Saturday, August 8, 2009

Can you find me? My SEO project at work.

I've been spending the past couple of months doing a lot of research on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SMO (Social Media Optimization).  I have to say there is a tremendous amount of information on the web, and a lot of people who want to bill you for services you can do yourself, especially as it relates to SEO.

Based upon all this new knowledge we are in the process of implementing several sets of changes to my companies website.  One of the frustrating aspects of this update is our site was recently revamped, and while the new design looks nice the company which said they knew and understood SEO clearly did not know anything about SEO.  They are several basics one needs to understand to implement SEO, and we quickly found out they didn't understand them, or they were speaking about things they couldn't implement.  So starting in the next few weeks we are going to be implementing changes to our website so when people search for us, or terms we have optimize for on our site our pages (hopefully) will show up towards the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).  This is going to take a lot of work and will be an iterative process so, we will be measuring the changes using Google Analytics to determine what is working and what still needs improvement.

A sampling of the changes we are going to be applying are:
1.) Improve site for SEO - Insert and update the following
  • Page meta descriptions - descriptions of what the page is about e.g. author, content, category
  • Page meta keywords - while not used much anymore it doesn't hurt to include them on your site
  • Page names - a small but important item to optimize e.g. seo.html doesn't mean as much to google as search-enginge-optimization.html
  • Page titles - a no brainer, but this was a key area the company that revamped our website failed
  • H1 tags - defined as critical by the W3C and by most sources I've read as very important by search engines.  This is a touchy subject with most people, but in the end my take is it does get used and is probably more important if your page uses flash to get its point across.
  • Alt text - since the engines can't see images this tag gives your images textual descriptions
2.) Improving site content, visibility and infrastructure
  • Update first sentence to include relevant keywords
  • Submitting site to directory services and improve sitemap
  • Improve site links to eliminate no brainers such as click-here :-)
  • Removing PDFs and replacing with html pages from previous press releases

After we get those aspects done we will start with the second phases of our project, which for the time being I will not be commenting upon for obvious reasons.  What I will share is we are evaluating a couple of tools to help with this phase and later phases.  The two primary tools being considered right now are HubSpot and Pardot.  What is really interesting is how I found HubSpot earlier today.  While I was gone on vacation to Cabo (more on that trip at a later time) I got several emails from LinkedIn to groups I subscribe.  One of those emails was about B2B Lead Generation which took me to where I spent a bit of time reading various topics, ultimately reading their ebook Volume 1 Online Marketing.  Their ebook is where I found out about HubSpot, subsequently spending several hours watching HubSpot's webinars, reading whitepapers, etc.  Ultimately I don't know which company we will end up selecting, but right now I'm very impressed with what I saw and read today from HubSpot.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has gone through a similar process, learning about and driving an SEO strategy in-house.  Also if you have used other internet marketing software what was your experience and what tool(s) did you use.

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