Searching for Users: SEO as an Engine for Customer Acquisition (Stephan Spencer, Startonomics SF 2008)
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Searching for Users: SEO as an Engine for Customer Acquisition (Stephan Spencer, Startonomics SF 2008)

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Presentation by Stephan Spencer, http://NetConcepts.com, on startup stragies & tactics for using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a core customer acquisition channel.

Presentation by Stephan Spencer, http://NetConcepts.com, on startup stragies & tactics for using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a core customer acquisition channel.

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Searching for Users: SEO as an Engine for Customer Acquisition (Stephan Spencer, Startonomics SF 2008) Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Searching for Users: SEO as an Engine for Customer Acquisition By Stephan Spencer, Founder & President, Netconcepts
  • 2. The 4 Big Keys to SEO
    • Keywords – Target the words that your target market uses.
    • Content – It’s got to be great, unique, linkworthy, fresh, keyword-focused content.
    • Links – No links? No rankings.
    • Site structure – It’s essential you get the technical details right (redirects, HTML templates, URLs, internal linking structure)
  • 3. SEO Fundamentals
    • Tried-and-true SEO tactics
      • Topically relevant links from important sites
      • Anchor text
      • Keyword-rich title tags
      • Keyword-rich content
      • Internal hierarchical linking structure
    • The whole is greater than the sum of the parts
    • Synergistic effect of natural + paid search
  • 4. SEO Fundamentals
    • Links (internal and inbound, along with the anchor text) beat out content
    • Link building, link baiting, blogging, SMO are crucial SEO activities
      • SMO (Social Media Optimization) = infiltrating Digg.com, del.icio.us popular, Netscape.com, reddit, StumbleUpon, Wikipedia,…
      • “ A rising tide lifts all boats”
  • 5. Light on content, but on page 1 in Google for “silver earrings”
  • 6. Their CEO’s blog accounts for over 13% of online sales
  • 7. SEO Fundamentals
    • Rewrite your URLs
      • Avoid ? & = characters, minimize directories, include keywords, hyphens preferred over underscores
    • Rejig your hierarchical internal linking structure
    • Optimize your HTML templates and CSS
      • Reduce code bloat, separate out “presentation layer” from “content layer”, image replacement, optimized elements like H1
  • 8. SEO Strategies for Your “Head” Terms
    • Focus a page on no more than 3 keyword themes – place targeted term in the title tag, H1 tag, & high up in the body copy
    • Build link gain (PageRank) to that page through internal links & inlinks
    • Consistent keyword-rich anchor text from internal links
    • For deep inlinks, vary the anchor text a bit
  • 9. SEO Strategies for “The Long Tail”
    • Focus on unbranded search markets
    • Leverage website scale and brand strength
    • Employ testable strategies that scale
    • Treat consumers as co-creators
    • Measure against a new set of KPIs
    • Grow your long tail of search
  • 10. The “Freeloaders” on Your Payroll
    • Most merchants have 80%+ of their pages driving no search traffic
    • Most don't even know this, or why it is a problem (no javascript based analytics package will tell them this either)
    • It’s a red light that they lack a long tail of unbranded keyword traffic
    • The # of searches for unbranded keywords is nearly 40x as great as searches for the brand name (put another way, 97x the # of pages onsite)
    • Tapping that opportunity means leveraging the size of the website and the brand strength to convert unbranded searches into clicks
    • How to achieve this tail?
