Is your search traffic really helping your business?

website traffic sourcesMost people are pretty happy when they take a look at their web site traffic and see that a large share of traffic coming to their site from search engines. The natural reaction to these numbers is likely to be “Isn’t this great? Look at all these new prospects who are finding me on the web!” But in many cases, such assumptions about who’s finding your site via search may be completely wrong. Before I give you some tips on how you can improve your search results, let’s take a look at how people use search engines today.

How do people search?

It all begins with a need or interest—something inspires a person to search for a certain topic. Let’s use a hypothetical example of person considering buying a new camera. A typical search begins pretty broadly. Type “camera” into Google (65.9% of searches happen on Google according to ComScore, December 2011); the results page brings up a bunch of links for places where you can buy cameras, some photos of cameras, links to manufacturer’s sites, and so on. Great—but you’re not even sure what you’re looking for yet. So you go back to the top of the page and start adding qualifiers to your search terms. Perhaps you go with “Camera Reviews” and are presented with a variety of sites offering reviews of the latest cameras. You start reading the reviews, go back to the search engine and search patterns start to diverge…maybe you want an “SLR camera”, “digital video camera”, “10 megapixel camera” or maybe even a “film camera.” This research process can last minutes, hours, days—even weeks depending on the searchers interest level. Somewhere along the way the searcher will start to get specific and introduce branded searches into the mix (e.g. “canon camera” “kodak camera”) and then near the end of the purchase cycle the searcher will start using specific model number as search terms.

[Read more...]

Are URL Shorteners Hurting Your SEO Efforts?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists have long recognized the value of having external sites link to your web pages. With the boon of social media, we’ve finally found a way to easily generate more inbound links, but are the links we’re using really helping us?

Google’s original algorithm, Page-Rank (named after Larry Page and is not necessarily a reference to where the page is listed), is based on the common practice of citations within the academic community. When academicians publish articles, they often cite other articles as a means of providing confirmation of their findings and/or positions. The more often an article is cited, the more credibility the source gains. This practice is the basic foundation of how Google ranks pages in their search results.

[Read more...]