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Overlooked search engine optimization tips

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Every marketing tactic gets more scrutiny when budgets face the severity of a struggling economy. As a result, marketers increasingly are responding to the accountability found in digital marketing, and budgeting toward efforts they can clearly measure.

Put search engine optimization under this microscope and it consistently delivers. But marketers need to ensure they are getting the most out of their SEO, especially during a recession. Every search matters, and an optimized search marketing effort can yield more value to an organization.

Here are several key tactics to maximize your SEO efforts:

  • Eliminate navigation barriers. Search engine spiders prefer easy-to-navigate sites as much as your end-users do. Each is seeking to understand where to find information on your site, so providing clear pathways to all your Web site pages is essential for findability.
  • Create an XML site map. XML site maps provide guidance to spiders about what pages exist on a site and how often you update them. They are becoming the standard for crawl submissions. In addition, user-friendly site maps provide additional navigation links throughout your site for users.
  • Check your code. If the spiders can’t understand your code, they will miss entire pages because of a few simple errors. Validate your code often through tools offered by such providers as the World Wide Web Consortium (www.w3.org).
  • Go for quick wins. Searchers rarely go beyond the top 20 search results, but you should check your rankings across different search engines for phrases just outside the top 20 and target those for additional efforts. Nudge these rankings up by creating additional onsite content and by placing additional emphasis on onsite promotion, such as featured home page links.
  • 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. Every page on your site should have a unique title and description based on the page’s content.
  • Check title tags. Title tags are among the most important elements of most search engines algorithms. Keep the title tag under 128 characters, and reserve any branding verbiage for the end. Meta information helps the search engines define your content as well as provide added relevancy to searchers as they find you in the search engines. Added relevancy may bring additional visitor opportunities.
  • Optimize keywords. First, make sure that you are capturing your site’s internal search results to understand the content navigation needs of your audience. Isolate the terms that are leading toward success and test these directly in a pay-per-click 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.
  • Localize. Whether you sell directly or through distribution channels, you can support your sales efforts by placing detailed sales contact information on your site. On average, 7% of searches include some sort of location modifier, but b-to-b sites tend to show locations only when a searcher goes to a career page. Let your audiences know where and how they can contact you or your distribution partners at the most local of levels.
Highlight each location, and create a directory with stand-alone 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.

Stephen Riegel is director of search and co-founder of Faction Media. He can be reached at stever@factionmedia.com.

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