The Cat & Mouse Game of SEO

February 18th, 2009

Many companies think of search engine optimization (SEO) as the Holy Grail of online marketing. While SEO can be an effective and cost efficient marketing tool, it’s important to understand two things:

  • It’s not a one-time task – it’s an ongoing, time-consuming commitment.
  • It comes without a guaranteed return.

Why? Let’s start with the fact that optimization is a moving target. Today’s best practices are outdated tomorrow. And the methods search engines use to rank results are constantly changing. It’s also a never-ending game of cat and mouse. As your competition adjusts their tactics to meet or beat yours, you have to be prepared to refine and change your approach.

Nonetheless, your company can see tremendous benefits if done properly. To get started, optimization tactics should be broken down into two equally important, yet very distinct, pieces:

ON PAGE

This is the code and content on your website. Since you have full control of this piece, it’s the best place to start.

Study the way each of the key search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN/Live) rank results. There are a number of things each indexing algorithm looks for when evaluating your code. Things like unique page titles for each page, the way link text is coded, the use of heading tags to denote important terms, and image alt tags that describe an image are all fairly easy to use and can help your results.

Your Web copy is vitally important to your success in optimizing. Search engine friendly copy is important, but write for your human viewers first and foremost. Don’t let the quality of your message get lost in repetitive language developed for iFlex Studios SEO purposes.

LEARN ABOUT HOW THEY WORK
Google google.com/support/webmasters
Yahoo help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/search/webpublishers
MSN/Live webmaster.live.com

Evaluate your industry and pre-plan the most important terms to implement into your copy. You may find important key phrases you hadn’t thought of. The Google Insights for Search tool is a great place to start.

It’s also vital to update your site regularly with new, meaningful content. The more pages that hold unique content, the more potential visibility and entry points you have.

OFF PAGE

Search results have changed. It’s no longer just pages from websites that appear in the results. For example, Google is continually merging its stand-alone Web, image, video and news searches into one universal results page. What this means for companies is that your corporate website content is no longer the only result from a search of your company’s name. The upside is that you can begin creating and publishing your own new content across a variety of platforms such as YouTube, blogs and news services and see those efforts pay off in your search rankings.

Search engines give significant value to links from other sites. The more links to your site from credible sources, the higher your potential page rank. It makes sense, because it means your content has value to users.

SEARCH ENGINE INDEXING LIMITS*

Page File Size: No more than 150 kilobytes (Before Images, CSS and other Attachments)

Amount of links: No more than 100 unique links per page

Title Tag: No more than 70 characters

Meta Description: No more than 155 characters

Parameters in URL: No more than 2

Depth of URL : No more than 4

*Does not apply to websites with significant authority

Links with partner companies, customers and vendors is a good place to start but don’t stop there. Join the current online conversation in your industry. Post comments on blogs in your category. Add a blog to your own site. It’s a great way to not only get more exposure, but to become a leading voice in your sector.

Search engines have given any company, large or small, the opportunity to market themselves to the entire world. Now is the time to move and take your place in this powerful marketing space.

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