be easily disseminated from one individual to the next. If there does happen to be a catastrophe regarding your account manager, you should feel comfortable that your business continues to prosper regardless of the circumstances.

Quality Control

Every SEO company should have someone overseeing your account manager to ensure that every last “i” is dotted and every last “t” is crossed. Your account manager should be responsible for the success of your campaign, but an extra set of eyes can occasionally be needed to add one more factor weighing in on your side of success.

Promises / Results Timeline

We’ve heard SEO companies promise first page listings in Google for competitive phrases within 48-Hours. If your SEO sales representative is overzealous and unrealistic, it should be a sign that this is most likely a company to steer away from. Gaining search engine listings can be a hard fought, time intensive battle that comes from both diligent work and intelligent planning.

Production Staff Quality

Production staff should be divided between account managers and specialized production technicians. Account managers are the hub of an optimization campaign direction and implementation. Account managers should be able to perform all of the actual coding, linking, and content construction for each client. As an optimization campaign progresses and increases in complexity, they should be able to call upon their support staff or production department to complete specialized work orders for each client. The more specialized each member of the production department, the more efficient they will be at completing their work (thank Henry Ford for this).

Should Pay for Search Engine Optimization

Most people who are internet savvy probably would assume it is much easier to do search engine optimization themselves without the need to hire any professional search engine optimization assistance. In some cases this may work, but in most cases this is an absolute injustice for your web business. Marketing is an important and viable aspect of any business and without the proper marketing attention a business can easily fail. The following are 10 reasons why you should hire a professional search engine optimization consultant or SEO company.

Search Engine Optimization Takes Time, Effort, & Dedication

It takes an extreme amount of time, effort, and dedication to successfully complete a search engine optimization campaign. Search engine optimization consultants and companies usually have dedicated time to work on your search engine optimization project, thus giving you a controlled and managed search engine optimization campaign. Large companies as well as many small companies can provide your search engine optimization campaign the SEO effort and architecture it needs. Attempting to dedicate your own time can sometimes be overwhelming and without strict self-discipline you can easily get sidetracked. Additionally, progress for your search engine optimization campaign can take time to see any results, this fact can lessen your motivation to complete your own do-it-yourself search engine optimization campaign.

SEO Tools, SEO Strategy, & SEO Experience Goes a Long Way

The available SEO tools are ever-changing, but most skilled SEO’s have a suite of SEO tools which they keep up with and use to execute reports and other processes, such as keyword research, keyword density reports, keyword competition reports, traffic reports, etc. Like any profession you need the necessary tools and essentials to get the job done, the experienced use of SEO tools will aid in any SEO campaign. Professional SEO consultants and companies create SEO strategies and roadmaps to successfully market client websites, this strategic roadmap outlines in detail the planned effort to market clients’ websites. SEO strategy is essential for any SEO campaign. Having an experienced SEO professional on your side is always ideal. Experienced SEO’s stay up to date with the latest SEO trends and news. By having an experienced SEO your website can impressively gain ranking within a short time and much more effectively, providing greater Return on Investment (ROI).

Search Engine Optimization Is Not Easy

Search engine optimization is not simple, it’s not just starting a website and throwing around hundreds or thousands of links. Those days of search engine optimization are gone. It is now more about strategy, method, and architecture. Search engine optimization is a form of engineering these days. True search engine optimization engineers stay up to date with search engine algorithm and search marketing. Knowing the trends is important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean following trends, true search engine optimization engineers use experience, skill, historical methods, and best practices to successfully market websites. Researching trends and not just following trends is very important, a good search engine optimization engineer uses good judgment, to know what methods work and what is borderline unethical or useless methods.

SEO Services Do Not Have to be Very Expensive

Most full SEO campaigns are expensive, but relatively affordable compared to other advertising avenues, such as: print advertising, broadcast advertising, etc. Shop around for SEO Services which match your marketing budget and needs. Do not settle for the first bidder, compare the first bidders’ rate against other SEO companies and consultants rates. Contact various SEO consultants and SEO companies to receive a free custom quote. Negotiate the SEO rate and services until it fits your budget and needs. Get yourself a fair and honest deal that you are satisfied with.

Search Engine Optimization Can Take Your Website to New Heights

It’s no secret that having your site rank in the top 10 results on search engines is very rewarding and can provide you with herds of traffic, if you rank for the right keywords. Search engine optimization can excel your website through the ranks and land your website in the top search results for virtually any keyword of your choosing. It is important that the search engine optimization company or consultant you choose targets top search results for all 3 major search engines (Google, Yahoo, & MSN). By having top search results in all 3 major search engines for a popular search term you are surely going to increase website sales and exposure.

