September 9, 2009

Ten Ways to Raise Your Profile on Search Engines this Holiday Season


Hostway Team

By Hostway

As the holiday season approaches, online business owners are brainstorming about how to claim their share of the billions of dollars expected for this year’s online holiday sales.

The shopping season traditionally kicks off in November with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But savvy business owners start their efforts early by putting together a strategic marketing plan that includes traditional and online marketing strategies. Read on for tips from Hostway's Professional Services division on how to make the most of two popular online marketing strategies: pay per click advertising (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO).

When you type a query for a product into a search engine, the results appear on a search engine results page (SERP). On the right side of the page is the sponsored links section that contains PPC ads. On the left side of the page appear the natural, organic results. Read on to learn how to raise your visibility in both sections of the SERP.

Build a Holiday PPC Campaign

1. Select relevant keywords that stand a good chance at achieving a great quality score. Quality score is a dynamic variable calculated for each of your keywords. It combines a variety of factors and measures how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user's search query. A quality score is based on:

  • The historical click through rate (CTR) of the keyword and the matched ad on Google
  • Your account history, measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
  • The historical CTR of the display URLs in the ad group
  • The quality of your landing page
  • The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group
  • The relevance of the keyword and the matched ad to the search query
  • Your account's performance in the geographical region where the ad will be shown

2. Adjust your keyword bids to achieve the best position for your budget. Bidding on keywords so that your ads appear in position one or two can cost significantly more than positions three and four. You may want that top spot more than anything, but positions three or four may be a better value for the number of clicks you receive each month.

3. Use A/B testing to determine which ads bring in the highest return. Test ads with different copy, offers, calls to action or dynamic keyword insertion to see which convert best.

4. Initiate conversion tracking to find out which keywords are converting visitors. Whether you have an informational site or an ecommerce site, you will want to measure which keywords get clicks and which of those clicks lead to conversions. On an informational site, a conversion would be measured by how often a visitor fills out a contact form. On an ecommerce site a conversion is measured by sales.

5. Install Google Analytics to find out more about where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site. The installation process involves copying and pasting the Google Analytics tracking code into your site's HTML code.

SEO Tips for More Visibility

SEO, on the other hand, is free in the sense that search engines list your Web site on search results once your Web site is indexed. But there are billions of Web sites on the World Wide Web, so gaining visibility is a daunting task. Conduct a search for “holiday gifts”, and you’ll see 5,580,000 results. To put it mildly – that is stiff competition. Here are some ways you can begin a long-term campaign to raise your search engine ranking.

6. Optimize your Web page layout. Flash is flashy, but not when it comes to gaining favorability with search engines. Always remember that your Web site has two audiences: human readers and search engines. Humans like eye candy, but search engines want to see patterns and relevance. A combination of a flash header along with a good amount of keyword-rich, relevant content is a good blend. Also be sure to use HTML instead of JavaScript for your navigation.

7. Select two keyword phrases for each of your Web pages. You will get a better ranking for those words if you focus your content on only two relevant keywords.

8. Write copy with the optimal keyword density. Ideally you will have at least 250 words per Web page and have a keyword density of about 3-5 percent. For example, if your home page has 300 words, each keyword phrase will appear a total of 9-15 times throughout the copy.

9. Optimize your meta tags. Page title and meta description are some of your most important meta tags. Be sure to use keywords toward the front of your page title tag and meta description. Also, stay within the character limits of the meta description so that your text is not cut off when your listing appears on the SERP.

10. And, most importantly, incorporate a strong inbound link strategy with anchor text, blog entries, press releases and search engine friendly URLs.

More visibility in search engine results pages can mean more sales this holiday season. If you don't have the time to spend on PPC or SEO, Web hosting companies like Hostway offer professionally managed PPC and SEO campaigns for a fee.

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