Archive for the ‘search engines’ Category

Why Are My Rankings So Bad? (What to expect when you purchase SEO.)

Each day, millions of people turn to internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find what they’re looking for. At this very moment, there’s a good chance that many of your ideal prospects are using search engines to find the exact products or services you provide. The question is — are they finding you? That’s where search engine optimization comes into play.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the act of improving a website for better visibility among major search engines. From a business standpoint, the goal of SEO is to help your ideal prospects find your website, products and services.

A Good Approach to SEO

A competent SEO firm should take a “holistic” approach to search engine optimization. Instead of relying on any one tactic, they should incorporate a number of proven strategies to give you longer-lasting results. They should also provide a managed service that focuses on steady, long-term improvements in your search engine visibility.

Which Tactics are the Right Ones?

Unfortunately, there is no specific rule as to exactly which strategies work. The world of SEO is in a constant state of flux and what will work for your company might not work for another company.

What Will My SEO Firm Do to Improve My Results?

To start, you should expect your firm to have an extended conference call with you and your team. Perhaps you will meet with them at their office to go over your company, products, services and SEO goals. This gives you a great opportunity to see their office and work environment. If you are not comfortable in their office or, even worse, if they refuse to allow you to come to their building, you should immediately consider going elsewhere! There are SEO firms out there who are in it for the buck and not for your wellfare. Avoid these firms at all costs!

Once you have established the relationship and had your initial interview, you can expect the firm to implement specific SEO actions which may include:

  • Initial website evaluation (structure, content, navigation, etc.)
  • Keyword research to determine the exact phrases your prospects are searching
  • Content development where needed, with a focus on proper keyword usage
  • Link-building campaigns to increase your search engine visibility
  • Submitting your website to directories such as Yahoo and Best of the Web
  • Online article distribution to generate back-links from relevant websites to yours
  • Online press release distribution (with back-links to your website)
  • Constant pursuit of targeted online exposure
  • Regular reports to show how your visibility is improving

Some SEO firms will recommend that you redesign your website. If this is the case, do not panic. Ask them if they can implement some other SEO tactics while the site is being redesigned. This will give you the benefit of immediate optimization results while waiting on the new site, rather than waiting for everything several months down the line. Also be sure to see if the firm offers web design services and have it added to your package. This allows the entire optimization process to be handled by one company rather than being spread to another company that might not have SEO experience. You don’t want to spend the money on a new website that you may have to redo in a few months.

Your first reaction may be “This company is just trying to make another buck by selling me a new website.” Don’t jump to that conclusion. A good SEO firm SHOULD tell you if you need a new website if it is indeed a necessity. The majority of websites are not built to meet good SEO strategies. It is extremely probable that your website was not originally built to optimize your online presence. However, if the SEO company’s web design department is below par, then by all means, look for another design company that will work with the SEO firm to give you an outstanding website!

Don’t forget that you should try to redesign your webite every 1 to 2 years, so this is a great opportunity to have a fresh look and to update your content.

How Long Will This Take?

To install strong optimization features for your online presence, you should expect at least a six month process. This means that your SEO firm will monitor your website, update keywords, submit your site to relevant directories, write and release pertinent articles and make adjustments where they need to be made along with other tasks that they feel will help your results. It is this long process that will give you the best success. Some of the tactics will show you immediate results, but don’t be surprised if four months down the road, your SEO firm is still hard at work for your benefit.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Wikipedia.org defines Black Hat SEO as “methods to try to improve rankings that are disapproved of by the search engines and/or involve deception.” This is a practice that has helped unethical companies make a quick buck while detroying the online reputation of some honest businessmen who didn’t realize they were being swindled. Black hat SEO will most likely result in your website being banned from major search engines, especially Google! You do not want this to happen. It takes between 3 months to 1 year to get your site listed on Google once it has been banned. Make sure that your SEO firm does not do the following:

  • Create a redirect file that will send a user to a different page
  • Hide text on a page
  • Hide text in the source code
  • Create thousands of nonsense pages that do not have original content
  • Stuffing your content with keywords
  • Creation of web pages that contain content that isn’t relevant to your business
  • Links in your content to web pages that have no affiliation with your business

Trust me… if Google makes your website invisible, your online business will plummet. It’s just not worth it.

