Category Archives: SEO

When Your Brand Message Doesn’t Match How People Search

Courtesy of SEARCH ENGINE LAND.

SEO is all about words. Which words people search with; how to use them; and where to put them. Choosing the right keywords is imperative to the success of any SEO campaign.

Unfortunately, selecting these keywords isn’t always as simple as it would seem. Many B2B companies have very specific marketing and messaging philosophies that may not always line up exactly with the way prospects search.

What? We Can’t Use Those Words!

This is not a new problem. It is often said that SEO is the art of compromise. There are times when a B2B company is presented with SEO recommendations and the response is, “we don’t want to use that word/phrase on our website”.

While the keyword or phrase may be highly relevant and have great search volume, the phrase itself may not be appealing from a brand message perspective.

For example, your marketing team may refer to your service as “demand creation”, but the vast majority of your prospects are searching for “lead generation.”

Your CEO may be in love with the term “enterprise telecomm services”, but most buyers search for “call center.”

What should a B2B marketer do if their company’s brand messaging does not align with the way prospects search?

Six Factors To Consider

Here are six factors to consider when evaluating whether or not to include keywords in your SEO strategy:

  1. Keyword relevance
  2. Search volume
  3. Competition
  4. Searcher Intent
  5. Market Position
  6. Internal vs External Industry Jargon

Relevance & Volume

First, does this word or phrase describe your business or your products/services? Is it highly-relevant to your business? If yes, the keyword should at least be considered for inclusion in your SEO program.

Second, does research indicate that this keyword or phrase is commonly used?

Look at total search volume as well as the amount of variations of the keyword or phrase. If volume is high for both of these metrics, this phrase is most likely often used by prospects in relation to your business.

Competition

A third data point to consider is whether your direct competitors are using the phrase.

If a majority of competitors use these words on their websites – there’s probably a very good reason why! Be cautious about going against market trends when it comes to common search phrases and the way people describe your products and services.

Searcher Intent

Can you tell if the person conducting the search with this keyword or phrase is looking for your product or service offerings? Or does this word/phase have a variety of meanings and uses?

For example, acronyms often have high search volume, but searcher intent can be hard to determine due to different meanings.  ”ERP ” usually means Enterprise Resource Planning, but it can also mean Effective Radiated Power, and Electronic Road Pricing!

In order for a keyword to be an effective element of your SEO campaign, the intent of the searcher must be to find the exact service your firm offers.

Market Position

The next factor to consider is market position.

If you incorporate a keyword/phrase into your website, will it negatively impact your company’s position in the market? This may be the case if the keyword describes only a small part of your overall service offering or is not entirely reflective of your company.

Overall, if it is not likely that having this keyword (or phrase) on your website will negatively impact market position or audience perception then the risk associated with including this keyword or phrase in your SEO program is low.

Industry Jargon

Finally, the issue of industry jargon must be addressed.

It can be hard to remember that a word doesn’t always carry the same meaning to the whole world that it does within your company. B2B marketers often create a new description for products or services that they believe sounds better than the common name or search phrase.

While it is important to have a unique selling proposition, the new description may not match the way your target audience would describe your product or service.

Remember, successful SEO is dependent upon speaking the same language! Beware of building your SEO strategy around internal marketing jargon – rather than the words prospects actually use to search.

SEO Benefit vs. Market Position & Perception

In my opinion, an effective SEO program requires that a company stand behind all of the keywords and phrases they are targeting. These six considerations can help you evaluate the pros and cons of including keywords in your SEO strategy.

There are times when a B2B company must adapt their brand message and times they should stay the course.

SEO agencies and B2B companies alike must thoughtfully consider the potential impact a keyword can have on SEO results and how this keyword may influence the market’s perception of your firm.

Advertisements

Search…Out…Discovery…In

[tweetmeme]

Courtesy of Adam Singolda, MEDIA POST’s VIDEO INSIDER.

In the mid ’90s, webmasters started to optimize their site so that when a search engine had sent its “spider” to crawl the page, data would be properly extracted and visible to users proactively searching for it. That was SEO.

