Posts Tagged 'googlebot'

SEO and CRO: The Long and Short of It

landingrhtcolpromoIf your small business maintains a website, you’ve most likely considered, talked about or implemented some type of SEO strategy. The belief being, that if you can attract traffic, you will by default attract customers or registrants. This may be the case to a small degree, but doesn’t accurately represent how things usually work.

Your site does need to attract visitors, but it also needs to drive those visitors to some goal. Establishing that goal, and subsequently compelling the user to satisfy that goal, means just as much to your business. Internet gurus label this concept conversion. Though the concept remains the same for all websites, the specific outcome— the actual goal, may vary. Your desire may be to register users, request a sales call or make a purchase. In any case, the final outcome provides some benefit to your business.

SEO and CRO work in concert to benefit your business.

SEO and CRO work in concert to benefit your business.

Just like SEO, where we optimize our sites so they will be found during user searches, we need to optimize websites so that they convert as many visitors to successful visits as possible. This concept is known as Conversion Rate Optimization. Many experts agree, including most major online retailers, that conversion rate should be considered just as important as SEO. Jamila White, owner of E-Commerce Diva said about conversion, “So many small biz owners don’t know that is THE most important metric.” The two concepts do not contradict, actually one complements the other. They do need to be approached with a different perspective.

SEO the Long Term Strategy

Irrespective of many claims by some SEO consultants, results from SEO take time. That’s because SEO is organic in nature. You should commit yourself to at least a six month effort before expecting consistent benefits. During that six month time span, you’ll need to work and rework your strategy to stay ahead of the pack. In short, SEO strategies are long term strategies.

CRO

CRO focuses more on the present. In short, it focuses on how well we compel the current site visitors, to accomplish a desired result upon visiting.  CRO has a more immediate effect. Conversion rate matters, whether you receive 100 visits per day, or 1000 visits per day. Conversion rate impacts your website efficacy more than SEO.

You can receive 100 visits per day, but convert twenty visitors into customers. This would have more impact than receiving 1000 visits per day, and then only converting ten visitors into customers. Again, we can stress the immediate focus of CRO, no matter the number of visitors, we need to convert as many as possible.

SEO and CRO a Combined Approach

SEO and CRO should not be considered competitive concepts. As website owners we should combine the two practices, knowing that our strategy will have short as well as long term business impact. It should also be noted that  CRO will benefit your SEO efforts.  CRO helps to better identify successful market segments, thus enhancing your ongoing SEO practices.

When converting customers, you will hopefully have analytics giving you customer data. Knowing what regions, pages or search terms used to find your site will elucidate more about the segments that find your product, service or information attractive. If this market doesn’t match your present SEO focus, now you know how to adjust, or better focus your current strategy.

SEO and CRO: Continual Efforts

Both CRO and SEO require continual modification. Consistent testing of landing pages and conversion paths– your CRO efforts, will greatly benefit your long term SEO. Let’s look at an example.

CRO can be affected by numerous factors. If a CNBC guest makes recommendations about what to look for in certain financial products, or throws out a new term, this could alter what financial products customers seek. Sudden drops or increases in conversions, could be the first clue to  a change in your visitor’s needs. Knowing this, allows you to also adjust your SEO strategy to be in place when that CNBC audience turns to the internet to find the company who will sell that product.

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CSS Web Design, A Top to Bottom Approach

Take it from the top.  A familiar phrase used to mean start from the beginning.  In terms of CSS web design and SEO, you want to start your web pages with the most important content at the top of your web page.  We’re not talking about the visual page, but the coded HTML behind the scenes.

Though you may not have put much thought into it, you would probably assume the search engine parser crawls the page from the top down.  We generally ignore how that fact impacts our SEO strategy from the web page coding level. 

With proper CSS design, the style sheet dictates layer positioning on the visual browser page.  That allows the designer to put keyword rich content at the top of the HTML code to be crawled first, without regards to the visual layout in the web browser.  It also allows for the placement of important links where the web crawler will be sure to find them.

Keyword Primacy and SEO

Don’t discount keyword positioning when implementing your SEO web design.  The paradigms of SEO require us to provide descriptive page titles and meta tags.  Take note of where those elelments exist in your page’s HTML code— at the very top.  Web crawlers take into account primacy when indexing your page.

