One of the most dynamic speakers to grace Search Engine Strategies, year after year, is Site Logic Marketing's President, Matt Bailey. His popularity earned him his own time slot, and not surprisingly, his session was packed and overflowing with attendees. Despite stressed vocal chords, he presented what he claimed were over 200 sides...or else he was just kidding. If it was that much, it certainly never felt that way during his one hour talk.
His topic was called "Advanced SEO Strategies: Integrating Analytics, Usability, Persuasion and Journalism. Matt was introduced by Stewart Quealy, VP. Incisive Media. I had the honor of sitting with Mrs. Bailey, which was fun because we could giggle together. There is always something to laugh at with Matt's talks.
Matt has lots to wisdom to share. Here are some highlights, most of which you can apply right away and see immediate improvements on your web pages. The thrust of his talk is about on-page factors. In others words, optimizing content out front and behind the curtain.
1. "Clean up your house before inviting people over". Get ready for searchers.There is a sender of information and a receiver. Users have to decode our sites. Our job is to make pages easier to decode and understand. Search engines will reward you with better rankings when your users are happy.
2. Words are the building blocks of information. You want to communicate credibility and encourage users to take action. We want action as a result. Matt loves the "Power of words." Words are like dynamite sticks in people's minds. By finding words that resonate with searchers, this will create a reaction in their mind. They can tell when a site has what they're looking for.
3. Absolutely NO generic navigation link labels. If it fits on someone else's web site, its generic. It must be specific to you!
4. Call things what they are. Brand managers want to control the market and often create odd jargon. Users are looking for specifics and seek exact descriptions. Remember that consumers may not talk the same way you do. (He shows the now famous "butt paste" slide, for a diaper rash ointment page.)
5. Search engines are machines that are trying to make humans happy.
6. Page titles - Make them unique and concise and specific to content on the page. This will get you rankings and you will see immediate results. You have 60 characters to get your marketing message in search results pages via the title tag. The title tag says, "This is what is on the page." It is your promise to your users. Do not use the same page titles on every page.
7. For content, make liberal use of headlines, sub-headings, bullet points, paragraph header and H1 tags. Watch text contrast and text size. Break up content. Search engines can tell what text you put emphasis on.
8. How many keywords on a page? This is the age-old question and the answer has always been - "Does the page make sense?"
9. Meta tags such as keywords are extinct, like the old library card catalog. They're "pre-2000 DEO". On page factors have more weight. Make sure keywords are are unique and focused on each page. Remember, also, alt text behind images because you can't always control how your page is rendere.
10. Put descriptive text around images.
11. Use keywords in image and file names.
12. Optimize multi-media files, video, images, pdf, flash files, images..as these are shown in search engines and are rankable. Search is based on human factors and search engines use the same things.
13. Users scan content. 79% of users scan a page, 16% read word for word.. Therefore, the most important information needs to be in the first paragraph.
14. Don't make links hard to see. And more importantly navigation should show where you are, especially if it's a landing page.
15. Credibiliy is based on site's visual appeal. This includes layout, fonts, color scheme, how content is arranged, if consistent and if readable. Readability issues are things like small text, blinking, scrolling, rotating, low contrasts and often elements that work for print but not online.
16. People refine searches by brand, by need and by want. You want to hit the whole process. Some products are seasonal.
17. Don't forget regional words like hoagies, grinder, po-buy and sandwich. There are different ways to say the same thing and people look for our stuff in vastly different ways. Research what they call it.
19. There are many different types of searchers...sharp shooters. shotgun, artillery searcher , planner,
browser, price shopper (customer loyalty is for how long price lasts), last minute shopper. Offer more than what you ask for.
20. For persuasion, make sure you have ready your elevator pitch, does it meet needs, benefits, build rapport, is it understandable...remember logic, emotion and credibility. Why should people do business with you? Because they NEED to do business with you.