Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Use Analytics to measure SEO effectiveness

Google Analytics is a free program which was based on the $500 per month Urchin Live web statistics program. None of our customers could afford this program. But when Google purchased Urchin, they offered their premium service to the world...for free.

While it does take some time to properly set up analytics, with basic HTML skills you could do it yourself. If not, it will take your web people about an hour to set it up right.

What analytics provides you as the site owner is insight into how web surfers are finding your site, what pages they are looking at, how long they spend on the site, what countries they are from, what screen resolution they are using, what internet speed they are using, what internet browser they are using, etc.

The question becomes how can you use Analytics to direct your SEO efforts. Today, we did exactly that for a real estate company. Using their analytics, we discovered that 2 out of their 6 top level navigation points accounted for less than 1/10th of 1% of all of their traffic. What they thought was their primary place to rpovide information to web visitors turned out to be the least visited. And after Property Search (which accounted for over 60% of the traffic), mortgage information was next most popular. And amazingly, all the mortgage information was buried in the 2nd level.

So we are using this information to move the mortgage information pages to the 1st level of navigation and burying the 2 very unused sections of the website. We will then optimize heavily for popular regional mortgage information keywords to capture additional traffic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beware SEO firms that gaurantee

I got yet another call from a client today that went something like this "A web design firm just called me and told me that my website is not optimized for search engines. They said they could guarantee me #1 listings in Google for $99. I would like to do the work with you but can you offer me that deal?".

After I have had a chance to calm down, I remind myself and my customer that NO ONE can guarantee listings in Google (without Pay per click that is and then usually not for $99!). No one can buy listings in Google, no one can guarantee. Have I made that clear? No one can guarantee placements. Anyone or any firm that guarantees ranking positions should be avoided like the plague.

Achieving rankings in the search engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN representing 95% plus of the market) takes consistent effort and vigilance. Most companies do not have the resources in house in terms of expertise to be able to do this. And to get good rankings in the search engines for the right keywords takes effort and/or monetary resources. Figuring out how much to spend, how much effort to make, always depends on the Return on Investment. If a new customer is worth $100 per year to you as a business, what can you afford to spend to acquire that new customer? $50, $75, $100? It will depend on your renewal rates and how aggressive you want to be.

Any firm or SEO person worth hiring will review your own particular ROI situation and put together a plan accordingly.

Many firms have no way of measuring ROI. Tune in next time to figure out how to measure ROI for your company.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stock Options Trading stuck at #21

Oh, woe is me. Can't get Terry's Tips to budge from position number 21 on Google for the keyword phrase "stock options trading". I am starting to get frustrated...

Andrew Allen

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stock Options Success #8 for "stock options trading" in Google

Our little friend has turned up again. Stock Options Success is now #8 in Google, for "stock options trading".

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why do you need Search Engine Optimization?

Why do you need Search Engine Optimization?

I am so convinced about the efficacy of doing search engine optimization for almost any kind of website, that I rarely sit down and ask myself this very question. And well, I haven't asked myself this question...but I did get this question from a prospective client the other day and it has been eating away at me ever since.

I know i shouldn't be emotional about something as seemingly innocuous as getting good rankings in the search engines, but with my need to understand how search engines work, my desire to figure out how they can be used effectively by small and medium businesses (large corporations have whole teams on this kind of thing and still don't get it right) and my seemingly insatiable competitive spirit, I can't help but being a bit passionate about SEO.

Anyway, as I stared down this prospect, I thought to myself, yes, why indeed care about search engine optimization for your business?

While all the craze about the Internet, the web, and the information revolution, is that search engine optimization has become as necessary as having a fax machine, using the telephone, and taking credit cards. It is not only a necessary function for any small or medium sized business, it can and will be a critical and probably dominant marketing sector of this century. I don't exaggerate. Over time, search engines will replace the yellow pages, directory assistance, and most other hard copy forms of information distribution. Why print this information when you can make 2 taps on your iPhone and get the information (or even your 1 cent freebie phone from your local cellular company).

Essentially, search engine optimization is a combination of building your website with the search engines in mind and keeping them happy with new keyword rich content. Building the code so that it can be used effectively by search robots, organizing the navigation, naming the pages, writing the content, optimizing the images, adding some "webmaster" tools like XML site maps, doing some basic submissions, getting backlinks, getting listed in directories, the list goes on...

The bottom line is that for whatever your business niche is; whether it is selling to an international or national audience or selling a product/service/software that is not geographically dependent; or you are just focused on serving your geographic area (for service, retail, or local businesses); your market can be expanded with search engine optimization and if you aren't doing it, your competitors certainly will.

