Successful Search Engine Optimisation is all about ensuring that the relevant content is delivered to those who search for it. Therefore, the first step in any Search Engine Optimisation project is to clearly identify the aims of the site – what information are you hoping to impart and who will that be of interest to? If you want to be selective about your clients you might also want to ask who are your preferred target audience and develop your site aims with this in mind.
Discussion on the role of the website and the identification of the target audience are the essential starting point whether you are developing a site from scratch or re-developing an existing site.
To accomplish this you will need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want the website to achieve (higher sales/brand building/information dissemination)?
- What is the profile of potential/preferred visitors to your site?
- What needs can your site address for the target audience?
- What information target audience is likely to be seeking?
- How can you ensure that the target audience find your site(keyword research)?
If you have a sales-related site you might want to add the following:
- Who is likely to be the decision maker with regard to buying your product/employing your services?
- What is your current typical sales cycle?
- What is the role of your website in the sales cycle?
Acquiring this information will help you to identify: i) the key information to prioritise in the website and ii) who is likely to be searching for that information. The website can then be (re)developed based on this analysis, ensuring the focus of the site is set for optimal search engine results.
It is estimated that 90% of all online traffic is achieved through the various search engines. If your Web site doesn’t have a page appearing in the top 10 search engine result positions (SERPs), the chances of someone clicking on your listing, and actually visiting your site, are low. If you’re not in the top 20, the chances that someone will scan through the SERPs and find your page, drops dramatically. Hence, Search Engine Optimisation tries to help organise your page/site so that it will move up the Search Engine Results and thus be found.
Search Engine Optimisation has been controversial in the past with many Search Engine Optimisation companies using unscrupulous methodologies to get sites up the rankings quickly. These methods are now largely discredited and using them can get a site banned from search engines.
The importance of Search Engine Optimisation is further highlighted by the results of the list of SEO studies quoted below:
- A study from IMT Strategies demonstrates that a company’s presence on relevant search engines is the most important medium for maintaining high brand awareness ‘ more important than the printed media, radio or TV commercials (Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, January 2001).
- A study by Direct Marketing Association found that search engine optimisation/positioning was evaluated by webmasters as the single most important activity for generating traffic to the website (66%), followed by e-mail marketing (54%).
- A poll by Iconocast concludes that 81% of UK internet users find websites via search engines (Source: June 2000, Forrester Research Inc., “UK Internet User Monitor”).
- The tenth user survey from “The Graphics, Visualization & Usability Center” (GVU) showed that 84.8% of respondents found information on websites from search engines.
- According to a study published by NPD Group, 92% of online users making a purchase over the net use search engines to find the relevant website.
- A study carried out by IMT Strategies discovered that search engines were the most popular medium (46%) for finding websites. Random surfing and word of mouth shared second place (20% each).
- Search engines are the “busiest” and most used websites on the net – cf. RelevantKnowledge or MediaMetrix studies.
- A study carried out by Jupiter Research in March 2001 gives search engines 9.1 points on a scale from 0 – 10 as the most important online media. The No. 2 spot got 6.3 points.
- According to a study among marketing executives search engine optimisation/positioning was considered the most profitable website marketing activity. Far more effective than, for instance, banners, e-mails and offline marketing (Source: WebCMO).
- A study carried out by the NPD Group showed that more than twice as many of those asked could recognise the names of the companies in the top three placements of the search engines as could recognise the names of companies which used banners.
Over the next few posts in this category I will outline a process which, if followed, should help any page/site improve its search engine ranking.
Search Engine Optimisation is a term that has been widely used (and much abused) over the past number of years. I have recently undertaken a couple of Search Engine Optimisation related projects so I first had to define what exactly do I mean by Search Engine optimisation?
I would define Search Engine Optimisation as the process of using keyword and keyphrase analysis, good coding practices, well-written copy, link popularity analysis and careful site organisation to move and maintain a web page as close as possible to the number one search results position for a given key phrase, in both search engines and directories. There is a more complete definition of Search Engine Optimisation plus a more detailed description of some of the terminology used on the seologic.com site.
I have created a new Search Engine Optimisation category and will add posts to this category as these projects progress.