They came in the next day and bought the sofa from the website – and more!

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you getting the website up.  On Saturday, someone called in because  of it and said they saw one of the new sofas on the site.  They came in Sunday and purchased the sofa along with a lot of other stuff.  I don’t think we would have gotten this sale with our old website, it just didn’t show enough furniture.  Thanks again for making my job easier!

Glossary of Key SEO Terms

Part 2 of 3

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Understanding these key SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ideas and terms will help you make the best decisions for your search marketing strategy:

Title

Each page on your website is coded with a unique title that is different than the page name. Depending on your internet browser, check the name of the tab or the command bar to see if your site optimizes titles. The title should contain carefully chosen keywords, because this is the first thing search engine web crawlers, bots and spiders read (these are automated computer programs that methodically browse the web gathering information). Your titles should be no longer than 100 characters; however, Google will truncate the title if it is more than 60 characters including spaces.

  • Example: “Home Furnishings, Home Décor, Outdoor Furniture & Modern Furniture”
  • Example: “Bedroom Furniture, Dining Room Furniture, and more quality Home and Office Furniture”

Keywords

Keywords and phrases drive SEO campaigns and fuel your site’s success. Keywords are a tricky business though so take your time, research your keywords and make sure you select keywords that are in your niche. Often amateurs will not take much time in this area, simply plugging in obvious words. For example, suppose a small store called ABC Furniture automatically chooses the key phrase “furniture store.” They’ve unwittingly gone to head with major players who are throwing big bucks at the “furniture store” key phrase. While not impossible, it will be very difficult for ABC Furniture to outspend these players and reach the first page of the major search engine search results. Unique niche phrases can yield effective results and cost pennies by comparison.

  • Example: furniture store, sofas, dining room furniture, mattresses
  • Example: “pillow-top mattresses Oakland CA” or “leather rocker recliners Oakland CA”

Body text

The main content of your website should also contain keywords. The keywords should be used naturally to avoid being pegged as a “keyword spammer,” someone who uses the word “sofa” 48 times on your living room page in attempt move your site up in the rankings. This will get you booted from Google and other search engines, who carefully measure your “keyword density.” Too low, and you may not achieve optimum results. Too high, and you’re considered a spammer. Google will only tolerate a 2% keyword density; Yahoo and MSN are considerably higher at around 5%. Qualified web designers who use qualified and trained copywriters can help creatively optimize your keyword density, unlike hackers who jam nonsensical words into your body and footer.

  • Example: Central Oklahoma Furniture. ABC Furniture is a family company. Browse our selection of Central Oklahoma Furniture or visit our store to sample Central Oklahoma Furniture. You deserve Central Oklahoma Furniture form ABC Furniture!
  • Example: From San Antonio to Austin, ABC Furniture delivers beauty, quality, and value to your home.

Heading Tags – Each page on your website has a heading tag that should also contain your keywords. Ideally, the tag should be right up there at the beginning of the page, as close as possible to the top of the page.

  • Example: Living Room Furniture
  • Example: Directions to ABC Furniture

URL

Consider purchasing a domain name containing your keywords. If ABC Furniture sells solid wood furniture in Columbus, Ohio, they should consider columbussolidwoodfurniture.com. Search engines use the domain name as an SEO qualifier so keep that in mind when choosing your domain names. With a little savvy programming, keywords can also be incorporated into the URL of each page. If your keywords for a particular page are solid wood bedroom, the page name should be www.abcfurniture.com

Links

Make sure there are no broken links in your site. Search engine algorithms consider broken links as incomplete, so the overall rating of the site is affected. Restrain yourself from the traditional “click here” link. When web bots, crawlers and spiders come across a “click here” link, they will associate the destination page with the words “click here” instead of your valuable keywords. Instead, optimize your site’s searchability and usability with full-sentence links that use verbs to direct the user what to do.

  • Example: “Click here for a price quote.”
  • Example: “Explore your furniture design possibilities.

Inbound links

Links from other websites are supreme to the rating of your site. Inbound links are like personal referrals, so these links should be from sites that are of high quality. The higher the rating of the sites that link to yours, the higher search engines will rate you. Getting inbound links is the hardest part of SEO by far. You can pay for quantity, but quality is often compromised if you do so.

  • Example: www.popularlocalblog.com/abc-furniture-is-the-place-to-shop
  • Example: www.marketplacespammer.com/abc-furniture

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 3 will outline an SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

How and Why to Utilize SEO

Part 1 of 3

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Used to be, the company with the biggest Yellow Page ad won the local search wars. Businesses vied for newspaper ads above the fold, billboards at prime intersections, drive time radio and prime time TV.