Every day, I find business segments in the search engines that are under-served. Our work with Able Paint and Glass recently demonstrates this. In just a few weeks, we are starting to dominate their local search engine traffic for their website We simply organized the pages, optimized the code on each page, and did some basic submissions and linking. 44 #1 positions for their top keywords on the Big 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN).

Once we add hyperlocal blogging to the mix, we plan on increasing all of these numbers!!

In the end, much like paying your website hosting bill, your yellow page advertising, and your local chamber of commerce dues, paying for ongoing search engine optimization with fresh optimized content and keeping up with the every changing world of search engines systems will be more than necessary.

And ultimately, in my opinion, ongoing dedication to SEO will provide a very lucrative return on investment for your business. If there isn't a return, I would never recommend it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Stock Options Trading Google Dance - Terry's Tips challenge update

How bizarre. As you may know, I have been challenged to get into the top 10 of Google for the keyword phrase "stock options trading". What you may not know is that we also have another website called which promotes a similar product line but offers a 50% affiliate share with all White Paper purchases through the ClickBank network.

Over labor day weekend, the Terry's Tips Clickbank site shot up to #5 on Google for our keyword phrase "stock options trading"!! I have been slowly upgrading the content on the Stock Option Success website but on a scale by no means comparable to the 1000 words a week I am adding to the home page of Terry's Tips (through our new newsletter tool). And that website is certainly no more optimized, has fewer inbound links by far, and only a PageRank of 3 opposed to Terry's 4 (down from a 5 a couple of months ago).

So why did this happen?

No idea.

What prompted me to write this blog entry is that by this afternoon, this miraculous result has disappeared! now resides 1 place below Terry's Tips for "stock options trading" at position #23.

Barring site maintenance work or upgrades at Google that would show this as a temporary anomaly of some kind, I am not entirely sure what to conclude.

But it does reinforce the theory that search engine optimization is not a one-time effort. Constant vigilance and training is needed to keep your site in and ahead of the game relative to your competition.

Happy surfing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What are Internal Links? - SEO Basics

Internal links are links primarily within the content area (body) of each page that link to other, oftentimes deeper, pages within the same site. Usually, Internal Links can weave into the web page copy in a logical manner that points the visitor to further or deeper information that would logically flow from the page they are already viewing.

Since most Search Engines including Google follow links to other pages, internal linking is a great way to provide users with logical next steps for accessing information from your site and to expose as many of your webpages to the search robots as possible.

Ok, so now you say "internal links provide good additional ways for users to access information they might like but...": Can you drive good web ranking or page rank from Internal Linking? What kind of juice is there with internal links?

By no means does Internal Linking ensure that your website will be well ranked. What internal linking can assist with is guiding the search robots once they have visited your site. Once landing upon an individual page, the search robots will follow other links in the content area. So if your more popular, or better positioned web pages had internal links to deeper pages within your site or pages that get less attention from visitors, you are providing opportunities for these pages through Internal Linking.

Ok, now for some examples of our bad, good, better, best ranking system.

Linking to dozens of other internal pages from each page on your site with little thought or logical flow to the other pages. You already have (hopefully) a well thought out navigation structure and a site map built into your site so we don't recommend taking Internal Linking to this extreme. For example, on a mortgage company site, having internal links to every loan program offered (there are dozens of combinations) on every page would probably not pass the smell test with the search robots and it will drive the user insane. Why would a website visitor think that there was any difference in a applying for a mortgage in South Burlington, VT versus Burlington, VT? Having 2 separate links to these pages is purely for search engine purposes and could "turn off" a website visitor.

Essentially, you can't stuff internal links just to try and get a boost from the search engines. It lowers your integrity with website visitors and with the search engines.

Providing a link or two within the site content where appropriate. if you reference a program or a webpage that is on your site, go ahead and set up a link to that page.

Not only would you provide the link when mention content or pages that might be of further use to the visitor, you optimize the "anchor text" within each internal link to provide keyword juice to those pages.

Instead of "In order to check out our section on jumbo mortgages, click here:", you would write the internal links smoothly within the flow of the sentence: "And from our South Burlington, VT office, you can learn more about our jumbo mortgage programs." The optimized "anchor text" for this link scores points for the jumbo mortgage page and still provides a clear path of action for the website visitor.

To get the most from Internal Linking, work with your website content to make sure that you are able to add at least 3 internal links on every page and use optimized "anchor text" to point the way! (of course, by using keywords from your master keyword list). One part strategy and one part execution will combine to give you, your website visitors, and the search robots an optimized internal linking strategy that works.