Search Engine Optimisation and Link Building in 2018

Let’s face it, SEO is considered by many to be a ‘black art’, by others to be a waste of time, whilst those who do agree that SEO is worthwhile will endlessly debate about what is good and what is bad, what tactics are ‘white’ and what are ‘black’.

“If you ask six SEO experts a question you will probably get 7 answers….”

Then again, if you turned to Google to ask them about SEO, they appear to suggest that they disagree with the concept (wanting their results to be natural and not manipulated), whilst at the same time knowing that without someone to help all the website owners ‘understand’ how to set up their sites so that Google can read them properly, they (Google) would be lost.

The Death of Link Building Announced Again (and Again and Again)

When it comes to the thorny topic of Link Building, not only do we see Google denouncing the process because it is not natural, we also see them desperate for some help in deciding what sites to list and what ones not to bother with. Like it or not Google needs links..

BUT, not all links are equal and there is definitely a way of gaining Google’s displeasure when it comes to building them. Do it the wrong way and your site is doomed, that is one of the known Google rules and is put into play all the time.

Turning to the Experts

This is why many businesses turn to the experts, as here they can rest easy, knowing their site will be built in a way that Google can read and the content will be created to suit the Search Engines and their readers alike. They will also know that the links built to their site will be created in such a way that it will not be penalised by Google. They will then expect that their site gets better rankings and more traffic. In many cases this is exactly what happens, but in some it does not, and sometimes it is impossible for anyone to discover just what has gone wrong, what appears to be working in one area, fails to do so in another…

Either way, you can be pretty sure that the website owner will not really be aware of what is going on and that there are many ways of creating a ‘buzz’ and the boost of (relevant) traffic that all website owners want.

The Key to Top Class Traffic

If you own a business which has a website, you will, I am sure, have been inundated with telephone calls and emails promising you top rankings on Google, sometimes for little cost. You will also have seen countless bits of software that will boost your site, often, they say, at the touch of a button….

Some of these claims will be by bona fide companies and of the software – particularly research software – can be useful, but what few of them will tell you is that it will be the CONTENT of the site that will win the day, both for getting traffic and for converting your visitors to customers.

The True Power of Content

So why is content so very important? This may seem to be a strange question, but many site owners do not give it much attention. They spend a get deal of time discussing format and presentation, but often give scant regard to the content the pages are to hold. So doing things this way is simply not going to work because there is nothing for Google to get its ’teeth’ into, so the rankings are poor. When (and if) a potential customer arrives, there is nothing to ‘make’ them want to buy or at least to take the relationship any further.

The correct way of approaching any market place (and the keyword market place of the web is no different) is to see what people want. When it comes to Google, this means finding out what phrases people use in the market sector which relate to your products, and thus the pages of your site that will be selling those products.

Reverse Engineering and Latent Semantic Indexing

Then you can start writing content that uses those phrases (and similar words using a technique called LSI (or Latent Semantic Indexing) – this being vital as Google gets cleverer and cleverer). You can even reverse engineer the top sites in Google for a given phrase, therefore TELLING you what words to use.

Pages written this way will not only give Google what it wants, but will also give the visitor the information that will enable them to decide if your product is for them or if you can help them solve the problem that drove them to search for help in the first place.
This content ought to include images, videos, flow charts and anything else that will help them to make a good decision (which hopefully means doing business with you).

The OTHER reason for TOP QUALITY CONTENT

Saying all this, content has another VITAL job to do in the battle for traffic and sales. Having good content will mean that others will link to the site and mention it in their Social Media postings, after all they will have good reason to, they will have something WORTH SHARING.

content is king internet concept

content is king internet concept

But, it is not always easy getting people to notice how good your copy is. The whole thing is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. After all, your fantastic copy can’t get links until someone finds it, and reads it. Without rankings or some form of Social Media chatter, no one will ever know it is there..

Priming the Pump (and keeping the pressure up too)

This is where SEO, Paid Search and Social Media come into play. By using all or some of these systems, website owners can start the ball rolling so that people can see just how good they, and their all important copy, is.

