Content remains king in SEO

The old maxim that ‘content is king’ largely remains the case in internet marketing terms given the colossal amount of information available. Browsers now have unparalleled and unlimited choice.

Having a relevant and engaging website is key to both successful optimisation and your business prospering. We’ve already reviewed the key elements of design for SEO. But this needs to be matched by relevant content that provides a worthwhile and quality experience for website visitors.

1. Relevant: Because website content ages quickly. It might be that your company has entered new sectors and markets or left some behind. You may have new products or services to promote, or legislative changes to share. Or there may be a requirement to communicate with other stakeholder groups such as distributors, agents and investors, as well as customers and prospects. All these opportunities give rise to the concept of ‘content in context’.

2. Accurate: As web content can sometimes come from a number of sources, it’s important that it’s accurate. This means checking it’s technically correct, with no spelling or grammatical inaccuracies while also ensuring that there’s a prevailing format and tone. Key messages and preferred vocabulary should be consistently used.

3. Engaging: To retain interest and encourage deeper involvement, website content should be ‘sticky’. Video, for example, offers a powerful way to demonstrate product features and benefits and  bringing a corporate entity to life. And with video search accounting for 50% of online search (Bruce Daisley, YouTube, speaking at SAScon, April 2010), featuring embedded video from YouTube or Vimeo on your website will improve site visibility, ranking and inbound traffic.

4. Connected: It’s important that all links within your site are checked regularly, particularly as the site grows. Updating or removing content leaves the site at risk of being littered with errors and broken links.

Summary: Delivering relevant and accurate ‘content in context’ gives you the best possible chance of attracting, engaging and retaining visitors. It is, after all, the main reason they searched for a supplier like you in the first place.

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Please visit to read in its entirety and have your say.

Image: Positiverealestateprofessionals

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Why SEO is not just about keywords

Contrary to popular belief, comprehensive search engine optimisation (SEO) starts with your website, not with your keywords. Though there’s no magic formula, focusing on design, content, on-page and off-page will have a positive impact on ranking in search engine results.

Well optimised websites have a number of design considerations at their core and are critical in delivering the right impression, information and experience to stimulate future traffic and drive conversion. Search engine bots, just like human visitors, place a high degree of significance on whether (and how quickly) the site works, how easily it can be navigated and ultimately how accessible it is.

Here’s my quick take on which design considerations are important and why:

1. Functionality / usability: Website visitors are short on time and have bewildering choice, so they expect a site to work. This means ensuring it loads quickly, that all pages display correctly and links to pages both within the site and to other websites work. Enquiry forms, email and sign up functions need to be easy and quick to use too. Automated email confirmation and data validation should be in place when anyone elects to make contact.

2. Navigation: Your site has to be easy to navigate. If in doubt, test it on people removed from what you do. Ask them to complete a number of search and enquiry related tasks and watch how they go about it.

3. Aesthetics: Your site should be clear and attractive. Cluttered pages disrupt flow and confuse visitors. Colour palettes, fonts and images should deliver an experience that encourages visitors to stay and return.

4. Accessibility: It’s important to consider the needs of different browsers in your site design. This is especially relevant to settings that help the visually impaired and users affected by motor neurone, learning difficulties or deafness. The Disability Discrimination Act and WC3 international compliance standards for good web design should be consulted.

5. Hygiene factors: Finally, ensure that legal, data protection and privacy policy statements are included on your site. These can relate to the smooth running of technical content, the collection and use of personal data (through logins or forums) or assist with queries and concerns. Statements or downloadable policies should be comprehensively signposted and easy to find.

Summary: These elements might initially appear to have little role in SEO but actually they are important for optimisation and impact the overall website experience. And they are critical in building a durable, future-proof website.

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Please visit to read in its entirety and have your say.

Image: Tendou86 on Blogspot

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Searching for the SEO pot of gold

In a recent B2B Marketing magazine article (Feb 2011, Best Practice) SEO experts in the b2b marketing sector mused on the forthcoming changes in this space. Here I lay out the essence of what they said and discuss why I agree and disagree with some of it.

Mobile, undeniably, is the growth area. Smart phone use in particular (which asa device is slated to outstrip the computer in providing Internet access by 2013), is growing at phenomenal rates. Companies need to reconcile the importance of search to business customers in tandem with understanding how search is conducted differently ‘on the go’.

Google Instant Preview, was slated as the biggest change in search, completing search strings when browsers entered terms. I’m not sure. Doesn’t this take more time and need more clicks, just like when predicative texting was first introduced?

The main point about Social Search focused on how the recent tie up between Facebook and Bing could mean more search activity takes place within Facebook meaning more people stay within the site longer. Though important, social media optimisation is more than just Facebook based.

