On the Web: Are You Paying Enough Attention to SEO?
Pure-play websites crush classic direct marketers when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Most produce 50 percent or more of their total sales this way, garnering millions in revenue. Many direct marketers view their sites as cash registers where shoppers go to check out. They've either ignored or only paid lip service to SEO.
SEO can produce big sales gains, particularly if your site generates less than 10 percent from it. Here are some basic suggestions to get your natural search sales moving.
1. 50 Phrases
Identify 50 phrases, which can be single words, that your web-browsing prospects would query on a search engine. Don't go too broad in your selection; choose terms that are relevant for your site, and rename them if need be. Try "horse show ribbons," for example, as opposed to simply "ribbons" if you sell awards for equestrian competitions.
2. Dedicated Pages
Create a page on your site for each of these 50 phrases or words. Many of these should be names of your product categories. Optimize a page for only one word or phrase by having it appear in one or more of these positions:
- At the beginning of the meta title tag (title tags appear in the bar at the top of your web browser) and in the meta description tag.
- In the H1 tag (the headline for a search engine). While shoppers respond well to headlines with strong benefits, search engines want to know the page topic. Sophisticated techniques allow you to show different headlines to search engines and shoppers.
- In a short paragraph at the top of the page. The paragraph can be benefit-oriented, but it must contain the page's phrase. Search engines cannot read words in a graphic, so make sure this is text. What's more, search engines react poorly if the search term makes up more than 7 percent to 10 percent of the total words on a page, so don't spam it.
- In the alt image tag on a photo (shown when you hover over a picture).
- In the URL string for the page, if you can. For example, www.equestrianprizes.com/horse_show_ribbons/c/23/ is much better than www.equestrianprizes.com/ category.asp?c=23.
3. Stay Close to Home
Place a link to these dedicated pages on your homepage. The category links from your homepage will cover many of your top terms, but you can get the rest on the homepage under a "frequent searches" heading. Search engines give more weight to pages that are one click from your main URL.