Great Copy Required

This is where the need for the top rate copy comes in, as even though the SEO and Social Media work above will bring in the visits, if there is nothing there to grip the audience, all the time and effort will have been wasted as no sales will be made and perhaps as importantly, no one will find anything worthwhile to come back for, mention or link to.

Without these mentions and links Google will not get the signals it wants to give the site repeatedly better rankings and thus more effort is needed to keep things going. If, however, there is something to ‘write home about’ then the links will come in, your site / product will be mentioned on Social Media, and what is more you will get repeat visits.

Are you Getting Returning Visitors?

This is just one area where Google Analytics can help. Just as having lots of New Visitors is good, a low percentage of Returning visitors indicates that you site is not delivering and people are not coming back for more.

 

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

If your site is one with a poor level of returning visitors, then a long hard look at the contents is a must…

The Different Processes of SEO

The term Search Engine Optimisation covers a host of things, usually divided (basically) into Technical, On Page, Off Page and Social Media.

Technical SEO

This covers the way a site is built, how fast it is, how easy it can be read and navigated as well as topics like Rich Snippets and Schema. Some of this is easy to do, some of it a bit more difficult, and not all website developers or SEO professionals cover all of these areas.

On Page SEO

Here we are talking about the words on the pages and the placement of the ‘target keywords’ in the important places on the page, all with a view of ensuring that Google finds what it needs in the ‘appropriate places’ on a sites’ pages. Of course this includes the copy / content of a site, but that is not SEO.SEO is how you make sure that the copy is found, not the actual copy itself (except that SEO will help you find out what to talk about in the first place via the Keyword / Market Research phase).

Off Page SEO

This area covers the issue of Links (and to a degree Social Media). It is these ‘signals’ that attract Googles attention and that will get the rankings and ‘seed’ traffic needed. Creating links also helps to keep the pot boiling while the site builds up its momentum.

Social Media

This is included here because even though this is nothing to do with SEO per say, it is important when considering the process of getting the site, brand and product noticed and talked about in a way that will enhance the site in Google’s eyes and extend the reach of the site beyond that of the Search Engine Results.

The Basic SEO process

In all cases it is necessary to carry out the keyword research so that you can target the phrases that are relevant to your market place AND are being used today.

The site must then be built the right way (the technical SEO bit), and then the copy created. This should be of a high quality, but does not have to be as good as it has to be for ‘Top Notch SEO’, for reasons that will be apparent later. Things such as internal linking should be carried out of course, but basically this is a ‘quick’ method of SEO.

Then the link building starts. These are built in the right way at the right speed, using techniques like ‘Power Link Structures’. Social Media signals are also created using this method. In some cases the pump is also primed by actually creating a small amount of traffic to some of the articles and posts that form a part of the linking structure.

Guest Posts Are Used in the quick method too

Guest posts are included in the ‘quick’ method too of course, but they are used differently. As you will see later on, the ‘proper way’ of placing Guest posts is to find a top Infuencer site, chat to them and get them to accept the post (or pay an lot of money for the privilege). However, this process is a LOT more expensive than just placing an article on a relevant site, so for those clients with limited budgets this is the way we go. Basically, these Guest Posts are ‘link vehicles’ and as long as they are well written (no article spinning here at SOM) and contain links that are not going to trigger a Penguin penalty, they do help, we have many examples  the prove the point.

Carrying out SEO in this manner DOES work and is the way the majority of SEO companies work.

The Top Quality SEO process

If you talk to those SEO professionals who practice only the whitest of white SEO, then they will say this is the only way, everything else being a waste of time. Well I disagree with that, but there is no doubt that this process is superior and offers a greater chance of success, BUT, it is a lot harder and thus more expensive in time and money.

