A checklist for organic and paid search

The ACCM Search Marketing Intensive session titled “Integrating Your Organic and PPC Search Marketing: A Checklist for Merchants” provided a look at best practices as well as a list of what not to do. Below, tips from two of the speakers:

Gord Hotchkiss, president/CEO of Kelowna, British Columbia-based search engine marketing firm Enquiro:

  1. Match your visitors’ vocabulary

    Try to think about the search experience a user is expecting to have when he types in certain keywords.

  2. Use your title tags wisely

    Be specific — some of your customers know exactly what products they’re looking for. Make sure it’s easy for them to find those items.

  3. Create “information scent” for humans, topical relevance for engines

    By “scent,” Hotchkiss meant a complete multiaspect description, which entails specific title tags, product photographs, bulleted lists, and links to related items.

  4. Maximize your search real estate

    Think of this as identifying your target market, much like an online focus group. You need to identify zones of click-throughs and scan activity, and expand your list of keywords. In short, maximizing your search is about matching a users’ intent.

  5. Think carefully about using large graphics

    Large pictures used for online advertisements take up valuable real estate on home and landing pages. Hotchkiss said that all too often users interpret these larger images as ads, and as a result, they miss other navigation options that may be hidden around them.

  6. Standardize navigation and make it crawlable

    Stick with vertical navigation lists organized by category. Ignore links that are too complicated, and try not to generate URLs that include question marks or equal signs.

  7. Stay above the fold

    Keep the most important information higher up on the page.

Kevin Lee, cofounder/executive chairman of New York-based SEM firm Did-it:

  1. Don’t assume that you act the same as your target audience.

  2. Try to fight the irrational need to “kill the competition whatever it takes.” Focus less on beating the competition to the top spot for a particular keyword, and more on making a profit from the keywords.

  3. Be sure that your copy includes keywords that are relevant for your business from the prospect’s perspective.

  4. Use descriptive URLs for directory and file names. “Both organic and paid listings can benefit from descriptive URLs,” Lee said. “For example, if I create an online shoe store using specific words, such as ‘www.shoesbyjoe.com/workboots/steel-toe,’ that’s much better than ‘www.shoesbyjoe.com/dept.asp?dept_id=5.’ Both a search engine spider and a human will know by simply looking at the URL what they are likely to find on the specific page.”

Search is a win or lose game, Lee said. “Your job is to figure out how to be a good marketer and outsmart your competition — some of whom may be acting like lunatics.”

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