Advanced SEO Strategies: Integrating Analytics, Usability, Persuasion and Journalism


I have to admit, the journalism geek in me is pretty excited for this one. Not to mention the fact that it features one of my favorite speakers, Mr. Matthew Bailey.  He’s kind of the greatest thing in the whole world. If I had Matt’s speaking skills, you’d find me on street corners everywhere.

Um, shut up. You know what I meant. Weirdos.

He’s going to talk most about the onpage factors, because that’s where he spends the majority of his time.  He lives under the philosophy that you better clean up your house and get it in order before you invite people over. We need to get our Web sites in order and ready for searchers. The most important part of communicating to searches is that there is a sender of information and a receiver of information. Our Web sites are only as good as users ability to decode what we’re telling them on the site. We have to make our sites easier to decode and understand.

Unfortunately, we get wrapped up in design and overlook the needs of searchers. Every time you adjust your site to make it easier to use, the benefits are tangible in search engine rankings. When your site is better for your users, one of the best benefits is better rankings.

Power of Words

As its base level, all you have on your site are words. They’re the building blocks of communication. Words are the foundation. They’re all we have to go on.

Words carry power with them.  Words are like little dynamite sticks in people’s minds.   By finding the words that will resonate with your searchers on an emotional level, you can create a reaction in their mind. If you can take content off your site and put it on someone else’s, then it’s generic. You want information that is specific to you and what you offer.

Rule #1: Call Things What They Are

Get rid of the corporate speak and the jargon and realize that your target audience may not talk the same way that you do. Call things what they are.

[As an aside, Matt Bailey is seriously an awesome speaker. I know I’ve said it before, but really, he is.]

Codependency of Words

How do search engines rank Web sites? What factors do they use?

The search engines are trying to find out ways to make people happy. They want to think like people. They want to engage sites. They want to judge them and rank them using factors that people would use. The search engines are just little machines that want to be real boys. Hee.

Page Titles: They need to be unique and they need to be concise. They need to explain the content that is on that page. You have 60 characters to get your most important, critical stuff out to users.  That’s where the battle is won for the search in the SERPs.

Headlines: Navigational device. They draw us in. They’re short, concise and full of power. Make liberal use of headlines, subheads, bullet points, paragraph headers, etc. They make it easy for people to read quickly.

Page Structure: Title, Meta description, H1s, links, etc. The engines are looking for readability.

Meta Tags: Similar to a card catalog at the library. They were meant as a form of organizing the Internets information in a logical format. If you filled everything out, it would be like pulling a card out of a card catalog. Webmasters found out if they put keywords in the Meta tag they’d rank (pre-2000, of course). Once they figured that out, it was abused. And now the search engines don’t pay too much attention to them.  Don’t waste your time on the Meta keywords, however, the Meta Description is very important because it shows up in the search page. They should be unique and focused to every page.

Links: Nuts and bolts of the Internet.

Alt Text: If a picture is critical to the usability of that site, you need to have alt text included to describe what that image is about in case it doesn’t show up.

Google says, “Use the alt attribute to provide descriptive text. In addition, we recommend using a human readable caption and descriptive text around the image.”

Images: Name your images what they are.

Multimedia: Optimize your digital files – file names, summary, descriptions, etc. Everything is searchable and rankable.

Location of Words

Users scan content. 80 percent of people scan your page. 16 percent of people will read word for word.  How you arrange your content is critical to helping people find it faster because they’re scanning.  Give users a structured group of information to look at.

Credibility of Words

People make credibility decisions based on how pretty it is, including layout, typography, font size and color scheme. You have to have a consistent format throughout your Web site. Number one factor in readability is small text. Low contrast is after that.  If its too low of a contrast, people don’t see it.

Performance of Words

Segment your visitors based on how they found the Web site. Dig in and find out why someone came, what they were looking for, did they find it and how many?

People don’t search for your brand first. Know the buying cycle.

Clarity of Words

You have to be clear about what you’re saying. People search based on their needs and you have what satisfies their need. Write with clarity, directness and commitment.

Semantics of Words

A sandwich can be a hoagie, a grinder, a sub, a po-boy or a sandwich. There are so many different words to call things. Think about the verbs that you use to describe something, then think about the verbs people can use to describe your product. People look for what we offer in vastly different ways.

Search engines are getting vastly better at understanding the context of things. They’re using personalization.

International Words

Designs that work in the US may not work elsewhere. Avoid euphemisms, slang, vague instructions.

Know your searchers:

  • Sharp Shooters: Specific Search
  • Shotgun: Concept Searcher
  • Artillery: Idea Search
  • Researcher

Your Comments

  • Alan M. Bleiweiss

    OY this just reminds me even more that the aesthetic redesign I’m working on for my blog and company site need to get done asap! I’ve got much of the rest of this down but the design and first 30 seconds factor are dogs. At the same time though it’s great to hear that the things I believe most important to the work I do for clients are what Matt talked about here.

    Thanks for the liveblogging Lisa – helps those of us not able to be out there!

  • Rick NHS

    Very nice and well written… I specifically like how you avoided suggesting anything spammy! Titles, descriptions, keywords, meta-data, etc., is more valuable when used as it was intended for… to explain to the search spiders what they’re looking at! NOT for manipulating the search results. Nice job!

  • John

    Yes – Call things what they are. I love how people always try and “spice up” words that are descriptive and work perfectly well with nonsense like “solutions” or “services”. When is the last time you searched for “xyz solutions”? Never? Me too! (OK, personal bitching over). Great coverage again Lisa.

  • Hyder Ali

    Well Great Post Lisa….but i think it is the same old strategies nothing any advanced or any new technique in seo. Just the way of describing it is little bit new. Looking for more some advanced talk about seo…..thanks.

  • MikeTek

    Lisa, I just want to say you kick ass at live blogging. Seriously, how you manage to make this not only readable but enjoyable with such speed is beyond me.

    Also, I’m pissed I didn’t go to SESNY now – I missed this session.

  • Brian Mathers

    Lisa thank god there is people like you on the planet
    I also could not get over from Scotland for the NY event but aiming now for the Chicago session later in the year. I did do a pilgrimage to London, but it wasn’t the same, NY is where it is at in my opinion. I totally agree with you about Matt, you have to see this guy in action and I can relate to his style as its something I do back here in Scotland. This style of presentation ensures that what is said sticks with the audience and is memorable. I hope you had a great time their and I promise to return to NY my favourite city next time SES is in town. Next on the Calendar this year is a stop over in my other favourite location Cocoa Beach in Florida (heading down there in Oct 09). Never met an SEO person from there yet though!!!

  • Ron Fitzpatrick

    Lisa,thanks for reminding me of the things i need to do to my site,regards Ron Fitzpatrick.