What is More Important than Ranking Number One in Search Results?
Recent studies show that 9 out of 10 Internet users perform a search (if you would like to read one of those studies I would recommend this one by the Pew Research Center). Because of the wide spread use of search, businesses and marketers have developed the practice of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in an attempt to rank well in searches, and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) as an overall marketing strategy to increase traffic, leads, sales, etc… This brings us to the now crowded field of SEO experts that all have a different opinion on what is the most important part of an online marketing campaign. Many feel that keywords are the most critical piece (to learn more about keywords I would recommend reading Google, Keywords, and Your Opinion that Beth posted recently), others think that backlinks (links that point to your website) are important, and there are others that are just obsessed with Page Rank (that is the ranking that Google gives your site. It’s named after one of the founders of Google, Larry Page). I agree that these are all important pieces for being ranked well, but if you know me you know that I care more about what happens after people find you.
A Real World Example
In my opinion the most important piece, and often neglected piece to your SEO/SEM campaign lies in three little letters, URL. To the right you’ll see a screen shot of some of my search results where I have identified the URL (and some other elements in Google Search results). Think about when you perform a search. You scan the results quickly. My guess is that if you see a result that has a URL that you can read, and even better that you recognize, you are more likely to click on it. Here’s the real world example. When you check your email what do you open first? You open messages from your friends and family before you open anything else. Why? Because you know who the email is from and you trust the source. So what can you do? I’ll give you three action items you can take to make sure people trust your URL.
- Use your brand at all times. This is powerful from a branding standpoint, and your customers and prospects know it, and trust it.
- Keep this in mind when you select your domain. If you already have a domain that isn’t branded never fear! You can use a different tactic. If Vivid Image was example.com instead of vimm.com I could name this post Vivid Image SEO Tips, Using a URL Effectively. Then the URL should be example.com/vivid-image-seo-tips-using-url-effectively.
- Use real words. Stay away from code and make your URL easy to read (by the way this is also a place to put keywords, just remember not to over do it)
- WordPress makes this very easy to do. So if you aren’t using WordPress you should really think about doing so (that could be another post for the future, stay tuned).
- This one is a little advanced; use variations in your URL. For example look at the title of this blog and the URL. My URL could be an exact copy of the title of my blog. Instead I am going with vimm.com/how-to-use-an-effective-url this describes the content of my post, and also uses different keywords, and those keywords are phrased in a way that might match a search exactly. Again, WordPress makes this very easy to do.
Action Item 3.5 would be to review my last post Tips to Starting a Successful SEO Campaign and as usual share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.