Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Reinventing Your Brand for Search

One of my colleagues passed over a very interesting article on Search this morning. It basically said that businesses are beginning to become more and more aware of the importance and power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) these days. Because of that, they have been thinking of creative ways to step up their marketing and brand presence in search engine results pages (SERPs).

It gave two examples of how marketers were willing to reinvent their brand to take an advantage in having high visibility in the engines. The first example was the Sci-Fi channel. They had started to announce that they were eventually going to be evolving into the name Syfy. They realized the opportunity available to them in dominating search results with such a name. The second example is about a small Normandy town called Eu. The town feels like many tourists are missing out on visiting this great town which has reportedly had visits from historical figures like William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, and Joan of Arc. They feel that they are getting a lack of toursists because prospective visitors cannot locate them in the SERPs due to the overpowering presence of EU (the European Union). The town plans to make changes to it’s town name to be more unique so that they can once again be found and bring back the visitors they so desire.

It is so great to see how much SEO has grown in terms of being integrated into marketing plans. Not long ago, many businesses still considered SEO something to be put on the backburner. But as people begin to see the value and the return of optimization efforts, they are making strong, bold marketing decisions in efforts to succeed in the search engines.

My thoughts on reinventing the Brand name are slightly mixed. On the one hand, I think it is brilliant – to be creative enough to create a unique name that no other person/company has for the SERPs. I definitely see how difficult it can be for the Sci-Fi channel or Eu to rank because of so many other businesses/people fighting for the space.. On the other hand, I think it really depends on who your Brand audience is. I think it is important to pose the questions of what are the risks involved? Will we lose people? Will people no longer be able to find us because they are not aware of the name change?

I think the bottom-line here is that if it is executed correctly, and the audience is slowly, over a period of time, introduced to the new name, they will more likely accept it. I also feel that it is better to make this type of change sooner rather than later. And lastly, I think it needs to be executed carefully, with plenty of thought, on what the name will be (not just something random) as well as how to introduce it to your current audience.

Would you consider changing your Brand name to gain market share in the SERPs?

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Flash Websites are NOT Recommended for SEO

A few of my friends are wedding photographers and if there is anything I learned from them, it’s that they love having their website developed in flash because it gives it a nice look and feel for their clients and prospective clients. Their sites are simple, clean, and attractive. The problem is that they want to show up in the search engine and rank highly. The very first thing I tell them is that they need to get rid of the flash site! But they never want to do that because it loses its aesthetics when switching to an HTML site. The point here is not that you cannot have any flash on your website, it is that the entire website should not be flash. Having a slideshow with photographs in flash on the HTML website should be fine. However, I do believe that a clean, beautiful website can be created through HTML which would be beneficial for both the photographer, for the clients, and for the search engines.

Success with SEO is highly dependent on the architecture of a website. You can add all the meta tags, content, etc. that you want, but if your website is not search engine friendly, the spiders can’t get to your pages anyway. This brings me to the topic of flash websites, which in short are not search engine friendly at all! They look pretty but that is about as far as it goes.

Around the summer months of 2008, Google and Adobe announced that they would work together to give flash sites the ability to get indexed in the engines. However, this still does not give enough reason for websites to be created fully in flash. When a flash website is competing with an HTML website, who do you think will win? HTML. Hands down. There are several reasons why you should not use flash if you want successful rankings in SEO. Flash websites have one URL, so the engine will not be able to differentiate between different pages on your site. HTML is much easier to read than the text within SWF files. You cannot mark up important phrases, titles, or content on your site using a header or bolding in Flash.

If your business has any interest in SEO at all, stay away from Flash. There is a great article at ClickZ about why you should avoid websites designed completely in Flash. Check it out to see what others in the industry are saying.

Paid and Organic Search Complement Each Other

Speak to any online advertising expert or agency and chances are they will tell you how much more beneficial it is to use both organic and paid search together. There are obvious advantages to both paid and organic search, but leveraging your campaigns off the other, you can build a powerful search campaign.

Using paid search, you have more control over your listing including placement, ad copy, and landing pages. With these options, you can run a lot of tests to determine what works best for you. Paid search also allows you to gain search visibility immediately whereas organic visibility can take months to appear. Some of the disadvantages of paid search include cost. Every time your ad is clicked on, you are required to play regardless if you sold something or gained a lead from them. Paid search can easily become very costly if not managed carefully and on a consistent basis.

Organic search on the other hand comes at no cost. Users can click you listing as much as they want and you don’t have to pay a single cent. Users are also more inclined to click on organic listings than they are to click on sponsored ads. Disadvantages include the fact that your ranking is not guaranteed and it is a long term and continual process to see results. Organic search includes a lot of research and fine-tuning and also involves factors (ie. algorithm changes) that you have no control over.

However, with some careful planning, you can utilize learnings from organic for paid search and vice versa. Paid search allows you to quickly gauge what type of traffic you would get for a certain keyword. If you are getting a significant amount of traffic for a certain term and a decent amount of orders or leads from it, then it would be wise to target that keyword in your organic search. Also, if there is a particular keyword that has very high competition in the natural listings, it may be worthwhile to attract traffic for sales and leads through paid search instead.

Many agencies and professionals have also done studies on how much more likely a user is to click on your site if you have top placements in both paid and organic search. Paid search can also be used initially to push traffic to newly developed organic portions of the website. Using both paid and organic, you can get a good view of the long-tail terms users are looking for. This can help you greatly when developing new landing pages and copy specific to those users.

These are just a few ways paid and organic search go together hand-in-hand. If you’re looking for ways to improve your paid and/or organic search, then employing some of the tactics mentioned above is a great place to start.

SEO Starter Guide

Google released a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide last week. If you are looking for some basic tips on how to optimize your website for the search engines (Google to be specific), then it is something definitely worth reviewing. Something to note though is that this should just be used as a guide and does not guarantee rankings. There are many more things you can do to optimize your website, but I would say this is a good best practice guide for the beginners out there.

Photo courtesy of dannysullivan