Search Engine Optimization

Optimizing a company’s presence in Internet search engines may not seem like a high priority for many businesses. However, many companies that are investing in search engine optimization for their Web sites are increasingly finding returns on their investments. "A good Web site depends on the business goals of the owner," said Gene Wright, vice president of sales and principal for NetConcepts in Madison. "A church Web site is probably not trying to sell something, and the site serves as an extension of the cause or mission of the business."

In 2004, Scott Hrdlicka, a director at Waukesha-based TriTech Corp. of America, was in the process of building a national e-commerce Web site to complement TriTech’s information technology (IT) services provided locally.

Wright was Hrdlicka’s graduate school professor. NetConcepts specializes in search engine optimization and Internet marketing.

When Wright brought up the possibilities of success for a business through search engine optimization, Hrdlicka was the first to sign up.

"Search engine optimization was important for TriTech because we wanted to make sure people could find us on the Web for the services and products we offered," Hrdlicka said. "It helped us get ahead of the competition."

With search engine optimization, NetConcepts utilized the knowledge its experts have about how search engines work and placed components within TriTech’s Web site, www.tritechcoa.com. TriTech’s Web traffic increased from 30 visits per month to 150,000 visits per day, and the company has sold IT hardware to several companies and even to NASA.

TriTech has 160,000 pages of its Web site indexed. That means that almost 94 percent of TriTech’s indexed pages are popping up in search engine results for keywords as general as "HP printer repair Milwaukee," Hrdlicka said.

"It adds a lot of credibility," Hrdlicka said. "People used to (judge) a company by the way its building looked, and now it is more Web-based."

TriTech’s revenue from product sales has increased by 4,000 percent since launching the Web site, Hrdlicka said. Search engine optimization has also helped in a similar fashion on TriTech’s services side, in which TriTech receives more new clients per day than it previously received in two months, Hrdlicka said.

Most Web surfers searching for a Web site through a search engine rarely travel to the second or third page of results before clicking on one of the links.

If a company’s Web site can be optimized so that it is one of the top 10 or top 20 search results for various key words, traffic to the site will increase dramatically.

"(Search engine optimization) put us on a national level where we are now competing with the CDWs of the world, and because we are a service provider and don’t mark up our prices, we are winning," Hrdlicka said. "It has changed our business a lot."

TriTech chose to mainly focus on what is called an organic approach, meaning the company’s Web site was optimized by putting search engine-friendly effects on it.

TriTech then sat back and waited for its name to pop up on search results.

Search engine-friendly effects include putting the chosen keywords within the title of each page on the site because that is the main place search engines look, Wright said. The main idea is to have text either instead of graphics or text tags on each graphic so that when a mouse rolls over the graphic the text title of the graphic shows up.

Drop down boxes are read as graphics and not text by search engines. When a search engine comes across Web sites with drop down boxes for menus, chances are the search engine is only reading the first page of the Web site, Wright said.

NetConcepts offers a Web site audit that starts at $5,000. The audit will inform business owners of the positives and negatives on their site and recommend changes or enhancements for optimal results, Wright said.

Other tactics TriTech used to get its name on search engine pages included paying for advertising on Yahoo! and Google, Hrdlicka said.

"Right now, people are looking for me … It is the best marketing move I have ever made," Hrdlicka said.

Mequon-based Outdoor First Inc. is a media buying agency for outdoor media including billboards and mobile advertising. Linda Tooke, president of the company, first launched her Web site in 1998 and used it as an information tool for potential clients and as what she calls "the whip cream and cherry" for current clients.

Tooke’s business mainly relies on face-to-face or over-the-phone contracts. Tooke met Kirk Strong, sales and marketing consultant for Thiensville-based Smart Interactive Media (SIM) last year, and when she heard about search engine optimization, she hoped it could help her get more requests off of her Web site.

SIM’s search engine optimization service focuses primarily on keyword choices. Business owners think of all of the keyword combinations that both Web surfers and those looking specifically for a company and product would use to find a Web site. SIM then applies the keywords into critical places within the site, Strong said.

Outdoor First finalized the keywords and implemented them into its Web site in July. Because it is also an organic approach, it has taken some time to kick in, Tooke said. In August, Outdoor First had 677 hits on its site. After the changes in September, the site attracted 6,842 hits, Tooke said.

"Not only did I have more hits, but people were spending more time on my site and went to more pages than in previous hits," Tooke said.