This process includes all the On page SEO that Basic SEO requires, including things such as having explanatory ‘Category Pages’ for Ecommerce sites. These are needed as most sites of this type have lots of product pages that (a) often use the same words as a host of other sites and (b) are also often far too short. Thus these Category pages allow the owner to present the products they sell, with links of course to the product pages themselves. These pages can be much better at getting rankings and thus their use should be seriously considered for all levels of SEO.

Power Pages

Remember, this whole process is based on having TOP QUALITY content on your site. Such pages are often called ‘Power Pages’, their contents varying from ‘How to do something’ to a great infographic, anything that would be interesting to visitors and has not been done before (or at least as sufficiently).

Text based Power Pages need to be around 2,000 words long and contain images, videos and links to other authoritative content on the web, PLUS of course the areas in your site that you want people to see and the pages that will result in conversions and sales. Infographics can be just that, but having some words on the page as well can help in my opinion (just as having a transcript of the words used in a video can).

What to Create the Power Page About

The Keyword Research for the site would of course have been carried out first, so the target phrases are known and understood. Using these words, the bulk of the site, (the ‘normal’ pages) will be written and optimised, this including interlinking relevant pages (Google likes this).

Power pages, however, have a different mission. Their job is to get noticed BIG TIME, to become a fount of knowledge and a ‘go to’ source of information on a particular subject (relevant to the products and services of the hosting website). With this in mind it is easy to see that the very first thing you have to know is what subject to write about.

Research into Trends (or try to start one yourself)

This is where checking on trending posts and web pages can be a great help, as it allows you to see what people have become interested in over a period of time (which you can set). You can then have a look at these posts / pages and use them as a basis of your own works, all in the knowledge that people are INTERESTED in the topic.

finding trending topics

 

Of course you can also plough your own farrow, choosing a topic that is relevant to your market place, for instance ‘What is the History of Plastering’ or ‘How to choose the right lawnmower’. There are countless topics to choose from. Besides Kudani, you could also use Buzzsumo.

Writing the Page

Either way, you can start your research into what to talk about, and that will mean looking not only at the trending sites, but also at all the top INFLUENCER sites, in this instance the ones that are at the top of the Search Engines’ results for some top terms.

All the while it is vital to make sure that the page will be ‘entertaining’ and fulfil one of its main purposes, that of being WORTH SHARING.

Note, for a great definition of what an Influencer is, click this link.

Supporting Guest Posts

One important part of this SEO process is to make sure that there are links to the Power Page from trusted sites, but as it can take some time to get an INFUENCER to mention the page or allow a Guest Post on their site, the first thing that needs to be done is to place a well written ‘taster’ post on a High Domain Authority site.

Thus one post (perhaps more) is written and placed on some relevant sites. In most instances this means paying a ‘publishing fee’. Here I must state that there are some SEO’s who think that placing a post on a site that is known to take money for the privilege is worthless. However when you know that high profile sites like the HuffingtonPost take money for Guest posts, you can see that their argument holds little water.

Converting the Influencers

This starts at the website level, where some selected sites are contacted with a view to them mentioning the Power Page or by having a Guest post placed on their site. It need not contain a DO FOLLOW link as we are after traffic as much as link juice, but if they will allow a FOLLOW link then all the better.

It is best if these influences have been contacted and nurtured for some time before you make a request to place a guest post on their site (this also being the case with Social Media Influencers).
Hopefully one of the sites you contact will allow the publication and thus provide you with a link and the potential for a lot of relevant traffic.

Create a Press Release

Press Releases are a well known way of creating a ‘buzz’ in a manner in which Google approves. All the posts are the same of course, but as the links are always NO FOLLOW this does not matter. Google, it is said, really loves press releases and so one pointing to your power page and telling all about how interesting it is and how they should not miss it, is a good idea.

Posting on your Own Social Media Channels

Presuming you have some Social Media accounts, now is the time to start posting about the power page, (although maybe you have been talking about it coming for a few weeks already – another neat trick). Remember that you will have to post again and again here, Social Media posts being, for the most part, short lived, as they are soon replaced with the next tweet and thus scroll off peoples screens. This makes choosing the right time to post important too.

