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How Optimization can supercharge a website

By Bob Cannon
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Building a web site is no longer enough to create visibility. An internet strategy must include optimization to insure visibility with the search engines.

Having a website is an important part of any businesses image. I once worked with a fellow who would issue credit to new accounts based solely on whether or not they had a phone number listed in their local phone book. Today the website is providing a similar amount of credibility. But, if that is all your website is doing for your business, you really aren’t getting your money’s worth. If your website is nothing more than your brochure in an electronic library, only people who know where it is physically located (your URL) will be able to find you. That is why the Search Engines are such a critical part of making your site useable.

Search Engines are like the card catalog of old and make it possible for people to find your site without knowing your URL. There are thousands of sites out there that have not been submitted to, or found, by the major search engines. If you are one of the thousands, then this can make finding your site extremely difficult. The first thing you need to do is go to any of the search engines and search on the name of your website. If the search engine can’t find you, then neither can your potential customer. If the search engine does find you, do another search based on your product or service to see how high you appear in the listing. Most search engines have a counter at the top that will tell you that they found x thousand sites matching your search requirements. If you are in the top 5 or 10 sites then you need read no further, but if you are further down the listing the rest of this article will be of interest.

Search Engine robots scan the code of your website regularly. They look for Meta descriptions, Meta tags and/or the keywords in the copy to determine the location of your site in the listings they produce. The more of the keywords they are looking for that appear in the places mentioned, the more likely your site will be in the top listings. Ideally, you should have a Meta description, Meta tags and use keywords on every page on your site. This provides more relevant search results and better content for your reader. It also increases the specificity and makes the likelihood of being found that much better.

A description Meta or title tag is hidden in the code on each page of your website and most search engines place a high level of importance on keywords in your title tag. These descriptions should include one or two keyword phrases. Some engines even go so far as to use the description as a site summary on the results page. Hot Tip: Unless you are General Motors, don’t use your company name as the first few words in your title!

Each web page also contains Meta tags or keywords that are hidden. These keywords should total no more than about 1000 characters and should be duplicated as much as possible in the copy on the specific page. Keywords should generally relate to your product or service, those who need your service and the benefits your users will receive from using your product or service.

Determining your keywords is not as simple as it might seem. You must put yourself in the shoes of your prospect by thinking about the information they are searching for on the internet. Most of the search engines have some kind of a keyword look up tool that will allow you to try different words or combinations of words to see how many times a particular word or phrase were searched on in the last month. Words that have tens of thousands of hits are often way too broad and will result in low web ranking and little traffic. Words or combinations that are more specific will likely have traffic figures in the hundreds or low thousands and be more likely to produce meaningful results both in getting your website positioned and in click thru activity which should be a precursor to actual direct contact.

Doing the research, adding the Meta descriptions, Meta tags and sometimes rewriting the copy on your web pages is a slow, time-consuming process, but it can pay big dividends in making your site more accessible to your prospective customers. The Cannon Advantage website was completed early in the fourth quarter of 2002. By November I started thinking about how to drive traffic to my website. At that time I was generating fewer than 4 visitors per day. I started reading and experimenting and was able to get the average number of visitors up to over 22 visitors a day. The site was still not even on the radar scope on Google and every search I tried led me to believe that no one would ever find the site. It was then that I decided it was time to bring in some professional help and the results have been incredible. In about six weeks time, the average number of daily visitors is now up over 190 per day. A Google search will find me frequently in the top web ranking on a variety of multi-key word phrases and the numbers are continuing to improve. For website success, it’s important to gain a position in the top two or three pages for your top key words.

The following are some of the rankings that the Cannon Advantage website has achieved:

1 of 3,910,000 for product market management

1 of 2,370,000 for strategy for new product and new market

1 of 1,990,000 for advantage of training and development

1 of 1,070,000 for analysis of product life cycle

3 of 766,000 for best practices audit

1 of 1,960,000 for product marketing strategy

1 of 738,000 for marketing focus lost

1 & 2 of 477,000 for product life cycle marketing management

1 of 308,000 for marketing strategy speaker

2 of 3,240,000 for product management analysis

The search engines are always changing and these not be the same results you will get when this is published, but we should show up near these positions even then.

Is this all it takes for a successful web marketing strategy? No, there is no set “formula” that fits every business. The Cannon Advantage site uses a mix of strategies including a small, very efficient, Pay-Per-Click PPC campaign on Overture and on-going submission to category specific Directory Listings. If you’re selling a product, perhaps the best ecommerce solution includes an online store shopping cart or E-Bay linked back to the web site. An internet marketing plan needs to be fine tuned to your unique criteria based on goals, target audience, market focus (local, national, international) and category competitive environment.

About the Author
Byline Bob Cannon is a recognized business strategist and marketer. Check out other interesting articles available in the Taking Aim newsletter available at (www.cannonadvantage.com) . Bob can be reached at (216) 408-9495 or mailto: bob@cannonadvantage.com This article courtesy of (http://www.cannonadvantage.com). You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.