By Tim Norman, Director at SDL Web Content Management Solutions

Where is your company positioned online when people search for you? In an ideal world, search engines will reveal you on the first page of results - based on a multitude of search terms. However, this is rarely the case and if you are not easily found on the internet, you are essentially, not there.

The old adage, “Location, location, location” applies to search engines as much as it does to physical location, with over 70% of online users starting their surfing sessions with search.

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

Search terms tell us something

A customer looking for a new camera might, at the beginning of their buying cycle, not yet search for a specific brand, model or type. At this early stage, their keywords could be as simple as ‘camera’, or ‘digital SLR’ or even ‘digital SLR reviews’.

After they’ve done some further research, the terms become more specific and reflect what they have discovered. At this point, they may well search for a specific model of camera from a specific brand. To get the most out of your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) efforts, it is therefore essential that you start by identifying customer care words–the very lingo that your potential customers are using.

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

Refining your terms

The biggest challenge marketers face is narrowing down the terminology so that it is effective and manageable in producing results. Every new product can easily turn into hundreds of search terms. As a result, focusing on key target audiences and their characteristics becomes crucial. 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 reinforce the global impact of the 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.

Content plus

In addition to the content itself, 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!”

Learn more at HIT ME! Optimise Your Search on the 15th of February 2011 at Microsoft’s London Head Quarters. Tickets still available — Buy yours today!

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