Contacting the Social Media Influencers

Now is the time to start contacting the Social Media Influencers. There are various ways the leaders in a field can be found and once found the ‘nurturing process’ needs to be continued. This process needs to have been started before the power page is posted, the SEO Agency in question having to have commenced this process some time before.

The idea here is to mention that they may be interested in the Power Page’s contents, perhaps also mentioning the Guest Posts that have already been posted and the Press Release. All of this with the aim of getting them to ‘add their weight’ to the campaign.
This is important, as if they can be convinced to mention the power page on their Social Media accounts, the ripples will build and build, all resulting in more traffic and higher rankings.

Monitor and Interact

Hopefully you will have had some comments on your Social Media channels and on the Guest Posts (where the sites allow). It is VITAL that you monitor these and respond as that will only strengthen the whole campaign.

In Conclusion

So there we have it, a brief summary of what SEO is, and how the two main types differ. Hopefully you can see the differences between the two approaches and can understand why SEO carried out ‘by the book’ is such a long, complicated and thus expensive process.

The good news for businesses with shallower pockets is that the ‘basic SEO’ does work in most markets, you just have to choose to approach any highly competitive areas in a cleverer manner, and not try to charge headlong in to get top rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases.

Are you making use of the free Google tools for your SEO?

Did you know that there numerous free tools that Google offer that you can use to improve your SEO? These tools are easy to use and can make a huge difference in helping you to increase traffic to your site and keep it on the right side of Panda and Penguin. There are tools that help you find keywords, analyze traffic, test your pages and to spot trends. By making use of some or all of these free tools, you have the opportunity to really boost your site and increase traffic, which of course can lead to more business. In the end, most website owners want more business and making use of the tools available to help you do that, particularly when they are free, is an opportunity not to be missed. So, here are some of the tools and how to use them.

Here is a list of free Google tools for your website’s SEO campaign. There are keyword and trend tools, website optimization tools, tools to increase your backlinks, and more. All of these tools are free.

Google Analytics

 

Google Analytics.Google Analytics.

 

Google Analytics lets you measure sales and conversions, and gives you access to your visitors’ behavior. Understand which parts of your website are performing well, measure the success of your social media programs, and create better-targeted ads. Price: Free for users with less than 5 million page views a month.

Google Webmaster Tools

 

Google Webmaster Tools.Google Webmaster Tools.

 

Google Webmaster Tools show you how Google crawls and indexes your site. Learn about any problems Google is having indexing your site’s URLs. Identify the top search queries that drive traffic to your site, as well as any links to your site. Share information, such as how often your important pages change, to improve your site’s visibility. Price: Free.

Google Insights for Search

 

Google Insights for Search.Google Insights for Search.

 

Google Insights for Search lets you compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames for any search term or phrase. Track search terms, and find potential customers based on their search volume. Price: Free. Click here for more

Further reading

How to use Google Webmaster tools to maximize your SEO

14 Google tools you didn’t know existed

 

Understanding Google analytics

When it comes to making the most of your online marketing campaign, it is important that you make use of all the tools that are available to you so that you can target the right sort of customer. Google Analytics is one of those tools and if you can understand how to use it and how to use the information you get from it, you will be well on your way.

Everything from how to setup your account to maximize your results, to what are the most important reports to pay attention to, and a number of advanced tactics as well. If you’re interested in Google Analytics you won’t want to miss it!

Traffic reports are required reading for any business looking to generate leads or make sales online. A good analytics program can quickly tell you what’s working and what’s not in your Web marketing campaign. Here at flyte we love Google Analytics, a free, powerful reporting tool.

What This Article Is…and Isn’t

This article is about how to read and utilize your Google Analytic (GA) reports.

This isn’t an installation guide, nor do we have the space to delve into every report GA can generate. However, if you’re looking to get comfortable with GA and gain a better understanding of how your prospects and customers are using your Web site, you’ve come to the right place.

