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.
My blog is really important to me. Not only as a marketing tool, and a great way to get yourself out there and linked to, but I really enjoy sharing thoughts about Internet Marketing and for the most part I have gotten great feedback. This year I am working on the #100blogs challenge to write 100 Blogs in 100 (week)days. So Monday through Friday I try to write a blog, be it personal or professional, it all usually ties back to the web SOMEHOW.
It is a struggle finding topics to Blog about, and everyone will find their own method, but I started writing notes to myself of possible topics on the inside of my accountability journal. So on one side, is my daily to-do list, and on the opposite side, the left side in my case, is usually a list of two or three options to blog about. This way I can go back and say, “Ok, I need a topic” and there are options from the saved thoughts of previous days.
That’s great, but what happens when you get busy? This past week I haven’t been home much, and I tend to blog as an afterthought towards the end of the day. So how do you stay on top of a daily blogging routine? Write in advance!
So because I missed a couple of days this past week, I had to look at it and ask myself what the solution was. What would I tell a client to do? Writing blogs, in many cases four before you post one, ensures that even if you miss a day, you only have to catch up with yourself and your readers will never notice the gap in content.
So today, when you sit down to write your blog, why not write two? Keep one in the can for a rainy day, and tomorrow write two as well and post today’s extra blog. Make an editorial process of it, because the last thing any of us want to do is disappoint our readership.
What are you going to blog about?
Lately I’ve been organizing my life with the help of @MichellePoteet of Reclaim Order. Michelle helps people connect with the organizational techniques that work for them. I’ve purchased countless books, read blogs and just wasted a whole lot of time on other people’s plans for their own organization, instead of coming up with my own. Michelle helped me do that.
The funny thing here is, the same does not apply to your web site. We let perfect be the enemy of good in our personal lives, and we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear, but we cannot do this and still successfully navigate the online sector. Does this mean your web site needs to have the biggest flash navigation and boldest color scheme? Nope. You just need to answer YES to our Web Design Fundamentals.
Can anyone find my web site? Will they take some action when they get there? Will they come back after they take that action?
This is an all or nothing endeavor. Will you refine your plan over the years? Of course! What is important is establishing the plan to begin with. How am I going to draw traffic to my web site? Can I get by on SEO and Social Media or do I need to invest in Pay Per Click advertising? Does my web site have a clear call to action? Once my visitors have met the call to action, does my site give them a reason to return?
The important thing is to build the plan WITH your web professional, don’t let your web professional dictate these things to you. I preach about how I know best, but it is still YOUR business, and I can never love your business like you do.
Refine your plan. Ask those questions, make sure you’re always meeting the YES answer to each question. Anything less than YES is unacceptable.