Renew your commitment to these five core SEO principles this year.
It's a new year, with 12 (OK, 11) long months ahead of us. And as you finish up your annual SEO (define) performance reports, take the time to also renew your commitment to some core SEO principles. Here are some of the top items from my list:
Chances are your PPC (define) team members are reviewing their annual performance too, which gives you an opportunity to jump the fence and see what they learned in 2009. Were there any top-performing keywords you should know about? Did their landing page tests uncover key insights into calls-to-action or page design? Were there any learnings you can replicate on the pages driving organic search traffic? Also, what didn't work for PPC, and how can you help pick up the slack?
With year-end bonuses on the line (remember those?), it's easy to focus solely on one or two key performance indicators that spell success for your company, such as revenue or leads. But with the end of 2010 just a speck on the horizon, you have some breathing room to look deeper and try some new tactics. Look at which keywords and entry pages are bringing in more engaged visitors. Which pages cause high bounce rates? What keywords drive more page views per visit and a higher average time on site? These kinds of engagement metrics can help you identify your core audience and prioritize what to optimize next.
When was the last time you saw a page of 10 basic blue links? (Answer: probably not in 2009.) Universal search is here to stay, with news, multimedia, deep links, and even tweets showing up at the top of SERPs (define). Optimizing your site content and connecting with your audience via social networks can have dramatic effects on your organic traffic and rankings - and they might help you leapfrog over your competition. If you haven't already joined the revolution, now is definitely the time.
It's not just your waistline that changed in 2009. Language is constantly evolving; even "webinar" only made it into the dictionary last year. Analyze your internal site search keywords, and take a spin around the blogosphere and a trip past Twitter to see how people are referring to you and your products. Keep an eye out for adjectives that might have started showing up more than they did in the past - searchers who might have looked for "inexpensive" widgets a year ago probably have resorted to looking for a "cheap" one today. They may also be using comparative keywords to a greater degree.
You're not the only one laying plans for 2010; your site developers have their drawing boards out too, scheduling new features and new tests. Hopefully you had a chance to get on their good side at the holiday party, but if not, it's not too late to try and get some of your priorities to sync with theirs. Maybe this can be the year you find out about the site redesign before it goes live and your organic results go dark!
There's always more to do for SEO, and seemingly never enough time or resources to do it all. But the new year offers a fresh start, and these tips can help you prioritize and put together a well-thought-out game plan for 2010 that puts you ahead of the pack early on.
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Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.
Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.
A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.
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