Get Adobe Flash player

Search Engine

How to Design Web Sites for Internet Marketing (part 5)

5. Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization – the spammers love to sell you SEO services for which they promise the holy grail for a mere pittance and a one-time re-write of your website content.

Most often these programs focus on keyword research (the art of finding the most relevant keyword phrases that consumers search for) and directing you to change your meta tag information to include their recommendations.

 

Be wary of the spammers. Google is the undisputed search engine champion with about an 85% share of the market. The following quote is from their website:

Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

“Dear google.com,

I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

 

Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

The truth of the matter is that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ongoing process. It is defined as the process of improving the visibility of your website or specific web pages on search engines by way of natural or organic search results. The holy grail being the free listings that appear above the fold on Google.

Comprehensive SEO should include many types of searches such as text, video, audio, image, news and blog, as well as local searches. In addition to the well know search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others, you should also pay attention to industry specific search engines. The industry specific search engines are often simply directories where you can list your website for free.

The basic premise of SEO is that we think we know how the search engines choose which site to rank higher for a specific topic or keyword phrase. Unfortunately this is a moving target in that each search engine has its’ own algorithm and they change them at will.

To understand how these algorithms are designed it is important to understand the goal of a search engine. Ultimately search engine websites generate revenue by selling advertising and other products based on the amount of traffic that their search engine generates.

If you think about it… your website does the same thing. The more traffic you generate, the more sales you will have. Well… that is true if your website accurately describes what your traffic is looking for. If you draw traffic looking for women’s shoes and you sell camping equipment… the traffic won’t do you much good.

Google wants to draw traffic to their website – so they must provide you with the product you are looking for. In the case of a search engine, the product is a list of sites that provide ,information or products related to your search criteria. If you search for women’s shoes and Google displays a list of sites that provide camping equipment… you probably would find another search engine.

For Google to be successful, their goal is to provide you with the most relevant websites related to your search criteria. The way that they do this is by reviewing the millions of web pages that comprise the Internet and indexing them to match your criteria. At the most basic level they are only going to recommend pages that are actually about women’s shoes if that is what your search phrase was.

In a recent announcement, Google introduce a major change to their algorithm. From an article published on http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html February 24, 2011 it becomes clear that the content of your website is more important than the keyword phrases loaded up in your meta tags. This is an excerpt from that article:

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

In fact Google announced on September 29, 2009 – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html – that they do not use the “keywords” meta tag in their web search rankings.

In spite of Google not using the “keywords” meta tag, keyword research is still a valuable part of SEO. Keyword research, if done properly, will give you an accurate picture of what your customers are searching for. The results of this type of research may help you in choosing what to write about as you fill your website with relevant content.

Another element of search engine optimization is the structure of your website. Making it easy for the search engines to quickly understand the focus of your website goes a long well in helping with your page rankings. Broken links, problematic parameters in URLs, sorting parameters, and more are the bane of search engines.

Optimizing your website for success requires a consistent effort to produce relevant and quality content. Whether you choose to do it yourself or in partnership with TreadStar Communications and Marketing, you need to pay attention to your website if you want it to produce customers for your business.

How to Design Web Sites for Internet Marketing (part 4)

4. Design

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” – Paraphrase of a statement by Plato

True enough… but there is more to beauty than meets the eye. What one person may think of the layout, color selection, graphics, or feel of a website, is often completely opposite of what another thinks.

Design Web Sites that Produce SalesGenerally speaking, web designers typically try to appeal to the customer’s notion of what is beautiful. The theory being that the customer is paying the bill, or at least the one responsible for approving the design so that the designer gets paid. It is easy to see the motivation for these designers.

Unfortunately what the customer likes may not achieve her goals, or coincide with the purpose of her website. Going back to part one of this series you might remember that the purpose of a website is to create a customer. In subsequent chapters you will also learn that the layout and content of a web page can improve your page ranking with the various search engines. While an attractive design is important… page rankings produce more traffic and if your content is appropriate… more customers.

The goal for effective web design is to develop pages that produce results following proven design principles and marketing strategies as well as embracing the evolving technology of the Internet and search engine companies.

Too many fonts, colors that clash, and pages overloaded with miscellaneous content, make it difficult to stay on a page long enough to even see what the page is about. Websites that are cluttered work for known entities such as CNN, The Washington Post, MySpace and others, because they are known entities and visitors have an idea of what to expect. Your business or your website may not be a known entity.

Today the most visited websites on the Internet include Google, facebook, and YouTube. While these companies have the benefit of being “known entities” they have embraced the concept of simple sells. Google is a search engine. You go there to search the Internet and that’s the service they provide. They do offer other services available through their menu system but their pages are clean and easy to navigate. Go to facebook.com and it’s pretty obvious what they want you to do.

A good design will include the following:

  • Simple Navigation – Should be a natural flow of expected links.
  • Company Logo – If you are affiliated with a national company, display their logo.
  • Obvious Call to Action – Don’t make the customer think.
  • Aesthetically Pleasing – Uncluttered and simple.

We live in a busy time of information overload and you won’t have much time to capture the attention of your web visitor. Keep it simple.

“The decision to move forward is determined in the click of the mouse.” – Roy Chilson