15 SEO and SEM Facts (and Tips)

One of the fastest growing parts of our HRmarketer Services business the last 12 months has been our search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) services. We're pretty good at it, maintaining high organic rankings for our own web sites and our HR supplier customers.

While some of our work involves building web sites for new companies, most of our work is re-building web sites for established HR suppliers. Normally, we inherit a web site built by IT or some outside marketing or PR agency more interested in winning a design award (e.g., Flash sites) than on meeting the real-world needs of their client. We've learned a lot since we started offering these services four years ago - and we continue to learn by closely monitoring our own work and staying in touch with industry "best-practices".

With this in mind, we offer the following 15 SEO/SEM tips and facts based on our own experience and some great information in a new report by the folks at marketlive titled 'The MarketLive Performance Index: Maximizing Search Engine Marketing'. In our list, we purposely avoid discussion on the more obvious components of SEO/SEM including METAs, title tags, ALT image attributes, etc and instead focus on common mistakes even savvy marketer's make.


1. A major cause of '1-and-out' visits (people clicking to your site and then immediately leaving) are paid search results that don’t deliver on the promise of the ad or natural search links that lead to less than optimal landing pages. Make sure your landing pages are consistent (same keywords) and relevant to the "ad" copy or link that brought them there.

2. Organic search results drive a higher percent of traffic and revenue than paid search. We're not saying suspend your AdWords account but we are saying to budget accordingly for SEM/SEO given this fact.

3. Consumers click on paid search links much more frequently than banners and other forms of online advertising. Have realistic expectations when spending big bucks on banner ads. While they may help build brand, they usually do not drive sale leads or site traffic.

4. Approximately 80 percent of clicks on search engines are clicks on organic search results; of those, 90 percent occur on the first page of the results. Still not convinced of the importance of SEM/SEO?

5. 36% of consumers don’t trust paid search advertising. Interesting, huh? Again, deliver on your promise. Make sure your ad copy and natural search links are relevant to the landing page.

6. Selecting the right keywords is the most important component to your SEM/SEO efforts. However, adding keywords beyond the most popular ones taps into the thousands of low-cost keywords that generate few searches independently, but collectively represent a large audience.

7. In addition to keyword selection tools like Wordtracker and studying your own web site analytics, remember that Paid Search (e.g., AdWords) is an excellent means of selecting keywords and testing their effectiveness - ultimately leading to better success with your organic/natural search.

8. When creating a site map (a critical part of your SEM), make sure to adhere to the Sitemap Protocol supported by Google, Yahoo and other major search engines. Doing so may help your site's organic rankings or at least increase the chances of all your pages being indexed.

9. The more links to a page from other pages both within your site and in the wider web continues to be a major factor in organic search rankings. But links from bad sites (what search engines consider link spammers) hurt your rankings.

10. Don't use images or Flash in place of text. And please, avoid sites or welcome pages built entirely of Flash. Search engine crawlers ignore them. It amazes me how many marketing, PR and ad agencies still build these kinds of sites for their clients - and use them on their own sites.

11. Never use the hyperlink “click here”. It's a wasted opportunity. Always use your keywords as hyperlinks.

12. The use of relevant keywords in the title tag was rated as the most important search engine ranking tactic by a panel of 37 SEO experts. This isn't as easy as you may think. Spend some time studying this art.

13. Many web pages use IDs and long query strings in their URL's (ASPX pages or CFM pages are notorious for this). Don't do it. A natural language URL not only improves
relevance to search engines, but when viewed on a search results page, catches the buyer's eye. e.g., yourcompany.com/products/background-screening-software.com.

14. Don't use the same page description, title and keywords on every single page of your site. I see this all the time. It's a lazy man's approach to SEO. Each page needs a unique title, description and keywords - and make sure the keywords are well represented in the body copy of the respective page.

15. And finally, SEM/SEO never ends. It is ongoing. If you spend thousands of dollars search-optimizing your site and then do nothing after it's launched, your rankings will eventually fall to where they were before your investment. I'm not talking about the monthly "maintenance" fees many SEM/SEO agencies charge (usually not worth it). I'm referring to the importance of integrating your SEM/SEO into your day-to-day marketing and PR. This includes a steady stream of search-optimized press releases (note: these are NOT PR Newswire or BusinessWire press releases), developing fresh content for your web site (e.g., white paper) and incorporating these offers into your direct email marketing, blogging, podcasting, etc. This is the best way to achieve and maintain high organic rankings - not to mention publicity, traffic and sales leads.

For more information on how HRmarketer.com and the HRmarketer Services Group can help you with your SEO/SEM, 'click-here' (just kidding) - please visit HRmarketer to read about our SEM and SEO services for HR suppliers.

Posted By Mark Willaman

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