Pepper Blue Blog


Email open rates rise: Epsilon study
Marketing e-mail open rates were up 18.2% year-over-year for the second quarter, according to a report by Epsilon that was released October 6. ...
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Posted by Tim Pepper at 10/21/2009 4:43 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Title Element, Meta Description and Meta Keyword Tags

Title Element:

The title element (sometimes mistakenly called a tag) is the most important factor in ranking highly in the search engines, so it is worth taking some time to get it as near perfect as you can. Also the title is the most prominent text displayed in the SERPs and should be composed for users as well as the search engines. It goes without saying that every page on your site should have a different title.

The title element should be placed immediately after specifying the doctype, character set and language, like this:

<!doctype HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN”>
<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Language” content=”en”>
<title>Your Page Title Here</title>
<meta name=”Description” content=” Your description here.”>
<meta name=”Keywords” content=” your, keyword, list, here”>
<link type=”text/css” rel=”stylesheet” src=”/path/file.css”>
<script type=”text/javascript” language=”javascript” src=”/path/file.js”></script>
</head>
<body>
.
The content of your page goes here.
.
</body>
</html>

There are several do’s and don’ts when constructing a title element:

  • Use proper grammar and that doesn’t mean it has to be a sentence, it can be just a phrase but make sure it is a grammatically correct phrase.
  • Make sure all the words are spelled correctly.
  • Avoid the use of symbols, numbers and special characters.
  • The title should be constructed from your keywords.
  • Do not repeat the keywords in the same phrase or list them.
  • Keep the length under 65 characters including spaces. Google will truncate the title around the 65th character although it does vary because it will try to end with a complete word.
  • Use none or only one stop word (and, the, a, if etc.) which is not so easy given that good grammar is required.
  • Don’t use your Company name in the title except on your ‘Contact’ or ‘About Us’ page. It just takes up valuable characters where you could have put a keyword.
  • Here is an example, let’s say that your business is selling organic dog food to dog owners in Arizona and you are creating a title for your home page. From your keyword research you have deduced that the following six keyphrases are the most searched for and are the ones for which you will need to optimize your home page.

    dog food, dog kibble, natural dog food, natural dog kibble, organic dog food, organic dog kibble

    The word frequency is as follows:

    Word (Frequency)
    dog (6)
    food (3)
    kibble (3)
    natural (2)
    organic (2)

    Now it is a question of putting them in the correct order:

    <title>Natural Organic Dog Food and Dog Kibble Phoenix Arizona</title>

    Which makes sense and is 55 characters.

    If you now use these keyphrases in your body text and make sure they are used in inbound link anchor text you will be well down the path of optimization!

    Inbound Links:

    These are links coming from other websites to yours. They are the second most important factor in SEO after the title element. Certainly in terms of the time involved inbound links will be the area where most of your effort in SEO will be expended.

    There are five main aspects to consider when obtaining inbound links:

    • The anchor text
    • The linking page (the page on which the link is situated)
    • The linking site (the site which contains the page the link is on)
    • The linked page (the page on your site that is linked to)
    • Acquisition or link building (how to get them)


    The anchor text.

    The anchor text is the text that users will click on to reach your site and appears like this in the html of the linked page:

    <a href=”http://www.yourdomain.com”>This is the anchor text</a>

    and on that page it will look like this:

    This is the anchor text.

    It is essential that the anchor text should contain the keywords that you have optimized the linked page for, in various combinations. If we take the example used in the Title Element post where our keywords were dog,
    food, kibble, natural, and organic,
    then these would be used in the anchor text of links to that page as well as the full title Natural Organic Dog Food and Dog Kibble Phoenix Arizona. The idea is to avoid exactly the same anchor text for every inbound link but also to ensure that every link contains either your title or keywords.

    The linking site.

    Inbound links are such an important aspect to ranking high in the SERPs that site owners are tempted into using any means possible to obtain them. Google says in their Webmaster Guidelines “Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank”. They really do mean it and quite correctly refer to abusers as ‘spammers’ who are diluting the quality of their search results. Algorithmic spam detection has been implemented by all the popular search engines and improves day by day.

    As the search engines become better and better at spam detection the bottom line is to avoid obtaining links from networks of colluding sites or participating in linking schemes of any kind. At best the links will be of little or no value and at worst your site could suffer an outright ban.