Professional & Experienced SEO Services Can Be the Difference Between You and Your Competitors

Most online businesses and services invest in professional and experienced SEO services. The top search results for popular keyword terms usually have professional and experienced SEO companies and consultants in their corner, leading their online marketing campaign. By having professional and experienced SEO’s working for you, your website will naturally outrank your competitors who use the do-it-yourself method of SEO services. It is always imperative to stay one step ahead of your competition and it’s more likely you will do so with the aid of professional and experienced SEO services.

Search Engine Optimization Gets You the Best Bang for Your Buck

When you compare search engine optimization with other media advertising efforts such as print advertising, television commercial advertising, and radio broadcast advertising then search engine optimization gives the best bang for your buck. While other advertising methods can cost hundreds of thousands for advertising, search engine optimization cost peanuts compared to these other advertising methods. Let’s say you spend $25,000 for a full search engine optimization campaign and you spend (let’s say) $100,000 for a television commercial ad which runs for 1 full week at prime time (I know that ad is a whole lot more than that, but this is just an example). The search engine optimization campaign is much cheaper and the return on investment is much greater for the search engine optimization campaign. Why? Because the search engine optimization campaign has a broader reach, it can reach anyone across the globe, while the TV commercial ad is specific for local or nation broadcasting within their network. Secondly, the search engine optimization campaign is much more targeted and relevant to the customer needs, because the customer actually initiated the search and was looking for you, while the TV commercial ad is an interruption to the customers viewing program and the customer is more likely to ignore the commercial ad, especially if it does not entice them.

SEO Services Can Help Increase Business Sales Drastically

Increasing business sales have never been easier. If you have a brick & mortar which sales goods, then it is advised that you also have an online store to sale your goods as well. Having an online business while investing in professional and experienced SEO services will help your business expand and grow drastically. Like any sound business decision, as a business owner you are always looking for new ways to monetize, expand, and stay ahead of competition, SEO services for your online business is the perfect solution for getting this done.

Professional Search Engine Optimization Can Increase Your Search Ranking in a Shorter Time Period

Professional search engine optimization services can get your website ranked in a shorter time than trying to do it yourself. With the aid of professional and experienced search engine optimization your website can rank within the search engines within weeks, maybe even days. Finding the right professional with the skill level you need can be quite rewarding.

Treat Your Website Like a Business

If your website is going to be a part of your financial lifeblood then it is sensible to treat your website as a business and recruit professional search engine optimization services. Good business sense is to outsource or employ others to complete day to day task and projects such as search engine optimization and search engine marketing, so you can have more time to concentrate on running a successful business. Many businesses fail due to the do-it-yourself model. Doing things yourself is ‘okay’ if the task you are performing is your profession or relates directly to your business service, but trying to do things yourself because its your hobby, interest, or saves you money can be damaging to your business, as you need to treat your website like a business and only seek professional and experienced assistance for your business needs.

I highly encourage that any true website owner who is interested in reaching top search results seriously consider professional and experienced SEO services for a full search engine optimization campaign. SEO services may be an expensive advertising avenue, but as we discussed above it is much cheaper than its other advertising counterparts and the reward is much greater. Search engine optimization has long been a mystery to many people and is foreign to some, but with the help and aid of professional and experienced SEO services you will easily increase website sales, traffic, and exposure. If you employ the right search engine optimization company or consultant I can almost guarantee you will have a rewarding experience and will not regret it.

A Search Engine Optimization Campaign

An effective Search Engine Optimization campaign begins by using keywords to target the subjects which you intend your web site to rank for. In order to rank in the search engine results pages (SERP’s), a web site has to have a position of relevance to the search engine for a given search term. This is usually achieved by having keyword rich content on the site that coincides with the search term that the internet user types into the search engine.

In organic, (natural) search engine optimization, there are several factors that contribute to the ranking for a search term. Each search engine provider has their own unique set of criteria that they use to determine which web site is most relevant for that specific term. The factors that are used to determine search engine rankings are then calculated by a complex search engine algorithm.

Due to the high amount of targeted customer traffic that stands to be gained by a web site that has a top-ranked position in the search engines, the search providers keep the details of the factors which make up their algorithm a closely guarded secret.

Even though the search providers are careful with the exact formula that they use to gauge the rankings of web sites, there have been several constants discovered that when applied, produce favorable results.

Keywords – Content without Keywords = Website without Traffic

Keywords are at the center of any effective search engine optimization campaign. The basic rule of thumb in search engine optimization is that content is king. So, it is important to base all the content of a web site on accurate and informative content.

