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January 24, 2012

SEO – Martin’s Tips & Free White Paper

Martin Marty Smith Atlantic BT Marketing DirectorFree SEO Evaluation White Paper (coming soon)
Writing a Free SEO White Paper to become the first step in our Free SEO Evaluation process. Our Atlantic BT Free SEO White Paper will share knowledge learned during a week of training in California with leading SEO expert Bruce Clay and over twenty years of combined content marketing experience on million dollar ecommerce and B2B sites by members of the talented Internet Marketing team I have the honor to lead (Martin’s Bio and LinkedIn) at Atlantic BT.

Look for the Atlantic BT SEO White Paper soon. Today’s post shares SEO Tips prompted by a customer who successfully made SEO low hanging fruit changes and is looking to move his web site to the next level.

SEO – Martin’s Tips Note

SEO is a many layered challenge with touch points in site design, site reputation, viral campaigns, PPC (as a traffic generator and source of content research), hosting (site speed is becoming an increasing issue), meta data (particularly page titles), keyword aligned body copy and about fifty other things. We’ve seen tremendous SEO change in the last two years due to the growing influence of social networks. Diving into the middle of such a many layered challenge takes skill, time and a solid understanding of your site and business goals. Here are “best practices” you can implement in your site today to improve organic traffic:

  • Facebook Likes (macro and micro) – Be sure to have the Facebook LIKE button on your home page and on important individual pages such as product pages or key articles AND make sure your counters are accurate to the page the LIKE button is on. I want a macro “reach” counter capable of summarizing LIKES across multiple touch points, but no such tool exists yet (that I am aware of) so make sure your Facebook counters are aligned to pages they are on.
  • Platforms Beat Websites – read my Internet Marketing – Platforms vs. Websites post on ScentTrail Marketing to understand how significantly Internet marketing is being transformed by Web 2.0 and the promise of Web 3.0. As Amazon nears a billion pages in Google’s index understanding the interconnected “platform-yness” of Internet marketing has never been more important.
  • UGC Rules – One of the implications of living in the land of platforms is you can’t create enough content to win keyword wars on your own. You team and content creation budget isn’t big enough even if you have millions. User generated content (UGC) is KEY. Create campaigns that develop community and encourage people to share your site across their social nets (and remember to use the Facebook LIKE button whenever possible). You may want to read my 1:10:89 Rule post too as it explains how magical and rare contributors are. My favorite UGC tools are polls, contests and games. Each UGC tactic has a “best practice” application I will write about in another post.
  • Content, Community and Campaigns THEN Conversions – Living in a platform time means learning SEO stepping stones to success. Each step builds on and contributes to the next. Create a content strategy. We create content strategies with extensive keyword research, something we’ve named “branding keywords”. Branding Keywords maps keywords to business values, buying personas, buyer pain points and potential blue oceans (those keywords not frothy red with competition). This kind of research is a HUGE time commitment (days usually), but it makes your content and campaigns jump off the page. We are working on sharing these steps so anyone who wants to can “brand keywords” (look for our tutorial in about a month). Community can be as little as adding reviews or as much as building out a Facebook environment. Content without community support is a tree falling in the desert with no one to hear it. Campaigns are the “buy one get one free” or the “free white paper” or the “Holiday Sale” language of email and social marketing. You need deadlines, a great offer and compelling presentation across all touch points (site, blog, social, email) to motivate and cut through clutter and buyer apathy. Conversions come because you fire on every step. Any friction such as TRUST and REPUTATION must be fully eliminated (another post for another time). Conversions Key Performance Indicators can be anything including more time on site or increased page views. We like to make conversions some ACTION such as sign up, download or buy.
  • SPEED – Go to Alexa or use a speed evaluation tool. If your site is anything other than FAST redesign it or serve it better or both. Google’s margins erode when pages take too long to load so they will punish your listings for slow response.
  • SPAM – Work in SEO long enough and you can feel hidden SPAM traps. You know exactly how to SEO write to push keyword density without spamming. There are tools that you can use to confirm and help eliminate things like “stop words”, but do this long enough, test enough content and you develop an intuitive feel for what works. If you don’t have such a sense yet read my SEO Writing Tips 1 – 5 on ScentTrail Marketing for a quick crash course.
  • DATA – We are constantly reminded that however much we think we know about SEO we don’t know anything. SEO and the Internet live organically in Real Time. The only things that matter or define SEO success is what is happening now. The good news is there is a sea of data to help cut the cost of the gamble. SEO and Internet marketing are always gambles, but informed ones perform better and better over the long run. Every now and again we re-read Black Swan by Taleb just in case we think we can finally predict Internet marketing’s future (no one can and arrogance goes before a huge fall in our Internet marketing experiences).
  • Snake Oil – In another much younger life I sold soap for P&G, an honorable straight forward job. SEO is full of people who project confidence when they should have NONE. They use words they don’t understand but do so in a way that makes listeners confused or anxious. Here is a quick Snake Oil test. Ask a prospective SEO how they would change your home page title, the most important meta copy on any page. If they answer anything other than, “I have no idea,” RUN FOR THE HILLS. Existing sites are modeled and indexed in Google. Change is expected and accepted WITHIN parameters, within modeled limits. First rule of SEO is DO NO HARM. Anyone who, at a moment’s notice, creates a SEO plan for your site is dangerous and should be avoided. Avoid snake oil salesmen since the first rule they violate is DO NO HARM and harm within Google’s Elephant Memory Brain is forever (or a very long time anyway). Another good Snake Oil test is anyone who says, “I can get you #1 on X keyword in Y time.” The only way to achieve such a mission is to wear a black hat, to game or trick Google. Never game or trick Google. The math always wins and the over/under doesn’t favor such a tactic (what you stand to gain vs. lose). A former CFO told me, “I want you to make something happen on Google by the end of the week.” Something is happening on Google all the time, I had to explain, but only BAD things can happen for sure by the end of the week. Hard concept for a CFO to grasp.

Keep the faith, keep creating content and find a way to move your “site” to a platform generating UGC and the magic Google Juice it provides is the most important SEO lesson once you are past the low hanging fruit of solid meta, body copy, tags and purple cow link bait.

Hope these ideas have helped. Look for our Free SEO White paper and more on Branding Keywords soon. If you would like to be kept up-to-date with the latest at Atlantic BT (never share our list and don’t spam) use the link below to stay in touch.

Yes, Please Add Me To Your Think Like An Internet Marketer Email List.

Martin
Director Marketing

Age Of The Platform Book by Simon

Suggested Reading:

Phil Simon’s new book

The Age of the Platform

The Atlantic BT Manifesto

The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Complex Web Project

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