We offer these free search engine marketing tips to help our clients and website visitors improve their search engine rankings, and paid placement ads within search engines.

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Optimization Efforts?

The following tips and advice will help you get your website ranked better in all the major search engines. How much effort will it take to get near the top of page one? It depends on how much competition there is for the keywords you’ve chosen, and how well your competition is doing with their SEM and SEO (search engine optimization) efforts.

Although the specific algorithms and formulas Google, Yahoo and Bing use to rank websites are closely guarded secrets, the main components of them are known. Search engine marketing involves making sure your website conforms to as many of the known rules as possible.

How well your website will eventually rank depends on the competition for your chosen keywords. If you’re in an industry where many sites are highly optimized for the most valuable keywords, you will need to invest many hours in your efforts to outrank some of these sites.

If you begin by targeting some of the more “niche” keywords within your industry you may have a better chance of getting some search engine traffic, as you work to increase your performance for the top searhed keywords.

The good news is that with a little time and effort you can do many of the search engine marketing tasks yourself. Of course if you’re busy and don’t have time to nvest in learning the ropes, an experienced SEO company (like us) can handle all of your efforts.

Choosing Keywords

To start you’ll need to discover the search words that your potential customers are using to find products and services like yours. You’ll then build your website content around the keywords you’ve chosen to target. If you’ve chosen keywords that are highly competitive you will want to tackle the least competitive keywords first, while including and starting to optimize for the top keywords.

The best way to discover your list of keywords, or keyword phrases, is to make a list of terms that you feel your customers would use in a search. For instance if you have an insurance agency you might start with the keyword phrases life insurance, health insurance, or auto insurance.

Next you’ll use a keyword tracking tool like the free Google Adwords tracking tool: adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal to check for over-all keyword competition.

  1. Enter your chosen keywords into the tracking tool one keyword phrase at a time. Note: Don’t enter anything in the “website” form field for this research.
  2. Click the “Search” button
  3. Notice the column labeled “Local Monthly Searches”. This column represents the number of U.S. searches rather than just your locality, so it’s typically the most important number. Click the column label to sort the listings from highest to lowest.
  4. The Google keyword tool will show you other keywords that you may not have considered and that you can add to your list.
  5. The next step involves using a normal Google search to find out how many other sites show up for your chosen keyword phrases. Do a search for your chosen keyword phrases, and then note the number of sites that show up for each search.

    The number you’re looking for is right below the search input after your search results are presented. The more websites returned, the harded it will be to rank well for those keywords. Anything over 1 million pages will probably be difficult.

If you are working with keywords such as life insurance or auto insurance you’ll quickly find you have a great deal of competition, and you’ll probably guess it would be very hard to get page one results for those keywords. However, if you are an insurance agent in Athens, GA you’ll see that the competition for auto insurance Athens GA is not near as fierce.

Concentrating your efforts on that geo-targeted search term is definitely the best way to go.

Using Your Keywords

After you determine the best keywords to focus your efforts on, you’ll begin creating content for your website.

You’ll want to make sure you optimize the title for each of your pages by placing keywords (6 to 12 words) within the title tag of each page. It’s important to make sure you derive the keywords from actual content on each page.

Search engines will typically display your page title as the link and main heading for your website. You can view a web page title by looking at the very top of your browser window and noticing the words. You can also “view source” from your web browser and find the title near the very top of the pages code.

The next step is to provide a 12 to 24 page description for your web page. A search engine will often display the description you provide in the search results, right under your title tag. Writing good descriptions can help a searcher choose your link over one of your competitors.

After the description comes the keywords meta tag. Although it’s not used by Google, Yahoo does use it in helping to decide what your particular page is about. It’s a good idea to add keywords intot this tag as well, and often it’s quickest to just use the text from your title tag.

Your keywords should be used throughout your page content by incorporating them into your text. Including them in the “alt” tags of images and in headlines and subheads is also a good strategy. Remember that your page copy should read wel and not sound as though it’s been written specifically for search engines, with an over-use of keywords.

Optimizing Your Website Code

Your websites’ organization and structure will affect its search engine ranking as well. Creating categories of information and pages is better than just going with an unstrtuctured approach.

For instance, as an insurance agent you would want to have a category, or main navigation heading called “auto insurance” and then multiple pages within that category, each on a specific topic regarding auto insurance. These separate pages would each link to the main “auto insurance” category page, but not to each other. This approach is known as creating “silos” with your content, and it’s a useful strategy to funnel internal link power.

Your website should be hosted on the fast server. Many times the low-cost hosting providers are simply over-loading their severs and the speed of the websites they host suffers. It’s often only a few dollars more each month to obtain service from a high quality host.

The last step in this basic SEO approach is to create and submit a sitemap (sitemap.xml file) to Google. Once you create your sitemap file the other search engines will use it as an aid in indexing your web pages.

Adwords and Paid Search Advertising

The goal here is to create an advertisement which will attract visitors to click on the your paid search ad above all others.

Most paid search advertising, like Adwords, are text only, with a title line of 25 characters and a product or service description with 2 lines of up to 35 characters each. Your URL is also limited to 35 characters. The rest of this article will describe Google Adwords advertising, but it applies equally well to other online text advertising

With such a short amount of space for presenting your message, it is critical that it be effective, concise and descriptive. The title is the first part of your Adwords ad that a potential visitor to your site will see. It is the titles job to catch the attention and interest of a prospective customer, and to get them to read your full advertisement and hopefully convince them to click through to your website. The biggest challenge is to create your ad with only 25 characters!

If you are writing a title for the keyword based search term “auto insurance”, your title should include the term “auto insurance”. Here are two 25 character or less examples. You’ll notice some words need to be abbreviated to fit within the character limits.

Low Auto Ins Rates Online
Get Auto Ins Quotes Now

Testing several different headlines and finding the one that generates the most clicks is the best approach Reviewing the titles of your competitors can help you create your own ideas for titles.

Descriptions

Descriptions are the next part of the ad to write, and again you are really limited by the number of characters you can use in your ad. It can be frutrating to say anything meaningful given the limits. In addition, many ads from various competitors end up saying just about the same thing.

You want to encourage qualified prospects to click on your ad but discourage unqualified searchers from costing you the price of a click.

Include any special products or services in your ad that you think your competitors don’t offer. Things such as better credit terms, flexible payment options and better pricing can be the key to a good “click through rate”.

The Link and Landing page

The final step is to land the customer on the portion of your site that is most relevant to their search term. Always send the customer to a page that contains the exact information, product or service that they were searching for. Many times this may mean creating a new “landing page” for your website, whose only purpose is to convert visitors from your Adwords ad into customers.

You now have the basics of Search Engine Marketing in place, and should you have questions along the way just do a search. There are many forums on SEO and Adwords where you can ask questions or review past answers. In time you can learn all the details to managing a successful online marketing plan for your business.