Logging In

Visit http://www.google.com/analytics and login with your username and password. You’ll see a list of any Web site or blog you’re tracking as Google allows tracking of multiple sites within an account. Click on “View Reports” next to the site you wish to review and you’ll be taken to the Dashboard.

Exploring The Dashboard

Once you log in you’ll see the dashboard, which contains snapshots of several reports generated by GA. (All images can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Google Analytics Dashboard

These reports may include visitors, traffic sources, map overlay and content. You can move them around, add new reports to the dashboard, or remove ones you don’t like with drag and drop simplicity.

Near the top you’ll see a section called Site Usage. It includes the following metrics:

  • Visits: The number of visits to your site during a given time period.
  • Pageviews: The number of pages these visitors viewed.
  • Pages/Visit: The average visit in terms of page views.
  • Bounce Rate: The percentage of people who only visited one page on your site before they “bounced” somewhere else. (This can often seem deceptively high, but many people will get to your site and realize that it wasn’t what they were looking for, or you may have a popular image indexed by Google’s Image Search that generates a lot of “drive-by” traffic and skews your numbers. Alternatively, it may represent that your site is difficult to navigate or understand for new visitors.)
  • Avg. Time on Site: The average amount of time a visitor spends at your site.
  • % of New Visits: The percentage of new visitors to your site as compared to all visitors. Some businesses might want lots of new traffic, while others might want generate repeat visits, driving down this percentage.

By default, Google shows you the last 30 days of activity. However, you can change this setting, or even compare two different date ranges, for example August 2008 versus August 2007. Click here to continue

Further information

Seminars for success

The small business guide to Google analytics

Are You Losing Sales Because of ‘Friction Cost’???

There is a little known department in Whitehall called the ‘Behavioral Insights Team’; their job, to subtly alter the ways we in the UK act, look after ourselves and obey the law.
Known colloquially as the ‘Nudge Unit’ it was at first thought of as all a bit nutty, but now because of a series of successes is firmly embedded into Government policy. But what has this to do with businesses in general?

It All Started With Home Insulation

This is where their first coup comes in and it was all about home insulation. The problem, back in early 2011 was that despite the fact that with the huge subsidies being thrown at the issue (to reduce energy use) people were just not buying it, even though it would pay for itself in just a few months.

The team therefore set out to find out the reason for the low take up, and using common sense and a bit of research soon found the answer, people it seems, could simply not be bothered clearing the loft so that the insulation could be laid…

bill butcher - loft insulation

image courtesy of Bill Butcher

The answer was therefore simple, arrange for the company laying the insulation to clear the loft first, getting rid of any rubbish for you in the process. This simple change caused the uptake of the insulation to increase by 500%…

But What does this have to do with YOUR business?

Let me introduce you to the term ‘Friction Cost’. This is all about the simple fact that if you make it too hard for people to buy from you they simply won’t bother, not even if it will save them money..

This goes for both online and offline businesses. The ones online are very obvious, websites that have poor navigation, or make it too hard to buy from (having to register as a customer before you can buy in all cases is one sure way to reduce sales) are the most common. The answer here is an easy one, get your site checked over by a usability expert, they will quickly point out problems and thus reduce ‘Friction’.

But what about offline businesses? We have seen that in the case of home insulation that people will, even though it will save them money, not buy. So maybe you are the cheapest in town, but what iif your customers can’t get a car close enough so that they can put that heavy item in, and you don’t have any staff to help carry it for the customer. Or maybe, like the insulation issue you don’t offer to get rid of the old appliance?

Whatever, it could pay dividends to think about anything like this that could be holding back your sales…

Time for a brainstorm session I think…

 

 

Using Google Analytics

 

Website owners should be using Google Analytics to monitor what is going on, what works, what does not, where traffic is going and what the conversion rates are. If you are not doing this, it might be a good idea start doing so. We have found some helpful information which can guide you.

 

Social media activity should be a big part of your overall online marketing activity. One of the big debates that’s raged on for a long time is how to effectively measure social media results.

In this article I’ll explain how you can use Google Analytics to monitor how well your social media efforts are working.

