December 1, 2003
Ever see a website that seems to speak a foreign language...in English? We encounter many SEO client websites that rely on buzzwords in the page copy to get the word out about their product. The problem lies with visitors who may not be familiar with those terms. This means optimizing with buzzwords may not be the best way to gain traffic. If your prospective visitors are not searching for those terms, how do they find your website?
You really need to know your industry. Study your prospective visitors--who your target audience is. If your prospective visitors are highly technical and work and talk in "buzzword speak", no problem. But if you also want to attract prospective visitors who may not be immersed in the terminology used in your business, you must compensate by optimizing with a wider array of targeted keywords.
Start researching. Yes, it's going to take a little work on your part to take a close look at what keywords you may be missing out on. Keep account of prospective website visitors who may use other terms to find your website. Track the keywords used by visitors through your log reports. Most log statistics programs have a report showing the keywords used by searchers to find your website. Using your server logs or log statistics program for keyword information is a good way to get a better picture of how visitors are finding your website. Use Overture's keyword tool (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/) or Wordtracker (http://www.wordtracker.com) and note the words used on your competitors' websites. Using these, or similar tools, type in your buzzwords and see what variations come up. Competitor websites may use a slightly different language than you when writing copy for their pages. Visit their websites and learn all you can about how many ways your business can get its message across. Read online articles; visit business newsgroups and forums. Find research information through industry websites and companies that specialize in producing reports about your industry.
Search engine robots are just automated programs. Their concept and execution is relatively simple: search engine robots "read" the text on your pages by going through the source code of your web pages. If the majority of the words in your source code text are buzzwords, this is the information that will be taken back to the search engine database.
Ok, so it's obvious to you what your industry buzzwords are. But don't discount the simpler versions of those catchy words. Focus also on some lesser used terms and make a list of additional keywords you might be able to add. Clear, precise copy that catches the visitor's attention and tells your story is generally more effective in the long run.
You don't want to change the copy on your webpages? This is often a problem with business websites. Once you have your keyword list of other-than-obvious words, work at fitting them into the page text carefully. You want them to make sense with the context of the web page. Use these new keywords as many times as "makes sense" so they do not sound spammy. Read your copy out loud or have a colleague read your copy to get a sense of how it might sound to a website visitor.
It should be easy enough to see how those extra keywords are producing for you. Keep track of your log reports and see if those new terms start showing up in your reports. Test a variety of keywords, then test again to see if visitors are staying on your website, moving through your individual web pages, or clicking away. Create specific pages using those keywords as a test scenario. The information you need should be available to you in your log statistics reports for visited web pages.
Don't let business jargon get in the way of getting your message across to your audience. Yes, buzzwords may sound cutting edge, but the bottom line is, traffic and sales are what you really want to show for your hard work.
Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine Marketing Consultant for Search Innovation Marketing, a Search Engine Optimization company serving small businesses. She has specialized in Search Engine Promotion since 1998, including three years as the Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly Media, Inc., a technical book publishing company.
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