I just completed a question and answer session with CFDynamics, a ColdFusion Hosting company. The questions were geared towards their hosting customers with a basic understand of the search engines but little or no understand of search engine optimization or search marketing. I thought it would be good to share the same information here.
Questions for Jason Dowdell:
1. How did you become an expert in this business?
Back in 1997 I had a car audio business while I was in college and I began esearching my online competitors. I found myself going back to Yahoo over and over in order to find the most important sites and I simply put 2 and 2 together and realized search would be the main way users find what they're looking for online.
2. What changes have occurred in the web industry that shocked you? (or at least make you scratch your chin and say to yourself,"Gee I didn't see that coming?"
The fact that natural search results are still around and that attempts to make all natural search results actually unnatural by making site owners pay a fee to be included. I honestly thought natural search was going to go away a couple years back but it didn't. That's been the biggest change or non-change I simply didn't predict.
3. What one piece of advice would you offer a business that just beginning to launch their web site?
Make sure your developer understands the way search engines crawl a site. If they can get in the 'mind of a bot' then the actual practice of optimization becomes much simpler.
A few quick tips would be...
4. What is one element that businesses which have a web presence forget or fail to do that would improve their site?
Focus on what their users are looking for. Hyperfocusing on the search engines can kill conversion rates and destroy the user's experience. Work on your sales funnel and give the visitors fewer and fewer choices as they proceed down the sales funnel.
5. What is ROI analysis and how can it benefit customers?
From a search perspective it's simple. Take the amount you spend with your search marketing firm + any pay per click fees and divide them into your revenues over time. This shows you how much money you're actually earning after your search marketing expenditures but be careful because it doesn't include the actual cost of merchandise.
Understanding your ROI will help you understand how much you can afford to spend on a search marketing firm or consultant. You will find that many are simply out of your price range, it's amazing how many people go with the most popular firms just because they're the most expensive. Find a firm that suits you and let your competitors waste their money on the Madison Avenue firms.
6. Based on your web site information, it states that it's an expensive quick fix to use search engine marketing (SEM) to drive targeted traffic to a site. In other words when organizations sponsor a link and pay per click for traffic. Whereas, a search engine optimization (SEO) makes web sites friendlier to crawler-based search engines. Would you recommend combining campaign efforts for both a SEM and an SEO?
Absolutely, there's a lot to be gained if you can afford to do so. However, if you're just getting started and funds are tight I'd recommend forcusing on natural results (seo) and then finding out what keywords are converting and from which search engines by analyzing your log files. Then you'll know where to begin spending your ppc money in order to get the highest return on investment. One caveat is that it takes time to rank well for your targeted terms and if you have more money than time I'd recommend using ppc to kickstart your sales and perform seo at the same time.
7. How can site architecture affect crawler based search engines?
8. If some of our customers have never visited Global Promoter what free tool from your TurboPromoter would you recommend?
The search engine saturation and link popularity tools. The search engine saturation tool tells you how many pages the major engines have indexed from your site. If the number is extremely low or high then you know you have a problem. If the number is lower than the actual number of pages on your site then you know your site isn't being crawled properly. If it's too high then there's a good chance you're getting hit with a duplicate content penalty because you have multiple urls pointing to the same content. Usually a result of sorting items or results using different parameters.
The link popularity tool tells you how many other sites are linking to your site but you can also look at your competitors and see who's linking to them in order to begin your own backlink campaign.
Oh and by the way, yes CFDynamics is no. 1 on Google for their main term on Google [ColdFusion Hosting]. The most rewarding feeling for an seo is helping out the companies that totally deserve it by getting them to the top of the main engines for their most important phrase.
Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
March 14, 2005
Jason is a nationally-recognized SEO expert and is the go to seo consultant of Fortune 100 companies like AT&T, Motorola & Microsoft as well as major brands like YellowBook and LA Times. He is the Director of Search at Triangle Direct Media and responsible for the development and capabilities of SEO Tool - TDM's automated seo platform. Prior to joining TDM Jason was Founder / CEO of search engine optimization firm Global Promoter, which was acquired by Kowabunga in 2004. In a previous life Jason was an Information Systems Engineer for NASA and a systems analyst at Oracle Corp.
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