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What is SEO? September 28, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Internet, Search Engines, SEO, websites , 3comments

SEO – Search Engine Optimization Basics

  1. What is SEO? – To make your website cut through the clutter and deliver business is SEO.
  2. What is this clutter all about? - Everyday hundreds of thousands of web-pages are born, each with an expectation to deliver results and be on the top. This is the clutter. Fifty five million pages on Google respond to the words  – What is SEO and over 136,000 pages are working precisely to be on the phrase “What is SEO?”. This page, once posted would add yet one more page to this clutter.
  3. How does a website deliver business? - If you know your business, half the job is done. Congratulations! Now for the other half, you need to cut through some jargon’s and face several challenges. SEO is one of the many challenges and definitely not the only challenge. SEO only helps you to get the eyeballs to move to your website, for your website to deliver business, you would have to attend to those eyeballs to convince the rest of the body to do business at your website. You would also need to get the RIGHT EYEBALLS and not yet any eyeballs. Landing Page is the page where your SEOed eyeballs land. SEO job ends and the landing page’s job begins. Many SEOs (the individuals who do the SEO) consider Landing Page as a different subject, however, no SEO strategy can succeed without a functional landing page. Landing Page is a marriage between the two half’s of online business – your business knowledge and your website’s effectiveness, it is the place where the SEO meets business and each order is an offspring of this marriage.
  4. So who should do the landing page? - The landing page should always be done by the business, it should have inputs from sales, marketing, production, dispatch, finance and every-other department which keeps your business running. The business should ask the SEO company or the inhouse SEO professionals - zillions of questions and incorporate SEO essentials to the landing page. An SEO firm doesn’t know your business, so take their inputs, look at the landing pages of your competitors and write down your essentials for the landing page. You may also study specific challenges on Landing Page Optimization.
  5. What do we mean when we say Organic Search Results? - Let us step back and understand the origin of this phrase. As per Wikipedia – “Organic farmingis a form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests, excluding or strictly limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms”. Now let us check what Wikipedia has to say about Organic Search – “Organic search results refers to those listings in search engine results pages that appear by dint of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to their being adverts”. I would phrase it very differently: Organic Search Resultsare the snippet listings from those webpages which are most likely to focus on the searched term, the order of organic search results is reflected by the user friendly projection of the relevance of the webpage to the various automated programs (robots/spiders etc) which visit the page periodically, organic search results explicitly exclude cloaking (projecting what you are not to the robots/ spiders), paid link building and Black Hat (Illegitimate means of projecting your page) SEO techniques. So what do we call those results which show up in Organic Search results using Cloaking, Black Hat and Paid Linking – They are fakes.
  6. How important are Keywords to SEO? – To understand SEO Basics well, it is important to understand and underline the difference between Keywords and Key-phrases. Keywords are essentially the words on which you would like your site to come-up on SERPs (Search engine Result Pages), for instance if your business is all about selling birthday favors, your keywords would be, amongst others, birthday and favors. However your key-phrase would be “birthday favors.” Coming on Birthday favors as a phrase should be everything to you, as it is 100% business relevance. All the leads which this key-phrase would get you would be a potential sale.  So Keywords are important but in many cases the key rests with the key-phrases.  Literally.
  7. What is Keyword Stuffing, and does it hurt? -The act of populating disproportionately your content or meta tags with one particular or few keywords or key-phrases is referred to as Keyword Stuffing. Keyword stuffing is gross, it is bad for your site, bad for your business, bad for your client/ surfer, bad for the search engines and bad for the internet on the whole. It is a malpractice. As it hurts all concerned, it hurts you too, directly and indirectly. Directly it hurts as search engines are becoming smarter to identify keyword spammers, surfers report keyword stuffing more often, Indirectly as the surfer who lands on your website, discovers that you indulge in malpractices may decide not to do business on your website.
  8. Do you SEO a site, or you SEO individual pages? – You SEO individual pages, and if you SEO all pages on your website, your whole site is done. Having said that, you do SEO your website. You define the focus of your website and ensure that every page contributes and reflects that focus. Let us say, you have a hotel website which covers all the 50 states of the United States of America and over 600 cities, it would help you to use your anchor words and phrases on every page when you are optimizing them. If you come on say “Hotels in San Jose”, “Hotels in San Francisco”, “Hotels in Sacramento”, “Hotels in Los Angeles” there is a good opportunity to come on “Hotels in California”. Similarly if your site comes on “Hotels in Texas”, “Hotels in California”, “Hotels in New York”, “Hotels in Washington” and “Hotels in Florida”, it would be easier to make it perform on “Hotels in the US”, “Hotels in the USA”, “Hotels in the United States of America”, and on “Hotels” itself. So, work multi-stage – Stage I: Focus “Hotels in San Jose”- Stage II “Hotels in California” – Stage III “Hotels in the US” – Stage IV “Hotels” – Where Stage I is your web page focus and stage IV is your website focus.
  9. Is SEO genetically modular, or is SEO genetically absolute? – SEO is anything but an absolute exercise, it is totally modular in nature. You can work on Optimizing your site part by part.

