The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
Every day I seem to offer the same advice, I seem to use the same web sites as examples, and I’m generally sharing the same message. So why am I not following my own advice in a lot of cases? To steal from Alicia Sanera’s recent blog “The Cobbler’s children have no shoes.” It’s absolutely true, I need to practice what I preach.
Lately I’ve been hanging out at the Pear Analytics offices and if you haven’t heard of Pear they’re a group that really understands the math behind SEO, the value of each tiny little tweak you can make to your site and how that will impact your indexing process. It is humbling to watch them work, and to hear their founder Ryan Kelly speak, he really knows his stuff.
Pear Analytics has a software suite called SiteJuice that takes your site and gives you pointers and scores on where your SEO is, and helps you track the progress of your rise or fall in various targeted keywords. The software is still in Beta, but I tell you it is going to be on the lips of every optimizer if it isn’t already. Anyway, Ryan wrote a blog called “Are SEO’s a Dime a Dozen?” and once again, I am humbled by his experience in this industry.
One of his points was, and rightfully so, how does the SEO you’re checking out rank in search engines? Brings up something we’ve covered before, and that is even if you come up for your targeted keyword, do you come up for your own name? I do, as we covered in an earlier blog, but as I said there was a time when I didn’t. Maybe I am measuring myself by some imaginary SEO bar and not by the “I’ve been around for Six Months is this where I should be?” bar.
For the most part, I think I pass Ryan’s 5 stage test. Do I rank in the search engines? Yep. Do I use out dated techniques? No. What was the last event I attended? We’ll come back to this. Does the SEO speak at events? Yep. Finally does the SEO talk over your head? Well, probably! That is always the struggle right? How do you bring someone who has never heard of SEO, is interested in ranking on search engines, and show them even the most basic of techniques without occasionally blowing them away? It’s tough, and truly, that is why I blog. The feedback I get here on how to make SEO approachable to everyone makes for invaluable research when it comes to sharing what I do.
Lastly, I said we’d come back to events. I don’t believe in trade shows. I’ve been involved in trade shows since I was 16 years old, and what I know is that if you’re not selling a product, there is little you can learn at a Trade Show that you can’t learn from reading blogs and being members of frontier web communities. That isn’t to say that Search Engine Expo won’t be a blast if I do make it, but when you look at the cost benefit analysis, I’m in the camp that those shows are a way for SEO’s to pat their ego’s and hell when I need that I’ll just read a happy e-mail from a client.
So what did I take away from Ryan’s article? We are never “done”. What he didn’t cover, that I know I’ve been dragging me feet about is the video element of Image Freedom. I’m an old documentary producer, I’ve got a Hollywood production studio in my closet, there is no reason why these ideas for videos that I have haven’t been done. That’s number one, number two is continuing to simplify and clarify what SEO is, find that best definition so your grandmother can be told just what it is we do.
The more I learn, the more I learn there is more to learn. Thank you Ryan for writing a benchmark list for us to gauge our progress on. I’m grateful to know someone as serious about SEO as you.
We’ve been talking a lot about Analysis lately. I wanted to put my hypocrite hat on for a little bit here and talk about the value of Instinct in Analysis. When you sit down with your data and you you’re assigning values to various realities of your project, the cause effect analysis often leaves you with gaps, with area’s you’ll have to make an educated guess with, and that marketers instinct comes out.
What makes Lady Gaga popular? Why do we still love Britney Spears after she went crazy and cut off all her hair? Why will we all eventually forgive Tiger Woods and start slapping our logo all over him again? Because the instinct is there, the faith is there that even though they slip, their instincts will lead them back towards success.
There is absolutely nothing special about Lady Gaga. If anything, she is the biggest marketing success of the last ten years. I’ve always wondered how much of the “gaga image” is actually her, how much of Stefani Germanotta shows through at the end of the recording? There are stylists, producers, publicists, media analysts, an entire army of professionals with psychology degrees able to say “this is what will get the reaction we’re looking for.”
They have the instinct, and they pair their instinct with analysis to find that exact right way to be obscene, the specific events they should attend, or NOT attend. Which bloggers to flirt with, and where to go from there.
Watch the video. This is vintage Gaga, Stefani Germanotta. Someone said to the poor girl, “you’re not a purple cow darling, sorry” and she was re-imagined as this new person. A producer named Fusari came up with her stage name from the queen song “Radio Ga Ga” and only because of a text message autocorrect error was “Lady GaGa” sent to her phone instead.
There was instinct. That instinct made it work, that instinct was true. That instinct has sold millions of records.
So if Lady Gaga was created practically by accident, and truly the efforts of numerous experts and analysts, at the end of the day someone had to take that data and formulate a plan. What does Lady Gaga have to do with your own analysis vs. instinct? That is up to you.
Have your instincts been true? Have you let failure cast doubts upon your instincts? I know very well educated people who have the instincts of a blind mole rat. I also know people who barely finished High School who can craft thought into form and those are the people I’m going to put my money on. Which are you?
Analysis is important. Running on instinct alone is foolish, but at the end of the day, the ability to take that data, take those sales figures, those audience reports, that keyword metric, and say “based on this information, I believe this is our next step.”
What is your next step? Are you going to be a Stefani Germanotta or a Lady Gaga?
