Heather Lloyd-Martin’s presentation about successful search engine copywriting, was held on the second day of the 2006 Search Engine Strategies conference in New York.
By then I had concluded that I would focus my comments in all my stories) on the needs of mainstream established companies-since those are the people I know the most about.
We have many many articles written for others, such as Internet entrepreneurs, in the Selected Newsletter Articles section of our web site. Therefore, I listened to what Heather and all the other presenters had to say from the perspective of those folks primarily involved in a traditional Main Street businesses with an Internet component.
What I found most refreshing was that her ideas “just made sense”. No rocket-science required. And since I had heard her in 2001, we had already taken advantage of some of them and know they work.
Heather’s Tip No. 1: Brainstorm keyword phrases.
This is important since the specific words and phrases that most accurately identify your products or services are likely to be different from the generic ones your web site designer would use. Who knows more about your business, your products, and your customers? You or your web site designer?
Plus, as search engines become increasingly sophisticated, more complex descriptions are possible to connect you with more targeted searchers. The closer you connect with your prospect at this point the more likely what you actually have to offer will match with what they are specifically searching for. Time spent here is time well invested.
Heather’s Tip No.2: Research your key phrases using trusted research tools.
Naturally this assumes that you actually take this important step. For me this has always been a stumbling block – costing me rankings, I’m sure. In the past I assumed that I knew what keyword phrases people are using, instinctively without testing to be sure. The result was time, energy, and money spent to optimize keyword phrases that were “just slightly wrong”, shooting myself in the foot before I got started. Actually, it was after hearing Heather in 2001 that I began to see the light and use search tools such as Wordtracker (www.WordTracker.com) and now the Google AdWords keyword selection tool before optimizing the page.
Heather’s Tip No.3: Choose two or three key phrases their highly specific to each page.
After hearing this tip (again) we made some simple changes that, within two weeks, made a dramatic difference in the traffic on our web site. We had 200 pages of what had originally been an ebook. Each page had identical meta tags and other code. By going back and optimizing each page around the specific keyphrases already on them the search engines are now seeing them individually. The result is that each page is, to a greater or lesser degree, generating new search traffic.
Heather’s Tip No.4: Include key phrases throughout your text, not just in the first couple of paragraphs.
Everyone “knows” that the search engine spiders enter your page from the top. Conventional wisdom was to put your keywords and keyphrases toward the top of your page. The result may have made your page look good to the spiders but not to the actual people who you want to be reading it. Now that we know that spiders zip through our entire site we have the freedom to insert the phrases where they fit best, where they make the most sense, and where they enhance the readability of our web site.
Heather’s Tip No.5: Include key phrases in your headlines and some headlines.
In some ways spiders are like humans. What gets emphasized attracts their attention. Headlines, sub-headlines, and bold faced type are considered to be more important by the spiders in the same way that they are considered to be more important when an actual person reads the contact.
When we made the changes on our web site based on Heather’s comments, it was the new title tags and the new content specific headlines on each page that made all the difference. These new headlines and new title tags attracted the spiders perhaps for the first time in a long time and when they saw how the individual tags connected to the page’s content they took them more seriously than before. This was a simple, although time consuming, process and immediately we began to see traffic to pages that never even shown up before.
Heather’s Tip No.6: Include key phrases in and around your hyperlinks.
By now everyone knows about Google’s pagerank system. In a nutshell it means that the search engines are now giving us “credit” for inbound links. They have a complex and unknowable process for weighting them based on the value of the web site from whom we are linked as well. In addition, when the links themselves are contextual, rather than just the base URL more weight is added. When there is an interest from a trade association or other reputable source to link to our web site, we encourage them to use the contextual link, in order to maximize the benefit of the link they create. You will see an example of a contextual link in the resources box for this article.
Heather’s Tip No.7: Include least to 250 words per page.
As I said earlier, the longer keyword search phrases being used make it more likely that the searcher reaches the specific products on your web site that they’re looking for. If you have enough content in which to place this keyword phrases. Again using our recent experience, pages with an average of 600 words, are being greedily consumed by the search engine spiders. I don’t actually know how many people are searching our content but I’m confident that those who do so are doing it based on a large body of relevant material. I do know that inquiries are more relevant all the time – which is better for us and the searcher.
Heather’s Tip No.8: Include keyphrases in your title (the blue bar above every web page).
I’m no expert but like I said before this just makes sense. I remember a time, back before I heard Heather in 2001, that all of all our pages said “iBizResources.com” across the top. Until then I had no idea what we were missing. Now all of them identify the content on that particular page and is directly related to the keyphrases included in the page or articles headline. Simple but powerful.
Heather’s Tip No.9: Never sacrifice your conversion goals for search engine positioning.
For me and for you she saved the best for last. The reason we have our web site is to provide relevant, actionable, and transferable strategies from office and our contributors to you. The copywriting is for people like to, not search engine spiders. Nevertheless we have to recognize their importance. It is up to them to put our content in front of you – so we have to balance the two. As a business person your objective is to expand your reach beyond your normal marketing area, to increase your market share and to increase the value of every contact. That’s why you head of a web site.
So, when you are taking advantage of Heather’s tips tools and strategy don’t forget it’s the people that write the checks not the search engine spiders.
Wayne Messick is the author of dozens of articles for mainstream businesses. His search engine strategies articles are here.