A Broad Search Engine Marketing Overview

by admin on June 8, 2005

I wrote this for a lawyer newsletter.

Effective Search Marketing With Your Web Site

Your web site is not about you. If the goal of your site is to find clients and generate business, everything about your site should be with that client in mind.

When someone brings up Google or Yahoo to search, what exactly is it that they are searching for? In some cases, they may search for “Lawyer in San Diego who specializes in DUI defense”. That person has a clear idea of what they want. If you’re that San Diego lawyer, you absolutely want your site to be found for that search. It may not be simple to achieve, but it is a clear and reasonable goal.

However most of the time, a web searcher doesn’t have quite that clear an objective or outcome in mind. I have a problem; I’m looking for a solution. I may have no idea what the solution is. I have questions. I may not have even fully formulated the problem yet.

I was arrested, that’s a problem! What’s going to happen to me? What can I do about it? If you want that person to find your web site, then your site needs to have those answers. It needs to be the first step in the solution to a problem.

That’s why there are many more searches for “California DUI Laws” than there are for “California DUI Lawyer”. And even the person who searches for “San Diego DUI Lawyer” still needs to be sold that you are the answer to their problem.

I’ve seen lawyer sites that have the attorney’s resume on the front page. It’s great that you graduated at the top of your class from law school, but that shouldn’t be the first thing you want that person to learn from your site. And remember, experts say that a searcher makes a decision to stay or leave your site after 8 seconds or less. If that person doesn’t think they are getting close to the answer, they will leave and look elsewhere.

Basic Search Engine Optimization Techniques

Ready to build a helpful and authoritative web site? The first step in any search engine optimization/marketing project is keyword research. What are the most popular search phrases that are relevant to your business? There is a free keyword research tool at www.overture.com, and the best keyword tool is a paid service at www.wordtracker.com. If you enter a phrase link “DUI Lawyer”, you can find related phrases, and how frequently they are searched.

Now you’ve got a list of prioritizes keyword phrases, and it’s time to go work them into your site. You can only optimize your home page for a few keyword phrases at most. Let’s assume you are happy with the keywords on and searches to your home page, but you want to add some breadth and additional reach to your site. Through your keyword research, you determined that “Washington State DUI Penalties” is a good phrase for which you’d like to get search engine traffic. You’ve written some nice content on the topic (at least 300-400 words) that you believe answer the question that the typical searcher has, and hopefully prompts them to further action. i.e., calling you on the phone. Now it’s time to put it on your site.

There are really only 3 important element of “On Page Optimization”. There are the title tags, the header tags, and the body copy. You need to have your keyword phrase in the page title, once, toward the beginning. You also want to have the keyword phrase in the header (h1) tags. Finally, you’ll want to have that phrase in the body copy of your page 2 or 3 times, depending on how much copy you have. You’ll want to have the phrase in the first paragraph, and then one or two other times where it makes sense and doesn’t feel forced.

This may sound almost too simple, but if you can just do that much, you’ll be ahead of the vast majority of your competition when it comes to on page optimization. In particular, the title tag is often overlooked, and it is critically important. Many people do not vary their title tag to reflect the important keywords of the page, or waste the title on something unimportant to most searchers, such as just having it say “Jones and Smith Law Firm, LLC” on every page. The title of your firm is unlikely to be a competitive phrase, and if you aren’t being found for that search, you’ve probably got bigger problems with your site.

The second and probably most important part of Search Engine Optimization is known as “Off Page Optimization”. Off Page Optimization is what other pages say about a particular page, in the form of links to that page. The links that make up the internal navigation of your own site, as well as links to your site from other sites are critically important.

The web is all about links, and that’s how search engines read and rank content. Every link is like a vote that says, “This page is important”. More than that, the “link text”, the words you click on to go to another page, provide important information to both the searcher and the search engines on what that page is about.

You can’t always control what other sites say about you in links, but you can control your own internal site links. It’s very important to have good, descriptive keywords in your link text. That page you created on “Washington State DUI Penalties” should be linked from your home page with the link text “Washington State DUI Penalties”, or at a minimum, “DUI Penalties”.

How important is Off Page Optimization? Consider one of the most common phrases used in the text of a link: “click here”. According to Google, there are over 1.1 Billion results pages for that phrase. That’s about as competitive a phrase as you’ll find. So what page ranks #1 for “click here”? It happens to be the download page for the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which makes sense. How many times do you think the phrase “click here” appear on that page in the title, header, or body? Exactly none. It’s the power of the countless sites that link to that page with the words “click here” in the link text that make this page outrank the other billion pages.

How do you get other sites to link to you, and help your search engine rankings? Any way you can, is one answer. But one of the best ways is to simply have a great site with great content. If you make your site an authoritative reference, you’ll naturally attract links to your site, as well as web searchers, and ultimately, clients.

David Matson is a search engine marketing and optimization expert in Massachusetts. He specializes in working on web sites for lawyers that rank well in search engines and generate valuable client leads. His web site is http://www.highsteppinsearches.com.

About Dave Matson

Dave Matson is the owner and operator of High Steppin' Searches. Dave Matson on g+

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