Better visibility on search engines meant more users landing on your website’s content. More users landing on the website meant more revenue.

That discipline later evolved to also offer a paid option for getting users into your sites — now considered one of the primary money makers for search engines.

15 years after, people still use search, true — but not as much as they used to, and in my opinion, will barely do so in the future.

Why? People have no idea what they want to do next, so how can they search for it?

The world is transforming from actively pursuing to passively discovering. People might search for an article or a video, but then discovery vehicles will get the user to bounce from one piece of content to another. In fact, I’m not even sure that search will remain to be the anchor as it is today for people to land on the first article or video. As an example — social channels are already getting massive momentum and users are spending more time on them (Facebook versus Google)

The biggest asset on the Web, in my opinion, is “owning” where users go. Today it’s primarily Google through its search engine — a very lucrative business indeed. In the not-so-far future, I think that discovery tools — from social vehicles to recommendation engines spread all around the web content pages, offering people content they might like from the Web — will win.

If that’s true, the huge market of optimizing search and paying for it (SEO/SEM) will slowly transform into optimizing and paying for Discovery tools that own users’ attention and help navigate them to the “best next thing.”

I would call it discovery engine optimization (DEO).

 

 

3 Ways to Supercharge Social Media with Google Analytics

[tweetmeme]

Courtesy of Chris Wiebesick and SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY.

If your business is participating in social media, dig into Google Analytics to uncover actionable insights that will immediately improve your social efforts. We’ve identified three ways Google Analytics can supercharge your social media initiatives.

#1. Optimize Social Traffic

Create an advanced custom segment to look at the percentage of traffic that came to your website from social media versus other places and what that social traffic did once they got to your site. Then compare them against a control group of people that had not interacted with social media. Go further than just looking at whether Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn is driving the most traffic. Look for how social media compares in areas like lead conversion rates, website bounce rates and time spent on your site.

#2. Find New Customers on Twitter

Google Analytics can help you identify which Twitter conversations you should be listening for. Analyze your search engine traffic to see what keywords people are using most often to arrive at your site. Then, create an automated search feed for these keywords on Twitter to identify conversations people are having using these keywords. These people may be prospects. Tweet with them.

#3. Drive More Blog Traffic

Use your most popular search phrases throughout your blog – in posts, titles, and tags – to generate more blog traffic. Also, if you haven’t already, set up Google Analytics to record people’s internal search queries from your website’s search box. Use these search phrases, too, in your blog.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool. Most businesses really only get limited use out of it, though, because they feel overwhelmed with all the data, struggle to make informed business decisions, or are measuring the wrong things. A Google Analytics Certified Professional may be the answer for you. A Certified Professional can install Google Analytics, determine goals for your website, and monitor the effectiveness of your site and social marketing campaigns. They will also use their expertise to give you actionable insights so you can confidently make informed business decisions.

The Two Sides of SEO

[tweetmeme]

Today, I pass onto you this clever commentary I stumbled upon in SearchEngineLand courtesy of Bryson Meunier:

“Often, when people in the industry talk about the two sides of SEO, they’re talking about black hat and white hat tactics.

Having worked as an SEO since 2003 and in Internet marketing since 2000, both with Fortune 50 and mom and pop businesses with business goals as different as night and day, I think the distinction is deeper than just black hat and white hat.

It seems the best way to illustrate this is with a description of two SEOs, in the literary tradition of Goofus and Gallant:

Two Sides Of Link Building
This SEO refers to herself as a link builder, and spends all day checking reports from the software that automatically sends out reciprocal email requests. She doesn’t necessarily care if they’re effective or annoying to millions of people because she has a paycheck coming in and, hey, this is business.
That SEO convinced a client to permanently redirect a temporarily redirected domain, and gained more than 100,000 authoritative links in the process, which allowed them to jump from page two to one, where they have ranked consistently in the top 5 on a very competitive brand-agnostic keyword for the last two years without adding the keyword to the title tag or the body copy, which conflicted with their style guidelines.

Two Sides Of EDU Links
This SEO goes out and celebrates at the end of the day because she has identified and secured links from three authoritative EDU domains in the course of the day.
That SEO has a client who works for a university who changed domains ten years ago and let the domain expire instead of redirecting it and is not having success talking to Educause about subverting their policy about not re-acquiring the expired domain in order to let the client reclaim these thousands of old links that are rightfully theirs and could be helping them compete for competitive keywords because it is a rule that they’ve made, and other university clients who find out what SEO is will want to do the same thing.

That SEO looked in vain in Google’s webmaster help center for answers on how to handle link recovery issues such as this, and found nothing. When he reached out to his company’s Google rep, she referred him to the webmaster forum, but he couldn’t post a question due to confidentiality issues.

Two Sides Of Goals and Metrics
This SEO can’t sleep because he’s anxious about whether his PR8 links that he bought will bring his toolbar PageRank score to 5/10 and allow him to report the good news to his client.

That SEO sleeps well knowing that she is meeting her goal of natural search impressions, clicks and conversions that she forecasted for the client at the beginning of the project, and implementation of recommendations is on track to help her reach her goals in the end.

Two Sides Of Allegiance
This SEO thinks Google is the enemy and writes in her blog and in social media outlets regularly about how hypocritical the search engines are.
That SEO thinks of herself as an extension of the search engine’s search quality team, and regularly reports competitors who violate the webmaster guidelines as part of the SEO process. That SEO uses search engines in life as much as anyone, and gets upset when the search results aren’t relevant. That SEO thinks having a rigorously controlled Google Webmaster certification program similar to the AdWords and Analytics programs would be a great trust signal that could help Google fix their current spam problem.

Two Sides Of Implementation
This SEO makes changes to his website all day and night without anyone knowing or caring what is done.

That SEO just got off a four hour conference call with Legal in order to explain how search engines work and why it’s going to be beneficial to the business to make the title tags more descriptive. Changes to the website will not happen for months.

Two Sides Of Process
This SEO finally goes to bed at 3am because he’s been scrolling through tweets all day. He didn’t actually make any changes to the website that he’s optimizing, and probably spent too much time tweeting back and forth with @WestchesterSEOCompany1234 about Matt Cutts’s cats, but tomorrow is another day.

That SEO has to keep a detailed project plan of what’s being done when so that all stakeholders in the SEO project will know what’s expected of them when, and SEO requirements will not delay the launch date of the web site or require additional resources that weren’t in the budget.

Two Sides Of Discourse
This SEO guru focuses on bare bones implementation in the service of getting the client to the top of the search results with available resources for however long the tactics work.

That SEO guru doesn’t have a lot of time to write articles or speak, as she spends most of her day realizing her natural search goals and planning for the future, but when she does contribute to the industry it’s less on reverse engineering algorithms and more on creative ways to help her clients get more and better traffic by focusing on synergies between what SEOs and search engines need

Which Side Are You On?
Ask yourself: what kind of SEO are you, and what kind of SEO do you want to be? In my experience, it’s very easy to be “this SEO” as the majority of SEO gurus out there are trying to sell SEO services to small businesses with authority issues that don’t have resources to compete fairly or find creative ways to help clients become more visible in natural search results.

But when I’m hiring an SEO to help our company help clients take their natural search visibility to the next level, I’m weeding out “this SEO” in the interview process and looking for “that SEO” with great communication skills who focuses on business value of natural search traffic, quality of execution and attention to detail, and has a knack for creative problem solving.

I’m not suggesting that there are only two types of SEOs. I think there’s a more nuanced explanation that’s closer to the truth. However, I’m simplifying the issue to prove a point.

In these examples, “this SEO” is the one that gets covered often in this industry because the barrier to entry is lower, but it’s also the example that has very little to do with my work as an SEO and the work of others like me.

Fortunately, publications like Search Engine Land start to fill the gap with columns like Industrial Strength, and SMX caters to “that SEO” by focusing certain sessions on using natural search to drive business value.

There are also great books that cater to this audience like Vanessa Fox’s Marketing in the Age of Google and Audience, Relevance and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content. Unfortunately. these things are the exception to the rule, and the signal to noise ratio for someone in the SEO industry who wants to be the kind of SEO that I and others like me aspire to be is low.

If you are an SEO or you’re writing about SEO, please do your part to strengthen the signal by not assuming all SEOs are interested in what you consider to be SEO, and keep in mind that there are people out there who make a living as SEOs whose lives don’t resemble the lives of other SEOs in the slightest.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

——————————————————————————–

Bryson Meunier is an Associate Director of Content Solutions at Resolution Media, an Omnicom Media Group Company, and a primary architect of Resolution Media’s natural search product and Digital Behavior Analysis.

100% Organic: 25 Super Common SEO Mistakes

What follows are innocent mistakes that many SEOs make. Courtesy of SeachEngineLand.  Some of these things catch even the best of us…

[tweetmeme]

1. Google AdWords Keyword Tool Set To Broad Match

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool defaults to “Broad match” mode, which yields useless data from an SEO perspective — useless in that the numbers are hugely inflated to include countless phrases incorporating the search term specified. For example, the Keyword Tool reports 30.4 million queries for “shoes”, but that includes multi-word phrases such as “dress shoes,” “leather shoes,” “high heeled shoes,” and even “horse shoes,” “snow shoes,” and “brake shoes.”

In Exact mode, the search query volume for “shoes” drops to 368,000. The difference between those numbers is striking, isn’t it? So always remember if you are doing keyword research for SEO in the AdWords Keyword Tool: untick the box next to Broad match and tick the box next to Exact.

2. Disallowing when you meant to Noindex

Ever notice listings in the Google SERPs (search engine results pages) without titles or snippets? That happens when your robots.txt file has disallowed Googlebot from visiting a URL, but Google still knows the URL exists because links were found pointing there. The URL can still rank for terms relevant to the anchor text in links pointing to disallowed pages. A robots.txt Disallow is an instruction to not spider the page content; it’s not an instruction to drop the URL from the index.

If you place a meta robots noindex meta tag on the page, you’ll need to allow the spiders to access the page so it can see the meta tag. Another mistake is to use the URL Removal tool in Google Webmaster Tools instead of simply “noindexing” the page. Rarely (if ever) should the removal tool be used for anything. Also note that there’s a Noindex directive in the REP (Robots Exclusion Protocol) that Googlebot obeys (unofficially). More on disallow and noindex here.

3. URL SERP Parameters & Google Instant

I just wrote about parameters you can append to Google SERP URLs. I’ve heard folks complain they aren’t able to add parameters to the end of Google SERP URLs anymore — such as &num=100 or &pws=0 — since Google Instant appeared on the scene. Fear not, it’s a simple matter of turning Google Instant off and URL parameters will work again.

4. Not using your customer’s vocabulary

Your customer doesn’t use industry-speak. They’ve never used the phrase “kitchen electrics” in a sentence, despite the fact that its the industry-accepted term for small kitchen appliances. Your customer may not search in the way you think makes intuitive sense. For example, I would have guessed that the plural “digital cameras” would beat the singular “digital camera” in query volume — yet it’s the other way around according to the various Google tools.

Sometimes it is lawyers being sticklers that gets in the way — such as a bank’s lawyers insisting the term “home loan” be used and never “mortgage” (since technically the latter is a “legal instrument” that the bank does not offer). Many times the right choice is obvious but it’s internal politics or inertia keeping the less popular terminology in place (e.g. “hooded sweatshirt” when “hoodie” is what folks are searching for).

5. Skipping the keyword brainstorming phase

Too rarely do I hear that the site’s content plan was driven by keyword brainstorming. Keyword brainstorming can be as simplistic as using Google Suggest (which autocompletes as you type and is built into Google.com) or Soovle (which autocompletes simultaneously from from Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon, and Answers.com). The idea is to think laterally.

For example, a baby furniture manufacturer discovers the popularity of “baby names” through looking at popular terms starting with “baby” and decides to build out a section of their site dedicated to related terms (“trends in baby names”, “baby name meanings”, “most overused baby names” etc.).

