SEO Tips For Beginners

1 04 2009

Here’s a list of some techniques that every webmaster can use to boost that page ranking and become an SEO Jedi:

  • Link building
    • Simply put, link building refers to anything done to create more links to a website. There are two main purposes of link building: increase traffic and improve search engine ranking, or SEO.
    • Link building works in both directions. Link can be built from the anchor text, where the link is placed, to navigate away from the users site to landing page, the destination of the link. Or in-bound links, which refer back to your site
    • The amount of links a web site has will determine its Google PageRank, their proprietary algorithm for assessing a value to each web site within its index.
  • On page optimization
    • Not only will improve a site’s search ranking, but will also improve overall readability of the site.
    • Important techniques:
      • Title Optimization: the first thing that is indexed by search engines, should include the business name, important keywords (e.g. Business Social Networking & Professional Online Profile Management by Social Harbor). This is the first thing a user looks at following a relevant search so it should be clear and concise.
      • Meta Tag Optimization: a brief description of the web site that should focus on the products and services that the company specializes. This is your 15-second elevator pitch, if well written a good Meta Tag can draw impressions.
      • Image Optimization: tagging and linking images makes them readable to the search engine, they can only interpret text information.
  • Duplicate content
    • Substantial amount of content that completely match each other or are vast in similarities. More often, duplicate content occurs unintentionally rather than malicously to garner higher rankings, regardless, search engines penalize duplicate content. Content written in mulitple languges will not be flagged as duplicate content.
    • Tips to avoiding getting penalized for duplicate content: check your links, put a warning on the page that you check for duplicate content to deter copycats.
  • Google SEO Guidelines
    • Following the guidelines set by Google is important to optimizing a website. Doing it correctly can be a great advantage. Inversely, breaking the guidelines can hurt a website’s reputation.

  • How to raise page rank
    • PageRank is a democratic system that analyzes the links, or essentially, the reputation of a site. Google also analyzes the quantity and quality of the incoming links a website is associated with. Because of the complexity of the algorithm Google uses, there is no way to guarantee a #1 page rank. However, there are some basic techniques that will optimize a website for better rank:
      • Write desciptive Titles tags that are unique and brief
      • Make use of the Meta Tags, the <head> tag of your HTML doc, this short snippet is useful to the search and is displayed with the relevant search terms in bold to guide the users. Meta tags should also be unique and accurate to the content on the site
      • Keep the files and documents for the site organized to make it “more friendly”
      • Good site navigation, no one likes to visit a site that looks like the webmaster was a 2nd grader who just discovered Dreamweaver.
      • Have a useful 404 page to guide users back from a broken link or URL
  • Blogs and links from blogs – do they help or hurt?
    • Help what? You’re page rank? If a website is linked to a less than reutable link, yes. The problem is the amount of blogs that are still in the Sandbox. On the other hand, look at the alternative benefits that blogs do provide:
      • Completely inverting the sender/receiver relationship to create communities of brand advocates and change the way brands think about their conversations with the consumer
      • Supplement the User-Generated Revolution with the likes of YouTube, Wikipedia, Flickr, etc.
      • Giving a group of college students the chance to voice their opinions about digital marketing

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Google Adwords Comes Full Circle: Starts in a Dorm Room, Now In the Classroom

19 03 2009

A little history: Starting officially in 1994 on Hotwired.com, online advertising has taken various shapes and avenues to capture potential customer, many of these went bust after the 2001 dot-com bubble burst. In 2000, Google unveiled their advertising platform, Google Adwords, coining the phrase search engine marketing(SEM) and changing the landscape of online advertising forever, or at least until something better comes along. However, the success of Adwords is dependant on the success of the search engine that supports it. Lucky for Adwords, Google keeps their famed search algorithms close to their chest that has afforded them 63.1% of search engine market share.

In 2007, when TIME shifted 20% of their advertising budget to digital, it was clear Web 2.0 had arrived. Enter Adwords into the Media Mix. SEM’s induction into the mix had a trickle-down effect in the industry: SEO, SEM, organic search, CPC, page rank all become buzzwords that were e-mailed, blogged and oh yes, searched for. Eventually SEM reached higher learning, and now students like myself are studying for their Interactive Advertising Management exams.

Another example of Adwords’ notability, Google hosts an international Online Marketing Challenge, in which students compete to create an effective digital campaign for a local business with a budget of US$200. Last year had over 1600 student teams and a team from the University of Western Australia won. Until now, Adwords had just been one of those buzzwords I only had a Cliffs Notes understanding of, now I’ll be able to sink my teeth into it and try to boost ING Magazine’s traffic, our chosen local business, a student-run monthly magazine at Michigan State University.

Here are some predictions:

-Typical group dynamic frustrations

-The Publisher of the magazine, Adam Grant, vicariously becomes our 5th group member

-A combined 8 pots of coffee are drank whilst working on the campaign

-Our campaign finishes in the Top-1o0, a lofty goal indeed, but that’s why they’re goals

-Our group enters the campaign SEM noobs and walks away SEM rock stars.

After the campaign gets rolling, more updates will follow. Wish us luck!





Super Bowl Advertisers Drop the Online Search Ball

5 02 2009

It’s been almost a week since the dust has settled from advertising’s biggest day,  Super Bowl Sunday and industry guru’s have had the chance to crown the winners and shame the losers. But in the digital age how do you crown a winner? Are we still gauging a spots success on recall? What is to be said of web traffic or search results? Nielson IAG indexed the Budweiser Clydesdale Stick spot as both the most-liked and the most-recalled. According to comScore budweiser.com ranked second as the top gaining Super Bowl advertiser in web traffic, behind GoDaddy.

Dropping $3 million on a spot surely makes any marketing manager a little nervous. So why did so many advertisers in the Super Bowl not follow up their big media buy with some sort of search-marketing plan? Some advertisers didn’t even show up in the first page of a Google search. According to an article on Advertising Age’s website, only one in five advertisers had a specific call to action to their website. However, 65% of the advertisers bought search terms related to their commercials. Slogans that advertisers spent $100,000 per second to brand were still available on Google after Sunday. How are these guys not getting the message? I can imagine a good percentage of Super Bowl watchers that are sitting in their living rooms watching the game with a computer in their lap. The fact that research companies are doing the research says one thing, but that advertisers could completely ignore the importance of making the online-offline connection is just annoying for someone in my fourth year of being in MSU’s advertising program, one word could epitimize what I’ve been taught—digital(group project is a close second).

Some of my favorite spots of the Super Bowl were Pepsi’s ‘Forever Young’, any montage that includes Bob Dylan, Bruce Lee, John Belushi and surfing has my vote. The split screen images transcended generations to relate back to the way Pepsi has branded themselves for the past four or so decades-the drink of your generation. The spot had a fresh, hip vibe that Gen Yer’s could appreciate and Baby Boomers could reminisce about.

Another spot I really liked was Hulu, not because of the creative or because I am a particular fan of Alec Baldwin(truthfully, before 30 Rock I despised him) but because the site is getting some mainstream attention. I was in a room of 12 people and only 2 knew what Hulu was, including myself.  In case you didn’t know before the Super Bowl, Hulu is a premium content streaming video that launched in March 2008 and is only currently offered in the United States. Although, it would not be in direct competition with YouTube, Hulu’s main reason for existence is in response to the demand for professional content to be regulated after copyright claims were brought against YouTube in recent years. Time will tell whether Hulu will be making the push for time slots on mainstream television, but their somewhat creepy spot last Sunday definitely raised some eyebrows.