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Is Your Site Optimised?
by: Richard D S Hill
Organisations need to optimise their search engine marketing (organic listings, general advertising and pay per click) to acquire more customers or members, sell more online and for many other reasons. There are nearly 1 billion people with Internet access. Almost 550 million searches are conducted worldwide on the Internet every day. A searcher is proactively requesting information. They are already looking for what you offer. They are a live prospect.

When looking at the search results page, most users look for a number of specific items, at least one of which must be present to capture a click through. These items include the key phrase in the title or description, product information and trusted brand names and vendors.

Nearly 60% of users have a search engine of preference, but will use another engine if they're not satisfied with the results from the first engine. So, although users may give Google as their engine of preference, they may actually use another engine, such as Yahoo or MSN, for a significant percentage of their searches.

There are a number of things that are very important in optimisation:

Optimized page text. Every page must be optimized for a few key search phrases. These are phrases that people actually use when searching for information related to that page. Writing a unique and compelling title for every web page and including target phrases in each page's title, description and keywords meta-tags are also important.

Crawler friendly navigation. Making sure a crawler can easily navigate your entire site. This is often accomplished by providing a secondary text-link navigation scheme or site map. Reducing variables in page URLs is very important for dynamic sites.

In bound links from important sites. Links to your website from important sites (such as the most popular directories and other relevant sites) will boost your popularity ranking.

Search engine friendly website design. Excessive use of design features that can cause problems for crawlers (such as flash, frames, and dynamic content) will negatively impact your search engine visibility, as will ‘heavy’ pages that do not call scripts etc. or pages that use languages (e.g. JavaScript) that search engines cannot read.

Once a site is optimised it needs to be refreshed and changed and kept up to date. In general search engines like ‘new’ content so continuing optimisation is essential.

The optimised site can now serve as the basis for an effective Pay Per Click campaign as it will have helped to generate the relevant keywords and phrases to be used. For a PPC campaign the following approach is essential to optimise results:

* Audience – who are they? What would they use to search on? What keywords / phrases would they use?

* Offer – what can we do to distinguish our offer from the competition? We have a maximum of about 30 words in which to make the offer, so it has to be good and state what’s in it for the searcher?

* Product – what is better about our product. See the constraints in offer above.

* Creative – there aren’t really any pictures in PPC so how else can we be creative?

All of this however is wasted unless an ebusiness optimised site backs it up. This means:

* Thinking of the customer – and thinking how they think

* Making finding product and price easy

* Making terms clear and payment simple

* Ensuring in stock and short delivery timescales

* Making communications clear – mail, phone, email

* Testing on an ongoing basis - test, track and try, test, track and try.”

About the author:
Richard Hill is a director of E-CRM Solutions and has spent many years in senior direct and interactive marketing roles. E-CRM you to grow by getting you more customers that stay with you longer. We provide practical solutions that pay for themselves. We help you to make sure that your marketing works.

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