Mention the words SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay per Click) to most business owners, and you’re sure to either see blank faces or hear stories of frustration. This is unfortunate, because SEO and PPC are the foundation of any good web site marketing plan.
SEO refers to manipulating web site content in a way that improves your chances of appearing on top of the results page. PPC allows you to pay for an advertisement or sponsored link to show up on the top results page, and you are charged for each click.
If you want your business to be successful online, both of these techniques are imperative. Think of it like building a house. If you build the roof before you build the foundation, you really don’t have a house. Likewise, if you launch a web site or engage in online marketing techniques (such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.) without solid SEO and PPC in place, you’re wasting your time and energy.
If you want to get solid results from your SEO and PPC campaigns, start connecting with your customers and use the following tips.
1. Use PPC first to fish for keywords.
Fishing for keywords is like throwing a net into the ocean. The more refined the holes are in your net, the better the quality of fish you’re going to pull in. When you’re new to PPC and SEO, you don’t know which keywords or keyword phrases will work for your web site. At this stage you need to balance the general, obvious and informational keywords with the longer keyword phrases that will attract customers who are ready to take action. Therefore, start slowly, with long keyword phrases, and then shorten your phrases over time (open up the holes in your net) to let more general traffic in. Over a testing period of at least thirty to ninety days, you will see a pattern of which keywords give you business and which don’t.
Until you start throwing out that net and tracking your PPC results, you don’t know what your web site’s “findability” is. So don’t rush into a web site redesign or other web marketing activities until you have tested in PPC. Know the keyword phrases that result in business and bottom-line improvements.
2. Apply your top performing PPC keywords to your SEO campaigns.
Take the knowledge from your test period, which again is a minimum of thirty to ninety days, and apply what you learn about top-performing keywords to your SEO campaigns. The goal is not to waste time and money on SEO terms that will never help you. Therefore, as you analyze your PPC information, look at which keywords are getting clicks and which ones lead to a conversion or a purchase. A conversion could be someone downloading a white paper, filling out a contact form, taking a survey, etc. It’s some activity that gets people involved in your site. Find out how many clicks it takes for someone to say “yes” to your offer and make a buying decision. You may find that it takes three to four clicks before someone takes action.
3. Carefully group your SEO keywords by page content.
The prime objective of SEO is to prove to Google (or any other search engine) that the content on your site is worthy to be placed on the front page under a particular keyword. “Worthy” means you have the content on the page in such a fashion that Google sees repetition of the keyword, either in your text or in your code. This proves to the search engine that you belong under a certain keyword.
Rather than think “the more keywords the better,” think in terms of compartmentalizing your keywords. If one page covers who you are as a business, that page should only have keywords about your business. Likewise, each product page should have keywords that apply to your specific offering only. Those businesses that clearly define who they are by keyword on a page-by-page basis win.
4. Submit only once to search engines.
While Google and other search engines will find some of your pages naturally, if you want to be sure they find every page of your site, you have to manually submit it to them. However, you don’t want to submit to them every day. Once they have
spidered your site, you don’t need to submit it again unless you add a lot of new pages or make significant revisions. Many online submission tools sell the idea that you should submit your site every day. Such an approach only ends up frustrating Google rather than helping your company.
5. Get great inbound links to your site.
Create non-reciprocating inbound links from reputable sources, such as an industry association, the Better Business Bureau, etc. Since a link from another site is essentially an endorsement, getting a link from a reputable source—one where you don’t link back to them—is the gold standard of links. It’s not an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch my back” sort of arrangement, and Google likes that.
Having a few reciprocating links is fine as long as they are appropriate and industry related. Only link to people and partners you know and that make sense for your site.
Only after you take the needed steps to maximize your SEO and PPC should you redesign your site or engage in other Internet marketing endeavors. While SEO and PPC are in-depth and intense activities for a business to undertake, they are the foundation of any good web site that effectively converts prospects into paying customers. Whether you decide to tackle the project yourself or hire an agency to help you, always be aware of the basic tenets of SEO and PPC so you can get the results you want.
HEATHER LUTZE is CEO of Lutze Consulting, a Search Engine Marketing
firm that works with companies to attain maximum Internet exposure.
She is a nationally recognized speaker and author of The FindaAbility Formula:
The Simple and Non-Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing.