Every marketing tactic gets more scrutiny when budgets face the severity of a struggling economy. Marketers are increasingly responding to the accountability found in digital marketing, placing their budget toward efforts that they can clearly measure against.
Put SEO under this microscope, and it consistently delivers. But marketers need to insure they are getting the most out of search engine optimization (SEO), especially during a recession. Every search matters, and an “optimized” SEO effort can yield ever more value to an organization. With this in mind, here are 6 key tactics to maximize your SEO efforts.
Eliminate Navigation Barriers
Search-engine spiders prefer easy-to-navigate sites as much as your end users, with all seeking to understand where to find information on your site. Providing clear pathways to all the pages on your site is essential for “findability.”
Create an XML site map for spiders and a user-friendly site map for your visitors. XML site maps provide guidance to spiders in regards to what pages exist on a site, and how often you update them. They are becoming the standard for crawl submissions. User-friendly site maps provide additional navigation links throughout your site for users and spiders alike.
Check Your Code
If the spiders can’t understand your code, they will miss your entire page around a few “simple errors.” Is your code valid? Validate your code often through tools like those available from W3C.
Check your robots.txt file to make sure that it’s not blocking spiders for any content that you want indexed. It’s surprising, but companies have blocked spiders from their entire sites with a misplaced backslash or other errors. Don’t let this be you.
Go for Quick Wins
Searchers rarely go beyond the top 20 search results, but you should check your rankings across engines for phrases just outside the top 20 and target those for additional efforts.
Nudge these rankings up by creating additional on-site content and placing an additional emphasis on on-site promotion such as featured home page links.
Meta Info – Describe Yourself
You should not have “home” as a descriptor of your business in search results unless you are either a Realtor or a builder (Google “cat” to see what I mean). Every page on your site should have a unique title and description based on the page’s content.
Title tags are still one of the most important elements of most search engines’ algorithms. Keep the title tag under 128 characters and keep any branding to the end. Meta information helps the search engines define your content as well as provide added relevancy to the searcher as they find you in the search engines. Added relevancy may bring additional visitor opportunities.
Optimize Your Keyword Platform – Be Analytical
When combined with site analytics to measure campaign success, there is a fundamental path to be in the right place at the right time for your audience no matter how they may change search behaviors. You can generate and measure keyword targets for search engine marketing (SEM) by evaluating your Internal Search, pay-per-click (PPC) and SEO successes.
First, make sure that you are capturing your site’s internal search results to understand the content navigation needs in your audience’s voice. Isolate the terms that are leading toward success events and then test these directly in a PPC environment. Your PPC test terms should drive your audience to the landing page identified in your internal search success. In turn, take the successful PPC terms and place an emphasis on these terms for future SEO efforts. This is Keyword platform optimization.
Whether you sell directly or through distribution channels, you can support your sales efforts directly by placing detailed sales contact information on your site. On average, 7 percent of searches include some sort of location modifier.
B2B sites tend to show locations only when a searcher goes to a career page. Let your audience know where and how they can contact you or your distribution partners at the most local of levels. Highlight each location; create a directory with standalone location pages to widen your search footprint.
Place your address, or at the very least, city and state contact info on every page. Let the world know where you exist and how to contact you.
Steve Riegel is a cofounder and director of search for digital marketing agency Faction Media.