The canvas I have outlined for successful web marketing is taking shape. The first article looked at the necessary stages we need to develop. We started with market research and analysis of our competitors and now armed with this information we can proceed to perhaps the most critical component of all, developing our keyword targets and creating supporting text for them.

What’s In a Word?

It has been often said that content is king. The choice and expression of these words is what makes the connection to the visitors and helps determine user behaviour. If the message is clear the visitor will know if they are at the website they want (or need) to be at and start the exploring process. Visitor attraction is influenced by a myriad of aspects such as site design, choice of colour, and ease of navigation. Visitor confidence is bolstered in large part through your use of words. Similarly much the same can be said for the search engine spiders; the higher their confidence rating of your website the higher your visibility in their index. And this rating of confidence all begins with how you choose your keyword targets.

According to Keyword Discovery over 80% of all online transactions begin with a keyword search. In a spreadsheet write down all choices of words you think your prospects will type into the search bar. It is important to consider not what you would type in but rather what your prospect will. Next you need to determine which search terms will be the most effective for your site and which you need to be found under. Two variables must be considered: the search frequency of a keyword phrase and its competitiveness on the net. This is to say, how many times is a particular keyword phrase being typed into a search bar and how many web pages are competing for that particular phrase.

The number of searches will indicate the amount of traffic you will get from top placement. Generally speaking, any phrase with more than 100 – 150 searches per day is considered relatively highly searched. That said, one must also consider how targeted a phrase is. An untargeted or general phrase with 200 searches per day may be less valuable than a targeted phrase with only 30 searches per day. Armed with this information we must then look at the competition. If a phrase with 150 searches per day has a very high competition level but a phrase with only 10 searches per day has a low competition it will be less costly to target the less competitive phrase and MAY produce a better return on investment.

To determine keyword search frequency select one of the following Keyword Research Tools listed on the StepForth site and put in your keywords. Enter the resultant search values on the spreadsheet. Take this opportunity to look for other keyword targets that the software will present in addition to your search term. Can these other keyword targets be of benefit to you? Next enter each term in the Google search bar and enter the number of pages competing for that term. The number of competing pages shows in the upper right corner of the screen.

From this data one can determine a universe of potential keyword phrases. Discard phrases that have a low search frequency; why bother spending time and effort for terms that people are not typing in or searching for.

Determine your list of words that offer a reasonable number of searches and have lower number of web pages competing for that term. Establish your primary and secondary phrases and it is this list from which you can create or modify your web pages and write textual support for these keywords. The primary phrase is the one that gets threaded throughout the whole site and the secondary ones are those that are category or page specific. Keeping a focus on the primary and secondary targets is critical. Tile tag and unique page descriptions, as well as keyword enriched internal links can be developed from this list. Consider using keywords with descriptive or geographic modifiers.

The importance of relevant text cannot be overestimated. Oftentimes additional body text content is necessary for the search engine spiders to obtain a qualitative snapshot of the topical content of the individual documents within your site and in order to make an overall assessment of what the site is about.

One simple way to keep spiders happy is to provide them with great ‘food’. Relevant, keyword enriched content will substantially increase the prospect of the site achieving better placements. For example, text used in the Home or Index page should be very descriptive of the business and its products or services. A paragraph or two (100 – 250 words) using keyword enhanced wording would be sufficient. On each page the message must be relevant to the overall theme of the site. Refine what message each and every page is to project, and write your content in the same manner you would speak it. Remember to keep the language simple. As Einstein wisely stated,

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

As search engine spiders can only read text with 100% efficiency and tend to miss important information phrased in images, java scripts and Flash, the body text of the website is by far the most important element examined by a search engine. Further, keep in mind that search engine spiders cannot read the text within images or frames. This would include text in graphic menus, company logos, Flash animations, as well as what is in most header and footer sections.

Web Design and SEO

Now that you have looked at your competition, chosen your keyword targets and written your content it is time to give thought to the best way to present it visually. Key considerations for a search friendly web design include: an easy to read menu structure that remains consistent throughout the site and a nicely weighted balance of text to images. The navigation format should be textual and no more than a few levels deep. Spiders value the content more highly if it is placed in the higher directory levels. If you have an image based menu ensure you make a footer section on each page that is textual so search engines can read it. Avoid full pages composed of graphics or flash. Your web design should offer the ability to create unique title and description tags. Check for possible broken links and repair or delete them, and add a sitemap as well as an XML sitemap. For information on creating an XML sitemap see our XML Sitemap Creation Tools article.

Avoid having a Splash page at the beginning of the site as search engine spiders can not read the information. The Home (or Index page) is the most important page in the site for spiders to read, record, and index. As well the use of pop-ups in place of internal pages should be avoided as search spiders will not read information contained in pop-ups.

Some worthwhile reading suggestions follow. To decide if you are in need of a website redesign read our SEO Friendly Redesign article. If you are still unsure if your web design is SEO friendly consider investing in a few hours of consulting time. Also, I highly recommend looking over Correcting Common Usability Mistakes . These observations and suggestions can save you time and money.

The stage is now set. Market research and competitor analysis have given way to keyword identification, textual creation and a search friendly web design. The next phase to be discussed in our online marketing campaign is search engine optimization techniques.

This article series by Bill Stroll, Sales and Marketing Manager
StepForth Web Marketing Inc.