Much More coming…

SES 2008 – Landing Pages August 20, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, websites , add a comment

Landing Pages and Science of Online Business

This write-up is inspired by the two sessions I attended on Landing Pages at SES 2008, San Jose. I must add a disclaimer that this write-up includes certain parts of my own “random gyan” beyond the framework of the sessions attended by me:

Sage Lewis is good at introducing and setting pace for the speaker, Tim Ash did a good job of not ony talking candidly but also did a good job of letting people know that he is an accomplished expert by encouraging them to buy his book “Landing Page Optimization – The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversion”.

The second session – Landing Page Utopia: Expert Roundtable – was a half ‘n half session. Half knowledge and half sales pitch. Moderator was Ron Belnager from Yahoo ad speakers were Scott Brinker from Ion Interactive, Frans Keylard from Widemile, Alissa Ruehl from Apogge Search and Jonathan Mendez from RAMP digital.

  1. Landing Page – The page where your visitor arrives/ lands. It can be any page and in today’s world of deep diving every page is a landing page. However in this context, landing page(s) is a term referred to those pages which have to run the kitchen and pay for the  mortgage, and pay for the gas, and pay for the fee of attending conferences and seminars like this one 8)
  2. Landing Page Testing – The act of experimenting (real life/ live) on a large data set to reach to the most suitable, appropriate and optimized landing page, tweaking and tuning on the way
  3. Define your Landing Pages
  4. Define the goals and expectations from he landing pages
  5. Set measurable targets
  6. Let the visitor determine and have the final say on how your landing page should look like
  7. Keep it above the fold/ envelope to the extent possible
  8. Your visitor is a smart customer/ don’t waste his time
  9. Define the size of your test
  10. Business expectations and your PPC or other spending should point to the test size and techniques you would like to implement/ deploy
  11. Focus on test Data Collection and detail methodologies to be adopted for the same
  12. Plan quick and precise Data Analysis
  13. Use optimization tools effectively including Google Optimizer
  14. Always challenge between the wireframes, which is better
  15. Being minimalist is good
  16. Don’t confuse when closing
  17. Basics of conventional sale apply to your landing page
  18. Give the same respect to your unknown visitor as you give to the potential standing across you
  19. You’ve got him, now convert -eliminate choices, unclutter what remains and focus on on your goal
  20. Be at your best and cut the chase at this stage
  21. Always tell yourself and anyone who matters “Less is Better” when it comes to landing pages
  22. No shortchanging, give him what you promised him on the “click to me” page
  23. Deploy as many confidence building measures (CBMs) in a discreete manner but above the envelope as you can to break the ice. Use risk reducers or CBMS across your pages, don’t create doubt
  24. Customer recommendations on landing pages help, customer references, logos and recommendations on Landing Pages push the envelope little more
  25. Smart transaction interaction could help, avoid re-entry at all stages, avoid useless or unnecessary entry, every data entry beyond stage one pains and pains a lot
  26. No surprises should be your motto with the customers
  27. Measure, maintain and monitor your conversion rate (CR)
  28. Be normal with your error messages, error messages as and when they come should be non intrusive
  29. Having a consistent landing page for a customer helps, use cookies if required.
  30. Plan effective follow-up. Put your phone number at all convenient positions
  31. Make measurement easy, plan micro-sites for your landing pages (where ever possible)
  32. Net is going local, local is critical to your game plan
  33. Search engines can do their job only if you have the data
  34. Make lead generation forms simple, simple, simple.
  35. Seek opinion on your cruical landing pages from all quarters
  36. Design your landing page to meet the goal of the individual even if it doesn;t meet the prefernces of the individual
  37. Testing is continual, just keep testing