6. Mapping URLs to keywords, but not the other way around

It’s standard operating procedure to map all one’s site content to keyword themes (sometimes referred to as primary keywords, declared search terms, or gold words.) What’s not so common is to start with a target (i.e. most desired) keyword list and map each keyword to the most appropriate page to rank for that keyword and then optimize the site around the keyword-to-URL pairs.

For example, “vegan restaurants in phoenix” could be relevant to five different pages, but the best candidate is then chosen. The internal linking structure is then optimized to favor that best candidate, i.e. internal links containing that anchor text are pointed to the best candidate rather than spread out across all five. This makes much more sense than competing against oneself and none of the pages winning.

7. Setting up a free hosted blog

Free hosted blog platforms like WordPress.com and Blogger.com provide a valuable service. Over 18 million blogs are hosted on WordPress.com. They’re just not a service I would sign up for if I cared about SEO or monetization. They aren’t flexible enough to install your own choice of plugins or themes/frameworks to trick out the blog with killer SEO. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t make your blog a subdomain wordpress.com. For $10 per year, you can get a premium WordPress.com account under your own domain name.

Did you know putting AdSense ad units on your WordPress.com blog is against the service’s Terms & Conditions? Much better to get yourself a web host and install the self-hosted version of WordPress so you have full control over the thing.

8. Not properly disabling Google personalization

Not long ago, Google started personalizing results based on search activity for non logged in users. For those who thought that logging out of Google was sufficient in order to get non-personalized results, I’ve got news for you: it isn’t. Click on “Web History” in the Google SERPs and then “Disable customizations based on search activity”. Or on an individual query you can add &pws=0 to the end of the Google SERP URL (but only if Google Instant is off, see above).

9. Not logging in to the free tools

Some of the web-based tools we all use regularly, such as Google Trends, either restrict the features or give incomplete (or less accurate) data if not logged in. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool states quite plainly: “Sign in with your AdWords login information to see the full list of ideas for this search”. It would be wise to heed the instruction.

10. Not linking to your top pages w/your top terms on your home page

The categories you display on your home page should be thought through in terms of SEO. Same with your tag cloud if you have one. And the “Popular Products” that you feature. In your mind translate “Popular Products” into “Products for which I most want to get to the top of Google.”

11. Not returning a 404 status code when you’re supposed to

As I mentioned previously, it’s important to return a 404 status code (rather than a 200 or 301) when the URL being requested is clearly bogus/non-existent. Otherwise, your site will look less trustworthy in the eyes of Google. And yes, Google does check for this.

12. Not building links to pages that link to you

Many amateur SEOs overlook the importance of building links to pages that link to their sites. For commercial sites, it can be tough to get links that point directly to your site. But once you have acquired a great link, it can be a lot easier to build links to that linking page and thus you’ll enjoy the indirect benefit.

13. Going over the top with copy and/or links meant for the spiders

Countless home pages have paragraphs of what I refer to as “SEO copy” below the footer (i.e. after the copyright statement and legal notices) at the very bottom of the page. Often times they embed numerous keyword-rich text links within that copy. They may even treat each link with bold or strong tags. Can you get any more obvious than that? I suppose if you put an HTML comment immediately preceding that said “spider food for SEO!” (perhaps “Insert keyword spam for Google here” might be more apropos?)

14. Not using the canonical tag

The canonical tag (errr, link element) may not always work but it certainly doesn’t hurt. So go ahead and use them. Especially if it’s an ecommerce site. For example, if you have a product mapped to multiple categories resulting in multiple URLs, the canonical tag is an easy fix.

15. Not checking your neighborhood before settling in

If you’re buying a home, you’d check out the area schools and the crime statistics, right? Why wouldn’t you do the same when moving into a new IP neighborhood. Majestic SEO has an IP neighborhood checker. This is especially important for the small-time folks. You don’t want to be on the same IP address (shared hosting) with a bunch of dodgy Cialis sites.

16. Doing too much internal linking

Don’t water down your link juice so much that only a trickle goes to each of your pages. An article page should flow PageRank to related topics not to everything under the sun (i.e. hundreds of links).

17. Trusting the data in Google webmaster tools

Ever notice Google Webmaster Tools’ data doesn’t jive with your analytics data? Trust your analytics data over the webmaster tools data.

