This blog is a dedicated forum for the transmission of
marketing strategies, insights, and opinions that matter.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Websites - 70 Practical Tips from Ian Palmer

I had an all too quick vacation to the Pacific Northwest and a quick jaunt out to Taiwan recently, but I'm back!

For this post, I'm not going to jump on my blogsoapbox regarding the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), prospect and online data capture, the power of content, and online or web marketing in general.

What I will do, however, is share with you all a running list of items that I know to be important when creating or re-tooling a website according to SEO best practices.

Please use this if you are marketer, web designer, web developer, editoral staff member, product or brand manager, or just a geek like me looking to do things right. We live in a world of convergence, so we must do our part to make it work.

Finally, if you've gotten lost and found your way to this website, feel free to add your two cents.

- Ian Palmer

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION - A Quick checklist of 70 dos and donts to consider.
(Warning: lengthier than a normal top-10 SEO tips & without technical explanations or prioritization by importance - I'm not doing all of your work!)
1. create a list of keywords & key phrases for each page that already exists, and create a list for any new pages BEFORE starting content

2. ensure that keywords and phrases are used in content, particularly near the top paragraphs, in page titles (browser and on the page), as well as in any meta description or meta tag fields in the source code

3. label all images with keywords that describe whatever is on the image

4. include meta tags and a meta description for as many pages as possible

5. create a site map with hyperlinks to other pages or sections; create google site index too

6. create your website in thematic sections as much as possible

7. For dynamic pages:
- 1,000 or fewer characters in URL
- 2 or fewer dynamic paramaters
- no session identifiers usually displayed as 'ID=...',
- ensure spider path to every valid product number if you have a catalog
- rewrite urls, especially critical ones to ensure key identifiers/words used

8. try to avoid javascript as much as possible or meta-refresh redirects; if using javascript then move from web page to an extended file

9. use 302 redirects for vanity urls (e.g. marketing campaign for if redirect to another url)

10. keep to 100,000 character limit per page (for Google and Yahoo!)

11. test and measure as much as possible; if re-vamping a current site then measure-test-measure-test-etc.

12. when measuring effectiveness, use search results rankings, traffic analyses, site search results, log files, data from web analytics packages (entry pages, exit pages, paths, funnels, etc.).

13. make sure all (current) pages are indexed in search engines and are not banned; use Google "", MarketLeap tools, or others; CALCULATE inclusion ratio vs. total, and use this to measure improvement in a dashboard

14. create a dashboard of metrics - SEO projects will be lengthier than ongoing metrics

15. ensure spiders are visiting the site

16. check if other sites are linking to you, enact a linking campaign to recruit links, and ensure links back to you include your company and product name and keywords NOT just

17. check site for major internet browsers and versions

18. if not listed in search engines then manually submit, but DON'T oversubmit or use all-in-one submission software

19. create a search engine site checklist for creating webpages to complement keywords and key phrases

20. consider / model the ROI from a Yahoo! paid inclusion program which will include you in the search results versus the paid advertising portions; uses an XML feed

21. add site search to your site: critical to helping prospects and customers (more important than search engines, since they've already found you!) find what they want and provide you with data on what they're looking for

22. eliminate spider traps and create spider-friendly paths and links

23. reduce ignored content

24. use robot.txt on pages you don't want search engines to follow: important so as not to include useless pages, to become spider traps, and to use up your currency for paid analytics web pages

25. create page, section and site templates

26. create/use a metatag for language (e.g. English)

27. keep urls shorter if possible with not too many levels

28. create webpages and optimization plans by (measurable) objectives

29. build your website and optimize pages based on user groups / is all about segmentation and personalized messaging

30. don't use words that are too hot or too generic

31. if optimizing campaigns, tie keywords across both campaign copy, search engine marketing (SEM) copy, and web page copy

32. understand your keywords and phrases - multiple audiences? multiple meanings? multiple intents? singular vs. plural? variations? etc.

33. validate site html to make sure no errors and no broken links

34. add text links at bottom of key pages, ordered in terms of importance

35. Google: free xml rss feeds (hint: on sections with reguarly new content added, for example blogs and press releases!)

