SEO, SEM and Social Media

SEO

Search Engine Optimizing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process that makes a website search engine friendly and helps the site rank well in the search engine’s listings. At TH Design, every website we create utilizes SEO principles for construction and content.

What does it mean to be “Search Engine Friendly?”

When a site has been constructed with optimization in mind, search engine “spiders” (also called “bots”, short for robots) can find the site and “read” its pages easily. The information gathered will then be transmitted back to the Search Engine and the website will be properly categorized in the Search Engine’s database.

What are “organic listings?”

Organic listings are the search engine’s “free” listings. Search engines also serve up “paid” listings. Google’s paid (or sponsored) listings typically appear on the top and right-hand side of the browser window.

What does it mean to “rank well”?

To rank well means that your website appears at or near the top of the organic listings that come up in response to a relevant search engine query.

The organic listings’ results are completely automated. You can’t pay for a Number 1 listing—your site will rank based on it’s merits. Furthermore, Google imposes a waiting period for new sites or newly optimized sites. It typically takes 2-6 months for your site to rise to it’s natural position.

What are SEO Principals for Construction and Content?

They include:

  • Clean Coding
  • Top-Heavy Content Placement and Site Architecture
  • Solid Content that is optimized for Keywords and Phrases
  • Use of relevant keywords in Page Names, Content and Alt-Tags
  • Use of Alt-Tags for images

There are other steps that can be taken either by you or by us. A link campaign is an example.

Link Campaigns

The search engines have a variety of automated techniques that they use to select the results they serve up in response to a search query. One of the variables they measure is the quantity and quality of incoming links (i.e. websites that have linked to your site). The theory is that if outside sites have chosen to link to your site it must mean your site’s content has merit. Google in particular favors information-heavy sites.

A link campaign involves researching relevant and complementary websites and requesting a posting or link exchange. (Relevance is critical—getting a whole bunch of unrelated sites to link to your site will not yield positive results.)

Link campaigns take time, and the results aren’t instantaneous. But over a period of months, a good link campaign will help raise your site’s rankings for your selected search terms.

Hence, SEO involves both the construction of the website and its content.

Want more information about SEO, SEM, Web Marketing? Give us a call! 330-869-4680.

SEM

Search Engine Marketing

SEM is paid advertising for the web primarily utilizing search engine results pages. Often referred to—utilizing Google’s terminology—as “adword campaigns,” SEM is advertising directly targeted to users who have entered search terms or phrases (keywords) relevant to your business or service in a search engine. You can’t buy a spot in a search engine’s Organic Listings, but you can bid for spots in their Sponsored Listings and post ads on other websites that will drive traffic your way.

Currently the most prominent SEM service providers on the web are Google and Yahoo/Bing. The beauty of their offerings is that SEM campaigns are entirely measurable in ROI terms. When you create an ad campaign, you can receive reports telling you how many click-throughs your ad generated as well as what actions the user took when landing at your website (i.e., did they place an item in a shopping cart and make a purchase, did they sign-up for your company newsletter, etc.). A client can see precisely how the money they spend in a SEM campaign is generating leads or sales.

The costs associated with running an SEM campaign can be set and controlled by the advertiser. Pay-per-click rates are controlled via the bids set for relevant search terms and phrases. While the competitiveness of a given term (i.e., how many other advertisers are hoping to generate click-throughs for that term or phrase) varies widely, the advertiser is never obligated to match the highest bid or to commit to a set level of expenditure. In fact, advertisers can set a daily budget amount and ads will stop running if the number of click-throughs exceeds the set budget.

Also, there is enormous flexibility in terms of controlling when ad campaigns run. Ads can be run 24/7 or set to run only on certain days at certain times. Campaigns can be paused or stopped altogether at any point in time and re-started again. The advertiser is always in control of their SEM expenditures.

