Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Three Strategies For Success With The Search Engines

My TOP Three Strategies For Success With The Search Engines
By Derek Gehl Visit the Internet Marketing Center to get more great tips!

If I had a nickel for every email I received from a customer asking how to get better results from the search engines, I'd have... well, I'd have a WHOLE lot of nickels!!

In fact, it seems I'm constantly being grilled about the latest, greatest strategies for driving the MAXIMUM number of FREE visitors to your site.

But honestly, I'm really glad so many of you are paying attention to the search engines...

... because you're SEVEN TIMES more likely to get a visitor through the organic (free) search engines than through a pay-per-click ad!

You can't afford NOT to spend as much time as possible improving your site's overall search engine performance.

With that in mind, here are my TOP THREE recommendations for improving your free traffic using the search engines...

Search Results Strategy #1: Speak your visitors' language

No, I don't mean English, Spanish, or Russian! ;-)

When I say you should speak your visitors' language, I mean you should use the exact words and phrases they use to search for your products or services!

I can't TELL you how many times I see people building their sites around the words THEY themselves use to describe what they're selling, even going so far as to optimize their sites using the name of the product!

Why is that a problem?

Well, let's say you sell the "GutterClear 3000," a tool that comes in pretty handy to clean out all the gunk in your gutters without ever having to get up on a ladder.

Now, let's say there are thousands of people out there looking for a really cool tool for hands-free (and ladder-free) gutter cleaning.

Do you think they're all going to sit down in front of Google and type "GutterClear 3000"?

Not likely, right? Chances are, they're going to describe what they're trying to accomplish, or what problem they're trying to solve ("gutter cleaning tool," "clean gutters without ladder," etc).

So even though you've got the #1 spot on Google for "GutterClear 3000," the product remains unsold, because nobody is using that word to find it!

And please, never assume. Use a good keyword research tool, like Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery, to be sure you've identified the EXACT words your potential customers are using to find you!

Search Results Strategy #2: Make sure your pages are search engine friendly

Once you've done your keyword research, and understand how your customers are searching for you, you can use that information to create a site that will appeal to the search engine spiders, which, in turn, will improve your rankings.

The higher your site appears on the results page, the GREATER the chances that people will click on it!

So be sure you use your keywords in your:
Title tag -- This is the title of your site that usually appears in the actual search engine results. Search engine spiders often look at the title tag FIRST to understand what your site is about.

That makes the title tag one of the best ways to appeal to both potential visitors and search engines at the same time!

Headline and subhead -- By including your main keywords in your headline and subheads, and wrapping them in tags, you'll be tipping off the search engines that the site's content reflects what's in the heads and subheads, which is an SEO plus.

At the same time, by displaying your best keywords in the headline and subheads, your visitors will see that they've come to the right place the second they land on your page... and be more likely to stick around.

Salescopy -- Because the search engines "crawl" your site looking for information about how to categorize your site, and also check to see how relevant your copy is, you want to make sure you include your keywords in the site's copy.

But don't get carried away! Search engines can tell when you're cramming your site full of words JUST to get better rankings, and will penalize you for it... and you want to be sure your site actually makes sense to your visitors!

Meta tags -- Your description meta tag normally contains the "blurb" that appears with the link to your site on the search results.

Your keyword meta tag contains your strongest keywords relevant to each page.

Neither of these, on their own, will be enough to improve your site's rankings, but when done properly, they help give the search engines a more accurate "snapshot" of what your site is about.

Image (alt) tags -- Search engines can't "read" images, but they can read the text that you use to describe the images.

This descriptive text, called an "alt" tag, is one more way to add multiple strong keywords to your site, again increasing your overall chances of being categorized for that particular term.

Another way to use your keywords is in the way you ORGANIZE the pages in your site.

Make sure that all of the information or products on a page are related or relevant. The LAST thing you want to do is confuse the search engine spiders with a mishmash of words on any given page that don't make any sense together.

At this point, it's pretty clear that it's the WORDS on your site that give you the overall competitive edge when it comes to your search engine rankings, so resist the urge to "fancy" your site by using Flash, tons of graphics, or other unnecessary elements.

The more clearly you spell out what your site is about by using your keywords, the better your chances of raising to the TOP of the results page!

Search Engine Strategy #3: Keep your site up-to-date

Like death and taxes, it's INEVITABLE that your site optimization will change... and what's working today may not get you ANY results three months from now.

That's because, over time, people, markets, search trends, and even keywords change...

... so it's crucial that you constantly monitor your top keywords, and make changes to your site as necessary, in order to maintain your dominant position in the search results.

You should be setting aside time every WEEK to make sure that you're still optimized for the best keywords!

And if you CAN'T seem to find the time each week to do this, then consider hiring someone to help. Trust me: it's an investment that should MORE than pay for itself with increased traffic and sales!

By following these three strategies for maximizing your search engine traffic, you'll not only improve your search engine rankings, you'll be able to send more qualified traffic to your site.

But, of course, there's MORE to them than I'm able to cover in this brief newsletter...

... so I've asked Kevin Carr, from our Search Marketing Lab's "Search Master's Program" to create an "SEO Whiteboard Series" to walk you through them all in detail.

You'll find the SEO Whiteboard videos on my blog.

To your success,
Visit the Internet Marketing Center to get more great tips!
Derek Gehl