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November 7, 2006

SEO Optimization Strategies and Tactics

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The SEO Optimization Strategies and Tactics panel gave users valuable tips for creating a sound organic search engine optimization campaign.

First up, Gary Smith.

Gary’s speech focused on optimizing your entire Web site, from top to bottom. According to Gary, optimization isn’t just about making a few pages engine-friendly or identifying keywords, it’s about making the entire site a subject matter expert. Long time readers know that we couldn’t agree more.

In order to do this, you have to optimize for both broad and niche (long-tail) terms. These niche or long tail terms have a much higher conversion rate than the broad search terms. As a result, we’re seeing the popular broad term search phrases are accounting for a smaller percentage of total search engine traffic and conversions.

Gary shared his recipe for optimizing the long tail:

  • Create a content rich site to attract qualified traffic. The Long Tail is about individual pages.
  • Whole Site Optimization – Optimize the entire site and get it indexed to maximize keyword combinations and traffic, which is a challenge for large sites.
  • Search Saturation – you want to appear in more searchers than your competitors.
  • Analyze your site content and keyword combinations and match pages with the search terms people are actually looking for and look for gaps. When you find the gaps, plug them by creating content to meet that need.
  • Scalability

Gary applies this ‘recipe’ for long-tail terms, but really, adhering to Gary’s ways will give you a good basis for creating any type of search engine optimization campaign.

Next up was Ellen Duffie-Fritz who gave tips for increasing your site’s link popularity by following the strategy outlined below:

Internally

  • Every page of content must be accessible to the engines and to users.
  • All links should be text base to encourage spiders to crawl the entire site.
  • Anchor text should always use important keyword phrases.

Externally

  • Create a list of respected sites in your industry that would give you the highest “vote of relevancy” and obtain links from them.

Authoritatively

  • Create compelling content to encourage linking. Content can be in the form of unique tools, proprietary content or rich information.

Up next, Brian Kaminski (iProspect) who focuses on customizing search engine strategies to your specific site needs.

It’s natural that every site will have different goals for SEO. Understand your organization’s strengths and weaknesses and build your strategy based on your own objectives. If you’re just starting out, don’t try to do too much at once. Make sure to cover the basics (technology, metrics, etc) before moving on to more complex issues (audience, conversions, credibility). Getting proportions right is what will help your campaign to be successful.

Once you get those set, here’s a list of other tools you may want to consider to increase traffic:

  • Create optimized press releases
  • Images/PDFs
  • Video Search Engine Optimization
  • Local Search
  • YouTube strategy
  • Blogging
  • User Generated Content

Lynne DeRoche discussed how to take your site from invisible to center stage.

Why is it important that your content be searchable? Lynn noted that increasing searchable content gives you more ‘chances’ to appear on the engines’ SERPs. It also helps you stand out from your competition and establish yourself as an expert. All the great content in the world won’t matter if no one knows you exist.

Lynne shared four search engine optimization strategies to improve your content:

Map strategic keyword phrases

  • Lynne recommends only optimizing for one or two keyword phrases per page (we typically recommend 3 or 4 related words) to not dilute your efforts.
  • Don’t force your content. Google SEO = a good user experience.
  • Is this an appropriate entry page for you consumers? Is it contextually relevant? Will it meet users’ needs?

Improve your Site’s Crawl-ability

  • Spiders can’t find text ‘hidden’ behind drop down menus, text-based forums, JavaScript navigation or Flash. Instead, create text based versions of Flash elements or links found in drop-down menus.

Build New Pages

  • You may find it necessary to build new content to appeal to new keywords or site goals. Remember that all new content should appeal to search engines and search engine users.
  • Think carefully about page placement – give pages a ‘home’ within your site navigation.

Build a Theme

  • Create keyword-rich text, using keyword phrases 2-3 times per page.
  • Include targeted keywords within your URLs.
  • Leverage keywords within link text.
  • Include keyword in title and description tags.
  • Use the keyword phrase intact.

Some great words from our panelists here. I think if you’re looking for the ultimate SEO optimization strategy, combing the advice of Lynne and Gary will help your site see strong rankings.

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