36. audiences: customers & prospects, search engines, and possibly a salesforce if you have one (e.g. business-to-business B2B instead of business-to-consumer B2C)

37. as part of metrics, include organic search rankings, search referrals, and web conversions

38. back your way into your page creation or re-creation: check and not page ranks in search engines for each keyword (and more importantly phrases)

39. ensure keywords in title of page - the fewer the keywords the greater the density and impact, so be selective

40. keywords: bold keywords where it makes sense on the site since this is an indicator to search engines about increased importance, just like hyperlinks are; keyword frequency also matters as well as prominence (in first 25 words, near top, high density, etc.)

41. have a call to action in mind and identified on each page: this is optimization for humans. what do you want them to do or what do you want accomplished? links, buttons, actions, should all be clearly identified here

42. dynamic pages can be difficult but have benefits, for example are good for trusted feeds. optimize through the addition of titles, custom description fields, etc.

43. create hub or authority pages (text from...links to...) - related sites, site with lots of traffic, etc.

44. perform a link audit of your site: to, from, text in links, location of links vs. ideal location, missing links, etc.; list business partners and trade associations

45. ensure marketing, product teams, community/pr, and any editorial departments or divisions are aligned and communicate

46. keep description tag to 150 characters per page (a larger and still acceptable range is 100-200)

47. develop a link strategy for your site and understand what each click reports in any post-click analysis (call to action)

48. if using cascading style sheets (css) then make sure not too big, use few images, and add alt text to images

49. understand your off-the-page factors (e.g. link popularity)

50. set objectives and ROI estimates for any SEO or SEM work; marketing is a science as much as an art

51. if you don't have the expertise in-house, know that your options are: firm, individual consultant, offshore such as India

52. for large website development or multi-department authorization, utilize wireframes before creating webpages, to support strategic early stage discussions so as not to waste time and money on aesthetic execution, etc.; wireframes allow for talking points on a page-by-page objective basis

53. create 'person paths' - keywords, key phrases, topics of interest, what they need to know

54. before creating content and site architecture, understand each customer type and the buying process: current versus ideal

55. include customers/prospects in any major SEO projects or website re-design/re-architecure

56. add new content often

57. remove bad/unused content (if moving it or paths to it don't make an impact)

58. text content should be greater than html

59. use text links instead of images where possible

60. use heading tags where possible, start with H1, if H1 is too big use CSS, follow H1 by text or graphics instead of H2 where possible

61. use hyphens (-) NOT underscors (_) to separate words in directories

62. ensure the web server and service provider have 99.9% or higher uptimes - this is critical

63. don't use flash when possible, especially on homepages

64. keep design aspects simple (sounds basic, but trust me!)

65. absolutely do NOT use black hat SEO tricks

66. review other sites and see what they do, particularly those at the top of results pages that you'd like to be at for keywords or key phrases

67. study, study, and study more - keep on top of seo/sem news, tips & tricks, etc.

68. do not use frames, doorway pages, multiple pages, subdomains or pages with duplicate content

69. if you delete or move pages, use a redirect

70. make sure all links on the site work

Okay, that's all for now. Here are a few links (not using anchor text or keywords this time!) for your additional viewing pleasure...and utilization!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Audience Types for B2B Marketing

A quick pre-4th post...was cleaning up my library tonight and found notes I'd made during a few good reads lately. One, in particular, caught my eye - the three major audiences for those in marketing within most mainstream B2B organizations. The first audience and first audience sub-category below being the most important, of course:

1. Customers/Prospects
a. Existing Customers
b. Potential Customers
c. Former Customers
2. Sales Teams
3. Search Engines

Perhaps the most underrated unifier within a strong market management program is CONTENT. Content that educates, influences, persuades, engages, and motivates. It is applicable to all audiences. Many marketers and non-marketers (even in the executive rank) underestimate or don't even bother to think about content as a critical-to-success factor in a company's marketing and financial success.

My two cents for the night...