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Top 7 On-Site SEO Features Often Missed

There are some SEO practices that have become common when developing a new site (ability to edit title and meta tags, image alt properties, etc.) and there are others that can sometimes get overlooked. These are things that need to be discussed during the planning stages of your website. I compiled a list of important items you should be aware of when you create a new site.

1. 301 Redirects

I cannot stress enough how important it is to use 301 redirects and not a blanket redirect. This is the best way to lose your existing search engine ranking. When migrating from an old site, be sure all your old pages are individually redirected to a new page. These 301 redirects provide users with a consistent experience and match old content to your new website. Verify your new site with Google Webmaster Tools, this way you can monitor any crawl errors or erroneous inbound links that require a redirect. If your site has a content management system (CMS), your developer can enable it to automatically create 301s if you remove or change the URL of any page.

2. Analytics

If 301 redirects are properly implemented, this part should be easy. Simply add Google Analytics code, or your preferred analytics service, to all newly created pages. Your CMS can be designed to automatically add this code to every new page you create. Now sit back and watch the data accumulate.

3. Canonicalization

When the same web content has multiple URLs this is called canonicalization. These URLs cause problems for search engines, and they confuse what content should be shown in the search results. Pick one URL and stick with it. If your website uses a CMS, be sure it doesn’t generate multiple URLs for each page you create. Another option is to implement a canonical tag, which tells Google what the definitive URL should be.

4. Semantic URLs

A semantic URL is URL that is human-readable and conveys useful information to the user. This URL should be SEO friendly using appropriate keywords. These URLs are important part of on-page optimization. Your new semantic URL should read www.globalhma.com/about-us and NOT www.globalhma.com/index.cfm?pag=1284. All those numbers, question marks and irrelevant data are enough to make a person’s head spin.

5. XML Sitemaps

A sitemap help users navigate a site or serves as a planning tool in the early stages of a website’s creation. An XML sitemap  aids your SEO and helps Google crawl your website. There are automatic XML sitemap generators that can be utilized and this can also be integrated into your website’s CMS. Trust me. Sitemaps are your friend.

6. Control Indexation

Are there pages on your site that you don’t want Google to include in its search results? Well, you can actually tell Google which pages not to index. There are a variety of ways to go about this, such as a robots.txt or meta tag. When we submit robots.txt for our clients’ websites, I cannot help but imagine a room of tiny robots willing to do my SEO bidding.

7. Site Speed

Site speed is now part of Google’s ranking algorithm and is becoming increasingly important to your website’s success. Be sure to have your developer keep an eye on it or utilize tools to check your site’s speed. As Drew would say, we’re living among the at-a-glance generation. If your site doesn’t load fast enough, don’t expect people to stick around to wait for it.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it’s a great start when creating a new website or even items to keep in mind when optimizing a current site. Do you have important SEO items to add to this list?

Managing Your PPC Campaign

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising seeks to drive a high volume of traffic to a specific site. While some campaigns have different goals once visitors click through and reach the site, one thing that does not change is that each campaign must be maintained to effectively reach its goal. The basics of maintaining a PPC campaign include daily or at least weekly sweeps of keywords, prioritizing of budgets, A/B testing on ads including testing of different calls to action and measuring, measuring, measuring.

From the start it’s important to understand the goal of the campaign and set it up right. Each campaign should be organized with related ad groups having two versions of a carefully targeted and tested ad. Campaign setting and budgets should be checked.

Keyword Management

Keyword management takes a long time. Capturing long tail keywords is critical in increasing leads. Long tail keywords acquire more relevant leads and higher conversion rates while paying a lower cost-per-click. Chasing the long tail is a labor of love to say the very least.

Has a competitor picked up and outbid any of our coveted keywords? Is the ad text relevant to the keywords? This leads us to adding new negative keywords and adjusting phrase, broad and exact keywords. In industrial keyword management and international campaigns, this becomes an even trickier process. Names of chemicals and their applications can easily be related to many irrelevant results. The key here is to be well versed in the terminology. At HMA we work together as a team to adjust the keywords weekly and monthly. This allows the account staff to compare terminology and trends month to month that are then incorporated into our monthly reports.

A/B Testing

One ad will always outperform another in a PPC campaign. We work to make ads more relevant by changing ad text, altering capitalization or finding the call to action that generates the most conversions. Sometimes the simplest changes change in a call to action, such as changing click for more information to click to see the MSDS, will generate a huge change in clicks. At the same time, we work hard to maintain a balance between changing ads just enough times and changing the ads too many times. The right amount of change is rewarded with lower cost-per-click, more relevant traffic and higher conversion rates.

Measure, Measure, Measure

How many people fell into the funnel? The number of people that click on the ad is used to measure this metric. How many people clicked further? Downloaded a brochure? Clicked on a link for contact info? Most industrial campaigns only reach this point. However, in some local campaigns with products and services, we actually observe them reaching the buy phase. This is where real results are quantified.

If this process is followed properly, after about a year you should be able to measure exactly how many leads are necessary for the funnel before they reach the buy stage. In addition, you can quantify the cost per lead and the cost it takes for them to reach the buying phase.

Search Engine Rankings

If keywords are measured upon the start of a campaign with a search engine results page, you can them measure again after a year to see where you rank organically. If SEO was done for the PPC campaign’s landing page, your rankings should improve over time. This is also known as a never-ending marathon as there are constantly new sites and new queries being added to the race. In addition, search engines are constantly changing their search algorithm to more accurately serve its searchers.

The constant changes in the Internet and how people search points to our continuous need to be diligent readers, following blogs and other industry sites where trends and changes are noted. We incorporate our new knowledge into maintaining each campaign every month, while keeping in mind that what was a factor today may change tomorrow.

Whether investing in an agency or using an internal person to manage your PPC accounts, do not underestimate the time it takes to do it right. Anything short of that is a waste of your money.

Going Global with Search Marketing

Did you know people are four times more likely to make a purchase online with information in their own language? While the English language Internet is continuing to grow more and more crowded, foreign language marketing on the Internet is in its infancy.

According to Internet World Stats, between 2000 and 2011:

  • Portuguese grew by 990.1%
  • Chinese grew by 1,478.7%
  • Russian grew by 1,825.8%
  • Arabic grew by 2,501.2%
  • English only grew by 301.4%

Expanding your web presence globally can be tricky, especially without local resources. Over the years, our agency has built up a strong foundation of local resources all around the world. Here are six key considerations we think are important when growing your web presence internationally through search marketing and global SEO.

  • Research the target market and any cultural differences, i.e. specific advertising laws, whether local hosting is necessary
  • Understand the search engine landscape in the targeted countries
  • Utilize top performing keywords for products and services in all foreign languages found in the targeted region
  • Take advantage of available domain names using translated keywords
  • Build anchor text-rich links from local sites in the targeted country or region
  • Provide unique and optimized content for all languages, i.e. don’t auto translate

These statistics all point to the growing opportunity of using translated AdWords campaigns, link building in foreign languages, and translated domains and microsites in your global marketing efforts. The relevance, quality and success of your efforts, however, are all dependent on an understanding of the region’s culture and nuances.