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Internet Marketing & SEO Newsletter

Issue 2

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the 2nd issue of our email newsletter on Web Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For new subscribers, my name is Anna Tulchinsky. I am based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and I am the author of this newsletter as well as all other information posted on this website. If you find this newsletter interesting and helpful, feel free to forward it to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.   

Before you start the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website, there are a few important factors that you need to account for. These factors are the following:

  1. The amount of work required to successfully optimize your site depends on the type of business you compete in. For highly competitive areas, the process can be time consuming, because you will need to create a lot of copy (text). Depending on the market value of your keywords, the time required to optimize your website can range from one week to several months or even longer. To make a rough estimate of your market value, type your most important key phrase (do not type one key word) and look at the total number of returned results. This number will give you an idea of how competitive your area is. For example, the phrase “source code analysis” generates more than 20 million pages on Google; it has an extremely high market value.

Please note that there are no scientifically approved or officially certified rules on calculating these numbers and determining ratios. As I always say, the search engine optimization (SEO) field is strictly empirical by nature (due to intellectual property preservation and patents kept by search engine companies), so all "rules" are determined by observation, trial and error.

Personally, I found that,as a rule, the market value of 4 million is okay to deal with. Anything over 4 million results for a given web search will require a lot more work (it may take a few months to get to the first two pages).

Below are some relations I noticed while working on multiple competitive analyses for my clients. Depending on the market value of your keywords (i.e. number of search results returned for your keyword query), your site should have the following amount of keyword-rich copy in it:

  • 2 million results – at least 50 pages

  • 2 – 4 million results – 50-100 pages

  • 4 – 6 million results – 100-150 pages

  • 6 – 8 million results – 200 pages

  • 8+ million results – 250+ pages

It is difficult to say how many links you need to create, because the more links you have coming from and going to your website, the better it is for your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking. As a rule of thumb, have at least 5 links per page, but make sure that these links are highly relevant to the page content.Irrelevant links (and content) will do you harm by diluting your "specialization and expertise" and hence lowering your SEO ranking.

  1. Once your copy and link creation and search engine optimization (SEO) work is complete, the results may not become apparent for another few weeks (usually 4-8 weeks). At this time, it is important to start implementing marketing programs to help increase your visibility on the Internet (e.g. Google's AdWords, Overture, etc.). All these programs are quite intuitive and easy to use, but it will still take some time to become familiar with them and learn how to use them to the best advantage.

  2. If you already have a website, you need to be prepared to make changes to it. In some cases, these changes can be small while in other cases, they can be quite significant. What needs to be changed and/or added will depend on how ambitious your SEO objectives are and how aggressively you decide to pursue them. In some cases, it is necessary to re-structure the navigation structure, i.e. rearrange folder and file hierarchy in order to ensure better SEO results.

  3. You need to be prepared to post as much documentation related to your business as possible, i.e. how-to guides, newsletters, white papers, technology overview, product description, PowerPoint presentations, demos, etc. This will ensure that search engines rank your site highly for "relevancy" and "expertise". Note that it is important NOT to provide unrelated materials and to have keyword-rich copy on all your documents; otherwise, your content may not be ranked as "relevant".

  4. You need to have the cooperation of other members of your team or, in the case of a larger company, other teams or even departments, to help ensure smooth project development and fast results. When it comes to websites and especially website copywriting, everyone thinks they are an expert.  To achieve successful SEO results, you would need to keep your management and your peers convinced that there are good reasons behind your decisions and that you know what you are doing. So if you are NOT the decision maker, but you are the only one who has researched the topic and understands why certain things are required for successful SEO results and how to go about completing them, then you may find yourself frustrated when trying to implement proper SEO principles, while also risking management and peer disapproval.

    One very effective way to avoid this type of turbulence is to hire an expensive search engine optimization (SEO) consultant to do the job. It is very rare when someone appreciates quality of information or service coming their way if they did not have to pay for it. It has been my experience consistently that it is only when companies pay big bucks that they tend to value the service. Sadly, the higher the price the higher the level of appreciation (not that I am complaining personally, of course).

And finally, before you start your SEO project, make sure you get a preliminary idea of what your competitors are doing for their Web Marketing and SEO. Create an Excel sheet and provide answers to the following questions (here is a good format you can adopt):

  • Do they advertise on Google and other search engines?

  • How aggressively? How many keywords do they buy?

  • What are those keywords?

  • Do they have a large site?

  • Is their copy well written?

  • Do they provide white papers, manuals, etc.?

  • Do they offer web seminar using third-party software? What kind?

  • Do they offer product demos?

  • Do they offer product trials?

  • Do they offer newsletters?

  • Do they sell anything online?

