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Tips & Techniques forSearch Engine Marketing An Annual Review Mark Shay & Clara Gruen GradSchools.com NAGAP Chicago 2005
Overview Search Engines and Directories Overview Improving Rankings in Free Search Results Tools to Help Optimize Pages and Improve Free Search Rankings Blogs for Search Engine Rankings
Search Engines vs. Directories Search Engines (Google.com) Active Database driven Keywords Portals & Directories (Yahoo.com) Static Pre-defined Human categorizations
How Search Engines Work Based on relevance to user’s search Spiders index web pages Algorithm to define position Content Popularity Constantly changing Can take steps to improve rankings
Improving Rankings in Free Search Site Structure & File Names Every Page is important - each must be optimized separately Clear Purpose for Each Page Title Tags & Meta Tags Choosing Keywords Web Page Optimization Link Popularity More Tips
Site Structure & File Names Important pages at root level Meaningful folder names using broad keywords when possible URLs should be as short as possible File names including keywords Think about what will best describe the page http://www.GradSchools.com/Programs/Accounting.html Site Map Text links to all pages on site (for spiders)
Every Page is Crucial Only 30% of visitors to GradSchools.com enter through the home page Most go directly to inside pages based on the keywords they used to search Each page addresses a different topic - should have unique keywords Optimize pages individually to maximize traffic to each inside page
Clear Purpose Know the target audience for each page - know how they search Strong cross-linking to related pages within your site Provide links to other related sites
Title Tags & Meta Tags Title Tags Lead with most important keyword (Grad School Search Guide) Include several keywords but be meaningful Do not make too long Meta Tags Robot Meta Tag <META NAME="ROBOTS” CONTENT="INDEX,FOLLOW"> Description - Phrase or sentence to describe website Contain primary keywords and be readable (appears on search engines to describe site) Keywords - 15-25 keywords that describe the particular page (or whole site) trying to include the most popular search terms or phrases
Choosing Keywords Home Page: Choose 15-25 keywords to include in meta tags and around five on which to concentrate the content Inside Pages: Choose one or two unique keywords for each page Keywords should be specific to the page, but also terms that are searched regularly (ex: chemistry graduate school vs. northeastern chemistry graduate school) Keywords should be in the content - browsers can’t read graphics.
Optimizing Pages Content First 250 words of the website are highly valued by search engines Paragraph using chosen keywords should start off each page Headline Tags Use keywords within Headline Tags <h1>Graduate School</h1> Images Use Alt tags in all images that include keywords for the page
Link Popularity How many sites link to you Determines relevance to the keywords Evidence of quality of your site Reciprocal Links Link to related site and have them link to you Submit sites to directories (human maintained) Paid advertising (links to your site) Request Links from related sites (non-reciprocal) These may perform better than reciprocal links. Text of link matters - “Graduate School Directory” works better than “GradSchools.com” in link text.
Niche Portals & Directories Sector sites specializing in unique content Typically require submission - not automatically indexed Often have free listings for all related sites and upgraded listings for advertisers Examples: http://www.GradSchools.com http://www.Petersons.com Good places to advertise to reach a specific audience - this will increase the number of links to your site and therefore your Link Popularity
Improving Rankings: More Tips Update your site! Changes are seen by search engines Freshness of content is important Blogs can help keep site current Resubmit your site Each time a major change is made, resubmit to all the major search engines.
Improving Rankings: More Tips Moving Target - always changes, always have to update Focus pages, keep content heavy and graphics light Use keywords carefully Plan ahead - think through file structure and names to improve rankings When building sites - never forget the business logic behind the technology
Tools to Help Improve Rankings Online Tools available Web Site Logs Search Words and Phrases Web site Referrers Keyword Suggestion Tools
Search Tools Google Page Rank SEO Toolbox (seo-toolbox.seoinc.com) Alexa Tool Bar Rankings Scrub the Web Meta Check http://www.GradSchools.com/NAGAP for the full list Email your suggestions to Clara@GradSchools.com
Using Your Web Site Logs Every time your website is accessed, a log is kept of user activity Logs provide detailed information about what your site visitors do and how they got there Use logs to evaluate keywords
Log Reports Available Extensive reporting options available Numerous products on market to process log information
Search Words Shows each word that was used in free and paid searches which resulted in clicks to your site Includes little words: “in”, “for”, etc.
Search Phrases Shows phrases used to locate your site More valuable than words alone Use to determine what gets traffic to your website in free and paid searches Guide decisions on keyword usages Monitor progress
Web Site Referrers Logs will show sites that “refer” visitors to your site Use Information to determine where your traffic is coming from and maximize volume.
Web Site Referrers Search for specific type of domains in referrers. Determine the schools from which most of your visits come.
Overture Keyword Suggestion Tool 72,087 -!graduate school 3,352 -!usda graduate school 3,209 - graduate school ranking 2,652 -!keller graduate school !2,520 -!online graduate school !2,442 -!scholarship graduate school !2,323 -!graduate school search !1,850 -!psychology graduate school !1,365 -!keller graduate school of management !1,289 -!graduate business school !1,054 -!best graduate school ! 988 -!graduate school letter of recommendation ! 896 -!graduate school personal statement ! 893 -!graduate school political science ! 892 -!graduate school grant ! 885 -!high school graduate ! 863 -!top graduate school ! 814 -!graduate letter recommendation sample school ! 784 -!graduate school essay ! 733 -!graduate school rating ! 707 -!graduate school interview ! 654 -!graduate purpose school statement ! 627 -!anesthesiology graduate school ! 561 -!graduate intent letter school ! 524 -!education graduate harvard school !514 -!claremont graduate school ! 512 - !graduate school for social work
Blogs (Web Logs) What is a Blog? A “blog” is an interactive journal available 24 hours a day on the internet. A person who creates a blog is referred to as a “blogger,” and updating a blog by writing new entries is called “blogging.” - From Matisse’s Glossery of Internet Terms
Blog Facts In 2004, Dictionary publisher Merriam- Webster named “blog” the word of the year. “Blog” now appears in the 2005 print and online editions of the Collegiate Dictionary In a recent report, Pew Internet & American Life Project found blog readership increased sharply, up 58%, between February and November 2004
Blogs in EducationMBA Admissions Blog - Wharton Weblogs at Harvard Law School McGann’s Factor Rhetorica - Professors MIT Admissions Blog who Blog
What can Blogging do for you? Share information quickly and easily - updating content regularly increases rankings in the Search engines Search engines love blogs - extensive content, all relevant to a particular topic Drive traffic directly into specific pages on your site - increases links to pages - Blogs seen as high quality links (for link popularity)
Summary It’s all about keywords Sites should be designed around Google searchability Search sophistication increases - what was once 2 words is now 3-4 word search phrases What are appropriate keywords for your pages? How do you rank on appropriate keywords?
Summary Cont. Align Title, Meta, Headline Tags and keywords in page text Seek links that include keywords in the link text Experiment with keyword advertising (focus on less competitive terms) Monitor progress, track search phrases and trends