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SEO Crucial to Successful Interactive Communications Strategy

November 2006 Communication

(This is the FIRST in a series of articles on Search Engine Optimization [SEO]. Future articles will focus on specific mechanics and techniques for SEO.)

The emergence of “Google” as the search engine behemoth and the increased utilization of the Web by an ever-increasing percentage of the consuming public has put increased pressure on Web marketers to improve their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies and executions.

The most creative and innovative Web sites, many costing tens of thousands of dollars, are of secondary importance if the objective of the Web strategy is to create awareness and generate “hits.” The Web “crawlers” or “spiders” are very powerful but very stupid when it comes to reading Web sites. They are looking for WORDS and not pictures. The most creative FLASH design means nothing to those spider/crawlers because all they are looking for is the words for which the search is focused.

Crawler-based search engines, like Google, “crawl” or “spider” their way through the Web looking for the key word or words the Internet user has entered into the search engine. What is produced is a universe of Web sites usually numbering in the thousands. Most searchers will generally find what they need in the first 10 or 20. What happens if you are listed in the 30s. Chances are you are never seen.

P.J. Fusco, writing in the Oct. 25 Clickz.com E-Zine, points out three basic questions to ask before initiating a SEO strategy:

  1. What is your business objective?
  2. Do you have access to your Web site’s statistics?
  3. How far are you willing to go to improve your search-referred traffic?

Your Basic Business

If you haven’t done so, carefully think through why you have created your Web site? Are you trying to sell product? Are you trying to create awareness for your business? Are you looking for sales leads? Are you using your Web site as an on-line brochure?

“Before you can set your sights on garnering greater search engine referrals,” writes Fusco. “Consider targeting specific areas of your business that can provide demonstrative results.”

Adding to this thought, Fusco suggests the marketer be specific about on-line business goals and objective before launching the new SEO initiative. A key is being as specific and realistic as possible.

Review the Metrics

The next step is to benchmark from whence you came. For this you need solid historical data that focuses in on the history of your site’s success of lack thereof.

Fusco suggests reviewing the following elements:

  • Number of month visitors to your site.
  • Percentage of visitors originating from search engine referrals.
  • Number of sales (in units) per month.
  • Total amount of sales (in dollars) per month.
  • Average sales per Web site visitor.

“Web analytics should also provide insight into your target market’s demographics.” Fusco writes. “By associating a value to core demographic elements of your business, you can equally prioritize SEO strategy elements.

How Far to Go

The final piece of the puzzle is to determine what can or can not be changed to achieve greater search engine recognition.

Fusco points out: “Making content or design changes to the home page and other high-level sight pages can dramatically enhance search engine visibility. Are you willing and technologically able to revise your site’s structure and navigation to achieve better search engine positioning? How much flexibility do you have with page and linking structures built into the current site.”

One very quick and easy way to start is by analyzing the key words in the site especially on the Home Page. Make sure the site references these key words again and again because, don’t forget, the spiders and crawlers are feeding off of them.



About the author

James T. Berger, Managing Editor of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit www.jamesberger.net or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.

James T. Berger
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