Article Archive by Author

May 8 2008

Search Engine Optimization Guarantees

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If I had to single out the most difficult objection I hear from prospects it would be the fact that we don’t offer guarantees. Time after time, I hear a story of someone who has been burned by one of these SEO firms who “guarantees” everything under the sun and fails to deliver. Did they read the fine print that mentions the SEO firm would be selecting the keywords for the top 10 placements? For example, Mary Smith, a realtor in South Florida may expect to show up for “Boca Raton Realtor”. However, the guarantee is she shows up in the #1 position in Google for “Mary Smith realtor Florida who specializes in foreclosures on Dixie Highway in Boca Raton”. Sure it’s relevant, but is anyone going to type that into the search bar? Also, how can a company even guarantee results when they have absolutely no control over it? I still think it’s a ridiculous guarantee, no matter how obscure the terms may be.

I also see dozens of ads that say “we will submit you to 30,000 search engines!!” Are there even 30,000 engines? Wouldn’t you rather be in the top 3 engines that handle approximately 90 percent of web search traffic?

What about a guaranteed ROI? “If I am going to spend $10,000 to optimize my site, how much money am I going to make?” Because there are so many variables to consider, there is just no way to estimate your ROI. I can’t predict what position you will arrive at for your keywords. I can’t predict your click through rate based on that position. What if you are in the #1 position in Google for your desired keywords but the searcher who arrives at your site leaves within 3 seconds? Does your search engine positioning really have anything to do with ROI? When you purchased that billboard on the highway did you determine how much money you would make? Sure, I can give you an estimate of how much traffic will pass your billboard, but I can’t tell you how many drivers are going to dial the phone number they read on that particular advertisement.

The problem is that the internet is still in its infancy and there are so many people who are uneducated with the ins and outs, and do’s and don’ts of internet marketing. There is no way to determine your return on investment when you optimize your website. Optimization should be viewed as the foundation of a site, or a work in progress for future growth. And the next time someone asks me about a guarantee, my answer is going to be “I guarantee that if you select an SEO Firm who offers you a placement guarantee, you will call me in about 6 months to fix that mess!”

April 4 2008

Image Search Optimization: A few tips from Google’s first-ever live chat

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Google held its very first live chat last Friday which was extremely helpful and interesting. The Google Webmaster Help Team, who hosted the event, covered various aspects of search. But what I found to be the most intriguing was the presentation on image search optimization. More specifically was the fact that Google image search can extract signals such as color, texture, spatial layout, and over all quality of an image when indexing. Essentially they are “looking” at the image. This amongst other factors should be taken into account when working on your image search optimization efforts.

The live chat also gave a few other words of advice for image search optimization. Make sure that the images on your website have alt tags with relevant keywords and descriptive file names. Also, the text surrounding the image is being analyzed to determine image content. So, make sure that the header and paragraph text around the image is keyword targeted and relevant. And one last piece of advice for image search optimization is to make sure that when ever possible the image is hosted on your own site.

With images showing up more and more in regular search results it will be crucial to make image search optimization an important part of your SEO efforts.

March 5 2008

Keyword Targeting Influenced by Website Size

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The task of keyword targeting your website for natural search results can be a daunting task and if done incorrectly can actually hurt the performance of your site in the search engines. One way keyword targeting can go horribly wrong is when you try to target a laundry list of keywords to one page (many times it’s the homepage) in hopes of getting good positions in the search results. Jamming multiple keyword phrases on one page is called keyword dilution and can cause your site to drop rank in the search engines.

What many people don’t realize is that a major factor that determines the number of keywords that can be targeted on a website is the size of the website. What it boils down to is that you should only be targeting 1 to 2 unique keyword phrases per page. So if your site only has ten pages then the maximum number of unique keyword phrases it can support is 20. And it may even be less then that depending on the competitiveness of the keyword phrase. For example if a keyword phrase that you want your site to show up highly for in the search engines is very competitive, then you will want it to be the only keyword phrase targeted on a single page, at about a 4% keyword density.

But what if there are different variations of a keyword phrase that’s really important to the website? Which variation do you choose? The answer is in finding the balance between popularity and competition of the keywords. That’s were keyword research comes into play. Find out what version of the keyword phrase users are searching for. From there, decide which keyword phrase your site has the best chance of ranking highly for based on the competitiveness of the keyword. Then, according to the number of pages you have on your site choose the number of keywords you will target. If you want to increase that list of keywords, then you will have to create new pages with unique content.

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