  • 11. Scalable Long Tail SEO Strategies
    • Mass optimization:
      • Single techniques capable of creating cascading effects throughout large websites – template pages for instance
    • Rewriting URLs:
      • Simple and static have profound impact on PageRank™ and traffic
    • “ Thin Slicing”:
      • Touching key elements across thousands of pages quickly, monitoring, and expanding based on results
  • 12. Scalable Long Tail Strategies - Web 2.0
    • User generated content (e.g., wikipedia)
      • Freely append searcher vocabulary into your website
    • Tagging and social bookmarking (e.g., Flickr, del.icio.us)
      • Listen and create feedback loops – using search terms
      • Use cloud taxonomy to flatten your structure using good link text
    • RSS and Blogging
      • Long tail is driven by efficient distribution of pages
    • Create link bait rather than soliciting link targets
    • Provide lists of most searched keywords
    • Long tail optimization means outsourcing … to your users
  • 13. Gone Off the Rails
    • Misfires, mistakes, etc. often occur because your developers, sysadmins, or marketers “didn’t know what they didn’t know”
    • Examples…
  • 14. Not Spider Friendly
    • GET http://www.bananarepublic.com --> 302 Moved Temporarily
    • GET http://www.bananarepublic.com/browse/home.do --> 302 Moved Temporarily
    • GET http://www.bananarepublic.com/browse/home.do?targetURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bananarepublic.com%2Fbrowse%2Fhome.do&CookieSet=Set --> 302 Moved Temporarily
    • GET http://www.bananarepublic.com/cookieFailure.do --> 200 OK
  • 15. Not so good title – where’s the phrase “credit card”?
  • 16. No link text or body copy
  • 17. No link text or body copy
  • 18. Duplicate pages
  • 19. Still feeling good about being at the bottom of page 1?
  • 20. Search listings – 1 good, 1 lousy
  • 21. Title tags the same
  • 22. Spider unfriendly URL structures
  • 23. Yikes! Sears.com home page PageRank score looks abysmal
  • 24. Phew! – Sears.com true home page PageRank score
  • 25. BMW.de hosted many “doorway pages” like this one
  • 26. “ Sneaky redirect” sent searchers to this page
  • 27. Hidden link – in the “All” of “All Rights Reserved” – leads to a hallway page
  • 28. Hallway page – not meant for human consumption – Let’s start scrolling…
  • 29. Everything still looks copasetic, until…
  • 30. A-ha, spider food
  • 31. Screenfuls and screenfuls of it!
  • 32. Find Link Targets
    • Review links of competitive sites, sites in your keyword market
      • Use tools like the ones just mentioned
      • Check sites with high rankings for relevant keywords
      • The fewer the number of links on their page, the better
    • Review links to your site; look for opportunities to get the link text revised
  • 33. Request Links
    • NOT:
      • “ Hi, Let’s swap links!”
      • “ I’ve already linked to you.”
      • “ Great site!”
      • “ You already link to our competitor XYZ.com and we offer a better product.”
      • “ Please use the following text in your link…”
    • Maybe?
      • ” Hi, found a broken link on _____. btw, you might want to add xyz.com as a link.”
    • What then?…
  • 34. Hi Lois, My name is Eric Ward, and I am working with StormwaterAuthority.org to help them announce the launch of their new web site located at http://www.stormwaterauthority.org I am hoping you will consider mentioning or linking to the StormwaterAuthority.org site on your Water and Wastewater Engineering page at http://www.library.umaine.edu/science/waterresources.htm I have included a brief overview of the site below, and should you need anything at all I am a real person and actually reply to email. You can also contact me by phone. Thank you for your time and consideration. Regards, Eric Ward (On behalf of StormwaterAuthority.org) eric@ericward.com voice 865.637.2438 ------------------------------------------------------ Overview of StormwaterAuthority.org Source: Eric Ward
  • 35. More on Links...
    • Some links get “discounted”
    • Anchor text opportunities
    • Linking best & worst practices
    • Blogging for links
    • “ Baiting” for links
  • 36. Watch Out For…
    • Types of links that are likely to get discounted:
      • Reciprocal links
      • Affiliated sites (on the same IP range or hostname)
      • Footer links (at the bottom of the page)
      • Site-wide links
      • Links contained on a page called links.htm / links.asp
      • Links with the exact same anchor text
      • Remember: the more links on the linking page, the less PageRank you’ll get
  • 37. Update Link Text
    • Link text (anchor text) is critical for SEO
    • Review your existing links and link text
      • SEOBook’s Back Link Analyzer tool
    • Are the keywords you are targeting in the link text?
    • Contact webmasters, particularly those who you have a relationship with & those with the most valuable links
  • 38. SEOBook’s Backlink Analyzer
  • 39. Best Practices: Linking
    • Offer link-worthy content. Keep it fresh.
    • Try to get good keywords in the link text
    • Make it easily shareable (RSS feeds, Email to a friend, Submit to Digg/delicious/etc.)
