Monday, March 23, 2009

How To Take Search Engine Optimization (SEO) To The Next Level

By now we should all be familiar with the basics of search engine optimization, but for reasons of good form I will briefly recap those basics here.

Steps To Basic Search Engine Optimization:
  1. Choose your primary keyword phrase and up to 2 secondary keyword phrases.
  2. Ideally your primary keyword phrase should be used in the following:
    • Domain name - http://www.keyword-phrase.com
    • File name - keyword_phrase.html
    • TITLE tag - ‹title›Keyword Phrase blah blah‹/title›
    • META keywords - ‹meta name="keywords" content="keyword phrase, secondary"›
    • META description - ‹meta name="description" content="keyword phrase blah"›
    • Header tags (not excessively) - ‹h›Keyword Phrase‹/h›
    • Links (not excessively) - ‹a href="blah.html"›Keyword Phrase‹/a›
    • Body text (not excessively) - blah blah keyword phrase blah blah
  3. Create an XML sitemap for google. Never pay for this, it's a simple process offered for free by many sites (like this one). Then submit the sitemap to google using google's Webmaster Tools. In addition you can submit your domain to various other search engines.
Those are the basics, and should be the starting point of any serious search engine optimization (seo) effort. Remember that this is an ideal depiction, and is not always attainable as domain names with keyword phrases are not always available, and changing the file names on some web sites may require a level of technical know-how.

Now that the basics are out of the way, let's discuss some next level SEO techniques. At this point we are getting more into the 'art' of search engine optimization which means that there are available many variations and seemingly limitless expounding of these ideas and concepts.

Targeted Landing Pages

These are web pages which are targeted to a specific visitor mindset and/or personality type. Visitor targetting is a vast topic that I intend to discuss in more depth in a future article. For now let's plan on 3 landing pages, one for each of the 3 visitor mindsets described below:
  1. Mindset 1 (Surfing Mode) - Visitors with this mindset are still not sure what they want or need. They tend to search using problem-focused words as opposed to solution-focused words. The keyword phrases used should reflect problem terms, and the page's verbiage should describe how your product or service solves this problem.
  2. Mindset 2 (Comparison and Review Mode) - These visitors know what they want or need, but aren't sure which one is best suited to there needs. The keyword phrases used should include words like compare, best, recommended, review, comparison, and rated. The page's verbiage should explain why your product is the best suited to the visitor's needs.
  3. Mindset 3 (Buying Mode) - Visitors with this mindest know what they want. They want to know where to buy it, and why through your site? The keyword phrases used should include words like cheap, buy, discount, purchase, order, and low-price. The page's verbiage should explain the clear benefits there are through ordering the product or service through your site.
Each landing page should include as many basic SEO steps as possible up to and including a dedicated domain name. In addition, buying your product or ordering your service should never be more than 1 click away from a given landing page, and ideally would be available on the page itself. Also note that if the landing page is not the domain's default page (the page that loads when only the domain name is specified) there should be a link to the landing page from the domain's default page. Keep in mind that each landing page should have a paragraph or two of unique content, as redundant content is less than optimal, and may even lower your search engine rankings. Again this unique content on each landing page should be directed towards one of the three visitor mindsets described above.

When selecting your keyword phrases, check out their OCI (Online Commercial Intention) value: Detecting Online Commercial Intention: Audience Intelligence: adCenter Labs Also check to see what sort of words people were looking for before or after they looked for that keyword phrase: Search Funnels: Keyword Research: adCenter Labs

Keyword selection is yet another vast topic which I plan to discuss in more depth in a future article. For now, that should be enough to get you started with taking your search engine optimization to the next level. You may also want to check out http://adlab.msn.com/alltools.aspx for some great tools, and look into the book 'Call to Action' by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg for some great information on visitor mindset and personality targeting.