18. Submitting your site for public site review at a conference where Google engineers are present

Doh! (Insert Homer Simpson voice here.) Unless you’re absolutely sure you have nothing weird going on within your site or link neighborhood, this is pretty much a suicide mission. Corollary: talking to Matt Cutts at a conference without covering your badge up with business cards. Note this mistake was contributed by a guy we’ll call “Leon” (you know who you are, “Leon”!)

19. Cannibalizing organic search with PPC

Paying for traffic you would have gotten for free? Yeah that’s gotta hurt. I wrote about this before in Organic Search & Paid Search: Are they Synergistic or Cannibalistic?.

20. Confusing causation with correlation

When somebody tells me they added H1 tags to their site and it really bumped up their Google rankings, the first question I ask is: “Did you already have the headline text there and just change a font tag into an H1, or did you add keyword-rich headlines that weren’t present before?” It’s usually the latter. The keyword-rich text at the top of the page bumped up the keyword prominence (causation). The H1 tag was a correlation that didn’t move the needle.

21. Not thinking in terms of your (hypothetical) Google “rap sheet”

You may recall I’ve theorized about this before. Google may not be keeping a “rap sheet” of all your transgressions across your network of sites, but they’d be foolish not to. Submitting your site to 800 spam directories over a span of 3 days is just plain stupid. If it’s easy enough to see a big spike in links in Majestic SEO, then it’s certainly easy enough for Google to spot such anomalies.

22. Not using a variety of anchor text

That just doesn’t look natural. Think link diversity.

23. Treating all the links shown in Yahoo Site Explorer as “followed”

Don’t ask me why YSS includes nofollowed links in its reports, but it does. Many YSS users wrongly assume all of the links reported under the “Inlinks” tab are followed links that pass link juice.

24. Submitting a Reconsideration Request before EVERYTHING has been cleaned up

This may not be “super-common” because many SEOs have never submitted a “Reconsideration request” to Google. But if you have or plan to, then make sure everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — has been cleaned up and you’ve documented this in your submission.

25. Submitting to the social sites from a non power user account

Nothing goes flat faster than a submission from an unknown user with no history, no followers, no “street cred”. Power users still rule, Digg redesign or not.

Bonus tip: Stop focusing on low- (or no) value activities

Yes I’ll beat on the meta keywords tag yet again. Google never supported it. All it is is free info for your competitors. Guaranteed there are items on your SEO to-do list like this that aren’t worth doing. Be outcome-focused, not activity-focused. Focus on what matters.

Of course this wasn’t an exhaustive list. There are many, many more. I could easily make this a three article series too. I will try to resist the temptation. 😉

What mistakes are you seeing your co-workers, clients, and competitors make? Share them in the comments!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

——————————————————————————–

Stephan Spencer is the Vice President of SEO Strategies at Covario. Formerly the founder and president of natural search marketing firm Netconcepts (recently acquired by Covario), and he is also the inventor of the GravityStream SEO proxy technology, now rebranded as Organic Search Optimizer. He is also an author of the O’Reilly book The Art of SEO along with co-authors Rand Fishkin, Jessie Stricchiola, and Eric Enge. He blogs primarily on his own site, Stephan Spencer’s Scatterings.

Press Release Optimization

[tweetmeme]

By Christine O’Kelly  WEBSITE MAGAZINE

Press releases tend to rank quickly in organic search and news results — often within minutes of publication. That is, if they are optimized and distributed following established SEO and editorial guidelines.

In the past, print media acted as an information gatekeeper. Companies would send press releases to the newsroom, hoping the editors deemed the announcement fit for publication. With limited space and a subscription demographic to please, most press releases ended up on the cutting room floor. Times have changed.

With instant publishing and search engines to filter information, individuals can filter and find the news that is useful to them. While news of a revelation in model train technology might not ever grace the pages of the local paper, model train enthusiasts can now freely find that news online through search engines — assuming that the creator has announced and optimized that news so that it can be found by those who crave it.