    • Simple keyword-rich urls encourage deep linking
    • When you redesign your site, keep your old URLs or 301 redirect them to the new URLs
    • “ Nofollow” any links you don’t want to spend PageRank on
      • <a href=“/privacy-policy.htm” rel=“nofollow”>
  • 40. Worst Practices: Linking
    • Participating in “link farms” or FFA (“Free For All”) sites
      • Hallmarks of a link farm = more urls per page & less organization
    • Splogging, comment spamming, guestbook spamming
    • Linking to “bad neighborhoods”
    • Hiding links
    • Hoarding all your PageRank
    • Unnatural link structures
      • Too much symmetry, link text never varies, or otherwise “engineered”
    • Acquiring links from sites all on the same IP block
    • Acquiring links only from the same TLD (.com, .org, .edu, etc)
  • 41. Blogs
    • Search engines – and Google in particular – love blogs
    • Inherently link-rich
      • “ Hat tips” – part of blog etiquette
      • Blogrolls
      • RSS feeds
      • Trackbacks
      • Comments
    • The dark side of the blogosphere:
      • Blog comment spam
      • Splogs (spam blogs)
  • 42. Blog SEO
    • Don’t leave title tags to be auto-generated. Use the “SEO Title Tag” WordPress plugin
    • Don’t squander your “crawl equity” by letting pages get indexed that don’t deserve to be (“Email this page” etc.)
    • Having multiple “homes” for your blog
    • Utilize “Optional Excerpt” to minimize duplicate content
    • Use rel=nofollow to direct PageRank flow (e.g. date-based archives)
  • 43. Blog SEO
    • Intro copy on category & tag pages with sticky posts
    • Optimal URLs (short, not too many directories)
    • Multiple RSS feeds, optimized
    • Hosting blog/feed URLs on a domain you don’t own
    • Use optimal anchor text when linking internally
  • 44. Link Bait
    • Offer a niche-specific blogroll, tool, How-To, or compilation of news stories
    • Post a scoop
    • Expose a story as flawed or a fraud
    • Be a contrarian about a story, product, or prominent blogger’s opinion
    • Be humorous. Good topics include a bizzare pic of your subject, “10 things I hate about…”, and “You know you’re a when…”
    Source: Performancing
  • 45. Link Bait
    • Publish or commission some original research
    • Creative-Commons-license photos you made of an event you’re blogging about
    • Make available for free a theme, plugin or piece of software
    • Start a meme that others can replicate and that links back to you (e.g. buttons/stickers/tools for bloggers/webmasters to post on their sites, contests, quizzes, surveys, etc.)
  • 46. Get Creative
    • Give awards / recognition
      • Badges with link text underneath
    • Allow webmasters to republish your articles
      • Require a link in your byline
    • Publish unique content
      • Podcasts (e.g. SteveSpangler.com)
      • Screencasts (use TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio)
      • Wikis (e.g. SEOGlossary.com)
  • 47. Get Creative
    • Offer useful tools for webmasters, such as…
      • Hit counters
        • E.g. NOT like 123counters.com
      • Weather stickers
        • E.g. Wunderground.com, SuperPages.com
      • RSS feeds
        • Lottery winning numbers from SuperPages.com
  • 48. Get Creative
    • Start a blog
    • Give testimonials
      • E.g. www.wordpress.org/about/testimonials
      • E.g. www.keyworddiscovery.com/testimonials.html
    • Sponsor a nonprofit
      • E.g. Kohl’s supports the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association
    • Leverage your affiliates
      • Get a straight link (e.g. from Legal Notices page)
      • 301 redirect
  • 49. The 4 Big Keys to SEO
    • Keywords – Target the words that your target market uses.
    • Content – It’s got to be great, unique, linkworthy, fresh, keyword-focused content.
    • Links – No links? No rankings.
    • Site structure – It’s essential you get the technical details right (redirects, HTML templates, URLs, internal linking structure)
  • 50. Q&A!
    • For an ebook on Google power searching, SEO checklists & worksheets, an audio recording of an interview with Matt Cutts of Google, and an audio recording, executive summary & transcript of an SEO thought leaders teleconference, e-mail your request to [email_address]
    • To contact Stephan, email stephan@netconcepts.com