The very first session I attended here was - surprise - on search optimization. SEO copywriting to be exact. I might not blow any minds here, but I thought there might be some of you who would appreciate a refresher course.
Heather Lloyd-Martin, the session director (along with her sidekick Detlev Johnson), said you need to consider rewriting your site copy if:
Your pages aren't converting or customers aren't clicking where you want them to. (And if you're rewriting with the search engines in mind, be sure to completely overhaul your copy so that you can maintain your marketing message.)
You have a page full of links. Links are not necessarily targetted for a search phrase, and they diffuse the impact a given page may have, especially if it's your landing page. We actually looked at this guy's furniture site during the session. The site's homepage had four sections targeting four different types of office furniture buyers, and each section had multiple links to various types of furniture on four separate domains. Bad idea! Heather said that one domain with all the content is better than four separate domains.
Putting everything on one domain allows you to keep all your PageRank concentrated on one site too.
You have a page with no text. You don't of course, right? I didn't think so. Heather included this point for the folks out there who are so image-focused, both in their marketing goals and frontpage content that they forget to spell out what they do.
Next Heather went into some of the secrets of writing SEO copy.
First off, be sure to think of your product from the searcher's perspective. One questioner later in the session brought up an interesting point though - his boss wanted to be found for a "less negative" term than "sub prime" (which has certain predatory lending connotations).
Heather's advice to the company was that they should go with what searchers are searching for. Makes sense to me, but I'm not sure if that guy's boss is going to agree.
Now that you're thinking in terms of your searcher, be sure to use about 250 words of text. Heather called this the search engine "sweet spot." Every page should have 250 words, with 2-3 keyphrases per page with each keyphrase repeated s times each. (I'd love to hear what you SEO pros out there think about that ratio.)
However, Heather warned, be sure that you never sacrifice your marketing message for conversion and flow.
And always, she concluded for this section, write for the users, meaning use gramatically correct keyphrases and correct spellings. Yes, even though people are searching for wijits, if you spell widget like that you'll look like an ijit. It's all about your professional look and feel, as well as the marketing message and conversion flow.
Heather also gave an excellent point regarding where to place your benefit statements. When optimizing for Google (yes, still a good idea despite the fact that Yahoo! dropped them) be sure to put benefit statements close to the terms you know people are searching for.
Since Google takes its "snippets" from around your keyphrases rather than your description tag, you'll have a much more compelling snippet if you carefully craft the sentences around it to include words like "free," or other benefits that your product offers.
She finished her presentation with a discussion of title tags. Just to reiterate: (you know this by now if you've read WebProNews for more than a week or so ;) the title is VITAL.
Be sure to put your keyphrase in the title tag of the page your optimizing. The title must drive clicks: a compelling title can make up for lower placement on the SERPs! Let me just say that one more time to finish up this report: a compelling title tag, a title tag that makes people click can make up for a lower placement in the search engines.
If you only do one thing after you read this report, check out your titles and revise as needed.