Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Search Engine Woes Part I

SEO, SEO… What the Heck is SEO?

According to Wikipedia:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results. Typically, the earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and HTML coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines.

The acronym "SEO" can also refer to "search engine optimizers," a term adopted by an industry of consultants who carry out optimization projects on behalf of clients, and by employees who perform SEO services in-house. Search engine optimizers may offer SEO as a stand-alone service or as a part of a broader marketing campaign. Because effective SEO may require changes to the HTML source code of a site, SEO tactics may be incorporated into web site development and design. The term "search engine friendly" may be used to describe web site designs, menus, content management systems and shopping carts that are easy to optimize.

Another class of techniques, known as black hat SEO or Spamdexing, use methods such as link farms and keyword stuffing that degrade both the relevance of search results and the user-experience of search engines. Search engines look for sites that employ these techniques in order to remove them from their indices.

So how do I get “SEOd”?

We are constantly being emailed about optimizing our site (which we have already done, and we do for all our clients). I had one “gentleman” tell me we had to hire his firm because no one could find our site on the search engines. I asked him how he found us. Obviously, he had been on our site, since he knew we existed, had my company email address and the company phone number. He couldn’t have found us in the Yellow Pages, since we’re not there.

Watch out for these companies that contact you by email and tell you that they can produce great results for you. These spam emails are about as useful as the emails that you get on “male enhancement” pills.

Your webmaster or mistress should understand keyword optimization and build it into your site in the design and development phase. If you have hired someone to build your site, ask them if they understand SEO before the process begins. And listen carefully. If they promise you the moon and stars, be skeptical.

If you already have a site, check with your provider and ask them if they have optimized your site. Ask them how they did it. If you don’t hear anything about keywords and site structure, then you may want to investigate companies that do search engine optimizing. But be careful. There are plenty of SEOs out there that do underhanded and unethical stuff that may get your site removed from the search engine indices (as stated above).

If you think you need SEO, check with people you trust to find out who they recommend. Talk to your ISP. Talk to Internet design firms. And be wary of the “SEO” song and dance. Don’t let anyone promise to put you at the top of the Google search. Nobody can promise that you’ll end up as number one on all the search engines.

Questions to ask:

* What experience do you have in my local area? Nationally? Internationally?
* What are your most important SEO techniques?
* How long have you been doing SEO? How long has your company been in business?
* Are you putting me in paid advertising or actually optimizing my site?
* How do we communicate? Will you provide me with detailed information about how you intend to optimize my site and the reasoning behind your plan? Will you provide me with a written plan and list of keywords?

If you don't have an Internet site design and maintenance firm, check us out.

Next time – Avoiding practices that could get you banned from the search engine indices.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Recovering From Information Burnout

I just spent about a month not updating this blog. Why? I think I’ve been suffering from information burnout!

Between RSS feeds, e-publications, social media, other blogs to follow, business and personal email (at several addresses), and updating client sites, I finally ended up with totally singed synapses. So what did I do? I backed away from every form of communication I could and only looked at the news info I had to have to keep our clients happy and unscathed by the information age.

Having bronchitis for about four weeks didn’t help, since my voice kept cracking when I answered business calls, but it probably aided my attempt to hide from the information bombardment.

Do any of you find yourselves experiencing information burnout? I’d like to know. I don’t see myself becoming a tweeter for this very reason. Perhaps this isn’t a great admission on my part, but…

Hey! We all need a vacation at times!