the inbound-i blog: Inbound Marketing Information, Ideas & Intelligence

Improve SEO by Improving Website Usability

Posted by Ellie Becker on Sun, Apr 29, 2012 @ 19:04 PM

This is the last in the current SEO series on the inbound-i blog - about usability. And I want to leave you with one thought.

Please, please stop focusing on your home page.  If you really want to have an SEO strategy, then you have to look at every page, every blog post, every piece of content you post on your website as an opportunity to come up on page one of Google search results for a different search term.

As long as you’re stuck on creating the perfect home page, you’re delaying putting focus where it should be: attracting diverse visitors to your website via whichever access point is most relevant to them. For many or most prospects, it will not be your home page.SEO- Help visitors find results

The home page by definition is a hodge-podge. Yes. Go for some broader, harder to rank for search terms for your home page. You’d might as well. Most people who reach your home page already know you and have plugged your url into a search field. If they land there by chance or mistake, they won’t find what they’re looking for and will bounce off.

But to really generate leads – attracting those who don’t know you yet, but are searching for services/products like yours -- build content for specific offerings and optimize those content pages to attract more targeted search.

When someone hits your home page, they will likely see a diversity of messages and offerings. Try to make one visible block of content a validation that the visitor is in the right place to find info in your field. Let them know that generally they’re in the right place. And let search engines know, too, using meta data and other signals that we’ve discussed in earlier posts.

Across the board, make navigation consistent throughout your website so that visitors don’t have to relearn it on every page. We’re working on a site now where certain important information – how about the blog – is only accessible from the home page. We’re optimizing the site so that visitors who can benefit from info on the blog will enter from multiple places on the site. So we’re putting the blog in the main navigation bar.

In explaining why website navigation must be consistent throughout the site, my esteemed colleague Bernadette Nelson at Studio-B Visual Communication (www.studiob-ct.com) always tells clients, “What would happen if every time you got into your car, the controls were in a different spot?” The same holds true for how visitors navigate around your website. Don’t make them learn something new on every page, or they’ll go somewhere else.

Here’s the key takeaways on usability from SEOMoz, a highly authoritative voice on the subject:

The search engines are in a constant quest to improve their results by providing the "best" possible results. While "best" is subjective, the engines have a very good idea of the kinds of pages and sites that satisfy their searchers. Generally, these sites have several traits in common:

  • Easy to use, navigate, and understand
  • Provide direct, actionable information relevant to the query
  • Professionally designed and accessible to modern browsers
  • Deliver high quality, legitimate, credible content

 Help people buy and you’ll get found by search engines!!

And if you're hungry for more Inbound Marketing information, download this fact sheet.

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The Home Page Hodge Podge image is from the Flickr photostream of DanielaMeleo under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing Strategy, E.R. Becker Company, SEO, SEOMoz

How To Research Keywords: A High Return Online Marketing Activity

Posted by Ellie Becker on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 @ 20:03 PM

This is the second in our SEO series. Optimizing your website is probably the top way to leapfrog your competition today in my opinion.Choose Longtail Search Terms for SEO

The basic building block of SEO – and all online marketing -- is the keyword or search term. There are free research tools to learn how your prospects are actually searching for your products/services. The words they use may never occur to you. But you can discover them and use them to drive traffic to your website from these active searchers.

Here’s how important keyword research is according to SEOMoz – one of the top authorities on search engine optimization – excerpted from its “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO”:

“Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field. Through the detective work of puzzling out your market's keyword demand, you not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole. The usefulness of this intelligence cannot be overstated. In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually every niche - not taking advantage is practically criminal.”

Here’s how to start researching keywords. Click on this link to Google’s free keyword tool. It was developed to help companies target Adwords in Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. It’s also very useful in organic (unpaid) search.

Here’s what to do. In the search field type in keywords and search terms that you believe are important in your industry. In the left column of the tool, you’ll see an option called Match Type. Select the option that says Exact Match.  This will return you suggestions related to the exact broad term you typed in.

The suggestions provided are based on actual searches that have happened over the past month. Refer to the column marked ‘Local’ which is the searches performed in your country. The Global search column is for searches worldwide.

The second column from the left tells you the difficulty – or competition -- of ranking for the search term. The lower the number, the easier to rank for it on Page one of search results.

The suggested search terms are considered “longtail” search terms. For example, a recent search for the exact broad search term Social Media Marketing revealed 22,200 local monthly searches and competition of .92.

The longtail search term “using social media for marketing” only had 480 local searches but had a competition of only .62. Plus, those 480 people are more likely to be interested in finding help using social media for marketing rather than those who may be seeking broader information. That would be an interesting longtail search term for me.

You’ll make similar search term decisions for yur own industry. Keyword research is not an exact science and it’s a bit of an art. As you’ll discover, there are thousands of ways that prospects may search for your products or services. It’s humbling, actually, and important motivation for dropping jargon from our marketing language.

The best advice I can offer is to explore, experiment and analyze. HubSpot has keyword tools and analytics built in, including your ranking for specific keywords. There are other tools out there like Keyword Spy, which also gives you competitive intelligence.

Optimizing your web pages and content based on keyword research will pay off in more traffic to your site from targeted prospects.

 

As you consider your keyword strategy learn more about another key element of ranking for search terms - Social Media. Download your free White Paper.

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The Longtail image is from the Flickr photostream of Mister-E chris Eason under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing Strategy, SEO, Keyword Spy, Keyword Research, HubSpot, SEOMoz

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