The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
We all use Analytics to track the progress of our Internet Marketing. Whether we use Google Analytics for our PPC or our SEO, or we use something like Web Trends or my favorite getClicky, we’re all watching the page views, the bounce rates, tracking conversions, following the math of SEO. The numbers, up or down, good month or bad.
Analytics is like dancing to a song you’ve never heard before. Maybe you’ve heard the band before, or you quickly pick up the tempo, but predicting the next cords, predicting the next section or melody is simply impossible. If the musician did his job, the music will surprise you, the music will be unpredictable.
This dance, this instinct, this guessing game that we play with the math of SEO is everything. No one knows exactly what to do on every SEO project. Sure we put our Keywords in the Title Tag, we optimize key pages for specific keywords, we build links, we create content, we make our best educated guess as to what will work. It’s still just guessing.
Anyone that gets up and says they have the secret, the math down, the one size fits all approach is simply lying. No one has a partnership with Google for SEO, no one has an in that lets them change the rankings, Google’s algorithm is this brilliant fickle thing that just like a song, keeps right on going whether you’re dancing to it or not.
In SEO, whoever guesses the best wins. It sounds awful, to think that we’re all just doing our best, pushing along trying to roll with our mistakes and adjust our strategies to succeed. It’s the truth. We’re trying to guess better than the other guy, but the fact remains the same.
At the end of the day, Analytics is the tool, the tempo of that song, that helps us correct our methods, improve our own rythm and God willing keep us from stepping on the poor girl’s toes. All we can do is trust our instincts and learn from our mistakes.
My job is to be a better guesser than the other guy. Any fluff, head in the clouds “guru” “expert” “visionary” crap is just that, fluff. Filler. Buzz words. It’s about as useful as the best site ever with no backlinks.
Get out there and make your best guess, then follow up with Analytics and correct accordingly. It’s not a secret, it’s just a little faith and an educated guess.
Matthew Egan is the President of San Antonio SEO consulting group Image Freedom. When not dancing to the blues, Matthew helps web pages like yours get more traffic through content driven Search Engine Optimization.
I’ve been knee deep in Header 1 Tags and Meta data for the better part of a month now. Well, if all goes well I should always be knee deep in these things as an SEO but the debate over keyword density (the volume of keywords on a page) is always of constant discussion.
I’m of the camp that if content is king, the content must be readable, as all the traffic in the world won’t bring you business if the visitors can’t read the actual content. We’ve talked about this before but I really want to drive the point home again, find the keywords you want to target and work those keywords into your Header 1, include them in the first four words of the Title, and reference them and similar terms in an easy to digest 165 character Meta Description.
Recently I sat down with a friend who has a WordPress blog not unlike my own and we were able to change her site so that the right keywords were in the right place, the Header 1 had the right content etc etc. Within 7 days she moved from Page 3 to #8 on Page 1. Odds are good your web site has juice it isn’t utilizing because your onsite factors are seriously lacking.
Target your keywords in those places we talk about, the Header 1, the Title Tag, Description Tag and whenever possible as part of the links URL. Be ungeneric! Get optimized!
Often I hear from clients that they want a lot of web traffic, that if only they had the traffic, some random percentage would convert to sales. That is true to an extent but wouldn’t you rather have 50 customers, over 1,000 visitors? When optimizing for the search engines it is possible to evaluate which keywords are of most value, and through ongoing optimization of a site you can achieve fantastic conversion rates without needing huge traffic volume.
I am a small business SEO, so right off the bat I am at the disadvantage that a lot of the articles you read apply to much larger enterprise level businesses. I chose to be a small business SEO because I believe in the small businesses value to America, and because often the small business is in greater need than the larger business with a huge built in marketing budget. When I get your small business onto page one of Google, that is an accomplishment when you consider how many people are linking to these larger name brands. That one small local business stands out, and the hits they get from being there quickly turn into sales.
Let’s use the example of “san antonio medical text books”. I don’t have a client that sells medical texts, but let’s assume I did, and I optimized for phrases related to medical text books. I could target ‘book store’ I could target ‘text book’ I could target a pretty wide variety of subjects, but how likely is a person searching for ‘book store’ going to need my medical text books? The traffic may come, the site may get hits, but the conversion rate would hardly be noticeable because these terms are related, but not necessarily supportive of the goal of our site.
This is why Keyword Research is so important, and it pains me to see the web sites designed BEFORE any kind of SEO or Keyword Research has been done. When you put the SEO as an afterthought to the development of your site, you have to work backwords, and as any business owner can attest to, no one wants to pay for the same work twice.
So once again, our friend the Google Keyword Tool comes into play, and we sit down with the phrases we feel will generate sales. On average I try and build a list of 5 or 6 keywords that are related and can be worked into site content without much issue. For the most part, small businesses live or die by a single keyword and you start by making an educated guess about which keyword that is, and then follow the search volume over time to attach value to each keyword.
Ryan Kelly from @PearAnalytics makes a product called SiteJuice which we’ve talked about before. SiteJuice assigns value to each of your keywords, and Ryan tells me that in future versions of SiteJuice you’re going to be able to assign specific value based on your industry to those keywords. So just because you come up under “san antonio book store” doesn’t mean the value is there that you’d want targeting “san antonio medical text books”. I’m really excited to see the progress there as that will make tracking the value of these keywords that much easier.
What are your top performing keywords? Do you even know? Contact an optimizer near you and tell them you want an hour of their time to talk about your existing analytics. See what they can tell you about your best performing search terms and see if you can better target those phrases. At the end of the day, you don’t just want big numbers in the visitors column, you want a hige conversion rate, and targeting the RIGHT keywords is the way to get there.
What are your top performing keywords?
Was this helpful? SEO can be frustrating, so if you have any questions please post them in the comments below. Check out the Image Freedom homepage for the full SEO kick or contact Matthew directly for a free consultation.
Been spending a lot of time conversing lately about the value of a GOOD web site. When Image Freedom was founded, I didn’t intend to be a Web Developer. I’ve been creating content for the web for ten years, be it for gaming sites back in high school or all centered geocities sites with big spinning 3D logos all over the place. I’ve seen the best and the worst of the web in all it’s glory.
Lately a lot of San Antonians have been talking with me about their own site, and what their plans are for it. The general perception is that you’re going to have to spend $10-15,000 to get a web site you can be proud of. I don’t have permission to show specific examples, with prices, but the reality is closer to one tenth of that.
This may sound like one of those “use me instead” articles, and maybe at it’s core that holds some merit but it is just so vital that a business has a solid web site. Does this mean you need ANY web site? I’m a pretty savvy web guy and I visited a site for a San Antonio business and was unable to find a link to a map, or driving directions. HUH!? That is priority one if you have a physical location. What happened was they named it something cute, so I had to click through half the site to find the address, none of which had a link to Google Maps.
@AliciaSanera wrote a blog recently called “You Get What You Pay For” about investing in your web site, and I couldn’t agree more. Alicia teaches finding a niche market for yourself, and as stubbornly as I clung to my SEO roots I find myself much more often developing strong actionable web sites. I meet the demand of the area, and the demand is “give me a site that works”.
Can anyone FIND your web site? Optimization for Search Engines, advertising and social media marketing are all great ways to bring people to your web site. It is important that you are in Google Maps, it is important that you are Searchable by your name, and it is important that you pop up for search terms related to your industry.
Once they find it, what do you want them to DO? Having a web site is not about having a picture of yourself on the web, you have customers, stepping through your virtual doors and it is your job to service them like you would if they visited your real location. What is it you want them to take away from the experience? What information do you want from them? Do you want their e-mail address or phone number?
Once they’ve done that, how do you KEEP them coming back? So they found your site, and they filled out a contact form giving you their phone number (thus becoming a lead) do you have the content to keep them on your site? If there are resources, or *gasp* a blog you could display on your site, would that keep them interested? Ask yourself, would my sister read this article, would my neighbor? Sometimes we are the worst people to gauge whether a piece of content is interesting, we think ANYONE would want to read it, but often times that is not the case.
Ask yourself the above three questions. Can people find my web site? What does my site ask people to do? Will they stay once they’ve done it? That is in order the most important aspects of any web sites. You could have the best design, the most flash, the cutest little names for all your sections, and your site will still be something people glance at and leave.
Do you know what bounce rate is? Bounce Rate is the volume of people who only visit one of your pages, most likely your homepage, and then leave. A low Bounce Rate means that your web site is inviting and informative and people spend a good amount of time on your pages. A high Bounce Rate, 70% 80% or higher means people are only seeing your homepage and deciding to leave.
Do you want 100 hits, or 1 lead? Do you want 1,000 site visitors, or 50 regular users? There is so much more to web design than hits and flash menus and cute names. Does it function and meet the above goals? No? Then I am very sorry, but your web site sucks.Learn more about Search Engine Optimization and Audience Analysis for your web site at the Image Freedom homepage.