Tuesday, October 25, 2005

SEO: Controlling Entry Pages

One of the most important aspects of keyword strategy for search engine optimization is getting the right search terms onto the right page. Among many things, my team does keyword research and discovery for a lot of websites. This is an important first step, but too often we see folks take our report, pick the search terms they think they can get ranked for right away, and stick those search terms on their home page because it's "easier" to get "fast results."

But what kind of results will you get?

Let me give you a hypothetical scenario... let's say you have an online store that sells office products of all kinds. Because you haven't had an effective linking and promotion strategy in the past, you're going to have a hard time competing for "office products" right away. So you decide to target a less competitive search term like "electric staplers" for now, and go after the big tuna later on.

So far, you're doing fine. Recognize your limitations, and go after something you can get. No problem. However, if you want to target "electric staplers," make sure that the page you optimize is the one where you sell staplers... not your home page. If you bring untargeted traffic to your home page, the visitors just bounce right off and go somewhere else - if you bring them to the right page, a lot more of them will buy something. It's as simple as that.

You can control which page search engines send people to by optimizing the right page, and supporting that page's keywords with links from inside and outside of your website. Okay, maybe it's a little more complicated than that, but not by much. The point here is that you want to control the entry page, where the search engine sends the visitor, and you do that by getting the right page ranked in the first place.

You can learn a lot more about keyword strategy by downloading a free 75-minute video, from the third week of my Advanced SEO class. To download, first decide if you are a Windows Person or a Mac Person. Windows people, grab this archive - that's a 25 megabyte file, containing a Windows executable that will automagically install the required video codec and run the video in Windows Media Player. Mac people, download this archive instead, and get the Ensharpen decoder from Techsmith to run the video in Quicktime.

Off Topic:
A favor, please... I'm looking at a few options for promotional items to give away at SES in December - let me know what you think:
  • A cool USB beverage warmer for the poor folks in the laptop lounge, where we hope the wireless access will be improved this year.
  • A travel coffee mug for the folks who want to bring hot coffee into a 90-minute session, where coffee will otherwise get cold.
  • A combination compass & thermometer to help navigate from the hotel to the conference hall, which in Chicago is a very long journey.
If these don't look good, take a look around that site and let me know what you think would work. I'm looking for a promotional gift that people will remember, and hopefully something that they will actually use. Bonus points if they use it in public places at the conference. :D

We'll talk more soon.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

About The SEO Coach

Hi, I'm Dan Thies... if you don't know me already, stick around and you will. I'm the author and publisher of Search Engine Optimization Fast Start, and the author of SitePoint's Search Engine Marketing Kit.

I have been blogging at SitePoint for a while, and I expect to continue posting there as long as they allow it. I've created this blog for a few big reasons:
  1. It's mine. My ideas, my opinions, my advice, my mistakes, my way.
  2. To share. Little tidbits of advice, stuff to make you think, my honest opinion.
  3. To build. An audience, a community, a philosophy, an approach.
  4. To help. Your website, your online marketing, your success.
  5. To improve. The SEM industry, the practice of SEO, the signal to noise ratio.
To achieve these ends, I plan to focus on things you can do something about. You will not see a bunch of industry news, gossip, press releases, and the like. You can find these at Search Engine Watch, Threadwatch, PRWeb, and everywhere else, respectively.