Tuesday, April 07, 2009

SEO Optimization How to Guide: Show Up Higher in Google Searches and Find Your Niche on the Internet

Posted by Katie Noonan

Search Engine Optimization is a commonly misunderstood, but extremely important, public relations and marketing tool in the Web 2.0 age. Here is just one of many possible tactics you can employ to boost your SEO organically.

When designing your Web site it is important to be as specific as possible. Determine how you want your business to be known to potential customers. Finding your industry niche is essential in a practical sense, but also terms of building a strong Web site that will show up on page one or two of Google searches that will actually result in business.

An easy way to determine how much your Web site is currently working for you is to track page visits. If visitors who view your page through search engine searches are spending a significant amount of time on your page –ideally more than five minutes, it means that your meta data and keywords are working for you. However, if the average visitor spends under five minutes on your site, chances are your keywords (that translate into Google search terms) aren’t describing your business or your Web site accurately enough.

When it comes to SEO, specificity and simplicity are key.

Specificity

Because we work with so many law firms I will use a legal example.

A firm may identify the search term "Philadelphia law firm" as one they would want their Web site to rank fairly high on, but that search term garners 1,960,000 results. So, the likelihood of that page being buried in amongst the almost two million hits for that term is all but guaranteed. Unless the page is well-established, has a number of quality links and sites linking back, and more than likely, only if it has been professionally search engine optimized, will it land on the first few pages of this search.

But if the firm was to be more specific with their keywords and focus on a specific practice area for which the firm is known, like, “Philadelphia personal injury law firm” it would reduce the amount of search results to about 299,000. So just by specifying a kind of legal practice area, it will significantly reduce the number of pages that result, and thus increase the chances of appearing higher in the search. Basically, the fewer the pages, the higher the likelihood that a firm's site will appear on or close to page 1 or search results (granted that firm employs other SEO tactics as well).

Simplicity

But this raises the issue of simplicity. How often does the average person without a legal degree search “personal injury?” More than likely, they would search something more basic, like a type of personal injury i.e. “Philadelphia law firm” and "car accident." That result yields 263,000 hits. Granted it's only about 30,000 fewer results, but those types of keywords are ones that will really pay off in terms of driving traffic to your site, and more importantly, they will drive the right traffic to your site- people who are actually seeking the firm's specific services or legal practice areas. Not surprisingly, all the law firms who appear on page 1 of the search term above, are ones that have employed SEO tactics.

The lesson is, determining the specific offering for which you want your company to be known is essential to appearing higher in Google results, and simplicity, in terms of the keywords you use to define your site (especially in industries which are jargon heavy like the medical and legal industries) will drive valuable visitors to your page.

A PRLawyer tip: Use Google Keyword to determine the most relavant and highly searched keywords that relate to your Web site. If your site is content managed, add the most popular search terms to your Web site's meta data (if they make sense with your site's content).

Again, this is just one tip for boosting SEO, of the many out there. For those who find SEO confusing, there are tons of webinars and online courses that will provide you with the basics of SEO. It's a time investment at the outset, but worth it in terms of the potential business that can result.

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