Interview with Frank Donatone, co-author of ‘Audience, Relevance and Search’
Frank, you’ve been working to drive natural search rankings on IBM.com for key terms. Can you talk about your overall strategy & some of the tips you give to webmasters when building out their web presence?
The key to SEO is capturing prospects in all phases of the sales cycle — essentially it’s all about getting the right content at the right time to the right audience. You need to focus on freshness, relevance and engagement of your audience. I have a few general rules that are critical to a winning strategy:
1. Do the proper keyword research. Find the epicenter of organic interest. The first thing to do if you want to optimize your pages for search is to find out what keywords, related to your theme or topic, are searched for most often by your audience. These keywords become your site’s nomenclature. If you place these words and semantically related terms prominently on pages in your site, you will have a better chance to get higher ranking pages in search engines and qualified traffic.
2. Use relevant content to capture prospects in the awareness phase. Your web landing page experience needs to tap into the interest of the searcher using keywords that are relevant to that searcher. Think of it like searching for a mate on ‘match.com’; the more you have in common, the more likely you will get asked for a first date. Remember traffic volume is not the end game — the end game is targeted qualified traffic.
3. Focus on long-tail search more specific to your product. The idea is to develop a set of 3-4 related keywords, or a “keyword cloud”, which are searched by your target audience frequently. Then you need to develop pages that use the words in this cloud. For example, use “supply chain for retail” instead of “supply chain”. Sure, you will get less traffic, however the traffic you get will be targeted and create a lower bounce rate, therefore, better results for your search marketing efforts.
4. Maximize your “findability” on social media sites. Social media is critical for success since social sites have their own internal search engines and are also ranking factors and integrated into the results of external search engines like Google and Bing. Take Google for instance, it has integrated its new Google+ social network and its +1’s feature within Google search results, creating ways to be found through social media and influencing search ranking position. When you use keywords in social profiles, Tweets and Facebook updates, you are making yourself “findable”. Images and video content are also becoming increasingly important factors to be relevant in social media and external search engines.
5. Continuously measure web effectiveness. First, you need to look at page ranking; second, the volume of visitors you get from Google and other external search engines. Web analytics tools, such as IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics, can help you find out where your visitors are coming from and then filter the results to show only those who come from external search engines. You can also run reports in modern web analytics tools that show what keywords brought users to your pages, and in what volume. You can also measure performance by looking at metrics like visits, bounce rate, time on page and conversions.
Thanks Frank. This is great advice for Marketers. I’ll try to think of SEO as a dating game — make yourself attractive to those prospects and engage in their social circles to find your match!