Strategies For Search Engine Optimization

I manage a website so search engine optimization should be a large part of my job. Until recently I hadn’t paid much attention to it. At my job we hired a new digital agency to redo our website. During the project we briefly touched on SEO, but not enough for me to realize its importance. The digital agency handled all the coding to make sure our pages and content were optimized for search. The only part I assisted with was assigning priorities to certain keywords. The new site launched just more than a year ago and that was the last time I put any thought into SEO. Here we are a year later and SEO is our topic for the week. It is probably time for me to turn my attention back toward it and see how my site is doing. After this week I’ll know how to make any adjustments needed.

What I took out of our readings is how complex this subject is and that it is time-consuming. After reading the Google Webmaster Guidelines I’m glad I had an agency that could take care of all the technical aspects. From the guidelines I finally learned the importance of using ALT tags on images. The spiders can’t see images and the ALT tag puts a text description on images. It makes a lot of sense that Google is such a stickler with its guideline, because if they didn’t search result pages would be overrun with spam. The Search Engine Marketing site provided a great list of definitions that further help to explain the intricacies of SEO. My key takeaway was how important sitemaps are with search since they are the “best insurance for getting a search engine to learn about your site” (Anvil, 2010).

The SEO Beginner’s Guide was by far the most useful. It really broke down all the aspects of SEO, and I now understand the steps I need to apply to my work website. The first step is to make a list of keywords, which seems like the hardest task to me because there are endless possibilities. How are you supposed to know what people are searching?

Today I did some digging in Google Analytics and found that your account will provide you with the search terms people used to find your site. For anyone who is looking for the search terms, go to traffic sources, search, overview and then the keywords tab. Finding this made me feel like I hit the lottery. Google Analytics also has a search engine optimization section but you have to connect the Webmaster Tools with your analytics account. Then you’ll be able to view queries, landing pages and geographical summaries. I know what I’ll be doing at work on Monday.

Another useful tool I tested out was the Google AdWords’ Keyword Tool. This allows you to check the demand of certain keywords. It also grades how tough the competition is for that keyword. It isn’t always wise to spend time trying to move up the ranking with a keyword that has high competition. You may not be able to shift positions for that keyword, so your time would be better spent working where you can make a difference.

What search engine do you prefer and why?

With all this talk about search engines, I’ve always wondered why Microsoft launched Bing. While Bing has created some fun advertising campaigns, I don’t feel like it will ever make it to the same popularity level as Google. comScore reported in December 2011 that Bing had 15.1 percent of the market share to Google’s 66 percent. Bing had a fun idea to have people take a test to see which site they preferred. I took the test and Google won. Even if Bing had won I wouldn’t have changed my search engine preference. When I think to search something Bing never enters my mind. I just don’t think Bing will ever resonate with people the way Google does. Do you think Microsoft will settle for always coming in second or will they pull the plug on the investment at some point?

What I’ve learned from all of this is the extreme importance of SEO. Search engines drive a lot of traffic to websites, so you have to spend time making sure you’re getting the most out of it. You continually have to evaluate where you fall within the results and check your analytics. Then you can make adjustments to your strategy as you see your site fluctuate up or down in the rankings.


6 thoughts on “Strategies For Search Engine Optimization

  1. Stacy –

    My choice of search engine depends on the device I use, and lately I’ve been using Bing for both desktop and mobile devices.

    The reason Microsoft created Bing has nothing to do with popularity or to necessarily take on Google, although if Bing did happen to take the lead in the search engine wars, I’m sure Microsoft wouldn’t mind. The reason Bing is around is for Microsoft’s digital ecosystem.

    Microsoft has a browser, Internet Explorer. There’s a need to search the web via the browser. Enter Bing.

    But we often tend to only look at one side: the desktop side. Microsoft is trying to shift over to mobile and bring with it an ecosystem that seamlessly interacts with its mobile applications. Enter Bing, again.

    You asked if Microsoft is tired of playing second fiddle to Google, and if they should pull investment dollars.

    No one likes to come in second, but for them to pull investment dollars now considering they just launched Windows Phone 8 wouldn’t keep them in the mobile game. Sure they might be pulling a mere 15 percent of the market share – who knows how much money 15 percent is … could be billions.

    Sure they’re getting beat up by Google.

    But they’re in the game. And since Windows Phone 8 still has that new-car smell, being in the game is huge.

  2. Dave. Thank you for all the great information on Bing. As a Firefox loyalist and iPhone user it seems I don’t come into contact with that area of Microsoft products very often. I really liked your point about how 15 percent could equate to a lot of money even if it is second place. I hadn’t thought about it like that.

  3. I love Google Analytics. It’s always interesting to read how people got to your website and from where. Thankfully, wordpress has a pretty long list of plugins that do this same thing, so you don’t even need a google account (who doesn’t these days?) to see this type of reporting.

    There has been a recent attack on wordpress-based websites using this type of reporting. Hackers have created code that visit your site and create source links from porn sites. ( and I saw these brute force attacks on my websites (both business and personal), with suddenly links showing up in my reference code list from porn sites, and countless failed login attempts into my admin panel.

    It’s crazy that while SEO and pingbacks are moving some websites forward, there are people out there to find ways to hurt those websites and businesses.

    1. Some people have too much time on their hands or make a living out of hacking into other people’s site. How frustrating. At the speed that technology advances, I hope there are ways to fool these hackers. I know they will always find a way in but if there’s anything we can do to slow them down, I hope someone figures it out.

  4. Stacy,

    First of all, you made a really nice summary at the very end:
    “Search engines drive a lot of traffic to websites, so you have to spend time making sure you’re getting the most out of it. You continually have to evaluate where you fall within the results and check your analytics. Then you can make adjustments to your strategy as you see your site fluctuate up or down in the rankings.”

    Second, I am so pleased to see that even people who work with the real tech side of websites are not always completely familiar with SEO. At first I was completely intimidated, and it was definitely a different language for me. And, I agree the white paper was probably the most helpful reading.

    Lastly, GOOGLE ALL THE WAY!!! No, I don’t think that Bing will ever be at the level of Google. I wouldn’t be surprised if they give up at some point, but what would they use to replace it? I think they would partner with Yahoo before they work with Google.

    1. I’ve worked on the same website for more than seven years. Until last year when we chose another digital agency to manage the site, I’d never given any thought to SEO. I didn’t realize there are things I can do on my side of the site that would make a difference. It’s been a very eye opening week for me and I look forward to putting this into play at my job.

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