Do I Have To Use First-Party Reviews For My Website How Do I Get to the Top of Those Search Engines? Key Word Identification

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How Do I Get to the Top of Those Search Engines? Key Word Identification

Chances are, your marketing plan includes a marketing objective about using the Internet for lead generation and a core strategy about increasing your search engine ranking. Without a marketing team, this can be overwhelming and you may not know where to start. This is the first article in a series on this topic. The articles are written to help sales and marketing professionals gain a broad understanding of how search engine marketing works, knowing they will continue to rely on experts to manage the technical aspects of their Web strategies.

To get your Website listed toward the top of the search engine results, the search engines will have to “crawl” your Website, evaluate it and then give it a high ranking. Search engines use a wide variety of algorithms to rank Websites and are constantly changing the criteria. Generally speaking, you will need a key word identification and inbound link strategy, you will need to update your content frequently, and you will want to avoid using a lot of fancy software such Flash. Equally important, you will need a high-quality Website with informative content in an easy-to-use, customer-friendly format. This article focuses on key word identification.

Sponsored vs. Organic Results

Sponsored, or “paid” campaigns are one way to have your Website appear at the top of the results pages using, for example, Google’s AdWords. There are disadvantages in doing this though. For one, you will be charged each time someone clicks on your link and in many cases, they may simply visit your Website without contacting you for further information. Plus, the advertisement will be listed as a “sponsored link” and potential customers will know that you paid for it, which means your ad will have less credibility than if your Website shows up as a standard listing, often called an “organic result.”

This is analogous to using a paid print advertisement vs. using an Advertorial or even better, getting coverage in a magazine as a result of a public relations effort, having your company’s name appear in an article written by a third party or from an existing client. The latter will obviously bring much more value in marketing your company.

The other issue is cost. If you invest time and energy building a high-ranking Website, one that appears at the top of the results organically, you will not be charged each time someone clicks on your Website link. As long as you continue to invest time and energy in maintaining your Website, it will continue to appear toward the top of the results. The investment will not be in paying-per-click, it will be in developing strategic content such as articles, White Papers, etc. All of these efforts will have the added benefit of helping you in other areas of your marketing. This will be discussed in more detail in a future article in this series.

Search Engine Optimization

The very first step is implementing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics into your Website. This phrase is so well known at this point in time that it’s often used as a verb e.g., “I have SEO’d my Website.” So what does it mean? Search Engine Optimization defines the steps that are required to make a Website recognizable and easily found by search engine crawlers, the software that search engine companies use to find Websites, rank them and list them on search results pages. There are some basic steps that need to be implemented and this where a good Web developer will add the most value.

For example, the Web Developer will set up strategic names for each Web page, integrate titles and meta tags into the code, organize the Site Map and once the site is done, manage the search engine submission to make sure the site pages get indexed with the major search engines e.g., Google. But before all of this can take place, you will need to work closely with your Website development team to identify your key words.

Key to Success

Key Word Identification is quite literally, your key to success. People often wonder how to improve their search engine ranking but in many cases, don’t realize that they have to be very clear about what “search words” they want to target. Chances are pretty good that your business will show up if you type your company name into the search box, especially if your company name is unique and is featured in the text of your Website. This won’t help you though if people are not familiar with your business name and they will be searching by industry key word instead. If, for example, they are looking for a moving company, what will they type into the search box? “moving,” “relocation” or maybe “quote to move?” Figuring out the right key words is where you have to partner with your developer.

Prepare a list of key words that you think your prospects will type in. Then, ask your existing clients what key words they would use. You can also make a list of your online competitors and make note of those that you see showing up on the search engine results most often. Give all of this information to your Web developers so they get a general idea of who you are targeting and what sort of key words you will be targeting. From there, the developers will use web analytic software to research the best key words to market your business, and then provide you with a potential list of words. Then you’ll review the key words to make sure they match the services you provide.

Aligning your Business Strategy and Geographic Targets

While developing your Key Word Identification strategy, you’ll also want to think about your business objectives. You’ll find that some key words get searched quite a bit but they might be for a service that you either don’t provide or would rather not provide e.g., ancillary services. Although, sometimes providing ancillary services is a good way to at least get an introduction to a new client. To use the example of a moving company again, perhaps there is someone looking for packing boxes. While selling boxes may not be your cash cow, it could lead to a moving project. This is a business decision you will have to make.

You will also want to consider geography. One way to think about this is to compare the Internet to the old days of advertising in the yellow pages. There was a certain comfort in knowing that the telephone book that arrived on your door step every year was filled with local companies, ready to serve your needs from your own neighborhood. As the Internet has grown, more and more services are provided virtually. This might be fine for certain industries, but some prospective customers like to know they are working with a company that is in their own country or even in their own neighborhood. They might use a key word such as “moving services in New York” or “New York moving companies.” If you don’t include “geo-key words” in your SEO strategy, you may be missing opportunities.

On a related note, it can actually be helpful to feature a local exchange telephone number on your Website instead of, or in addition to, a toll free number. Historically, providing prospects with toll free numbers was considered best practice, but with the price of long distance calls having come down considerably and the fact that customers prefer doing business locally, using a local telephone number, even if it seems counterintuitive, can help you. In fact, it’s likely that up to half of the leads that businesses get from the Internet come in from the telephone number that is featured on the Website, while the others, as one would expect, come in from an email address or online request form.

You’ll want to give clear direction to your Web developer or search engine marketing company about which geographical regions you are targeting. It will be more efficient to only have your Website show up in the regions that you are targeting and it will help prevent you from getting a lot of leads that are not worth acting on. You want the highest quality leads possible and don’t want to waste time sifting through unqualified web leads. Knowing what regions you are targeting will be especially important if and when you set up a paid Web marketing program such as Google’s Ad Words.

Less is More

One of the hardest parts of identifying the key words is resisting the urge to use too many words. You can create a list of key words for each different page of your Website but the most important pages are the home page and the services pages. If you are a highly web-lead driven, you will also want to focus on any Web pages that receive incoming leads with a “contact us form.” You will want to focus on five to ten words or phrases for the home page and for each service page. It’s more important to use those three words frequently than to cram in a long list of key words.

This can be a bit of a challenge for the copywriter. In earlier days, a copywriter’s job was hard enough. They had to write compelling, catchy copy that differentiated the company from its competitors. In today’s world, the copywriter is given a list of key words which they also have to integrate into the text. A copywriter with SEO skills will understand this and may use phrases such as “key word density,” meaning how many times do you want the key words to appear in the text? It is usually anywhere from 2-5%.

Another caution with copywriting is not to copy and paste text from other Websites. The search engines have software that will pick up on this and if the text doesn’t pass what they call “copyscape,” the search engines won’t publish or “crawl” the text. It has to be original. Again, a good copywriter will know how to write SEO-friendly, original content.

These are some general guidelines about how to begin a key word identification strategy and will help you get on your way to developing a search engine optimization strategy. The next step is integrating those key words into all aspects of your Website and as many external Web pages as possible. The next article in the series will go into that in more detail.

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