Monday 18 December 2017

Optimising your search engine potential

Brevity is key: say less and employ well-crafted images, rather than text
Brevity is key: say less and employ well-crafted images, rather than text

Tim Norman

WHEN developing web content, companies must ensure it is highly relevant, personalised and geographically segmented. Companies must also be able to change or update local and international content quickly in response to a rapid market changes.

Marketers must be creative and ensure content is punchy, relevant and compelling. Avoid wasting time churning out the disengaging, irrelevant waffle that customers will ignore.

Remember that audiences can select from more content channels than ever before. Establish which channels different audiences use and what they use them for to ensure that you deliver the right content to the right channel.

For example use mobile web for geo-location or bookings, use comparison sites for selection, use websites for more detailed information and use social media for peer reviews. Whatever channels you use, provide a coordinated offering tailored to your target audience.

The huge increase in online video enhances customer contact. Viral marketing trends and peer-to-peer distribution reinforce brand awareness in a way that text can't.

Before developing video, you must fully understand your target audience to provide content and visual presentations that draw them into the story and message.

High-quality production is essential, so budget accordingly -- a cheap looking video damages brand. Keep the content engaging and relevant, and consider video length and user controls.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Customers don't like reading too much text, so try and use another media to get the point across. Help them process text overload by condensing this information in more creative and graphic ways. After all, a picture says more than a thousand words.
  • Brevity is key: say less and employ well-crafted images, rather than text. Use visual information and infographics to make your information immediately accessible.
  • People are increasingly suspicious of your claims if you don't have customer endorsements. It should be easy to achieve plaudits for a good product. Use your customers as highly effective advocates. People trust their peers much more than corporate messages.
  • To enhance online engagement, create blogs that allow commenting and integrate the resulting customer endorsements into your marketing strategy. Be bold. Carefully plan these activities and you'll enjoy the rewards of a highly cost-effective, customer conversion strategy.
  • Remember, most publicity is essentially positive for a brand, and even negative stuff on the web is soon forgotten. Encourage customers to share your content with their peers. Ensure that customers can identify, react to and share offers quickly -- this can be the difference between an offer for just one person or for many. Also be sure that a great offer, designed for a few, doesn't get out of hand and becomes a cash-draining monster.

Every marketer knows that search rankings have a big impact on the sites that visitors go to. At the end of the day, you want to maximise your exposure to the marketplace by appearing at the top of that coveted first page of search results.

To get the most out of your Search Engile Optimisation (SEO) efforts, start by identifying customer care words -- the very lingo that your potential customers use.

Outside of the desire to purchase, factors such as location, seasonality, demographics and cultural background all impact on the way online users "talk" through search queries.

One of the biggest challenges that marketers face is narrowing down the terminology so that it is effective, manageable and produces results. Every new product can easily turn into hundreds of search terms. As a result, focus on key target audiences, their characteristics and preferences. Terms change with passing fads, user-generated content, changes in the market and new products, so it pays to stay on top of the terminology used.

The ability to apply translated and localised terms to content reinforces the global impact of your SEO effort. Copywriters, editors and functionality experts need to be aware of terminology, usability and strategy. Structured web content can help these contributors to add the right terminology easily by providing the means to continuously analyse and optimise the content.

In addition to the content, factors such as friendly URLs, navigation, accessibility and language all have an effect on whether a link falls on the first or third page of search results.

Simple, clear and relevant URLs, breadcrumbs and sitemaps make it easy for search engines to enter the navigation structure. Content authors should not be burdened with these technicalities. Use a content management system that makes it simple to manage, modify and translate the site structure and URL, as needed. Effective SEO has a snowball effect for site popularity and ultimately the ability of visitors to decide to purchase. It changes a game of hide-and-seek into "I found you!"

So for 2011, make it easy for customers to find what they want through relevant, personalised, engaging content and creative visual design. Also critical for success is the accessibility and control of this information -- so ensure it is controlled by sophisticated content management technology.

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