The concept of primacy relies on the logic that the most important information will be presented first on any particular web page— like the title and keywords.  Once the crawler moves past the meta tags to your content, it assumes the subject focus for your page should soon follow.  If it doesn’t, your page indexing and ranking will suffer. 

The logic of primacy falls in line with search engines’ goals to provide reliable search results.  We’ve all seen the old internet bait and switch, particularly in emails.  So making sure that page content is relevant to the page title, and vice versa, plays a role in the indexing alogrithm of most search engines.

Top Down CSS Design Tips

1. Keyword Rich Content First
Layers containing keyword rich content should be the first layer after the ‘body’ tag.

2. Menus and Important Links Come Next
Put your main menu, and any other important links after the keyword rich content.  This assumes you have parsable links.  If you utilize Flash for your menus, this doesn’t matter— we’ll get to Flash in a moment. Parsers find text the easiest to crawl, so putting important links immediately following the most parsable content, increases the crawlers ability to index all of your site’s content.

3. Place Alt Texted Graphics After Links
The important thing to remember is alt texted graphics.  If you have aesthetic graphics that don’t have alt text—  either get rid of them, or find an appropriate alt text entry.  This doesn’t include Flash content.

4. Flash Files Go Last
Put your Flash based content at the very bottom.  The crawler can’t do anything with it anyway, so put it at the very end so it doesn’t get in the way of good content

The SEO Big Picture

In the grand scheme of SEO, our CSS design won’t put us at the top of the ‘charts’ so to speak.  Yet bad design can hinder any good SEO effort.  If you’ve invested in professional SEO consulting, you want to ensure maximum value for your investment.  So look at CSS web design as that leaky faucet that slowly drips, and over time wastes resources you would rather use in more important ways.

Parsing SEO From the Ground Up – The Finale

parserpart3We’ve talked about the parser, and how it deals with various web technologies, so lets address how you can verify what’s being parsed.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google makes content parsing verification easy with a set of tools— the Google Webmaster Tools.  If you haven’t utilized this tool set, then you’re not serious about SEO or SEM.  The Google Webmaster Tools gives you direct insight into what the googlebot— the name for Google’s parser, sees when it crawls your site.

Getting Started

The tool set doesn’t require any downloads or installation, its all web based, making it really easy to use. Like all Google online tools, it will require an account.  If you already have an AdWords or Analytics account, you are ready to go.   If not, registration only takes a minute.  You will need access to your web server.  In order to activate your account, Google requires you to verify your site ownership by uploading a file to your server.  Don’t worry, its a simple html file with a specific name, that you create.  No security issues to worry about, and you can delete the file once the account is verified.

The Google Webmaster Tools provides a great way to know how your website is being parsed.

The Google Webmaster Tools provides a great way to know how your website is being parsed.

Important SEO Metrics

Inside the tool set you’ll find a vast array of metrics.  We’ll look at few of the most important.

What Googlebot sees
This section provides the top 100 phrases and keywords in your site content– as the Google parser views your page.  If you’ve paid for professional SEO work, here’s where you can ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Top search queries
Another critical SEO/SEM tool.  What Google search queries provide you the most traffic?  You might be surprised.  Again, here you can verify that your SEM strategy is on the right track.  You can also discover other areas of potential SEM success.

Index Stats
Find out what pages Google already has indexed.  Important information, especially if you see pages missing. Also provides a list of pages that link to your sites homepage.  This is the most important stat in terms of Google organic SEO.

Diagnostics
Another important tool set.  Lets you know if Google had any problems crawling your site.  We discussed potential technology related crawling errors the last post— this particular tool provides a way to ensure those pages, and all the other pages of your site are crawled properly.

Only the Beginning of Your SEO Journey

Hopefully our walk through web crawling technology has demystified CSS web design. SEO and SEM are always a work in progress, but your web design will provide a solid foundation upon which to build.  You should also note that SEO and SEM efforts will be greatly improved with the proper use of web analytics.  Even if the parser sees the correct keywords and phrases, you must still consider the human factor.  You’ll definitely want to implement multivariate testing as a part of your analytics approach.

One final note.  It’s important to realize that the Google Webmaster Tools only gives you the Google perspective.  The MSN or yahoo search engines may view your site somewhat differently.  Yet, good results with the Google tools, generally means a good chance of success with other search engines as well.  At this time, I don’t know of any similar tools for the other major search engines.  If anyone out there knows of any, drop us a line so we can spread the word.