    The linked page.

    The linked to page should contain text that is semantically or topically related to the linking page. For example a link from a page on the topic of the nutritional analysis of dog food  to a page on your site about how to  break your dog of separation anxiety would be meaningless unless you included a body of text that related the nutritional analysis of organic natural dog food to reduced incidences of separation anxiety.

    Acquisition or link building.

    With all these constraints you may be wondering how you are ever going to find the sites which will provide you with strong links? There are two aspects to this question, how to identify the sites and then having done that how to persuade the site owner to link to your site.

    Identifying candidate sites. Finding the strong links that your competitors have obtained is a good place to start. Record the top 10 or 20 sites in the SERPs for your keywords and find the inbound links to those sites.

    Most professional SEOs have software to do this kind of analysis for them (We use IBP by Axandra) but you can do it manually like this if you are methodical and spend sufficient time.

    Let’s say for example that the keyphrase for which you are seeking inbound links is dog food. Google dog food and record all the sites in the first page of the SERPs. The first site is www.petfooddirect.com.

    Now enter linkdomain:petfooddirect.com -site:petfooddirect.com into Yahoo Search

    This will give you a list of all the inbound links that Yahoo knows about for the site. (we are using Yahoo search here because the Google link: operator

    link:petfooddirect.com

    only shows a sample of the links that it knows about.

    These will all be possible candidates for linking to you but won’t tell you which the important ones are. If you repeat the process for all the sites on the first page of the SERPs and transfer the results to columns in an Excel spreadsheet you could perhaps write a macro to determine those links which are most common to all the sites. The sites that link to two or more of your competitors are the important ones.

    That's why programs like IBP from Axandra are so helpfuly (but not cheap).

    Obtaining the link. This is also a time consuming process and it is tempting to send a template email requesting a link to the site owner or webmaster. Resist the temptation because invariably 99.9% of such emails are never looked at or even considered. The best approach is to communicate by telephone in a very friendly way or to send a personalized email. Whichever you choose your success rate will depend on how much planning and effort you put into the communication and of course the links you require the most are the ones where you should put the maximum effort.

    Meta Description Tags:

     Meta description tags, on the other hand, don't really affect your rankings in the search engines.  Still, they are very worthwhile to use because they allow you to control the description of your listing in some engines for some search queries.

    The best (and most obvious) thing to do is to make sure your top optimized keyword phrases are being used in your Meta description tag.  

    Your Meta description will show in the search results only *if* it happens to use the exact phrase that has been queried at the search engine.  So use this tag for marketing purposes, i.e., to entice people to click on *your* link as opposed to the other 10 in the search results.

    If you're not a big brand that people are searching for by company name, then you don't need to worry about it.  However, if people do indeed search for you by name, then simply control the snippet by making sure you put the company name in your Meta description or in a nice marketing sentence closer to the top of the page.

    Meta Keyword Tags

    These are a different animal altogether.  It is known that Google doesn't pay any attention to it.  Yahoo does look at the Meta keywords tag, and does index its contents.

    Note that creating this tag with the same keywords you've optimized your page for will NOT boost it in the rankings. Putting the keywords in your content is far more important.

     Many people will say that for most sites and pages, don't waste your time creating a Meta keyword tag unless you feel like it (I like to do it because it causes no harm and can only help - simple)

     If you have some lesser known words that might apply to the site then put those words in like "client identification device"

    It's not going help if there are a whole bunch of other sites with the words visible on their pages.  But for unusual stuff, the meta keyword is still alive and well in a few engines.

    It won't hurt anything, and who knows...maybe that page that fits the "all else being equal" scenario with your competitors, many of whom do not have the keyword tag, will show up one day and you'll have them beat by a meta keyword!

     


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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 9/21/2009 1:37 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
    Social Networking Made Easy
    Confused about all the different Social Network applications available? Check out this article which will clear things up for you, or complicate them even more, but at least  you'll know what they are.

    Social Networking Primer
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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 8/21/2009 1:18 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
    Why do customers abandon the checkout process?
    Problems with the checkout process constitute the single biggest loss of revenue for many e-commerce sites, with almost half of online retail transactions abandoned at this stage.
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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 7/21/2009 11:57 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
    What is better: SEO or PPC?