Sitemaps are undeniably crucial in directing visitors to relevant web content, and their role is growing as more rich content is used by website owners. And having greater visibility over incoming and outgoing social media links will make them more relevant.

New generic top level domains like .eco .sport and .music are going to fuel a goldrush scramble by existing domain registrants to secure the new variants that might impact on their business. Whether they will become mainstream remains to be seen.

Local focus will continue to grow in 2011 as the various geolocation services incorporate offers, benefits and other time sensitive and loyalty affirming promotions. Google already returns local searches, integrating mapping functionality. Ensuring your business is correctly indexed with Google Places, Yell, FreeIndex and other online directories is key to this, but often overlooked.

But without giving marketers to0 much to think about, I’d also add the following to the mix as critical in 2011.

Long tail search involving the use of longer, more specific phrases rather than overused, but increasingly generic single word terms garner more targeted results. Each of the main search engines has a keyword tool which can be used to inform your SEO efforts. Use them. And check them regularly.

Links are still strong currency, and it is an important strategy to build a credible bank of incoming links from related and high traffic sites to boost your own visibility and overall search rank. Linked to social media, it makes sense, in this respect to create profiles with back links to your website to support this.

Integration remains central to any and all marketing effort. Only when all your marketing activities are joined up, pointing in the same direction, formed around the same messages and using a consistent vocabulary can truly effective SEO have the right conditions in which to thrive. Remember that the visitor who has arrived at your site through search has probably been influenced by advertising, direct marketing, email, a trade show, editorial, a forum posting or other reference elsewhere online OR offline.

Interestingly, the article also made no mention of multi language SEO and regional domain hosting, presumably because no b2b companies operate abroad…but that is a point for another day!

Top Tweets of the Week (wc 24 Jan 2011)

There was some really great material circulating on the wires this week. Here’s my pick of which what interested and inspired me this week.

MONDAY: Interesting social media statistics. A re-post from the highly active @jeffbullas but worth reading if like me, you are preparing a number of client and speaking presentations and want to ground some of your social media ideas in some firm research.

MONDAY: From the B2B Marketing magazine site’s Knowledge Bank, a useful piece on using white papers in your marketing

TUESDAY: This piece from @hubspot talking about five misconceptions about marketers provoked some debate online when I put to a number of Linkedin groups

TUESDAY: A great piece illustrating how Econsultancy have put a ten point social media plan in place. via @Econsultancy

THURSDAY: Interesting tips on setting up your own podcasting show via @smexaminer

FRIDAY: How to avoid the seven deadly sins of search marketing via @utalkmarketing. Selected not just because of the content but the interesting way in which it has been written.

What did you stumble across this week worthy of having a look at?

Clicks that convert

Fast access to relevant to information is critical if you want to entice visitors when they visit your site and encourage them to engage. Think about your own online habits and preferences. Visitors to your site haven’t got time to sit and wait for the site to load, work out where to go or schedule time for an unstructured browse.

Your site needs to follow the mythical but effective three click rule. Ensure nothing is more than three clicks away (forwards to new content or back previous pages) by developing a site built on a four tier navigation structure as a maximum. In-built signposting to get people back to a category, specific page, search or back to the home page are now the norm rather than a nice to have.

Visitors browse in different ways. Some like menus and drop downs, other like action buttons. Cater for both by positioning all your  ‘call to action’ buttons (such as LiveTalk, Register, Contact, Sign up, Download, Buy now) prominently in left hand or right hand navigation bars and ensure they remain on every page. Duplication of content is an issue, but duplication in navigation is not.

Websites cost money to design, build and maintain. Looking nice is one part of it. Providing a useful experience is another. Ensuring it can be found on the search engines is another. Above all, your website needs to sweat 24:7 for your business. The Internet is always on – give your site the best to make clicks convert.

So road test your website today. Parking the need to redesign, what you could streamline now, quickly and inexpensively, to make it easier for visitors to access important information?

Image www.cashtactics.net

The downside of optimisation

Searching for information online is now fraught with problems and frustration.  Try it. Run a search for ‘b2b marketing’ on Google, Twitter, anywhere you like and see what pops up. Do you locate the best, most desirable suppliers and sources of information? Or the best promoters?

If we turn the notion of search engine optimisation on its head, it’s actually easy with a little understanding for businesses to rank well on search. How? By carefully manipulating certain keywords and running it through their meta structure, copy, content, sitemaps and tags and positioning themselves vaguely on those keywords even if it is only part of what they do and where they want to be.

There are lots of charlatans who understand how to do this, who jump aboard the bandwagon when it’s convenient to do so. It’s a shame that only now when b2b marketing is developing some cache are we seeing more experts, more specialists, more gurus and more agencies trying to cash in.

But then isn’t it like that in all walks of life?

Image http://www.w1searchengineoptimisation.co.uk