Gaining exposure about your web business and its products or services is critical. As I stated in my last column, if a potential customer does not know you exist during their buying process, then you have no chance to make a sale. Of all the online advertising strategies available to gain exposure, organic search is one of the most prominent.
Organic search (also referred to as natural search) is achieved through search engine optimization efforts (also called SEO). In today's online marketing environment, SEO involves far more than the old school meta tag manipulation. Search engines have matured and their ranking algorithms have grown more sophisticated.
The top five, including Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask, have created advanced technology that better serves their search user audiences to receive more relevant results for their searches. As such, some search engines like Google have taken relevancy to a new level by evaluating linking relationships and their specific context among websites, to further determine rank. The old ways of optimization have passed, forcing SEO to step up to meet the new challenges of gaining top rank.
Are you in synched with these new search engine optimization techniques? If not, you may be losing out on opportunities to gain higher search result listings. Even if you are on the first page of search results, the difference in actual visitors earned from a top five versus a top ten position can be quite substantial. Here is a list of the new search engine optimization strategies you need, to dominate your competition and pull more organic search visitors to your website:
Most web businesses perceive search engine optimization as an "on-page" effort. Traditional practices of keyword density, meta tag keywords, body text length and so on have increasingly less and less value for ranking well. Although the title tag and the description meta tag (mainly as ad copy) still remain valuable ranking factors, link building has stolen a greater percentage of the ranking calculation.
But in terms of links, reciprocal links and other apparently simple linking arrangements is not where the value is being generated. Beneficial link building comes from identifying relevant websites, blogs, and forums and seeking creative ways to gain approval for adding an incoming link from the website to your site. The aspect of SEO you must understand is that there are no absolutes. Quality versus quantity is a debate for link building. The best rule of thumb is to stay relevant with who you gain an incoming link from, and be cautious with your reciprocal link relationships. The structure of link building is also important regarding how to apply anchor text and executing a deep linking strategy.
If you are not familiar with these terms and want to perform search engine optimization on your own (versus using a qualified third party SEO), I highly recommend that you frequently read outstanding blogs like SEOMoz.com, SEOBook.com. SearchEngineLand.com and Mattcutts.com (a blog specifically about Google.) If you want to outsource your SEO but don't have the knowledge to choose a good versus so-so company, then I recommend visiting SEMcompare.com. This site provides user generated reviews of search engine marketing companies.
Social Media: The surge of social media sites has introduced a new form of search engine optimization. Social media encompasses social networking sites like FaceBook.com, Ning.com and MySpace.com, social book marking like Del.icio.us.com, social shopping sites such as ShopWiki.com or ThisNext.com, and social news sites like DIGG and Yahoo Buzz. All these sites grant opportunities to form relationships with their users in ways that generate potential customers for your products and services.
In March's column I also mentioned other social media, like blogs, video and podcasts, as great strategies for gaining exposure. Although I do not consider them to be a component of search engine optimization, they certainly have search opportunities. For example, a catchy video uploaded to YouTube for a specific brand could appear in the search engines through Google's universal search.
Search engine optimization deserves a top spot in your online marketing toolkit; but its real value extends far beyond alterations made to your website. Some of the greatest benefits from SEO come from an effective "off-page" strategy that achieves relevant incoming links, and social media buzz (or a strong online reputation around your brand, products and/or services). By putting together the strategies from the last column, to gain exposure with these search engine optimization ones, you have a winning combination to fully achieve greater website sales.
Kevin Gold is a seasoned Internet Marketer and contributor to multiple, nationally recognized trade journals.
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