Live From NEMOA: The Case for SEO

Sep 23, 2008 8:24 PM  By

Burlington, VT — Search engine optimization — the practice of strategically placing keywords throughout your copy so that your Website ranks higher in organic searches for those particular keywords – isn’t easy, but it can give your business a major lift.

During her Friday session entitled “The Business Case for SEO Content Development: Turning Words into Action!” at the annual fall NEMOA conference, Heather Lloyd-Martin discussed the challenges of developing good SEO copy and how marketers can make their Websites more search-engine friendly.

One of the main challenges, says Lloyd-Martin, president and founder of Successworks Search Marketing, is to balance good copywriting with keyword density. Some companies make the mistake of trying to make their marketing copy too keyword rich, which makes it awkward to read. Good SEO copy, she says, is not only keyword rich, it also flows well: The reader is barely able to discern that the keywords have been deliberately placed in the copy.

SEO copywriting is no small task, Lloyd-Martin said.

“Because it’s not just figuring out the key words and phrases that best describe your products, and figuring out what words people are using to find your products and services,” she said. “It’s also figuring out what pages should focus on what key phrases.”

It’s also about building relevancy by including links to pages with similar content and like keywords on your site.

“Google focuses a lot on links – not just the external links, but also the internal link structure of your site,” Lloyd-Martin said. “So there’s a way to overlap your key phrases, so as to build relevancy by having, say, one key phrase appear on multiple pages.”

Lloyd-Martin gave some examples of what not to do when developing SEO copy for your site. She told the story of one online merchant which tried to “game” the search engines by posting duplicate copy. While that strategy may have worked in 1998, “it doesn’t work now,” she said, because the algorithms used by the search engines have become more sophisticated.

So what happened to the company? The search engines banned it, she said.

What does this mean for a merchant?

“Imagine that you’re making $100,000 a month from your Website in organic results – you’ve got a really cool, tricked-out site, maybe you’re not being completely ethical with the engines, but it’s good enough,” she said. “Now imagine that one day you wake up and your site is nowhere to be found on Google. And suddenly you’re no longer making $100,000 a month from your site.”

And once your Website is kicked out of Google, it’s not so easy to get back in. You have to fix what’s wrong, then you have to beg for forgiveness, and then you have to have an engineer come and check your site, Lloyd-Martin explained. “And then they’ll let you back in.”

But it’s not like you get to come back at the rank you were at before. She said the company that was penalized had to fork out $4,000 a month in paid search to reestablish itself in the rankings.

Developing good, original content for each page of your site is the better route to take, she said, because it will build your credibility with the major search engines and boost your Website’s performance for the long term. Furthermore, by folding in as many keywords as possible into your copy “you come up on all kinds of Web searches.”

“And when you see a Website appear over and over again in the search rankings, don’t you trust it more?” Lloyd-Martin said. “So not only does good SEO copywriting boost your rankings, it helps build trust.”