  • How they collect leads (check their registration forms)

Once you have completed a preliminary review of your competitors' SEO, you can begin creating your own plan.

With the exception of savvy technology companies, most businesses believe that web design and development firms can ensure successful search engine optimization (SEO) results as part of their design services. Is this an erroneous believe? And if yes, does it also mean that web design firms intentionally misrepresent their capabilities?

In my view, the best answer to this question can only be given in relative terms. Yes, this believe is erroneous by at least 90%, but no, web development firms do not intentionally misrepresent themselves. Web development firms also believe that they provide SEO services as part of their web design packages. But in fact, they don't. Not anymore, to be precise.

Back in mid 1990s, when search engines were young and not so clever, and the SEO field was just being born, web development firms did, in fact, provide professional search engine optimization (SEO) services. But at that time the SEO services for the most part consisted of certain coding and tagging principles. The SEO rules were few and they were confined to the realm of programming.

In the last 5-7 years, however, the search engine optimization (SEO) situation has changed significantly. Search engines have evolved to become smarter and more effective; their algorithms and site evaluation matrix have become so effective that they are now just a few steps away from matching natural human perception.

In other words, nowadays the way search engines "perceive" and "evaluate" websites overall is not much different from the way human users do it. Search engines now focus on the same things human users do. And what do users focus on? What do they look for?

Users look for quality information that provides answers to their specific questions or needs. They highly appreciate "specialized" sites with a lot of clearly written and highly detailed  information. They may not read more than a couple of pages at a time, but they certainly want to have all the wealth of information available to them. They particularly appreciate it when a site provides relevant references and links to other sites also devoted to the same subject matter, because it makes their research so much easier. Users love when information is well structured and copy is well written so that it is easy to glance through and sort out what may or may not apply to their topic of interest. They love to see available free downloads and other additional documents, because all this provides more useful information and also speaks in favour of the site's expertise.

When users find sites that exhibit all these signs of "quality", they bookmark them so that to come back later, when their need to know becomes more pressing or when they decide to purchase a specific product. Naturally, users love sites with simple easy-to-follow navigation paths and pleasing non-intrusive graphics.

Moreover, users often form opinions about specific products and services beforethey even get a chance to see them. In fact, they often judge products and services by the way the hosting website looks and by the quality of content it exhibits. In the end, it is the quality and appropriateness of content that influences users' decisions most and foremost.

Not surprisingly, the quality of your site copy and the level of your "expertise" are the two most important factors for search engines as well. To stay focused on the topic, allow me to forego explaining the mechanism of how search engines determine expertise. For our current purposes, suffice it to say is that in determining expertise search engines look for references, i.e. links to other highly relevant and reputable sites within the same field. To summarize, when determining the ranking of a site, search engines now primarily "look" at two things: 1) relevance and quantity of the links connected with this site, and 2) quality of the site copy and associated documents.

Having said all this, I can now answer the question of why it is erroneous to believe that web development firms can ensure successful SEO results. When web development firms build websites, it is exceptionally rare for them to also write the site copy, let alone provide associated documentation, such as white papers, product briefs, how-to guides, newsletters, etc. And it is your site copy along with associated documents and links (i.e. your site content) that influence SEO ranking.

To get the most for your money, make sure to ask your web development firm to introduce you to and then let you speak with their staff SEO copywriter or free lancer.  If this is not possible, then you cannot be expected to pay for the search engine optimization (SEO) services as part of the design package, so don't be shy and ask for a lower price. You have all reasons to do that!

The search engine optimization (SEO) of a site is not complicated, but it does imply certain skill and it does take time. Before you begin working on your site, it is important to know what is involved in a full-scale SEO project.

Based on my experience working on various websites, I created a 10-step SEO project summary that I hope you will find useful. Please note that the first step is for the most part relevant to new businesses, but established companies should also double-check whether they are listed in the right category in dmoz.org (Google uses dmoz as its database resource):

  1. Define (or verify) your business category and outline potential keywords

  2. Conduct rigorous competitive analysis

  3. Settle on your main keywords and key phrases

  4. Create a clever navigation structure: modular and scalable

  5. Create a large and highly specialized website (add pages)

  6. Optimize each page on your website individually

  7. Synchronize your design and formatting style across the site

  8. Create as many relevant links as you can

  9. Add content to your website regularly (white papers, demos)

  10. Follow industry news and monitor changes (every 3 months)

Please note that this is a high-level overview of an SEO project. In later issues, I will discuss each step in detail.


If there are specific Web Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) topics that you would like me to discuss in this newsletter, please do not hesitate to drop me a line.

For related Web Marketing and SEO information, browse through the Resources section on this site.

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