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

    • Searching for Users: SEO as an Engine for Customer Acquisition By Stephan Spencer, Founder & President, Netconcepts
    • 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)
    • 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
    • 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”
    • Light on content, but on page 1 in Google for “silver earrings”
    • Their CEO’s blog accounts for over 13% of online sales
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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?
    • 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
    • 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
    • Gone Off the Rails
      • Misfires, mistakes, etc. often occur because your developers, sysadmins, or marketers “didn’t know what they didn’t know”
      • Examples…
    • 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
    • Not so good title – where’s the phrase “credit card”?
    • No link text or body copy
    • No link text or body copy
    • Duplicate pages
    • Still feeling good about being at the bottom of page 1?
    • Search listings – 1 good, 1 lousy
    • Title tags the same
    • Spider unfriendly URL structures
    • Yikes! Sears.com home page PageRank score looks abysmal
    • Phew! – Sears.com true home page PageRank score
    • BMW.de hosted many “doorway pages” like this one
    • “ Sneaky redirect” sent searchers to this page
    • Hidden link – in the “All” of “All Rights Reserved” – leads to a hallway page
    • Hallway page – not meant for human consumption – Let’s start scrolling…
    • Everything still looks copasetic, until…
    • A-ha, spider food
    • Screenfuls and screenfuls of it!
    • 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
    • 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?…
    • 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
    • More on Links...
      • Some links get “discounted”
      • Anchor text opportunities
      • Linking best & worst practices
      • Blogging for links
      • “ Baiting” for links
    • 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
    • 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
    • SEOBook’s Backlink Analyzer
    • 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”>
    • 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)
    • 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)
    • 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)
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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.)
    • 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)
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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)
    • 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