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Coach Purse Catalogues

Is Your Site A Rich Feast Or A Dogs Breakfast? Part 2 of 2

Nice sizzle, shame about the sausage. Legendary St Kilda and
Hawthorn coach Allan "Yabby" Jeans summed it up in his famous
post game quote. All the PR, advertising spend and marketing
resources will only get you so far. The web junk yard is full of
sows ear clutch purses and polished turds.

Marketing in general suffers from a bolt on philosophy in many
organizations. A means of promoting a fait accompli. An
afterthought to be brought in at the conclusion of the product
cycle to stir up some hype and bundle it into a neat Powerpoint
presentation. In this environment then web marketing is often
the red headed step child of the marketing department. A bullet
point reference quickly glossed over and farmed off to the work
experience kid who knows a bit of Photoshop.

This is a mistake. A good snag can make a BBQ whereas a bad one
reminds everyone that it is really just ground meat in a pigs
intestine. Success requires a good recipe and involvement of
someone who has marketing interests at heart in the preparation
stage.

In the last issue I discussed the ingredients and encouraged
marketers to be honest in their initial review and goal setting.
Basically, (to continue the use of gratuitous sporting clichés),
to enter the metaphorical hall of mirrors and have a good hard
look at themselves, their website and the organization.

Hopefully this has now taken place and now suitably armed with
this information we can start to cook. Please note that this
article is very much a serving suggestion, much like the bananas
on the front of the Corn Flakes box, rather than a set of hard
and fast rules. Like all good recipes the best results can often
be delivered through adding your own little touches.

The Recipe.

Task 1 - Shell the eggs:

Remove any items that cannot be digested by search engines.
Specifically this includes...

• Remove any use of Frames on the site. Frames are a simple way
of allowing content on a page to scroll within the page
boundaries rather than requiring the entire page itself to
scroll. Frames are however search engine poison for the
following reasons.

* Content in frames cannot be book marked or linked to

* Search engines do not recognise the unified frameset and if it
catalogues the content at all it will index each frame as a
separate page leading to links to content without menus or menus
without content.

* Frames can look ugly and different browsers will display them
differently.

* Having to resort to frames generally illustrates an
organisational problem with the website. Proper use of a
database with a Content Management System (CMS) generally
eliminates the need for frames. It is generally better to split
long content over multiple pages (pagination) than have long
amounts of scrolling text within a frameset or otherwise. This
also gives search engines more pages to list and can help boost
your ranking for keywords contained within.

• Remove any text content that is contained within images or
Flash animations and replace with HTML text wherever possible.
Search engines cannot read Flash.

• If the menu is constructed or displayed using images, Flash or
JavaScript make sure that these menu links are also available as
HTML links somewhere else on the page. Generally the easiest way
to do this unobtrusively is to duplicate these items in the
footer at the bottom of the page. This allows search engines to
always be able to navigate around your site. Remember search
engines can't read images, Flash or JavaScript.

• As much as possible bundle any JavaScript elements (commonly
used in rollovers and image maps) into Include files to be
called when required rather than requiring to be written into
the code of each page. This is probably going to require the
input of a developer and probably falls under the nice to have
rather than must have items.

Task 2 - Add Herbs and Spices:

The following are a list of simple things that can usually be
done quite quickly to a website to make it taste better to
search engines.

* Insert Heading tags. Search engines love tags as their
search algorithm rates content within these tags as being more
important than general text and ranks accordingly. Fill these
tags with the best keyword mix and make sure that different
pages have differing keyword variations. Best results come from
placing H1 as close as possible to the top of the page. Use
these wherever a heading or sub heading appears on site. If it
is important enough to place on its own line in bold then it
should be in a heading tag.

* Use relevant page titles (Title tags) and make them at least
slightly different for each page. Title should have 5 to 8 words
for best results. This should incorporate the highest priority
keywords for the particular page. (Prominence may vary if
doorway pages in use.). Note: If the title length is more than
75 characters, the extra characters may be cut in certain
browsers or systems (eg. Mac) and your listings may not have an
attractive look in search engine results.

* Place short relevant descriptive Alt tags on all click able
images (one or two words). Whilst search engines cannot read
images they can read the Alt tag that accompanies each image.
Alt tags display first prior to an image loading meaning that
they can be viewed and read irrespective of whether the image
accurately loads. Alt tags also display when a user mouses over
an image containing them providing more information regarding
the effect of clicking on a link and helping boost site
usability. Alt tags should only be used on links to avoid user
confusion over what are click able areas and what are not.