Do you trust your instincts?
The term SEO is funny. The acronym itself stands for Search Engine Optimization (or sometimes Optimizer) but the way people use it could imply it is a person, a place, or even a vegetable. You optimize a web site by several methods, and we’re going to talk about what to expect from an SEO consultant like myself, and what results you can expect from SEO in general.
If you’re lucky I might share my recipe for making an SEO Pie. Delicious.
There are two factors to Search Engine Optimization, on site factors like keyword rich content, targeted page names, etc and off site factors like strong backlinks and the relevance and pagerank of those backlinks. Let’s talk about the on site factors first.
On site factors are things we’ve covered before (See Keyword Optimization) and once a search engine like Google or Bing arrive at your site, you really want to give them all the information you can. If your targeted Keyword is “Play Scripts” (sticking with the recent theme) then you want to really make sure you talk about play scripts. This is your targeted keyword, and how can you target a keyword if you don’t use it on your site?
As a site develops, you may choose to throw all your eggs behind one keyword, or divide yourself among one or two really strong keywords and dozens of lesser keywords. What is important to keep in mind, is even if one keyword makes up for 30% of your web site sales or lead conversions, you may have a dozen keywords that each makeup another 5% each, so ignoring those lesser keywords may make sense, but when you add them all together those dozen keywords can make up 60% of your sales.
There are several Analytics Tools out there that can help you analyze where your traffic is originating from. I personally use SEOmoz as they are a trusted SEO resource center, but you may also want to check out local San Antonio company Pear Analytics or just standard old Google Analytics to track your search data.
So you know what your strong keywords are, and you’ve made sure your web site reflects these keywords. How do you get the search engines to visit and check out your new keyword rich site? This process is called Link Building, and is easily the most important aspect of any Search Engine Optimization campaign.
Link Building happens in two ways, the first way is organically which is how Google would prefer it to happen, where you create some fantastic content and people who see it say “hey that’s some great content” and they put a link to you in their blog. This is where you hear me say again and again on Twitter that the biggest compliment you can give someone is to link to their blog or web site. Link Building makes the Search Engine world go round.
The second way to build links for your site is by creating references to yourself on the internet. I have a profile for Image Freedom over at AboutUs.org and that profile has links that link back to my site. Because AboutUs.org is such a big site with so many people visiting every day, that link back to me is pretty valuable. So any chance you get to create a reference of yourself online you should do, be it through directories like MadeInSATX.com or by commenting on a friends blog where your name is a link back to your site or blog.
Where you build your links varies based on what your web site is about. For example, my linking to a Tennis Ball company wouldn’t be of much value to that company, because my business and my site has nothing to do with Tennis Balls, but if I were to link to a Web Hosting company, or a graphic designer the similarities to my industry make those more relevant worthwhile links in Google’s eyes.
In the end, you truly want to sit down with a professional that can craft a strategy for your site. In a perfect world everyone would have an SEO professional helping them choose what keywords to target and where to strive for backlinks. My goal with this blog is to help fill in some gaps for our readers assuming that they haven’t yet sat down with an SEO professional.
SEO takes time, and a backlink you create today might not effect your position in Search Engine Results for weeks or even a month. The key is to develop a plan, target those keywords and spend time each month finding new ways to earn backlinks and raise that pagerank.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us at email@example.com. We may even dedicate a blog to your question, that is, if you’re willing to share the answer about your site with the world. 😉
The techniques deployed by Social Network Marketers across the nation may work locally, but I’m feeling lately like more attention should be spent analyzing what works specifically here in San Antonio and across Texas. We are Texas business owners, we live and work here locally and our neighbors are the customers we are trying to reach through our marketing efforts. If Twitter works in Los Angeles, a chance to peer into the life of ones favorite celebrity, that does not mean it’ll work for just any business here in San Antonio.
How likely is Mom going to be to have a Facebook page in Texas vs. San Francisco? What % of Texans are using social networking sites like Twitter or LinkedIn? Older Texans are reluctant to adopt new media at times, and if 15% of San Antonio has adopted Twitter, will it be the right 15% to target for your business? The answer comes with research, local research on what our peers are doing on a daily basis. Studies have shown a distinct rise in Social Network Site use over the past 12 months, but is it among the demographic you’re shooting for?
Twitter might reach the 16-25 year old market more than any other, but are they who you’d target for a Realtor or Landscaping company? On the flip side of this coin, are every local Gym, Clothing Company, and Restaurant using these tools to capture that demographic? It is so easy to pick up a magazine or a read an article about capturing customers through social networking sites but are we really sure we’re targeting the right people when we do?
This is a conversation I suggest every business owner has with their web developer or social network marketer. Are these sites your Search Engine Optimizer is linking to you from going to be sharing your information, not just with AN audience, but with the RIGHT audience? The importance of a sound Market Plan and Social Media Strategy has never been more important, because your customers are going online, and if your strategy doesn’t account for that, your competition’s surely will.
In the end, where Social Networking may be hit or miss in Texas, we do know that most of Texas is on Google, and using Search Engines, so the highest ROI in online marketing is still going to come from your Search Engine Optimizer, being on the first page when someone searches for services like yours on Google is the key to any Marketing Plan’s success.