Archive for August, 2007

Blogging For Search Engine Optimization

August 21, 2007

The other my boss and I were examining organic search results for some keywords we were adding to a few AdWords campaigns. Picture me in his office and both of us going, “What is that?” “Wait, what the hell is this?” and “Where did that come from?” The top hits of our results were inundated with blogs (quick caveat: the particular product you advertise for may not give you an overwhelming deluge of blogs on the first page of Google search results, so I’m sorry if this post won’t apply to you), and both of us were fairly surprised. But as I sat down in a chair to take it all in, the hindsight (always 20/20) hit me and it became more obvious: the blogging platform is, in many ways, perfect for search engine optimization.

An Insanely Short Checklist for SEO

Here’s my quick rundown of stuff that matters when working towards SEO… in other words, a) this is from my own personal research, b) it’s also from a few things I’ve picked up from SEO companies I work with (no trade secrets revealed here, though), c) it’s the super-short version, and d) I am in no way an expert.

How popular/relevant are you with others?

  1. How many inbound links point to your site?
  2. Are the inbound links on-topic? From my understanding, if you are advertising a special line of lip moisturizer it may not help to have a link from a gun store.
  3. Of those inbound links, which are hi or low quality (i.e., are they from the New York Times, a .edu or a .gov site? Or, are they from nefarious link farms and no-name blogs?)

Do you take special care of your own links?

  1. What text do you use in your anchor tags (do links to your line of moisturizing lip gloss appear as “Click here for our product line” or the much better “Soothing Lip Balms” [please cut me some slack for my lametard examples]).
  2. Do you make good use of the title attribute?
  3. What do your links point to? Is it a url such as http://www.soothinglipbalms.com/xda=?a18749823196/asdj&%!189.php? Or is it http://www.soothinglipbalms.com/ultracolor/magenta? (I think this has two parts: url’s that are poorly chosen, and/or the use of dynamic url’s… from what I gather, avoid both)

Do you play tag well?

  1. Although meta tags do not play much part in SEO anymore, it’s still necessary to have a kick@$$ meta tag because that’s what typically shows up on the search results page.
  2. Are you title tags on-topic? Not only is this what shows up as the brief description on the search results page, evidently the little spiders that crawl the web give a fair amount of attention to these. That said, your title tag should include hyper-relevant keywords and descriptions.

How’s your writing?

  1. Is your site code tight as a battleship, or is it being held together by toothpicks and bubblegum? (thanks Ross for that analogy)
  2. How is the writing for your content? Did you have little Timmy from across the street write some copy to save a little dinero, or is your writing smooth, coherent and always on-topic?

And most importantly, does your website demonstrate why you are unique? There’s a ton of lip glosses out there, what makes yours so special? Does your site reflect that?

Pulling It Together: Blogging Could Be SEO’s Dream Come True

Now that you’ve read this quick tutorial, does it make sense as to why blogging may be an incredible means to achieve the first organic results on a search? It seems the nuts-and-bolts of blogging itself are ideal for achieving high rankings within search results. Blogs can have an enormous amount of content. Some bloggers are incredibly talented and consistently post well-written entries. Some are really on top of their game and either break special stories or write about old news but with unique angles. The blogging community links to each other obsessively. Links from trusted blogs may weigh more heavily. The list goes on…

Still doesn’t make sense? Okay, here’s a final example: when I started writing a draft for this entry, I wanted to title it “Dude, You Blogs Have It So Easy.” I didn’t; instead I opted for “Blogging For Search Engine Optimization.” Why? Because I learned that the permalink to this post will be something like wordpress.com/blogging-for-search-engine-optimization/, and that is what you’re see on Google. And I want it to be easy for you to find me. To read my blog.

Because it gets lonely in cyberspace.

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Maintaining Brand Identity, Part The Second

August 16, 2007

The post One Lovely BlackBerry Ad Equals One Lousy Web Experience by Matthew Roche got me to thinking about times I’ve experienced similar disappointment. It is already one helluva an experience protecting brand identity in the onslaught of MySpace, Facebook, and the blog universe, but it seems we are doing ourselves a tremendous disservice by ignoring the steps we can take to ensure successful branding in such a disparate environment as the web. A while ago I posted the entry Maintaining Brand Identity in the MySpace Madness, and I think that web design (in addition to targeted placement) can be another part of the solution to protecting the character and reputation of your product within the realm social media.

Although it’s difficult to measure, we know that branding has an impact. Consider a recent study that demonstrated a(n unsurprising) correlation between the McDonald’s brand and childrens’ opinion of food. How do you translate this effect to the web (the study showed that television sets augmented the preference for McDonald’s)? The realization that Design Is Identity. This means that from beginning to end, from advertisement to conversion, your user must have a seamless experience despite the difficulty in implementing such a goal. Why is this (costly and time-consuming) goal so worthwhile? I witness first hand the frustration and confusion that results from one company having an important piece of information that another company needs but but won’t get; this breakdown is simply a lack in communication, but it’s a problem that can manifest itself on the web, like with what Matthew Roche shared.

Investing in great web developers and designers who, with the help of other key members, can execute a vision from start to finish will become more and more crucial as the checkout register increasingly becomes a consumer’s mouse click. Losing money directly at the point of conversion because of confusion or dissatisfaction in the web experience should be nothing short of unacceptable. The added benefit of a seamless experience is that the web participation becomes an opportunity for effective branding, an opportunity that, in many instances, can outlast the 30-second commercial (in more ways than one).

Now excuse me while I rethink my career and seriously consider becoming a web design genius.

EDIT

Daniel at OM Strategy (thanks for the comment!) has a post that is particularly relevant to this topic, but developed along the lines of usability and the web experience. Great stuff… so read or perish. Just kidding. But not really.