The first thing to perform in an optimization campaign is keyword research. To find the search terms that are generating traffic for the topic that you want to rank for, you need to determine what the internet users are searching for. This may be accomplished by several different means however the most common way is to use a keyword selector tool.

There are several different keyword tools that may be used. The one tool that was the industry standard for quite a while was the Overture keyword selector tool which, as of January 07′, has been retired . The data in the Overture database still remains available for historical data, but is no longer being publicly updated by Yahoo!, the company that now owns the service.

Search Engine Optimization and Design

Building an attractive even beautiful is the goal of most website designers. In the process, sometimes the effectiveness of the website is diminished. We need to keep in mind that our goal is not only to have a beautiful website that will make people want to stay and look around and enjoy, but also a website that will be helpful to the engines in determining what our website is about or what it is relevant to.

Udi Manber, Google vice president overseeing search quality, in response to a question about webpage content evolving to be more search engine friendly explained, “It’s definitely still lacking. I wish people would put more effort into thinking about how other people will find them and putting the right keywords onto their pages.” Popular Mechanics – April 16, 2008

Search engine optimization or SEO is arguably the most essential way to drive targeted traffic to your website because it leads to improved search engine placement. Optimizing the benefits of a well-designed web site will result in much more traffic coming to the website thereby generating income for the company publishing the website. With this fact in mind however, optimizing your website might cost you thousands of dollars if you are not skilled in this area. Good search engine optimization that leads to improved search engine placement will, on the other hand, bring you a much higher return on the investment of either time or money you put into it.

My goal in this article is to give you the basics of search engine optimization so that you can understand it and incorporate it to help you accomplish your task. This will help you to improve your relevancy and search engines rankings for the best results possible through proven search engine optimization techniques.

What are the major mistakes in design

First is is important to remember that search engines are machines and read words they don’t see images or pictures. The most common mistakes form a search engine optimization standpoint are:

  • Making a website totally in Flash(TM)
  • Images without alt tags
  • Minimal or nonexistent meta title or title tag

Flash(TM) to the search engines is just like an image it is invisible although the Flash(TM) may capture the intrigue of the viewer it won’t help the search engine to know what your website is about. While the text display as a part of the Flash(TM) my be rich in keywords and information it will be lost completely to the search engines and you will go unnoticed. Flash(TM) and pictures can be used to enhance a website but the site must have text in order to build relevance for the search engines.

In the same sense images are also invisible, however we can include alt tags that will give the search engines an idea of what the viewer will see. In fact the alt tags can be very helpful since the search engines will place a little more emphasis on the text in alt tags. Don’t go overboard using keyword phrases in the alt tags but use some to help where appropriate.

The title tag as well discuss later is an important place to tell the search engines what your webpage is all about.

Where do we start?

Why is search engine optimization (SEO) so important? SEO is important because this will make your website relevant to your keywords during the search engine ranking process and will lead to improved search engine ranking. This is the reason why some businesses hire an SEO company to do this task.

You can get information on low cost related services anywhere on the internet. However, few are really showing you how to work out an inexpensive plan for improved search engine placement. Some companies will even use antiquated techniques that may slow the process down. Good search engine optimization should help you to start improving the search engine ranking of your website and start driving traffic to it in a matter of days or weeks with expensive processes.

Search engine optimization begins optimally on your website, as you plan and build it. If it was not done at first you are not too late, you can do it after you have it built and go back and revise it to improve the exposure to the search engines and still lead to improved search engine placement. It consists of the following elements referred to as “onsite optimization”.

  • Keyword Research – choosing the primary and secondary keywords you will use on your website or webpage
  • Implementing the keywords naturally into important elements in the website header and body.

Keyword Research and Usage

Let’s start first with keyword research. Why is keyword research important? The keyword research helps us to find the keywords that connect us with our targeted audience. They are the words that we want to use on our website in a variety of ways to build relevancy on our webpage so when search engines find our website and view / crawl our pages, they will then index us for those keywords. Once that happens, then when those keywords are typed into the search engine by potential customers, the search engine will then display our site in the search results, which is how they tie us to our targeted audience.

Ideally you will use a reverse search tool that will enable you to type in words you think are keywords people would search for and which will tell you the number of times those keywords were searched for over a given period of time. Depending on the tool you are using and the databases and the search engines they have access to for their search results you will get different numbers in your reverse search results. Your search engine optimization professional will know and have access to these tools and which ones are appropriate for specific uses. These tools can significantly speed up the process of onsite optimization lead to quicker improved search engine placement.