Boost Your Rankings

To start the year off on the right foot, you might want to review your search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and make sure they’re doing the best job for you. This means paying attention to the traffic you get from search engines and directories. But first…

A Little History

Remember that those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. A little planning and a few checklists can save a lot of time. As I mentioned in “Getting Listed and Staying Listed,” “one must perform periodic daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance to stay listed in the engines.” You need to get your site listed in the right category, create the right site description, and follow templating and bookmarking procedures (and documentation) for submitting manually, then you’ll be a much happier camper. And don’t forget to continually monitor, resubmit, and update all this information to stay listed.

Now the effectiveness of search engine and directory listings is both historical and impressive. GVU’s WWW User Surveys have reported consistently since 1994 that the primary method used to find out about other sites is via search engines. Well over 80 percent of users find web sites this way.

Impressive Surveys

Not only is search engine traffic cost-effective, it’s trackable, so you immediately know what your return on investment is. If you include search engine optimization in your 2001 marketing budget, you’re sure to boost your bottom line with qualified, targeted traffic.

Right now, opt-in email and banner ad campaigns are the dominant media vehicles. But as ICONOCAST so aptly pointed out in its “ICONOPOLL: Search Engine Optimization”: “Search engines are the most widely used navigational tools and the most misunderstood promotional tools.”

What this means is that most marketers don’t yet recognize the value of a good SEO campaign. For those of you who want proof, you can track the effectiveness of your SEO strategies in four ways:

  • Measure the traffic to your site from each search engine and directory.

  • Conduct a log file analysis of your specific search terms.
  • Compare the rankings of your competitors.
  • Examine your competitors’ meta tags.

Once you’ve analyzed the above data, ask yourself: Would it pay to improve my site’s rankings? And more often than not, the answer is yes. ICONOCAST reported the following methods are most frequently used to improve site rankings:

Changing meta tags
61%
Changing page titles
44%
Reciprocal linking
32%
Purchasing multiple domains
28%
Multiple home pages
21%
Hiding key words in background
18%
Pay-per-click
13%

It’s all a matter of analyzing your pages, optimizing them for search engines, building links, and monitoring your pages to ensure they hold their rankings. (For the best tips on link building, read Eric Ward’s articles on ClickZ.)

In “What Makes a Site Link-Worthy?” Eric reminds us that “if we think of the word ‘useful’ as a continuum, then most useful sites are those that provide rich, quality content on a specific subject on which the editor or provider is an authority.” In other words, the top-ranking sites are those that adhere to search engine submission guidelines and those that are already in the engine database.

I said it once, and I’ll say it again: “Submitting over an existing URL can be the kiss of death.” So, take your time in this year’s planning phase. Select your category carefully, then maintain, maintain, maintain. Remember: No pain, no gain.

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