Where to find the information

If you log in to your Google Analytics account then click on the traffic sources menu on the left hand side, you’ll see a list of sub-menus appear underneath as below.

social analytics…More at How to Use Google Analytics to Monitor Social Media | SearchBlogger

More Reading

Using Google Analytics can help you target the right audience

Making use of Google Analytics can give you so much useful information which can help you target a particular audience and increase your conversion rates. There is now even an app so that you track your data whenever you want and where ever you are.

 

After a year of supporting both the old and new versions of Analytics, we are now fully transitioning and leaving the old version behind. This means that as of tomorrow we’ll be removing the link to the previous version which sits at the bottom of Google Analytics pages and all your analysis will take place in the new version….More at Moving Google Analytics Forward – Retiring The Old Version

 

More Reading

 

    Some Potentially Interesting Tracking Software For Your Website

    One question that haunts all business website owners is that of “How can I get more conversions from my site?” Of course, you have to have a good site and clear call to actions before you can really expect to convert, but if these two points are covered, just what can you do to get that extra few sales from your business site?

    Well, for sites selling to other businesses there is, potentially some good news, in that there is now some software available that will give you details of just which businesses have visited you site and what pages they looked at.

    This is done by ‘Reverse IP Look Ups’, the details of the business then being ascertained and provided by the software. So once the software has been set up (this being as simple as adding a bit of code to every page – just like Google analytics) the data about the visitors to the site is provided to the owner.

    Sure not every business visitor is tracked, in fact there is only a 35% hit rate, but even this reduced data set can be the key to some extra business, as many of the customers of the software will attest too.

    Here is a quote from the site:-

    http://www.approvedbusiness.co.uk/WebTraffic.aspx

    Approved Business Web Traffic Revealer is the ultimate tool for new business generation.

    This intelligent software allows you to see the complete details of companies that have visited your website, giving you the edge when it comes to uncovering new sales opportunities.

    Approved Business Web Traffic Revealer gives your company the power to generate increased levels of quality leads by providing insight into exactly who is looking at your site, where they have come from and most importantly what areas of your business they are interested in.

    The software is easily installed by adding a tracking code to your website that monitors a whole range of information that is unique and exclusively available to your organization. You can access the data instantly either via the “online portal”, or by integrating it with your own CRM platform. You can view and export visitor data, including the company name, web address, location and telephone number, creating a whole new source of business opportunities for you.

    Previously, if a company visited and browsed your website then left without contacting you, that prime prospect was lost for good. Through the use of Approved Business Web Traffic Revealer, you can see exactly who these prospects are, transforming the return you generate from your website.

    I have had a chat with the company concerned and went through a few areas of concern:-

    • As this software provided details of actual businesses, did this contravene Google’s Privacy Policies?

      Here, they say that as Google’s policy only covers the public, ie normal consumers, all is OK. Google they say are fully aware of the software and its use, so all seems OK.

    • The other issue was the matter of the Telephone Preference Service, as calling someone who has registered with the TPS can result in a fine.

      Here they told me that the software does not provide the phone number of any business that is registered with the TPS. This means that this would need to be found from the visitors website. The argument here is that if they display a phone number then you can call it without fear. Sounds reasonable, but I would suggest that anyone should verify this before they call…

    There is another issue too, in that in order for the information to be worthwhile, the visiting firm must be small enough so that you can have a decent chance of being able to find and talk to the actual person that visited your site. I say this as if say you had a visit from Tesco, it might be a little difficult to find the actual interested party, so that you try to take matters further…

    The paradox is that the smaller the company the less likely the software is to be able to provide you with any data, small companies less likely to be found via the Reverse IP address look up process.

    The good news is that they offer a 7 day trial, so it will not cost you anything to find out.

    Overall then, the software is certainly worth checking out, just beware of the potential drawbacks and limitations.

