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The Four Pillars of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
 

The Four Pillars of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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Presentation of the four essentials of search engine optimization (SEO) given at the Online Marketing Summit (OMS) regional conference in Seattle on June 14, 2010. ...

Presentation of the four essentials of search engine optimization (SEO) given at the Online Marketing Summit (OMS) regional conference in Seattle on June 14, 2010.

This presentation, aimed at beginners, focuses on four main topics in search engine optimization: understanding your audience, optimizing your content for accessibility and relevancy, building a logical and effective site structure, and taking advantage of off-site factors to drive traffic and rankings for your brand.

You can learn more about Jonathon Colman at http://www.jonathoncolman.org/

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    The Four Pillars of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) The Four Pillars of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Presentation Transcript

    • Online Marketing SummitSEATTLE | JUNE 14, 2010 Making the Most of Natural Search: The Four Pillars of a Strategic SEO Program Jonathon D. Colman Internet Marketing Program Manager Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO) REI: Recreational Equipment, Inc. www.REI.com | @REI_Coop | Facebook.com/REI
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    • The natural search business case• Drives at least 75% of clicks on search engine results pages • Nearly 7 out of 10 searchers only click on natural results• Top three organic listings seen by 100% of all searchers • Just 50% for top paid listing• Only 8% of searchers click past the third page of organic results• Searchers equate high organic ranking with brand trust, reputation, and relevancy
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    • SEO Pillar #1:Audience 11
    • Different searchers have different needsOver 6,000 searches are performed each second in the US, but:• Not everyone knows you exist• Not everyone knows what they’re looking for• Not everyone is ready to buyAnd:• Some searchers are already familiar with you• Some searchers do know exactly what they’re looking for• Some searchers are ready to buy right now
    • Major types of search queriesInformational queries: cover a broad topic(s) with many results• Ex. “Social network”Navigational queries: find a particular entity, brand, web site• Ex. “Facebook”Transactional queries: make a purchase or perform any action• Ex. “How to avoid my Mom on Facebook LOL”Structured queries: includes Boolean or other search operators• Ex. “your AND mom site:facebook.com”
    • Context: where does your audience search? What are all of these searchers looking for?
    • Awareness Engagement ResearchPurchase Each type of visitor needs to be directed to different content to meet their needs 15
    • This page is intended for use by people who are interested in cycling but need to learn more in order to figure out how they want to engage in riding a bike.To attract that audience, this pageshould be optimized for broadterms like “cycling” and “bikes”. 16
    • This page is intended for use by people who are interested in starting to ride their bike and need help learning how to begin.To attract that audience, this pageshould be optimized for specificwords attached to cycling and 17learning like “getting started”.
    • This page is intended for use by people who are ready to try bicycle commuting to and from work.To attract that audience, this pageshould be optimized for phraseslike “bicycle commuting”. 18
    • This page is intended for use by people who are ready to research the purchase of a commuter bike or to buy one right now.To attract that audience, this pageshould be optimized for theproduct and category terms. 19
    • Key takeaways• Focus on meeting your visitors’ needs• Optimize content for different types of inbound traffic• Help your visitors advance through the funnel• Not everyone’s ready to buy, but be ready for those who areAdvanced tips:• Offer engagement opportunities to top-of-funnel visitors • Videos, downloads, quizzes, checklists, etc.• Use web analytics to track where visitors drop out of your content flow• Always Be Testing: conduct testing of landing pages to learn what drives conversion, stickiness, and return visits
    • SEO Pillar #2:On-Site Content 21
    • What’s the anatomy of a web page?• Different for humans and for search engines• Humans have a full visual experience of web content• Search engines have a… different user experience
    • The homepage for the SeattleSounders is visually compellingand engaging… 23
    • …but a search engine can only see the text, links, and code driving the page without bells and whistles.The takeaway for the Sounders isto make their pages as accessibleand as relevant as possible forhumans… and for search engines.
