The Magic of the SEO Stone

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Six out of seven sales resulting from search come from natural search traffic, according to research by Jupiter's Eric T. Peterson in December. Natural search listings, also known as organic or algorithmic listings, are the non-sponsored listings that appear in Google, Yahoo and elsewhere as a result of a keyword search. Natural listings are derived from indices built by search engine spiders and are ranked based on proprietary search algorithms.


Needless to say, all advertisers are hungry for natural search traffic. It is a little hard to believe, but I might have found the answer. It was given to me by a traveling Russian soldier, and I am happy to share it with you. He told me it is the essential ingredient for a search marketing campaign. It is a stone.


The stone is a little smaller than my fist, smooth and otherwise unremarkable. I was told that the stone itself has no special powers, so you should be able to replicate its effects for yourself. Here is what you need to do:


· Step 1: Find a stone. I recommend one that is pleasing to the eye and not too large.


· Step 2: Place the stone somewhere visible, on top of your monitor, for example.


· Step 3: Wait.


While you wait for the stone to work its wonders, I suggest that you work on the following to make the most of the coming traffic:


Give visitors what they want. Have plenty of substantive content on your site and ensure it is easy to find. Visitors will be searching for more than short marketing blurbs that sound slick but say nothing. Content such as reviews, technical support, specifications, manuals, white papers and company news are rich with information. Ensure that all product and service information you have is on your site and presented in a search engine-friendly format. Target content to your audience - forgo jargon in favor of language that is familiar to your prospects.


Keep it simple. Make your Web pages concise and engaging. It is better to have many short, topic-specific pages than few pages covering many topics. Use in-line hyperlinks to link to other relevant pages. Keep your pages clutter-free with the main content at the top of the page. Use both header text and HTML title tags to give pages relevant and easily digested titles.


Direct traffic. Visitors want to go directly to pages that are relevant to their search, so ensure all of your Web pages are being crawled by search engines. Your efforts will be for naught if you dump all search engine traffic on your home page. Visitors are likely to leave immediately unless directed to a page with content specific to their interests.


Provide a map. As you build out your content, the spiders will have to work overtime to keep up. Give them a site map to crawl, and you'll make their job a lot easier.


Create a buzz. Your Web presence doesn't end with your domain name. Prospective customers will scour portal, consumer and partner Web sites for information about you. Make sure they find you out there. Everyone from PR to merchandising to customer service should be on the Web evangelizing about your company.


There are also blogs and RSS feeds to consider for buzz. Blogs and feeds have become a primary source of information for millions of people, many of whom are decision makers and influencers in their fields. Consider syndicating feeds for product information, company news and even special promotions. If you have expertise in a specific area, share it on a blog. Encourage a blog-friendly policy for employees. They could end up being your best marketing channel.


Does your stone replace the need for an SEO consultant or firm? Absolutely not. An SEO consultant will help with keyword research and keep you up-to-date on best practices for site architecture, link building and content presentation. He or she will also help monitor your performance and refine your campaign for long-term success.


By following the steps above, you give an SEO consultant the ingredients for optimal results. Let your SEO stone serve as a daily reminder that there is no magical substitute for listening to customers and developing content to meet their needs.


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