    If you are interested check out the full story at:-

    http://www.approvedbusiness.co.uk/WebTraffic.aspx

    Free Search Engine Optimisation Survey

    At SOM we’ve always gone out of our way to help people decide what to do (and what not to do too) when it comes to marketing their site on the Search Engines.

    We start this process by carrying out an indepth survey of their website, this providing details on how well it is set up (it’s Search Engine Friendliness – the On Page area of SEO) how good the linking structure is versus the competition etc.

    In addition to the above, we also check out the analytics or the sites log files in some cases, so we can get a truly accurate idea about it’s traffic.

    We even provide data on the keywords that are working for the competition.

    Follow the link to see in detail of what our Free SEO site surveys include.

    Google Analytics & Searchandising

    I am often asked questions about Google Analytics, often because there is just so much data available that it just ‘blows their minds’.

    The trick here is to use Filters to place one set of data for say PPC visitors and another set for Organic visitors into different ‘pots’. You still keep the ‘big pot’ with all the data in it too, but having these subsets of data sure makes it easier to understand.

    However, this blog is not about reducing the amount of data in Analytics, its about INCREASING it, but for good reason.

    We all know that the First Problem for all site owners is getting people to their site. As many have found, setting up a website and waiting for the people to visit in huge numbers normally has only one outcome, a long wait (and a website covered in electronic dust). No, for all but the luckiest of businesses, a lot of hard work is required to get those potential customers into their site.

    But there is a second problem

    Getting visitors in is all well and good, but unless you get them to do something (buy or enquire or sign up for a newsletter) all the effort of getting them there is wasted. This “something” will vary from one site to another, but in all cases you want to make it easy for people to find what they want on the site as that is bound to increase the likelihood of them making a purchase or whatever else you want them to do.

    The answer is of course the “Search” box. You’ll find these on many sites, and when they are done in the right way, they are really useful. With just a few clicks you can input the term “what do feed rubber ducks on” and be provided with a list of all the pages on the site that are relevant, all without all that tiresome tracking through the navigation and having to scan every page.

    Searchandising

    The term “Searchandising” is in fact all about the science of implementing these search boxes and the analysis of the data it provides and guess what Mr Google can help with both. For a small fee you can have a Google Search Facility on your site, this being backed by the same powerful search algorithims that Google use all the time. That beats the hell out of most so called search facilities I have come across on more sites than I care to mention – talk about awful!

    Google have spent years perfecting their search function, so when you use it you have one that allows for the fact that humans are well, human. They just don’t do things the way a “sensible computer” would. For a start they can’t spell in many cases, and they tend to write as they speak, in other words they may well type in “yelow rubber duks”. Now a system that expects you to type in just “rubber ducks” is going to get really confused here and will probably decide that there is nothing on the site that matches these requirements and come up with an empty search list. Result, the user goes elsewhere and that potential sale is lost, not so with Googles offering.

    Listing the Results

    With Google you get the results in a way you understand and know, these being rated by relevance and from experience I can say that the small fee you have to pay each year is more than worth it.

    The best bit is yet to come though

    Search boxes are found on many sites, but that trick that is often missed is to check to see what people have actually typed in / are looking for. If you have this data you can use it to improve the way the site is laid out, e.g. what products are on the first page etc, but beyond that you can also glean a lot of information about visitor behaviour as it tells you what they want, and that can’t be bad.

    The data is also very useful for SEO purposes too, as there is a fair chance that any term typed into your internal search engine will be typed into Google and the like. Thus optimising your site for these terms is a great way of getting ahead of the competition.

    That best bit

    Perhaps the very best bit is that Google Analytics incorporates any on site searches in its database, allowing you to see what people have been looking for, all from that one interface, no extra programming, just DATA.

    So what should I do?

    Unless you have lots of money to burn, I’d hop off to Google, buy the Search Facility for your site and install the code pronto, its all very easy and if you can’t do it, your web designer can in just a few minutes. Then all you have to do is to tell Analytics to incorporate the data (just a tick in the box being needed) and heh presto, you’ll have lots of lovely new data to play with.

    OK you might not want the extra data, but it will help..