As co-owner of several vertical search engines for the online wholesale merchandising industry, I have seen customers achieve search marketing effectiveness and cost efficiencies on vertical search engines that are not possible on general search engines like Google and Yahoo!. The SEO basic guidelines below can help B2B marketers get top organic listings in their vertical search engine niche. The guidelines that follow can help you extend your reach and boost conversions.
SEO basic guidelines
When optimizing your site for organic rankings, you will be making changes that alter your site structure and content to increase the likelihood of higher search engine rankings for your strategic keywords. A Technical Site Review will identify areas for improvement, calling for changes in coding, text content and hyperlinks. A Competitor Analysis can tell you how to beat the competition. Let's start with the basic SEO tasks.
Site content: Content is king, and you need keyword-rich text to get your site indexed by search spiders. Optimize each page for two or three targeted keywords. Use your keywords in a natural, conversational way throughout the text on your page so that the copy is attractive to both visitors and search engines. Start using keywords immediately so they appear above the fold. Use keywords in subheadings whenever possible. Experts recommend at least 250 words per page, and there is no maximum. Establish a theme for your site, supported by inner pages and efficient internal linking. Write pages that describe and explain your offerings while addressing potential customer queries.
Keyword research and analysis: Keyword research and analysis is key to any search campaign. Your choice of keywords is based on your business goals and site objectives. Start your research by using tools such as Wordtracker, KeywordDiscovery, Google AdWords Keyword Tool or Overture Keyword Selector Tool to identify keyword and phrases customers will use to find your site. The best keywords are those commonly used by potential customers to find your site but not overused by your competitors. Your goal is to find the keywords describing your product or service that will deliver the best results.
Keyword suggestion tools provide data based on millions of keyword phrases used by searchers on search engines over a specific time period (typically the last 90 days). They will tell you which keywords are the most popular on which search engines. Because keyword analysis is no easy task, it can be outsourced to companies like SEO Research Labs.
Meta Tags: Meta Tags were abused in the past, resulting in a reduced impact on search engine algorithms. Some are still very important, especially the Title and Description tags.
Title tag: For best ranking results, provide a unique title tag for every page in your site containing the targeted keywords used in the text on that page. The title should be a sentence of 50 to 70 characters or approximately seven to 10 words. Make it informative and compelling to attract visitors to your page.
Description yag: For best ranking results, provide a unique description tag for every page in your site containing 200 to 300 characters. Make your description tag a strong marketing statement with call to action if applicable. Your description tag should also contain the targeted keywords used in the text on that page.
Keywords tag: The keywords tag is not used for ranking purposes by most search engines, but it can be helpful with some engines. It is a simple matter to copy/paste your keywords in this tag. The keywords tag can be twice as long as the description tag (400 to 600 characters).
Miscellaneous tags: It is important to include keywords in Heading Tags and ALT Tags (used to describe graphics). Use keywords in ALT tags only if descriptive of the graphic.
Linking strategy: Authoritative inbound links are an important ranking factor, especially for Google. Use keywords as anchor text in your hyperlinks. Use ethical linking strategies to obtain links from authoritative sites. The quality of inbound links is more important than the quantity.
Your outbound links are also valuable. Link to non-competitive related sites that can provide information of value for your visitors.
Search spiders look for "subject matter experts" when indexing relevant websites for top rankings in their search databases. Following the above SEO strategies will help bring your site to the top in general search engines as well as VSEs. However, there are a few additional steps you can take to give your rankings a boost in the VSEs-- and that's where it can make a difference for B2B marketers.
Submitting your site to Vertical Search Engines and Directories puts your company in front of targeted B2B buyers. For instance, if you are a medical products or services company, you'll want to submit to the VSEs listed by Danny Sullivan as Medical Search Engines. Note that HONMedHunt shows a link for submissions on the homepage.
It is a good strategy to go directly to the VSEs when promoting your site, avoiding ad networks. When looking for exposure on VSEs, ask for the following services: editorials, custom blogs, banners and other great links that vertical search engines can provide. Some verticals will allow marketers to blog on approved topics, which makes great user-generated content.
In closing, let me remind you that it may take a few weeks for your organic links to appear in VSEs and directories but other promotions can start even faster. If you need more information on the type of promotions available please contact me here.
Jason Prescott is CEO of JP Communications. .