SEO vs. SEM: What’s the Difference?

The folks over at Creative Content Experts came up with a neat infographic about the difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). What do you think?

If you would like discuss SEO or SEM in greater detail, give me a call @ 208.995.9437 or send me an email so we can discuss how I can assist you. Free 1-hour consultation is available. Have a great day and thank you for stopping by.

A Lot of People Are Using Facebook

According to emarketer.com: Facebook usage has grown steadily in the past two years and will continue on a solid trajectory. eMarketer estimates that 132.5 million people in the US will be using the service this year; by 2013, that number will increase to 152.1 million. Read the rest of the story here …

Having an active presence on Facebook can have the potential to help you get found in the search engines. Setting up a Fan Page on Facebook therefore, should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. If you need assistance or have questions, please contact me at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Did I mention that content is really important?

One of the most common mistakes people do when they are building content is thinking only of the search engines. They will stuff in keywords even when they make no sense. Even if you do get past the Search Engine filters and spam detectors, what happens when someone actually lands on this page? What is the point of having someone come to your site only to find the content makes no sense? Wouldn’t you leave? You are better off spending more time or paying more for content that a visitor will find valuable. Also, good quality content will stand the test of time.

When you build good content, the links will come. When you have good content, other websites will link to you to make their sites look better. I have found that if you write about a relevant topic and then go out to the expert bloggers and notify them of it, they will usually reference your content and link back to you.

This one tip is for sure, content is forever. Links, metatags and other SEO (search engine optimization) techniques come and go but content has always been relevant at some level. Don’t look at your content task as an ongoing uphill climb. Get in a ritual of writing 1 page of content every other day for your site, or find a partner that will. Within 2 years, you will have roughly 350 pages of unique, indexable content on your site. Search engines will love it, your visitors will love it, you will benefit from it for years to come!

It doesn’t have to be award winning content to make a difference. Many people get stumped on what to write about. Just write! Read an industry publication to get the ideas rolling. You don’t need a 5,000 word essay that will change your industry. Just write about a topic you were challenged with recently. Write about how great your employees are, write about a new portion of your product or service that few know about. Just write!

Of course if you just don’t have the time to create content or just what to pay someone to do the job for you then you can always hire a freelance copywriter like myself.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics

Before you begin more complex search engine optimization (SEO) techniques you must ensure that your website is “search engine friendly.” This means making sure that each individual page is compliant with search engine standards and ready to be indexed correctly. Follow each of the steps below for each page on your site.

Page Title: The title of the HTML page should be relatively short and describe the page content accurately. Wherever possible, try to include keywords (without distorting the true purpose of the title). For example:
<title>McGrath Discount Office Furniture Store</title>

Meta tags: Use the description and keywords metatags in the head of each web page. Make these tags different on each web page.
<meta name=”description” content=”Suppliers of quality office furniture and accessories at discount prices.”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”furniture, office, store, shop, retail, discount”>

Heading Tags: Use heading tags. Many search engines place more emphasis on text within heading tags, so make sure they use keywords. Use one <h1> tag per page with the most important keywords. Use other head tags (<h2>, <h3>, etc) to provide variations and support the main heading.
<h1>Desks</h1>
<h2>Large Desks</h2>
<p>… information about large desks…</p>
<h2>Small Desks</h2>
<p>… information about small desks, etc etc…</p>

Page Text: Make sure the text of your web pages contain keywords and common phrases which people might search for. Be careful with the frequency of your keywords – you want to have them occur at least a few times if possible, but don’t repeat yourself so much that the copy becomes unnatural. The idea is to discretely spread keywords around without making it obvious.
<p>Buy office furniture at affordable prices from any of our retail stores.</p>

Note: Use all these methods in moderation. If you include a hundred keywords in the meta tag or saturate your page with heading tags they will lose their effectiveness and you may be penalized in other ways. Keep it simple and under control for maximum impact.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Copywriting

Search engine optimization (SEO) copywriting requires a different approach than traditional copywriting. It could be boring, to be honest, but if done properly it will bring you results. Here are some tips that you can apply to help your SEO efforts:

1. Give the primary keyword most importance. Always keep the primary keyword in mind while writing the article. While I don’t believe in taking away a writers freedom, it’d be good if you can write an article around the suggested keyword and maintain a keyword density of 6-8% in the whole article. Also make sure the primary keyword is evenly “sprinkled” around in the whole copy.

2. Use tags to highlight phrases containing the primary keyword. Make sure you use strong tags to highlight phrases that contain the primary content and the variations of it. Also make sure that you don’t go around highlighting every occurrence of the keyword but around 3-4% in the whole text and near the start/end of the entire copy is ideal.

3. Use variations of the primary keyword in the articles. Use variations of the primary keyword in a healthy ratio of 4% of the entire copy. For example if the keyword is “Flower” the variations would be “red flower” “blue flower” etc and not “flowers” or “flowering”.

4. Maintain a keyword density of 6-8% of the primary keyword and at least 3-4% of the variations

5. While linking to other sites, use a nofollow attribute. Use a nofollow attribute to external link sources wherever necessary, especially if there are lot of outgoing links in a particular article. I’d say if you run beyond 3 links in an article, it’s better to nofollow them while you can ignore nofollows for links less than three in number.

6. Use titles for links. Use the “title” attribute for all links external or internal. In the title attribute, give a short description of less than 6 words containing the primary keyword or its variations. Ex:- “More articles on Wedding” where “Wedding” is the primary keyword.

7. Try to interlink to your own pages/articles with the appropriate keyword that suits the content of the destination article. Do not use nofollow attributes while doing this.

8. Try to maintain a length of at least 250 words in the whole article. This is to make sure that Google gets the chance to scan your copy and collect the keywords from it. If it’s a short article, the engines might not consider it a valid doc.

9. When writing headings, try to make sure that the primary keyword is placed in the first three words. Ex:- “Wedding Troubles – Article 1,2 and 3” where Wedding Troubles is the keyword.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Spiders

Spiders–creepy and crawly, but in this form, very good. A search engine “spider” also known as a “crawler” is a software program that search engines such as Google use to find out whats out there on the web. The web is a huge place, so something needs to travel around and see whats offered on it every second of every day, and the spider is it.

The spider looking at your information follows all of your hyperlinks on each page after the page is loaded. Much like a spider crawls through a web and finds all insects that get stuck in it, the “spider” on the web crawls around web sites and will eventually find your information.

When a spider visits your web page, the content on your page gets loaded into a database (picture a gigantic excel file the size of your city) After your web page has been retrieved, the search engines loads your content into their index, like drawers and drawers of index cards, your words get organized.

In SEO the spider goes out and finds your pages, then they break down all of your words on your page and then all of your URLs are fed back into the SEO program.

The first thing a spider does when it visits your page is look for a file called “robots.txt.” It is a special file that tells the spider what to index and what not to index and if the spider doesn’t find the page, the page will be thrown out, hence why you may not get recognized in a search engine.
The only way for a spider to see your information is for it to have a robots.txt file. A spider will find your page by following hyperlinks or “found pages.”

Search engine may have a URL submission form in which you will want to request that they add your site to their index, this is a good idea to do in most cases. One last thing I have learned is that if you are submitting your site to a search engine, it is very important to not submit it to the sites you find or software you can purchase that will submit your site to hundreds of engines, this does not work. More and more links you have on your site will also improve rankings.

If you have additional questions, please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.