    A common question is what is bettter to do: Advertise a website with SEO (search engine optimization) or PPC (pay per click advertising).

    Actually, most commercial websites work best if you use both SEO and PPC. The exact mix depends on your goals.

    Pay per click advertising (PPC)

    Advantages:

    • You get instant results. If you advertise your website on pay per click search engines, then you will get traffic now and not several months later.
    • PPC ads are perfect for time limited offers such as holiday sales.
    • You can stop PPC ads at any time.
    • PPC ads make it easy to test different keywords and landing pages.
    • PPC ads also work with websites that are not very well designed and wouldn't get good search engine rankings.
    • PPC ads allow you to bid on a large amount of keywords, including misspellings and other keyword variations that you cannot put on your web pages.

    Disadvantages:

    • PPC advertising can become very expensive if you bid on the wrong keywords or if you don't calculate the maximum bid price correctly.
    • Click fraud can be a problem. Not all clickers are potential customers.

    If you advertise your website with PPC ads then you should use a ROI tracking to make sure that you don't waste your money.

    Search engine optimization (SEO):

    Advantages:

    • Traffic through organic search engine results is almost free if the up-front work has been done.
    • After optimizing your website you can use your money for different things and the optimized site will still run.
    • A larger number of visitors and search result clickers is not a problem.
    • Search engine optimization delivers long term results that don't require permanent financial input.

    Disadvantages:

    • SEO can be relatively time-consuming up-front.
    • SEO can require a redesign of your web pages to make your website search engine friendly. However, this usually also results in a better user experience.

    Search engine optimization delivers lasting results and it costs considerably less in the long term. However, you must make sure that you optimize correctly if you want to get high search engine rankings.

    Pay per click advertising and search engine optimization both contribute to the success of your website. If you use both wisely, you can get many new visitors and customers without spending a fortune. See the recommended resources below for PPC and SEO software tips.

    Regardless, you should also use an analytics program (we believe Google Analytics is the way to go) to measure everything going on - without this you'll never be able to see what is really happening.

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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 6/21/2009 12:23 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
    Search and the Buying Cycle
    Great article that explains how 40% of online conversions occurr 5-12 weeks after the initial search, studies prove that most online buyers research purchases long before they transact. This pre-purchase period is likely the best opportunity to capture new customers and influence sales that might otherwise be lost.
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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 5/21/2009 9:09 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
    Conversion Formula
    At marketingexperiments.com they've distilled conversion rate down to a handy little equation:
    C = 4M + 3V + 2(I-F) - 2A

    It illustrates that the probability of conversion (C) is a function of the buyer’s motivation (M), how strong our value proposition (V) is, and the combination of friction (F) and incentive (I) elements that make up our registration process, further mitigated by any anxiety (A) experienced by the customer during the process.

    Marketing Experiments is a reputable company and most likely came up with the formula after exhaustive research.

    As a graduate of their Paid Search Certification Program, I can attest to the usefulness of formulas like this in helping to incease conversions.

    Since conversions are where almost all PPC programs experience problems, this formula combined with specific landing page development need to be looked at very seriously to get the most ROI out of your PPC programs.

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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 4/21/2009 9:45 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
    Latest Search Market Share
    Here is the latest stats on Search Engine Market Share - Google still reigns - any surprise?

    September Search Market Share
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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 10/15/2007 1:26 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
    U.S. Search Engine Rankings, April 2007
    Google continued to build on its lead in U.S. search market share, claiming nearly half of all searches conducted in April, according to research released by comScore Networks. Hitwise placed the volume at 65 percent of U.S.-based searches in April.
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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 8/1/2007 8:37 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
    Key Differences Between Yahoo Search Marketing & Google AdWords
    From Search Engine Land: You're probably tired of reading about cultural differences between the two search marketing leaders, Google and Yahoo. Does Semel have better hair than Sergey? Does Yahoo really hire people based on softball prowess? If you're actually using the search marketing platforms, or for that matter, interacting with Googlers or Yahoos to accomplish a marketing-related task, none of this matters. Let's run down some of the most impactful real-world differences between the two search marketing platforms, in the wake of Yahoo's Panama rollout and some recent Google AdWords updates.
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    Posted by Tim Pepper at 7/15/2007 9:21 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)