Get Started Today!

The key to search engine success is to start an SEO program early and sustain it over time. It takes time to “climb the charts,” so it’s best to get a head start on the competition. If you would like to talk to a company who has experience with SEO tactics and implementation, contact Intra-Focus, Inc. and ask about a custom SEO program for your company’s website!

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Get Noticed Online

Publishing press releases can support your internet marketing and PR program in several ways. Creating an entire online PR campaign opens up lesser known opportunities and also generate leads to direct inquiries from the media and prospective customers. Use the following steps to help you realize your online PR campaign.

Step 1 – The Press Release

The first step is to identify a topic for your press release. Popular topics include new or improved products, relocations or new locations, website or blog launches, or any other unique stories associated with your company. Be sure that you have a competent person create a professional press release that identifies your target audience. Be aware that writing for print media and writing for the web can differ. If you do not have an employee that can meet these needs, you should hire a marketing firm to write the article for you. You might be surprised at how little it will cost for this service!


TARGET AUDIENCE QUIZ

Which of these sentences would appeal to men aged 16 – 20.

#1. The new Speedster skateboard uses ionized paint to anticipate the retroactive artistic styles of master artisans of the past century.

#2. The new Speedster skateboard has a retro look that will appeal to your senses.

Both of these sentences say the same thing and are professionally written, but the first sentence will probably cause the target audience to immediately stop reading. If you do not have someone in your business to handle these duties, you should consider hiring a marketing firm that has a copywriter. You might be surprised how little you will have to pay for this service.


NOTE: Do not finalize the press release until it has been checked for spelling and grammar by someone other than the copywriter. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes!

Step 2 – Releasing to the Media

Once you have the press release finalized, it is time to release it to the media for release in their publication or electronic medium. Send your PR to prweb.com and prnewswire.com. These websites are two of the most sophisticated online press release services around and many media outlets use these two websites to find news. Your article might just get picked up by dozens of newspapers! By combining your marketing firm’s knowledge and experience with the powerful distribution networks of sites like PRweb, you can transform your press release into an online promotional vehicle with unlimited reach.

You should also send your press release to your local newspaper and any local television or radio stations. Make sure that they have good contact information for you in case they would like to use you in a feature story!

Step 3 – The E-campaign

At this point, you should strongly consider hiring a marketing firm to handle the creation of your e-campaign. If you used a copywriter to write the press release, see if they will also set up the e-campaign. (Better yet, try to get everything in one package!) The e-campaign should be attractive and eye-catching and have at least one link to a landing page. Make sure that the landing page contains a form for lead generation or, at the very least, a button for people to contact you.

An important item that is largely ignored is the size of the e-campaign. If you choose to send the entire press release in the e-mail, then the campaign should be no wider than 600 pixels. This will fit in most e-mail clients. If you choose to send a summary of the article or an eye-catching graphic that will go to the press release, then the campaign should be no wider than 600 pixels and no taller than 395 pixels.

Your marketing firm should also have a system that will track how many people viewed and clicked on the e-mail. Be sure to ask for reports. This is an excellent opportunity to not only judge the success of your e-campaign, but also to remove any defunct e-mail addresses from your customer database.

Step 4 – Updating Your Website

If you don’t have a news page on your existing website, you are missing out on a great opportunity to add fresh content and to expand your profile on search engines. Get your news section built and add your first article.

If you do have a news page, get your article up there with a dateline at the top and contact information at the bottom.

Be sure to link no more than five phrases in your article to other pages in your website. This is called an optimized press release and will be beneficial to your search engine optimization efforts.

Step 5 – To Blog or Not to Blog

This step is optional, but can bring great rewards to your online presence. If you have a blog, post your press releases with target phrases linked back to your existing website. Optimized press releases get a lot of visibility in the major search engines. They can also generate new links back to your website, as other sites republish your release. These "backlinks" play an important role in the overall search engine visibility of your website.


