Yesterday I wrote about the Social Media lessons I've learned from watching my kids grow up. Today, I'm going to put the search engine optimization spin on it. After all, no matter how well we learn the basics of good search engine optimization, there's always something to be said for a reminder of why those basics are so important.
Good Organization is the Key to Everything!Life with small children is chaotic. Toys end up in the strangest places, crayons end up in the fridge and clothes end up in places you'd never think possible. Of course this problem only compounds itself over time as friends and relatives show up with more and more toys to add to this mix.
My children have a habit of haphazardly carrying toys from one area to another and leaving them there. We've got play areas in each of their rooms and in our sun room. Nonetheless, trains find their way from the train table in my son's room to the toy bin in my daughter's room and play dishes find their way from the play kitchen in the sun room to the toy bin in my son's room.
Figuring out what toys have ended up where can be sheer madness. It's also a source of endless frustration for my kids when they want to play with something (the train set or the kitchen set) and they can't find the pieces. This is when I explain to them why toys all have their place and why they need to be returned to that place when they're done being played with.
It's not so different from the navigation on a web site. Good internal site structure and proper internal linking is essential to good SEO. Both search engine spiders and people need to be able to find their way to your content. Unfortunately, content has a way of popping up on the site from all different departments and getting thrown into the mix without good planning. Blog posts are made without proper tagging, press releases and announcements are thrown online without being integrated into media kits and new products are added without being properly categorized.
Worse yet, improperly linked pages leave search engine users with a tantalizing taste of what they're looking for and no way to fully enjoy it. Finding great content in the search results and being unable to make your way to additional related content is no different from my son finding the caboose of his train and having no idea where the engine or tracks are.
Choose Your Words CarefullyYoung kids have a very limited vocabulary. While it's true they add new words at an astonishing rate, you still have to choose your words carefully when communicating with them. Children hate what they see as smoke and mirror words like "maybe," "later" and "we'll see." They know those words tell them nothing and generally come at a time when they most want a concrete answer.
The same thing holds true for the content on your site. While I understand your marketing and PR department may have certain ways they like to refer to your offerings to make them sound all fancy and special...the general public just wants to know what you have to sell. Choosing the keywords and phrases you'll focus your content on is probably the single biggest decision you'll make in terms of your search marketing efforts.
Pick the wrong words and you won't get your point across to the people you need to reach. Pick the right words and you'll be both found and understood. Which leads to the next lesson...
You're Going to Have to Repeat YourselfI'm not sure how many times a day I repeat myself, but I'm fairly certain it's somewhere around the eleventy billion mark. Kids learn through repetition and they test boundaries repeatedly. That means I have to repeat, remind and restate myself on nearly every point I'm trying to make.
This is exactly what you have to do when preparing the content for your site. You'll need to repeat your keyword phrases in areas like your title tags, your headings, your page copy and your links. You'll also need to restate those phrases in different contexts and forms to make sure the language flows naturally.
While there's no magical number of times your keyword needs to appear on your page to help you rank well, the reality is that it must be used consistently to let the engines know what your page is about.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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