Publishing effective news releases online requires a three-pronged optimization approach that consists of search engine optimization (SEO), conversion optimization and editorial optimization. When all three sides of the triangle are balanced, press releases can have a dramatic impact on your online visibility.

Editor’s Note: This content is from Website Magazine’s January, 2011 issue – a professional-level monthly issue. To ensure you don’t miss a single issue of Website Magazine, upgrade now to a professional-level subscription. Get 25% off a one-year subscription right now!

PR Optimization Segment #1: SEO

In order for news to be effective, it must be discoverable by those who are interested. Optimizing your news so that it can be found in the search engines for strategic keywords provides a powerful way to reach highly targeted customers and influencers.

Title Optimization: The most heavily weighted factor that determines for which keywords a press release will rank is its title. Placing your primary keyword phrase toward the beginning of the title tends to have the strongest impact on ranking for those keywords. However, the title needs to reflect the news angle and be written with clickthrough in mind, and not only keywords.

Summary Optimization: The second-most heavily weighted SEO factor is the summary. The summary is an ideal place to introduce one or two additional keyword phrases while elaborating on the news angle introduced by the title. Within a well-optimized press release distribution site or news site, the title becomes the title tag and the summary becomes the meta description. The same technical rules apply to optimizing a title tag and meta description in terms of keywords as they do when optimizing a press release title and summary.

Keyword Anchor Text Linking: The ability to build strategic anchor text backlinks from trusted sources is one of the SEO’s most exciting reasons for publishing press releases. Because some press release distribution sites push full-page reprints of your press release out to additional partner sites, a single press release can net a significant number of backlinks using your chosen keyword phrases.

PR Optimization Segment #2: Clickthrough Optimization

The purpose of a press release is to hook the reader with the news release and then direct traffic to your website. Online press releases are essentially landing pages for your business designed to drive traffic. Optimizing for clickthrough helps you achieve that conversion goal.

Make Use of Multimedia Features: Including images, videos, logos, file downloads and links to other Web properties and assets allows readers to become immersed in your message through a variety of senses. When given the opportunity, make use of as many multimedia options as your press release distribution site allows.

Embedded Website Navigation via iFrame: If you have the option to add an iFrame in your release, choose to link to a page that is a natural extension of the message announced in your press release. For example, if announcing a new product, display the product page in the iFrame instead of the sites’ homepage.

Include a Call-to-Action: A press release is a tool used to entice readers to visit your site — give them clear direction on how and why to do so. Some ideas are to send them to your website to download a free ebook, or to read full details about the product, or to subscribe to your mailing list for tips and information related to the announcement.

PR Optimization Segment #3: Editorial Optimization

Press release sites are news sites and they take their role seriously in order to stay in good graces with Google. Submitting a press release that risks falling outside of the criteria of a press release in Google’s virtual eyes is likely to get kicked back for further editing.

In order for your press release to pass the human editing process, it should adhere to the following three critical editorial points:

A Valid And Clearly Stated News Angle from Within Your Company: The purpose of a press release is to announce something new and timely such as a new product or service, limited time sale or contest,
participation in an upcoming event, etc. That news also needs to originate from the company announcing the news. Writing about another company’s news is an article. The reader should be able to determine exactly what the press release is announcing by reading the title and summary.

Written in Third-Person: Aside from a direct attributed quote, a press release is written in third person and does not use causal language such as referring to the reader as “you” or the author as “I” or “we.”

Attribution of Claims: Claims that could be interpreted as opinions should be attributed in a press release. For example, instead of opinions like “…the best real estate software on the market,” present attributable facts such as “…deemed the best real estate software on the market by XYZ magazine.”

Done correctly, press releases can be a powerful part of your online marketing and visibility mix. The release itself ranks well in the search engines — few other types of user-generated content can rank almost instantly upon publication. Furthermore, optimized backlinks within the release work to build link value for your site for years to come.

Christine O’Kelly is an SEO content marketing strategist specializing in optimized press releases. She is the co-founder of OnlinePRMedia.com, an SEO and multimedia press release distribution resource.

Does Google Instant Mark the End of SEO?

