Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beer, Wine, Liquor & SEO Keyword Search

Typing "beer, wine & liquor" into a Google search engine yields about 33,400,000 entries. If I were an online distributor of such spirits, I might be hard-pressed to distinguish my business from thousands of others on the web.

On the other hand, if I knew about search engine optimization (SEO) and combined the availability of certain brews with a location, providing a city and street with a phone number and an email address, I’d be more likely to target thirsty customers, particularly those who are new to an area.

In today’s highly competitive SEO marketplace, appearing on the first page of a user’s search results is a thing to be most desired. Thomas Petty can teach you how to do this.

Petty, (no relationship to the Heartbreakers) is a former Chevron IT employee, who left the mothership several years ago to lead SEO workshops in Sacramento and San Francisco. He was kind enough to let me sit in on a recent morning session. Petty is an associate SEO educator who bases his material on the work of industry leaders, Robin Nobles and John Alexander.

One of the first tools he discussed was how to research keywords, sort of like getting a credit score, but for search terms. According to Petty, the higher the score the better, with 400 or more being excellent and 100 or more, pretty good.

The goal here is to develop a keyword effective index (KEI) that lets you know how frequently certain terms have come up over a measured period of time (in Wordtracker’s case the past 160 days).

Using a tool like Wordtracker can help you to analyze how frequently certain terms or keywords appear in search engines. It costs $329 a year to subscribe to Wordtracker. The company also offers a free 7-day trial period. You can find other similar tools out there in the marketplace.

“Let the tool cast its net,” said Petty as we viewed what he referred to as “right/ left word stemming.” In this case he entered the term golf and retrieved golf bag, golf cart, golf lessons, etc. You get the picture.

Once you’ve identified a likely search term candidate with a high-yielding KEI, there’s a lot more work that goes beyond the scope of this post.

A few grab bag items:

--The number one place to enter keywords is in the title tag of a web page
--The metatag description is the second most effective place to enter keywords
--Personalized search is making it more difficult to appear on a user’s results page
--Know your audience

“What companies want to be optimized for is a lot different than what people enter on the Web. First do your keyword research,” Petty said.

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