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Pick your battles - affordable SEO success by keyword research

By now most "hot" keywords have become extremely competitive and difficult to get top ranking. So much so that many would-be online entrepreneurs have been discouraged from even attempting to get their website ranking for good search results. Stories of business owners or professionals spending thousands of dollars per month to get a handful of leads abound in many competitive search markets.

While there are plenty of instances of business owners either being taken for a ride by an unqualified or over-priced SEO firm it is a huge mistake for any business to write-off search marketing from fear of a lack of ROI.

A skilled SEO professional or even a determined business owner can achieve greater search traffic by researching the most productive and "cooler" long-tail key words. Many online searches follow a pattern of starting with an extremely general and broad search term, and then gradually narrowing their search by entering increasingly specific search phrases.

This search trend creates a large opportunity for those who know how to take advantage of it.

The potential for better ROI from longer, more specific search phrases or keywords stems from two factors:

  1. longer, more specific search phrases have a better conversion rate than more general keywords - better conversion means more $$!

  2. longer key words and phrases are much less competitive and easier to get top ranking for! Much easier.

The best way to take advantage of these factors involves 3 components -

  1. Thorough key word research and a detailed analysis of top-ranking websites

  2. A well-optimized website. The content of the site should have a high level of keyword optimization for the target phrases

  3. Plenty of written content. A major factor in targeting long-tail keywords both targeted and unexpected is how much written content is on your website. You will need to have enough relevant content to begin to rank for more searches.

By now you may be wondering were the affordable part comes in.

You may notice all of the above items are all directly on your website. This differs from SEO strategy for more competitive keywords. These days getting top search results for short or "hot" keywords usually requires a large effort of building links that go back to your website and a much higher cost over time, but targeting long-tail keywords allows for good results by having your website content relevant and optimized. Getting good ranking for longer search phrases by your website content alone opens the possibility for many business owners to utilize popular open source content management systems or blogs such as wordpress to optimize their own website and publish their own content.

In fact a good strategy for a small business with a limited budget but unlimited ambition would be to hire an SEO consultant to do the competitive analysis, keyword research and a bit of training then make regular lengthy posts at least once per week. Putting this task into a scheduled routine will go a long way to making it effective. Over time with weekly or better still daily posts, a business's website can end up with many pages of optimized content; and many pages that pick up great ranking for long-tail keywords!

Remember even though there are far fewer searches for a given long-tail search phrase most website conversion come from these type of searches... So do your research, don't let the nay-sayers discourage you and write your way to effective online marketing.
posted by Glenn Williams on Sat., Sep 25th, 2010 in search engine optimization web marketing website content

Understand The Benefits of Search Marketing For Your Business Type

Many business owners know the internet can be an major resource for promoting their business or making direct sales. However the benefits from internet marketing and search engine optimization realized by a business can vary greatly based on the goods or services the business provides.

Not all businesses will benefit from search marketing equally.

An crucial factor in determining the potential benefits of search engine marketing is relevant search volume. For example a business that offers real estate will enjoy a large search volume that crosses all demographics. In contrast a real estate attorney will have a much smaller search volume, and more narrow demographics - yet search remains an important opportunity that should not be ignored despite the lower number of potential visitors. Understanding how your business's niche will affect your potential for search engine traffic is crucial to setting realistic expectations and planning an effective internet marketing strategy. A business for a private consulting firm may also have a low search volume for relevant key words so a different strategy will be needed to increase traffic. For a business with a low search volume competition may be even higher for effective keywords than a highly searched topic, as a result the business owner will need to focus much of their online marketing effort on advertising, social networking, bookmarking, and any of the variety of web 2.0 sites that allow users to publish their own content. This will be important as it will allow a low search volume business to actively getting exposure to more internet users as well as target their audience. In contrast a business owner who's industry has a large relevant search volume may get more return by focusing on traditional SEO. A large number of visits can be attained by optimizing for long-tail or "warm" key words as well as short or "hot" key words. This strategy will net many visits even if the search market is very competitive and more often than not long-tail key words have higher conversion rates than "hot" key words.

By studying the relevant search volume for your business's niche you can also avoid making bad decisions with your marketing dollars. For example a business that sells a product online will have little benefit from paid advertising for a local search advertiser such as Local.com. Few people search for commodity or brand name products by location and any money spent to localize the searches will most likely be waisted; these searches are however a good candidate for traditional SEO. Benefiting from a potentially large search volume and the advertising from the product's manufacturer to promote internet searches, a highly optimized website can receive many visits and if designed with great usability in mind also receive many conversions!

The moral of the story is to do your research and understand the potential benefits to your company of search marketing. A good understanding of the search volume, demographics and behavior of your industries internet users can mean the difference between dollars and effort well-spent or a lack of returns.

If you would like a professional evaluation of your industry's search dynamics, and potential return feel free to contact IMAGE Web Design for a free consultation.

posted by Glenn Williams on Tue., Sep 14th, 2010 in search engine optimization web marketing

SEO Isn't Everything - Great Web Design Gets More Sales

The internet marketing industry is in a funny state these days. With the economic downturn it seems every time you turnover a rock underneath is a SEO "expert" or web design company that can "Guarantee" your site on page one in Google. For the sake of brevity we will overlook the fact that most of these guys are salesman who can barely find the power button on their computers, never mind get your site ranking for competitive key words. A major point many SEO "experts" overlook when giving their schpeel is what happens after the client has spent all of that money and successfully landed an organic search visitor on their website. Virtually all of the effort is wasted if the visitor does not convert to a sale in one form or another. Now lets be clear, a "sale" can take many forms depending on the goal of your website, including a contact form submission, a referral, a subscription, a phone call or a monetary transaction to name a few - but getting that sale instead of a bounce depends heavily on the design of the website. How attractive is it? how fast does it load? Is the website easy to navigate and does it greet visitors with what they expect to find? A well-designed website will need to to all of those things effectively to produce the best results.

A growing trend these days with budgetary pressures from all sides, is to go with a templated open source app offered with many hosting accounts and pack it full of keywords to strain for search engine ranking. While a site like this may cost little and may eventually begin to rank for some keywords it will produce a low amount of conversions or visitor loyalty, and many times if the design is substandard compared to the competing websites may actually work to subvert the image of your company.

To create a truly successful website a well rounded approach must be taken. SEO is a major component of any successful site but only a component, other factors that must work well are excellent usability, attractive design and content your targeted visitors will find useful or entertaining. By going the extra mile and having a professional design that reflects our company and your message visitors will reward your website with greater conversions and repeat visits. If you are looking to upgrade your website's image or effectiveness or need a new website please contact the website design pros at IMAGE Web Design for a free consultation.
posted by Glenn Williams on Wed., Aug 25th, 2010 in search engine optimization usability web design



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