ACCM Show Daily: Searching for Optimal SEO

May 10, 2006 5:00 PM  By

Chicago–No matter how pretty your e-commerce site looks on the outside, it may still be in need of an extreme makeover on the inside. That’s because the search engines follow the adage about beauty being only skin deep and look at the innards of a Website to determine its relevancy.

During yesterday’s Search Engine Marketing Lab, several attendees learned from experts how to make the unseen-by-shoppers portion of their sites much more attractive to search engines.

The reason most e-commerce sites do not fly to the top of search engine listings, the pros agreed, is because of poor title tags, noncreative keywords, a lack of description tags, and a dearth of descriptive text within a page.

Take the case of Pasternack Enterprises, an Irvin, CA-based manufacturer/marketer of coaxial supplies. Bill Hunt, president of Farmington, CT-based search engine strategy firm Global Strategies International, noted that 173,000 Websites are competing to use the keywords “coaxial connectors,” which means Pasternack should look at other words that could draw prospective customers.

But how can you find out what words will work? Websites such as KeywordDiscovery.com can help you determine similar keyword phrases that searchers are using to find the type of products that you sell.

While you want the text of your Web pages to be rich in keywords, be careful how you use them as part of a title tag, added Detlev Johnson, vice president of Geneva, IL-based search marketing solution provider Position Technologies. Search engines do not favor sites with title tags loaded with keywords. Instead, they reward those with title tags that read like a bookmark.

He used the e-commerce site of Fairfield, OH-based Carson Enterprises’ Wrapped Hershey’s Chocolates as an example. Its home page title tag is “Hershey’s Chocolate Candy Bar Wrappers, Favors, Gifts”; landing pages feature the same title tag, along with words describing the particular page. At 109 characters, the string of keywords is too long, Johnson said. If you keep the title tag shorter than 60 characters, it will be fully displayed in all engine searches.

Amy Lutz, marketing information specialist for Mount Prospect, IL-based tool merchant Vermont American, wanted to know why her Website wasn’t getting into the top search spots even with the use of generic phrases.

The answer, said Patricia Hurst, lead search strategist at Boulder, CO-based SmartSearch Marketing, had to do with text vs. graphics on landing pages. For example, because the words “Circular Saw Blades” on a particular landing page are a graphic, not text, the search engines cannot pick it up.

Two more Search Engine Marketing Labs are scheduled for today, from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m