Old-School Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

12/16/2010

- Danielle Leitch, EVP, Client Strategy

With the ever-changing landscape of the Internet, and plethora of online marketing opportunities available - sometimes it's best to go back in time, way back. The early days of Search Engine Optimization were all about the basics, which when compared to today's real-time search results and algorithm updates, may seem simplistic or even unimportant.  However, those fundamentals have merit.  They still very much apply in current SEO efforts, even though things have changed dramatically in terms of search results and the types of content appearing within them.  Keywords have been - and should always be - a major factor in your SEO work.  This applies to on-site SEO as well external or off-site content you have, which can also be optimized, although not directly leading a visitor to your website.

On-Site Keyword Optimization

Defining a strategy for your website relative to the key phrases you will be optimizing for is essential and often overlooked.  Many times retailers know the words they want to appear organically for, but haven't put a sound plan into place as far as how they will achieve this; or worse, they try to "over-achieve" and become frustrated.

There are two ways to craft your approach, yet with either option it's important to maintain a good balance of long-tail phrases and more generic terms.

A) Work With What You Have
In this approach, each page on the website should be assessed to determine what keyword/phrase it currently supports or potentially could support.  Once a term is established, work to boost that page's relevance for it. 

This page-oriented optimization work could include:

  • Meta Data.
  • Content Optimization - increasing the keyword density of existing text and/or possibly adding more content to the page if under 2 00 words of text currently.
  • URL Rewrites.
  • Alt Tags on Images.
  • Building keyword-rich links - internally and externally.

             
B) Choose Terms You Want
In this approach, conduct keyword research and analysis to select desired key phrases you want to rank for, regardless of what the site currently supports.  Once you have decided on the terms important and relevant for your business to rank for (note: you will need to balance "importance" and competitiveness so you don't focus solely on terms that are unrealistic or overly competitive), you will need to create an executable strategy.  This strategy can be accomplished in a couple different ways: 

NEW - Build new pages on your website, specifically developed for these highly desired key phrases (remember to build them for human visitors, not just search engine rankings). Then address all on-page optimization work as suggested above.

EXISTING - Modify the existing pages or site organization to better leverage existing content for the desired terms.  In addition to the on-page work described above, also consider important factors like taxonomy, naming conventions and breadcrumb navigation structure.

Off-Site SEO Strategies

It is incredibly important to keep up with the "New Search Landscape," also referred to as "Universal Search." Given how the layout of the organic positions has changed drastically with the roll-out of Universal Search and the impact Social Media now plays within the content displayed in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), it is mission critical for retailers to factor this into the equation.  Since much of a retailers business is "image" or "visually-oriented," there are many opportunities to take advantage of these changes, including uploading images and Videos (be sure they are tagged and optimized properly and/or present on third-party networks, such as Flickr, YouTube, etc).

A LinkedIn company profile page, with data on a Products / Services tab included, along with a Facebook page and Twitter/YouTube accounts can all rank prominently too.  Tweets, images and video all appear in real-time search, as do news articles and press releases ... although these do not reflect your domain, they do help to ascertain more page-share for your business around important terms (if this content is optimized properly).

Press releases, although not a new marketing tactic for retailers, can be leveraged for additional visibility in the SERPs if the content is optimized properly and the release is distributed through an outlet which allows for social media optimization (PRWeb, for example, is a viable choice).

Blogs are also an integral way to produce more content easily - the preferred method is to have the blog sit on your site (to aid in the overall SEO of the site), but there are off-site blog platforms that may help smaller retailers eliminate any barriers to entry.

When asking yourself "What Else Can I Do To Obtain Better Rankings?" consider going back to the fundamentals.  There could be tremendous value in optimization in areas you thought were already covered.

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