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Internet Marketing & SEO Newsletter

Issue 1

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the very 1st issue of our email newsletter on Web Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). 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.

Usually, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is understood as a set of techniques applied to a website to improve its ranking and positioning with search engines, with the goal of helping visitors or potential buyers find the website through a keyword search on search engines (see also Web definitions of SEO).

In my approach to SEO, I assume that the ultimate goal of a site optimization project is to increase the number of visitors who fill out your order or registration forms. In other words, I understand SEO as a set of techniques that help you attract customers through your website and generate sales. I believe that SEO is not merely a strategy for enhancing your web presence and driving traffic to your website. SEO is a means for transforming your website into a powerful yet cost-effective vehicle for generating considerable and sustainable revenue.

As it is typically described, a site optimization usually involves design and layout changes, new text for the TITLE tags,  METATAGS, ALT- attributes, headings, creation of new links, and most importantly creation of new copy (text) as well as modifications to the existing one.

Additionally, it is also typical to supplement "organic" site optimization with Paid-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, such as Google's AdWords, for example. Both organic SEO and keyword-purchasing campaigns aim at ensuring that users who are looking for your type of products and services can find you through a keyword search on Google and other search engines.

But what happens after your users have found your site? Do they stay and read on or do they leave it quickly? Do they visit multiple pages and review your company profile? Do they express interest in your white papers or other available documentation? Do they send you their feedback? And finally, do they register on your site to purchase your products or services? All these questions, although seemingly disconnected from the actual search engine optimization of a site, in fact, form the most important part of the SEO process. What is the point in spending resources on optimizing a website and driving traffic to it, if it doesn't contribute to your sales or business objectives? What is the point in investing in Internet advertising, if nobody is ordering your products or services through your website? 

A recent study conducted by researches at Cornell University (.pdf) supports my point of view:

...A new study released this year by a team of researches at Cornell University aims to examine the actions of searchers when it comes to both viewing search results and deciding which result to select. The team examined the results for actual search results and manually edited search results to see, if users are influenced solely by ranking position, or also by perceived relevancy.

The studies findings were not unexpected, though they do back up anecdotal experience for most marketers. While viewing stayed fairly strong for thetop five organic search listings, click-through rates dropped off dramatically beyond the first result. More than two-third of searchers take the time to view the first two search results and more than a third view spots two to five. That number drops to less than ten percent when you get down to the listings in positions nine and ten.

When it comes to actual click-through rates, the findings are a bit more scattered. On average, just four in ten searchers click the first listing in a search result. For positions two to six, the results have far less variation. Position two tended to receive about 16% of clicks, position three received about 10% and positions four, five and six all received around 5% or 6% of clicks.

The study suggests that once you move beyond the first few listings, searchers are serious enough that they'll take the time to view multiple results. In other words, unless you hold the first or second ranking, your position in the top ten may not matter near as much as you thought it did. In fact, it has been the experience of many marketers that their conversion rates tend to increase as their rankings decrease.

The thinking behind this is that the type of user that is determined enough to sort through five or six listings before landing on position seven, is a highly qualified searcher, and therefore, more likely to convert. While these lower positions mean less traffic, the higher conversion rates that can go with them often mean that the same amount of sales are still made.This furthers the shift in thinking from focusing on rankings to focusing on sales as a measurement of search engine marketing success...

Source: Search Engine Guide

To generate or increase revenue through your website, you cannot merely aim at positioning your site high on search engines and driving traffic to it.You need to identify factors that form users' impressions, create their motivations and influence their decisions to register on your website and purchase your products or services. You need to approach these "intangible" factors as the main building principles of both your web design and SEO projects.

Many a company still don't utilize their website to its full potential of a powerful marketing and sales vehicle. Your website keeps you engaged in an ongoing "dialogue" with your customers, visitors, and users. This interaction is one of the most important factors directly influencing your users' purchasing decisions.

If you plan on starting an SEO project, it is best to co-ordinate it with a website re-design project. If your website has recently been updated, but you plan on starting an SEO project now, you need to be prepared for additional new changes.

A good SEO consultant, however, should be able to optimize your site without bringing major structural changes to it. With a few exceptions, it is always possible to keep optimization changes confined to an on-page level.

Time and time again, I am being asked whether I would recommend doing your own search engine optimization (SEO). My answer to this is a definite 'YES', but it comes with a couple of footnotes. You can be sure to succeed with your own SEO, provided all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • If you are the main decision maker and all content-related decisions reside personally with you, or 
  • Your company is relatively small (under 50 people), and 
  • If your site is relatively small (under 500 pages), and 
  • You have the time and desire to conduct research and learn about search engines, and most importantly 
  • You are a good copywriter with at least a basic understanding of main SEO copywriting principles.

If you can place a confident check mark across all points on this list, then there is no reason why you should not be successful with your own search engine optimization (SEO). To start, feel free browse the SEO resources section on my website. Do not be discouraged by minor obstacles and temporary side backs, start your project, work on it diligently, and if there are problems, hire an experienced SEO consultant to help and guide you on your way up.

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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