    • What can’t search engines see?• Flash, Javascript, AJAX, or other client-side programming • But they’re getting better at it• Content in images, audio, and video • Progress is being made here as well• Password-protected content• Content hidden behind a login or a form field• Most dynamic widgets and applications• Any other content you purposefully block (i.e., robots.txt)• Off-line content (duh)
    • What can search engines see?• We know of over 200 factors that search engines consider when evaluating a page, including…• <title> elements • URL structure and content• <meta> elements • CSS• <link> canonical element • Site speed• Navigation links • Server response header• Links in body copy • Media types• Anchor text in links • ALT attribute text• Inbound & outbound links • Structured information• Nofollowed links • Metadata• Headers • Content! (duh)
    • The “Long Tail” of Search MarketingHigh General phrases: “cycling”, “bikes”Cost, competition 2-4 word phrases: “road bike reviews”, “bike to work” Even more descriptive phrases: “how to repair a flat tire”Low High volume, Keyword popularity, Low volume, low conversion high conversion search volume 27 Adapted from an Elliance infographic
    • Relevancy factors in your content• Matches your visitors’ interests and intents• Original and unique• Literal and specific• Provides a compelling user experience
    • This is an REI.com product pagefor a popular backpacking stove.How is it optimized for relevancy?
    • Original, detailed, and descriptiveproduct information written inlanguage that our customers use.
    • Detailed specifications and thenames of product attributes addadditional value.
    • User-generated reviews leveragethe passion of your customerswhile adding transparency…
    • …and relevancy for additional keywords that customers actually use while searching the web.All of the content on your pagesplays a role in driving relevancy,which can lead to higher rankingsand more traffic.
    • Key takeaways• Optimize content experience for humans• Optimize content access for search engines• Optimize content relevancy to drive visibility and engagementAdvanced tips:• Use keyword research tools to understand customer demand for terms• Use Flash text replacement techniques to add beauty without sacrifice• Don’t fragment relevancy by splitting content into too many pages• Socialize your content creation to drive transparency, bring customers into your brand, and build additional SEO value
    • SEO Pillar #3:Site Structure 35
    • Questions and answers• So you have great content – now what?• How do you get search engines to find and crawl through your site?• How do you prioritize some pages above others?• How do you optimize pathways through your site for users and search engines?The answer: Links.
    • Links are signs of trustFor a search engine, links from one site to another arelike a vote of confidence and trust. If a page on Site Alinks to a page on Site B, the page on Site B can be saidto be “a trusted resource” of value to visitors of Site A. Page on Page on Site A Site B “I trust you!” Link
    • Discovery and discoverabilitySearch engines index the entire Web by following linkafter link to page after page of content. Search enginescan’t find brand new pages because there aren’t anylinks pointing at them.LinksStrongly interlinked site New pages without links arewith numerous links isolated from search engines
    • Trust aggregates into authorityAs search engines index the Web, they count one-way,inbound links to each page online. Pages with morelinks can be said to be more authoritative becausemore individual sites trust their content resources. Page on Page on Site A Site B Five inbound links Ten inbound links = more authority
    • The importance of navigation to SEO• Moves users and search engines through your site• Signals the importance of your content to search engines• Shows search engines the flow of meaning through content• Focuses your authority on strategic content of your choosing
    • Your homepage has more authoritythan any other page on your site –use it to link to deeper content tofocus search engine attention!
    • Smart navigation pays attention tocontext – choices should changeto suit the customer’s needs and tofurther distribute authority.
    • Faceted navigation is based onsorting through content attributes– a win for users that also helpsyou target more specific keywords.
    • Key takeaways• Links are the means by which search engines crawl the web• New content can’t be discovered unless you link to it• Navigation help users and search engines find content• Use your navigation to focus search engine authorityAdvanced tips:• Provide an XML sitemap to help ensure that all your content gets crawled• Build faceted navigation/sorting to benefit user experience• Use Google Webmaster Tools to help identify duplicate content • Use the canonical <link> element to signal duplicate content to search engines
    • SEO Pillar #4:Off-Site Factors 45
    • External links and citationsGood for traffic and even better for SEO – use them to:• Build your brand awareness• Gain access to new, established audiences• Help search engines find/re-find your site• Drive increased visibility in search engine results• Make your SEO program more pro-active and agile
    • How much do external links matter? • 24% – Trust/authority of the host domain • 22% – Link popularity of the specific page • 20% – Anchor text of external links = 66% of overall ranking algorithm is dependent on links!