* Consider a relevant naming strategy for images on site. (eg.
enedia_melbourne_office.jpg not 00002.jpg)

Task 3 - Sprinkle site liberally with keywords:

Using the keyword list compiled via the techniques discussed in
the last issue the site copy should be re worked to accommodate
these wherever possible. From the Google Adwords and Overture
tools, plus a bit of common sense, you will be able to compile a
priority list. The trick is to saturate the site with these
keywords to appease search engines without making it unreadable
for humans. Additionally over optimised sites can be viewed by
search engines as spam and penalised accordingly. A few dos and
don'ts...

* Do: Try and include at least 200 words of searchable text on
your homepage plus any other common entry pages to your site.

* Do: Use plural and singular versions of key words. This helps
with your sites readability and covers your bases with search
engines.

* Do: Try and make relevant keywords link to other relevant
pages on site. Try and do this often but not to the extent that
it becomes confusing to users.

* Do: Incorporate geographic locators to narrow the
categorisation.

* Do: Use this keyword list as basis for defining page titles
and meta tags.

* Don't: Never try and make text invisible to try and trick
search engines. Such action will either be picked up by the
search engine cataloguing process (eg. By checking the text
colour against the background colour in the code) or leave you
open to a complaint by a competitor. Either way your site and
your IP address could be black listed.

* Don't: Never just list keywords on a page unless it is in a
menu. Such action can be regarded as spam and end up coming back
to bite you.

Task 3 - The Cooking:

In many ways the actual implementation strategies, timing and
follow up required will depend upon your business and the make
up and competitiveness of your market. Some industries, niche
markets and locations will be easier to secure than others or
require a differing mix. With such a horses for courses approach
then the following should be considered as suggestions only.
Sometimes you need Damien Oliver to ride the frisky nag round
the track whereas other times all you need is for Jamie Oliver
to make the horse edible.

* Always integrate the site to compliment other offline
marketing spend. List your URL in your Yellow Pages ad and link
to it in the electronic version. If possible set up a unique
landing page for arrivals from Yellow Pages (or any other
directory) so that you can track effectiveness in delivering
leads.

* Get your URL on everything that your company sends out. Search
engines deliver customers who don't know you. Make sure those
that do come direct by making sure that your URL is always handy.

* Consider utalising third party campaign management and
analysis providers. Two of the main players in Australia are
Hitwise (www.hitwise.com.au) and Red Sheriff
(www.redsheriff.com.au). Both of these companies can provide a
range of valuable information. They do tend however to have
differing focuses. Hitwise tends to be more focused on
positioning as related to competitiors whereas Red Sheriff tends
to be more introspective and focuses on your site in isolation
(or at least only in comparison with any of your competitors who
also happen to use their tracking system). In the end the choice
will depend upon your individual requirements.

Using a third party can take a lot of the headache out of the
ongoing monitoring and maintenance of search engine marketing
campaigns. A company such as Hitwise can actually set up
programs for hundreds (or even thousands) of keyword
combinations and juggle the focus, targeting and advertising
spend for each. One of the most important parts of this is to
make sure that you are not paying for clicks for keywords on
which you are already getting a first page free listing. This
can vary over time and unless you are monitoring can slip
through unnoticed.

* Keep your content fresh. Only pigeons like stale bread and
they shit on statues. The more times your site is updated the
more likely that search engines will re index it and boost its
ranking. Frequent updates also encourage repeat patronage which
is important as web statistics indicate that few online
purchases are made on a visitors first visit to a web site.
Encourage engagement through web only specials, real discounts,
convenience (theirs not yours) and quick response times.

* Consider online advertising. The day of the banner ad being
the be all and end all of web marketing is long past, however it
does have its place. The key metric for online spend is now
skewed in favour of the advertiser. Rates are charged based on
click throughs rather than simply exposure. Care should be taken
that the wording of the ad and the positioning is such as to
deliver relevant referrals that are likely to engage with the
site and lead to a potential sale not simply dump traffic
looking for something else. You are paying for each arrival
after all. Using the search engine direct ad delivery services
(eg. Google AdSense) will more than likely help your site
positioning as well. Anecdotal evidence abounds regarding the
tendancy for a site to miraculously leap in free listings once a
paid ad campaign is purchased.

* Stir constantly. Make sure that your website statistics
indicate the most common keywords used to arrive at your site.
If it doesn't then set up one that does. Review these statistics
in conjunction with the other keyword performance tools and
refine the keywords used on site accordingly.

Remember it can take several months before the full effects of
any search engine optimization overhaul can take effect. Whilst
investing in a pay per click campaign can have almost immediate
listing effects (assuming that you are prepared to spend to
maintain prominence) it is the combination of on and off site
techniques that will ensure success in the free listings. This
is where the majority of customer traffic will come from

About the Author

Tim Giles is a
Pre Marketing

Consultant for
Enedia
(www.enedia.com). Enedia's
client's include Ansearch (www.ansearch.com.au), an
Australian search engine and directory.

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