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MARKETING: Search Engine Optimisation
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altAnyone who makes a living off communication knows the importance of relevancy. If you are not relevant in your messaging and your timing, then you can waste lots of money on sophisticated advertising that is not worth anything. Even average advertising messages can do wonders, if they are delivered at the right time and place. People within communication have the opportunity to increase the level of relevance significantly by using and leveraging the internet. Search has changed the way people use the internet, and has made the likelihood of receiving something relevant much higher.
 

Search Engine Marketing

 
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility on search engine result pages, e.g. Google, Yahoo, or Bing. This is done through optimisation and through advertising. SEM consists of two completely different techniques: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which adjusts and rewrites website content to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages, and Pay-Per-Click (PPC), focusing on only paid components. They are completely different types of marketing. Let’s look at the differences. 
 
The purpose of SEO is to appear as near to the top as possible in search results for keywords. The purpose of PPC is to instantly attract qualified prospects  to your website and convert them. The end result of SEO is free traffic for which the quality depends on your keywords and ranking. The end result of PPC is paid for traffic for which you control the quality and the number of visitors that result. 
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Search Engine Optimisation 

– The Definition

 
So what is SEO? Search engine optimisation describes a diverse set of activities that you can perform to increase the amount of targeted traffic that comes to your website from search engines. It is the process of improving the visibility of a website in a search engine’s ‘natural’ or ‘un-paid’ search results. In general, the earlier and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users (those sites that appear on page 1 of Google’s organic search receive 36% of the clicks). SEO is not advertising nor public relations, its main goal is to gain targeted visitors.
 

altSearch Engines in China

 
Before going into more detail about how to work with SEO, it is important to note that the search engine market in China is quite different from the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, Google is the dominate player, and therefore, is already mentioned several times in this article. However, the situation is different in China. Here is a list of the most popular search engines in China:
 
Baidu is by far the leading Chinese search engine for websites, audio files, and images. Baidu was established in 2000. Google China is number two in the market and was founded in 2005. It is remarkable that Google China has so far failed to take over the Chinese search engine market, and Baidu may be the only company in the world that is still beating Google in their niche. There is very limited information available in English about how to do search engine optimisation on Baidu, which is a great challenge for SEO professionals operating in China. Sogou is the third largest search engine in China, which can search text, images, music, and maps. It was launched in 2004. Sogou means ‘Search dog’ in Chinese.
 
SEO rules for the Chinese internet market are a bit different than that of any other country due to various social, political, and technological reasons. For example, Baidu is extremely sensitive to some information, so it totally avoids mentioning adult content, pornography, or forbidden Chinese government keywords. Having any of those will not only affect the page the content is on, but also the entire website. When targeting China, it’s important to have Chinese text, since not many Chinese people search in English. These are just some of the more straightforward and non-technical differences to consider.
 

altHow to Optimise a Website’s Search Engine Results

 
Keywords are the most important beginning for SEO. It is important to know which keywords are important to optimise for. If you are a retailer of kitchen machines, it is important to know what consumers type into Google, Baidu etc. while searching for kitchen machines. There are many tools available on Google that are useful for this. Try, for example, the keyword tool in Google Adwords. When top keywords are found, they analyse the results that search engines are returning when you type in these keywords. Try to understand this. Analyse how many times a particular keyword appears in the title, the description, the URL, and in the page content as such.  Limit your list of keywords to 15 or so. The more specific and focused the keywords are, the more likely the search engines will be able to properly classify your page for searches. If you put the time and effort into choosing the right keywords, you will be rewarded with a higher rank, as well as more click-throughs because your keywords will be more relevant, and more conversions, because you are attracting more qualified leads. 
 
The page title is one of the most important elements in SEO. First of all, ensure that the title of your page is no more than 60 characters, since that is all that will be read by Google. When analysing the keywords is done, then understand how the content can be structured in the title, description, URL, and home page, in that order. It is always relative, so do not forget to ensure that you are higher in the search results than your competitors, but of course without stuffing all the keywords in such a way that the content does not make any sense.  
 
Multiple URLs can be a solution. Instead of stuffing all the keywords into a homepage, optimising all the URLs in the site for different keywords can be a solution. It is important to achieve a good balance between content and form, and remember not to let extra content kill the design of the site. If the URL address contains the keyword, then Google gives it more weight. 
 
altPage rank is another important area in SEO. Page rank is a simple formula to check relevancy and quality of a site. It is nothing but a vote that shows how other sites look upon your site. If site A points a link to site B, then that is a vote for site B. The more links you have the better. So, you have to lobby and work hard on getting more people to link to your website. There are four main types of links: inbound links, outbound links, reciprocal links and one-way links. Inbound links are links that originate from an external website. Outbound links are links from your pages pointing to a page on an external domain. Reciprocal links are when both your page and a page on another site links to each other (the worst kind of link, since search engines might suspect that a phone call took place and so it is rated lower). One-way links are when either site A links to site B, or site B links to site A, but does not receive a reciprocal link from the page it is linking to.
 
Copywriting in general is very important when conducting SEO. Here are a few points: Text must be actual text to be readable by the search engine, so remove or reduce the use of flash (at least when strictly considering SEO optimisation). Reduce the use of dynamically built pages (filled in via a database). Keyword rich copy is good for both search engines and customers to help reinforce what was searched for. Each page should have its own set of unique keywords to increase your odds of being seen. Also, keep in mind that search engines will only go down so far on a page to find information thinking that the most important information should be at the top. Typically, a search engine will only go down about 80% of the page.
 
Furthermore, please note that the age of each HTML page is also taken into account, so keep your information fresh. How quickly your page loads is also considered when ranking.
 
To sum up, as an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimising a website may involve editing its content, HTML, and associated coding to both increase its relevance for specific keywords, and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of links is another SEO tactic.
 
SEO is becoming increasingly important, and for many companies, mandatory. However, SEO is in most companies not a stand-alone marketing tactic that can do everything. It has to be supported by other marketing tactics, very often both online and offline. 
 

By Heidi Skovhus
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