INDUSTRY EXAMPLE – Online PR Campaign (Intra-Focus, Inc.)

An online PR campaign was recently created for Jimmy Jacobs Custom Homes and their work on Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition. In addition to electronic press releases, they also created a special website to generate buzz about the project.

>> Read the press releases
>> View an example of an e-press release
>> See the website
>> Visit the main website


The world is becoming more internet focused by the minute and you need to stay on top of this technology wave or your company will drown. Don’t wait! Get proactive and start your online PR campaigns today!

Learn More
If you are interested in getting a quote from a marketing firm or just finding out more about the process, you should contact Intra-Focus, Inc. Intra-Focus has a wealth of experience writing press releases, optimizing them for the search engines, and distributing them online. They can transform your press release into an online promotional vehicle with unlimited reach.

Do You Make These Common SEO Mistakes?

By BR Cornett

Search engine optimization is on the minds of a lot of web marketers and business owners these days, and with good reason. Search engine success can often turn a marginally profitable website into a huge success.

But having a website that’s visible to search engines is not the question. The question is, how do you get there? More importantly, what mistakes can you avoid that might prevent you from getting there? Here are some of the most common search engine optimization mistakes I see on business websites, and how you can avoid them on your own website.

Content as Graphics or PDF

When you put your words into graphical format (JPEG or GIF), those words become invisible to search engines. Sure, there are times when it’s necessary, like when designing a logo. But if you use graphics as sub headers on your web pages, you’re wasting a good SEO opportunity.

Often, I’ll see keyword-rich headers and sub-headers in graphical format, when the exact same look could be achieved with regular text formatted by a style sheet. It doesn’t make sense to me.

PDF files are another area where companies often rob themselves of search engine-friendly content. Let’s say you have a news section on your website, and all 15 news stories link to PDF files. In this case, you have one page of readable web content and 15 PDF files (that search engines cannot read or rank you for).

But if you made a separate web page with regular text for each news story, you’d have an additional 15 pages for search engines to crawl through and evaluate. You can still offer the PDF files for people who prefer to download the story. But you’d offer the PDF in addition to the regular text page, not in place of it.

Lack of Titles

In this usage, “title” refers to the title element within the HTML code that makes up a web page. Titles appear in three places: (1) at the top of the web code for a given page, (2) in the blue title bar at the top of your web browser, and (3) above each listing on a search engine results page (SERP).

The title element is an important part of search engine optimization because it tells search engines what the page is about. In fact, I would say the title element is one of the two most important parts of a web page for SEO purposes.

But I can’t count the number of business websites I’ve visited that lacked key phrases in their page titles, our lacked titles altogether. If an older, well-established website with bad titles were to suddenly optimize all page titles with key phrases, that site could easily double its search engine traffic in a few short months.

Lack of Sufficient Content

Like many things in SEO, good content helps people as well as search engines. People need content to help them understand your products or services, to tell them what to do next, and to give them a sense of your overall brand and reputation. Search engines need content to understand what your site is all about. So if your website lacks quality content, you’re depriving two audiences at once.

Non-Descriptive Hyperlinks

From an SEO standpoint, think of text hyperlinks as road signs. They tell people and search engines where they’re going, and what they’ll find when they get there. If most of the internal text links on your site use phrases like “click here” or “learn more,” you’re missing another SEO opportunity.

If you have a text link that goes to a page about CRM software, don’t label it “learn more” — label it “CRM software advice” (or whatever is applicable). This helps people navigate better, and it gives search engines plenty of clues as to what your site is all about. Search engine developers know that the hyperlinks on a site say a lot about the site’s theme or topic, so they’ve built their algorithms with this in mind.

Conclusion

You need to eliminate bad SEO habits before you can rise to search engine greatness. Use this article as both a starting point and a checklist. Print it out and go through your website page by page, checking for areas where you can improve your visibility. Good luck!

About the Author

BR Cornett writes and works for Intra-Focus, an Austin search engine optimization, web development and Internet marketing firm. Intra-Focus serves clients from many industries and from all over the country. Learn more by visiting http://www.intra-focus.com.