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

[tweetmeme]

by Chris Crum  Courtesy of WebProNews

Google Instant Considerations for Search Marketing

A reporter (I believe she was from AdAge) attending Google’s Q&A about Google Instant pointed out that the new search feature tends to favor big brands. This isn’t really surprising, as it is these brands that are more likely to be searched for most often. After all, they’re big because people know them.

Do you think Google Instant is a threat to SEO? Share your thoughts.

iCrossing has a list of brands that come up when you enter each letter of the alphabet (not all are brands, but many are). A is for Amazon (not Apple), B is for Bank of America, M is for Mapquest (not Microsoft), N is for Netflix, P is for Pandora, V is for Verizon, and Y is for Yahoo.

You must keep in mind, however, that the instant results are personalized. Google takes into account things like your location and your surfing habits when providing you results.

Google Instant doesn’t necessarily make things any easier on small businesses, but it’s showing big brands in cases where Google probably would’ve suggested big brands anyway. If users do a lot of local searches, it’s possible that Google could show more local results (including small businesses) for those users, I’m speculating.

Steve Rubel says that Google Instant makes SEO irrelevant. “Here’s what this means,” he says. “No two people will see the same web. Once a single search would do the trick – and everyone saw the same results. That’s what made search engine optimization work. Now, with this, everyone is going to start tweaking their searches in real-time. The reason this is a game changer is feedback. When you get feedback, you change your behaviors.”

He’s not wrong about that, but I’m not sure that makes SEO irrelevant. Google has been showing different results to different users for quite a while now. This is really just an extension of that.

Businesses might want to try (and have other people try) doing searches for keywords that they would expect people to use to find their site. See what comes up (keep in mind the personalization) and work from there. Easier said than done no doubt, but it’s something to consider. Think about what kinds of people will be interested in your products and what other kind of searches they might be doing. It’s not a science, but again, perhaps something worth considering. It might mean getting to know your customers better, which can’ t be a bad thing anyway. Maybe it means asking them to take surveys. Maybe it doesn’t.

The whole thing doesn’t help organic SEO’s case in the old SEO vs PPC debate. I’ll give Rubel that.

Speaking of PPC, Google says Google Instant changes the way it counts impressions. “It’s possible that this feature may increase or decrease your overall impression levels,” says Google’s Dan Friedman. “However, Google Instant may ultimately improve the quality of your clicks since it helps users type queries that more directly connect them with the answers they need.”

Trevor Claiborne of the Google Analytics Team says that Analytics users might notice some fluctuations in AdWords impression volume and traffic for organic keywords. “For example, you may find that certain keywords receive significantly more or fewer impressions moving forward,” he says.

You should read this post on the Google Webamster Central blog. It says that impressions are measured in three ways: the traditional way, when a user clicks on a link that appears as they begin to type, and when a user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of 3 seconds.

Sidenote: Google’s Matt Cutts weighed in on the whole will Google Instant kill SEO thing. “Almost every new change at Google generates the question ‘Will X kill SEO?’ Here’s an video I did last year, but it still applies,” he says.

He says, however that over time, it could change SEO. “The search results will remain the same for a query, but it’s possible that people will learn to search differently over time,” says Cutts. “For example, I was recently researching a congressperson. With Google Instant, it was more visible to me that this congressperson had proposed an energy plan, so I refined my search to learn more, and quickly found myself reading a post on the congressperson’s blog that had been on page 2 of the search results.”

Google Instant will likely become increasingly important to search marketing, because not only will it roll out to more countries (it’s starting in the U.S. and a select few others), but it will soon come to mobile and browser search boxes. Each of these factors will greatly increase how often Instant results are displayed.

The mobile factor actually has implications for Google retaining a substantial amount of mobile searches in general. The better (and quicker) Google can give results on any kind of query, the less reason users have to go to different apps to acquire certain information.

Google clearly said that ranking stays the same with Google Instant, but it will change the way people search. It will affect their search behavior, and that is what search marketers are going to have to think about more than ever. You should also consider that some people will simply deactivate the feature, leaving them open to Google’s standard results.

Tell us what you think of Google Instant. Do you like it or not?