Now, when print media is experiencing cutbacks, layoffs, and declining readership, it comes as no surprise that businesses are turning to online marketing alternatives to reach customers. Where many print media companies require a minimum commitment to display an ad over so many issues, website space and domain names can be purchased for low annual fees. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising on sites like Google and Yahoo allows site owners to set their own budgets and targets when setting up campaigns.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the new normal for businesses looking to compete in the 21st century. Once a niche product, SEO will continue to gain ground into the near future. According to the “Search Marketing Trends: Back to Basics” report from eMarketer, $1.5 billion was spent on Search Engine Optimization in 2008 – a number that is expected to increase 153% to $3.8 billion by 2013. (Source: Brafton.com)

seo chart

Taking even a fraction of money from your radio or print budget and setting it aside for online strategies can have a profound effect on the visibility of your business. Be sure to research the best SEO companies to determine what services are offered and which company is suited to meet your needs.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explains why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 will define an SEO Glossary. Part 3 will lay out an SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

How To Make Your Website Stick

Room with a wall of tv screensConsumers have a lot to look at these days. We’re exposed to several thousand advertisements and websites each day, yet we remember very few of them – despite billions of dollars spent on advertising.

How can you do a better job than your competition at attracting your consumer’s attention?

  1. Be brief. Decide what to leave out. Be selective about what you say. Pick one point and stick to it, because that’s all the consumer will remember anyway.
  2. Be bold. Have you ever surfed the web while listening to music, or watched TV while eating dinner? On your usual drive home from work, you can easily chat with an old friend. But while driving on an unfamiliar street in a strange city, we need to stop talking and take in what’s going on around us. Your consumer may be multitasking, too , and is likely to ignore the expected. An unexpected element grabs attention.
  3. Be clear. The Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams, once said, “The price of clarity is the risk of offense.” Clarity leaves little room for vague impressions and enables your consumer to see your brand real. Posing and hype don’t hold up in today’s marketplace, yet many marketers fear telling the truth. Would you dare say who your brand is not for?
  4. Be sustainable. Once you’ve attracted attention, you must sustain it. Your marketing must grab the consumer and never let them go. Continue to make your website interesting, or consumers will go somewhere else.
  5. Be relevant. Make sure the attention-grabbers on your website and advertisements are relevant and don’t distract from the main point you want consumers to remember.

What do you want your customer to do? You want them to focus on your brand and your message. You want them to think of you first and best when they have a need for your particular product. You want them to remember why you’re different and how you’re better than your competitors.

Let us help you be attractive.

The level of professionalism of your staff is second to none.

I am writing to let you know how much I appreciate doing business with you and your  company. The level of professionalism of your staff is second to none. They have always been very accommodating to my needs, as well as producing excellent finished products. As you know, nothing is always perfect, but with any problems that have arisen, you have always taken care of them to my satisfaction. I highly recommend your services.

My advertising has paid off!

I am a very satisfied customer. I used another company before and they were nowhere close to being as professional, effective, and cost-conscious as you are.

I own a furniture store in a small community. I am what you might call the owner, manager, advertising chief, payroll administrator, etc., etc. So my time is valuable and they help me devote less time on my advertising needs. I don’t think they have ever told me they couldn’t do something that I have requested.

I enjoy seeing your company representatives at furniture markets. I feel it shows that you are connected with our business. I like to support companies that support our industry, especially during these difficult economic times.

My representative is a wonderful person and a joy to work with. Because of her, my advertising has paid off and it is always a pleasure to work with her each month. I don’t know what I would do without her.

I hope we continue to be business partners and continue to enjoy our success together.

I would strongly suggest you contact them.

We have been serving our area with home furnishings since 1947. Several years ago, we were in need of some help in the area of advertising. Since that time, they have helped us build and grow our business over the last several years. Everyone is not only easy to work with, but a joy to work with. It makes our advertising much easier having such knowledgeable people to work with. If you are looking for help with your advertising, I would strongly suggest you contact them.

I don’t have to micromanage their work…

Having worked with companies who don’t hold up their end of the bargain, I appreciate that I only have to ask for something one time and I know it’s doing to be taken care of. But they don’t only do the bare minimum – they go overboard to help me with new ideas even better solutions. I don’t have to micromanage their work, and I know I’m getting the best possible results.

It is nice to do business with a company that gets things done right the first time

I want to thank you for all your effort and support in helping us establish a strong and aggressive advertising program. In the 20 years I have been in retail you have the best organization to work with for my needs. You not only represent a good value, but the quality and timely manner you get our project done is a compliment to your whole team. It is nice to do business with a company that gets things done right the first time without all the drama. I have enjoyed the years we have worked together and look forward to a long and beneficial relationship in the future.

Your work is flawless.

We appreciate your professionalism and promptness in handling the production of our circulars. As I have told you before, you have exceeded our expectations numerous times. I am especially thankful for the times when we are behind and put you under pressure to get it done within a shorter lead time, and you always come through. We have dealt with numerous companies through the years, you’re truly are the best! Your work is pretty much flawless. Thank you again for your wonderful work.