SEM has been shown to be very successful for companies/organizations that work regionally, nationally and internationally or that provide products or services people need to research. Companies that serve “local” areas can benefit from running small-scale campaigns focused on appearing on the page when a searcher is seeking a local provider.

Any SEM campaign is 2-pronged — you need to run the campaign through Google and Yahoo, and you need to make sure your website pages directly support the campaigns. For example, if you sell Wines and someone searching for Rieslings clicks on your ad, they should be taken to a page that discusses or at least includes Rieslings. When your page content is directly applicable to your ad, you increase conversions.

We have run and are currently running several successful SEM campaigns for our clients. Call us for more information!

Social Media

Social Media and Your Organization

Social Media refers to a collection of online tools and platforms that generate 2-way, multi-way interactions. Most of these platforms have been around for years now — why is social media suddenly a big deal? The answer is that we’ve reached a point of convergence where the intersection of different platforms can magnify one effort way beyond the capabilities of a single platform (going viral). Furthermore, we now have tools available to track our activities.

Platforms include:

  • Social Networks (Facebook, Linked In and others)
  • Social Bookmarking (Digg, Stumbleupon and others)
  • Video Posting (YouTube)
  • Photo Sharing (Flickr)
  • Podcasts
  • Forums
  • Chatrooms
  • Blogs
  • Microblogs (Twitter)
  • Wikis (Wikipedia and others)

What’s in it for You?

Imagine that you’ve written an article about your business or service or industry or expertise, etc. Before the web that article (if accepted) would certainly be seen by some of the people who read the publication, and you could, of course, make copies of it to give to people long after the issue date.

Today you could post that same material on your website or a blog or with an article distribution service. Someone could read it online, like it, and send links to it to their friends/colleagues. Someone that received the link could post it on their blog, suddenly reaching a few or a few hundred or a few thousand more readers. A blog visitor could tweet about it, reaching yet more visitors. All of these links would be feeding people back to your website where they can go on to learn more about your organization, products, services, etc.

Create a podcast, or series of podcasts, or a video. Announce it on Facebook or Linked In or in Twitter (or in all of those) to get it started. Lather, rinse and repeat.

Create an Awareness Network

Social Media is not a Direct Sales medium in the way that, say, Google Adwords is, but it can be a potent portion of your marketing mix. Effective use of social media will increase sales or lead to sales but those are byproducts of the process. Social Media is an arena that enables you to build awareness and create trust. If you properly target your efforts and you nurture them for a period of time, you will see results.

Social Media Strategy in a nutshell

Use online tools to find out where relevant people are gathering on the web. This tells you what platforms and outlets you will use when you embark on your campaign.

Find out what people are saying about you/your business, product, service, competitors, industry, if anything.

  • If conversations are positive, how can you get more?
  • If conversations are negative, how can you turn them around?
  • If conversations are non-existent, how can you raise awareness?

Determine your social media goals.

Create content to help you reach your goals. You have to give people “something to talk about”: Blog posts, videos, podcasts, articles, white papers, Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages…

Use your new content as the floor from which you will measure your progress.

Finalize which outlets you want to use as tools.

Engage (professionally).

Sync your social media efforts with your other traditional and/or web marketing efforts.

Track, adjust, improve, track.

Balance

scaleFor many businesses and organizations, a website heavily weighted to visual elements makes perfect sense in keeping with their overall branding or marketing strategy. Unfortunately, from an SEO point of view, a website with minimal content/information (i.e., live HTML text) rarely performs well in SERP (search engine result page) rankings.

Google, the predominant search engine, ranks sites according to the relevancy of the content they contain to any given search keyword or phrase. Whether a site is visually appealing with a clean, uncluttered layout, great photography, typography, video or multimedia content bears no relationship to how the site will be viewed by Google (or Yahoo/Bing).

At TH Design, we design and build websites from an SEO perspective. While we strive to make our sites as visually appealing as possible, we are equally concerned about making sure our clients’ websites will perform well in the search engines.