    • Where should(n’t) you get links to your site?Not all links are created equal – you can drive quality links from:• Sites related to your market or subject area• Sites where your users are actively engaged• Sites where your competitors already have linksSome links can hurt you – try to avoid driving links from:• Sites where you have to pay to list a link• “Bad neighborhoods” (also don’t link to these)
    • Link sources Easy General directories, organizations, and classifieds Blogs, forums, profiles, and e-mail lists Niche directories, article sites, and small publishers, etc. Basic social media, PR and partnerships Key influencers, advanced social media Highest Difficult authority sites Adapted from a chart by AudetteMedia
    • How can you drive more links to your siteLink-building starts with content and continues with outreach:• Provide genuinely useful content that exists nowhere else• Build a new tool that’s valuable for your audience• Feature content from external authorities• Hold a contest with awards for your users• Create a blog on your site and respond to timely news• Reach out to influencers who are passionate about you• Pitch your content to publishers, bloggers and media contacts• Leverage your social media outlets
    • Engage your audience by askingquestions that matter to them –you’ll drive both engagement andlinks back to your content.
    • Create Top 10 lists and utility-focused content that provides auseful service for your die-hardaudience members.
    • Hold a contest that incentivizesonline user participation with acreative pay-off that’s valuable andmeaningful for your audience.
    • Create applications based on yoursite content that provide a usefulservice for your audience – thenbuild buzz to drive links.
    • Drive awareness and focusattention through directcommunication with your audienceusing your social media channels.
    • Key takeaways• What happens off your site is just as important (if not more so!) than what happens on your site• Developing great content is your first step into link-building• Link-building opportunities are everywhere – get started now!Advanced tips:• Use tools like Open Site Explorer to track your (and competitors’) links• Use social media outlets like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. to drive link- building outreach and viral growth• Develop “link-bait”, engaging content that’s so good and useful (or entertaining) that other sites just have to link to yours• Track social media mentions to develop new contacts for link outreach
    • What Have We Learned?In Conclusion 57
    • Conclusion: What have we learned?The four pillars of a strategic, customer-focused SEO program:• Targeting your audience• Building accessible, relevant on-site content• Optimizing your site structure for people and search engines• Driving attention to your site with off-site factors like links
    • Conclusion: What have we learned?Your key takeaways:• Do what’s best for the customer and focus on user experience…• But keep in mind that search engines are content consumers, too• Strive for uniquity and specificity and avoid ambiguity and generality• Use your navigation and links to your advantage• Solicit links from your audience and from external sitesAdvanced tips:• Talk to each other: meet, listen, network, publish, speak, share• Never be afraid of failing — always be afraid of not learning
    • 60 resources for growing your SEO knowledgeIndustry news & blogs Tools, tools, tools… Tactical approaches- Search Engine Land - Google Webmaster Tools - In-house SEO guide- Search Engine Watch - Bing Webmaster Center - Search ranking factors (2010)- Google Webmaster Central - Yahoo Site Explorer - Local search- Yahoo Search Marketing blog - Google AdWords Keyword Tool - Adobe Flash & SEO- Bing Webmaster Center blog - SEOBook Keyword Tool - AJAX & SEO- Matt Cutts - Google Insights for Search - Flash text replacement- SEOmoz - Search-based Keyword Tool - Site speed- SEOBook - Google rich snippets testing tool - SEO for video- Search Engine Journal - SEOmoz tools - XML sitemaps- TopRank - Open Site Explorer - Robots.txt- WebmasterWorld - Majestic-SEO tools - Rich snippets/microformats- Sphinn - Raven SEO tools - Developer’s SEO cheatsheet- ClickZ - SEO-Browser - Link-building tips (Matt Cutts) - Xenu Link Sleuth - HTML <meta> taggingBooks - Firebug and YSlow - CSS and SEO- SEO For Dummies - Analytics- SEO: An Hour a Day Conferences - Social media and SEO- The Art of SEO - Online Marketing Summit! - Social media optimization- Web Analytics: An Hour a Day - Search Marketing Expo (SMX) - Worst practices for SEO- Search Engine Visibility - Search Engine Strategies (SES) Hey! You probably know of- Anything by Peter Morville - Pubcon many other great resources. Help us out by sharing them with others so that we can all learn together.
    • Many thanks!Let’s continue learning together. Pleasecontact me with questions or comments: • Jonathon D. Colman, jcolman@rei.com • Twitter @jcolman • Portal: http://flavors.me/jcolman • Profile: Google 61
    • Thank You! Visitwww.onlinemarketingsummit.com for more information Follow us @OMSummit 62