At a Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York event titled "Demystifying the Business of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)", Alex Bennert described the value of search and SEO and the implications for getting found.
Alex Bennert is a longtime SEO professional who has worked with clients such as Zillow and JibJab. She's now chief search strategist for the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones sites. In other words, she knows her SEO stuff! [Check out her interview with Lee Odden from TopRankBlog: SEO at Wall Street Journal: Interview with Alex Bennert, Chief Search Strategist at The Wall Street Journal.]
I don't know about you, but I really appreciate opportunities to hear experts discuss and simplify SEO. I also found the presentation timely as I had just finished a TalkFloor interview for an ongoing social media marketing series with Dave Foster during which we discussed Google for Search & Discovery. Sure enough, Alex brought up Google Insights, Google Trends and Google Keyword Research Tool. Perfect!
Alex made the following points about search:
- Searchers are actively engaged when they search
- 64% of web users use search as the main method for finding things online [I certainly do]
- "With search, your market comes to you."
About organic search, she stated that:
- 85% of searchers click on organic results
- Searchers trust organic search results over paid and consider them more relevant
- "Organic search provides value over time whereas paid search traffic disappears as soon as you stop your spend."
- Search engines are still evolving
I liked how Alex described the business of SEO [Search Engine Optimization]: in addition to being about indentifying and resolving technical barriers preventing your site from getting crawled and indexed, SEO focuses on understanding how customers look for your content and makes sure your content is visible when potential customers enter search queries in search engines.
Ultimately, the real value of SEO is not to 'game the sysem' but rather to expose your brand to new customers, generate revenue, support and reinforce your marketing messages, drive people to your physical locations, make you more efficient [e.g., FAQs], educate, measure awareness and learn how customers think.
[Many of these points reminded me of Liana Evan's MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer 2009 presentation and her comments about being found online. See my post titled Liana Evans Blends Social Media & Search For Greater Marketing Impact.]
In learning how customers think, be sure to understand the value of different types of search queries. More specifically, information - to research purchases, transaction - to buy, and navigation - to get to a known brand or website - queries. They affect the business of SEO!
SEO Tip: For navigation queries [which 58% of Americans do at least occasionally; 78% of adult internet users in US do product or service research online], don't forget to actively position your brand or message for navigation queries using Title Tags and Meta Description [you have 150 characters to help you stand out in search results].
- Support marketing initiatives with search
- Gauge brand awareness and interest over time
- Identify regional interest in products
- Help monitor growth and decline of trends
- Make sure every website entry point satisfies searcher's query intent [i.e., buy, call, share, download, subscribe, watch a video, click an ad, contribute content, find a location or store].
- Include SEO throughout your business processes
- Understand how the search engines perceive your site [use SITE:www.domainname.com to show indexed pages and look at 'cached' and view how search engines see web pages.
- Code validation [it has nothing to do with SEO]
- Keyword density [better to write for the reader and make the content sound natural]
- Meta keyword tag
- Absolute volume of pages indexed [focus on quality rather than quantity]
- Using NOFOLLOW tags on links to 'sculpt' or hoard link equity
Don't ignore SEO. It will help your business get found by potential customers!
- Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
- Link to Alex Bennert's presentation and handout on the Value of Search & Demystifying the Business of SEO.
How do you use SEO in your business to get found by customers? What works best? Share your successes in the comments.