Search Engine Optimization is the process of creating content that is significant to your business, matching the content to the search terms through keywords to build ranking and authority within the search engines organically to ultimately increase traffic, awareness and sales. The search engines are constantly crawling sites for new and relevant content to meet the demands of the search queries and search has evolved with Google Instant, Bing/Yahoo Merger as well as Facebook Search, the competition to be ranked in the top ten coveted positions is increasingly becoming more difficult. Blogs have been ranking higher than static web pages as they fulfill the needs of the search engines with fresh, new and relevant content as well as matching the search queries.

Technology has played a very important role in search engine optimization. The emergence of mobile devices allow people to search on the go and has afforded many small businesses the opportunity to compete with the larger brands. Foursquare, Gowalla , Facebook Places have placed consumers in the drivers’ seat and give many brands a much needed wake-up call. Search has changed but yet many brands have not.

As we are creating our marketing plans for 2011,brands need to look at their current marketing as whole which includes their website and the optimization performed vs the rankings and traffic. In order to remain competitive, brands need review the terms consumers are searching and finding them for and focus their efforts on the consumer searches and not necessarily what they think they should be or want to be ranked for.

8 Tips for Consumer Optimizing Your Site

Optimizing your site based upon the consumer is not new. The data is available for terms you are ranking for, the approximate search volume for that term as well as the traffic that is coming to the site for the terms. Evaluating and taking advantage of that data will prove to be very beneficial in rankings but even more so in traffic and conversions.

1. Evaluating Current Rankings. Evaluating your current rankings through Goggle and Bing Webmaster Tools as well as Rank Checker will provide invaluable insight as to what the search engines point to you for being relevant as well as authoritative.

2. Analyzing Search Term Matches. Organically, your site is found through matching the search term to the content on the page. Consumers perform searches and what they are searching for may not be exactly what you want them to search for and find you. The data does not lie. Focusing on these terms and revising the content for the page or creating a new page that focuses in on these terms will be beneficial. The higher the ranking, the higher the traffic and the potential for new customers.

3. One Core Keyword Phrase Per Page. This we see time and time again where people try and still stuff as much content and phrases as they can on a page. Relevancy and consistency is established by focusing on one core keyword phrase. This does not mean that you cannot introduce another phrase as through internal linking you can direct them to the page that pertains to that phrase. Too many phrases overwhelms the consumer as well as the search engines. Which should they rank you for?

4. Internal Links. Linking internally to pages that are relevant to the content is not only pointing visitors in the direction that you want them to go in, you are also building authority. Internal linking guides the visitor to the pages that will provide them with more information to avoid wandering around the site aimlessly.

5.  301 Redirects. When evaluating your site and rankings, it is important to remember that if you are removing a page, that a 301 redirect is necessary; especially if there are inbound links to the page. You want to let the search engines know that the page they indexed has been redirected to a new page that is even more relevant than before.

6. Mobile Device Friendly. As we are moving to a mobile dependent universe, sites that have a adapted and created a mobile version are suiting the needs of the consumer as well as the search engines.

7.  Optimizing Locally. Optimizing locally is key, especially for certain industries (ie restaurants, hotels, etc). Mobile search has paved the way for local search to emerge. Take advantage of this by optimizing your site locally. Your location matters much more than it did even a year ago. While we do live in a virtual world, your local consumers as well as those visiting want to find you and know that you have a strong presence online before they commit.

8.  Social Media MarketingSocial media marketing is building relationships with consumers and being there before the sale.  Consumers are inundated with ads on tv, radio and in newspapers and magazines. They come online for information, to ask questions, catch up with old friends and make new ones. They have been saved from the pop-up ads and are not wanting a business selling them before they know them. Social media provides the tools to build the relationships and expand your awareness which builds traffic and helps with rankings.

Evaluating and analyzing what consumers are searching for and what the search engines are ranking your for is the real secret I suppose. You have to be better and more relevant than the competition, you have to stay on top of technology changes and ensure that your content is well written and focuses on one core keyword phrase that matches what the consumers are searching. The data is telling you what the consumers want from you, the search engines are willing to rank you for it but yet we see where brands are not taking advantage and are getting lost.

photo credit:from michperu