Tooke chose keywords including "outdoor buying, Dallas, Chicago, transit billboards, alternative and mobile," she said.

"Any product that we deal with in our buying agency we try to put into our keywords so that if someone did a search using the word ‘mobile,’ we would pop up or ‘outdoor Dallas’ we would pop up," Tooke said.

SIM offers a search engine optimization service included in a Web site development contract, but also offers three packages for companies that already have an established Web site, Strong said. The company’s gold package has the most optimizing services and costs $2,000 for the first year and $1,000 for the second year. The basic package, the bronze package, costs $1,500 for the first year and $750 for the second year.

"Search engine optimization should be considered part of the marketing mix, part of the brand of a company," Wright said. "Businesses use direct mail to market their company. Well, the Web is the best global marketer. If the main goal of a business is to reach out to people who don’t know about it then search engine optimization is a key ingredient."

Optimize

The Learning Center section of the NetConcepts Web site (www.netconcepts.com) offers tips, checklists, strategies and general knowledge on Web-related issues, including a report entitled "Search Engine Optimization Best and Worst Practices." The following are some examples of the best and worst things business owners can do for their Web site.

BEST PRACTICES

  1. Targeting keywords that are relevant and popular with searchers.
  2. Page titles that lead with targeted search keywords.
  3. Body copy that is sufficiently long and rich in the selected keywords.
  4. Creating a site map with text links.
  5. Listing your site in Open Directory, an Internet directory used by most search engines.

WORST PRACTICES

  1. Using drop down boxes for navigation.
  2. Creating a Web site with more Flash or graphics than textural content.
  3. Having the same title tags on every page.
  4. Pop-up ads.
  5. Incorporating competitor’s brand names in meta tags.

Optimizing a company’s presence in Internet search engines may not seem like a high priority for many businesses. However, many companies that are investing in search engine optimization for their Web sites are increasingly finding returns on their investments. "A good Web site depends on the business goals of the owner," said Gene Wright, vice president of sales and principal for NetConcepts in Madison. "A church Web site is probably not trying to sell something, and the site serves as an extension of the cause or mission of the business."

In 2004, Scott Hrdlicka, a director at Waukesha-based TriTech Corp. of America, was in the process of building a national e-commerce Web site to complement TriTech’s information technology (IT) services provided locally.

Wright was Hrdlicka’s graduate school professor. NetConcepts specializes in search engine optimization and Internet marketing.

When Wright brought up the possibilities of success for a business through search engine optimization, Hrdlicka was the first to sign up.

"Search engine optimization was important for TriTech because we wanted to make sure people could find us on the Web for the services and products we offered," Hrdlicka said. "It helped us get ahead of the competition."

With search engine optimization, NetConcepts utilized the knowledge its experts have about how search engines work and placed components within TriTech’s Web site, www.tritechcoa.com. TriTech’s Web traffic increased from 30 visits per month to 150,000 visits per day, and the company has sold IT hardware to several companies and even to NASA.

TriTech has 160,000 pages of its Web site indexed. That means that almost 94 percent of TriTech’s indexed pages are popping up in search engine results for keywords as general as "HP printer repair Milwaukee," Hrdlicka said.

"It adds a lot of credibility," Hrdlicka said. "People used to (judge) a company by the way its building looked, and now it is more Web-based."

TriTech’s revenue from product sales has increased by 4,000 percent since launching the Web site, Hrdlicka said. Search engine optimization has also helped in a similar fashion on TriTech’s services side, in which TriTech receives more new clients per day than it previously received in two months, Hrdlicka said.

Most Web surfers searching for a Web site through a search engine rarely travel to the second or third page of results before clicking on one of the links.

If a company’s Web site can be optimized so that it is one of the top 10 or top 20 search results for various key words, traffic to the site will increase dramatically.

"(Search engine optimization) put us on a national level where we are now competing with the CDWs of the world, and because we are a service provider and don’t mark up our prices, we are winning," Hrdlicka said. "It has changed our business a lot."

TriTech chose to mainly focus on what is called an organic approach, meaning the company’s Web site was optimized by putting search engine-friendly effects on it.

TriTech then sat back and waited for its name to pop up on search results.

Search engine-friendly effects include putting the chosen keywords within the title of each page on the site because that is the main place search engines look, Wright said. The main idea is to have text either instead of graphics or text tags on each graphic so that when a mouse rolls over the graphic the text title of the graphic shows up.

Drop down boxes are read as graphics and not text by search engines. When a search engine comes across Web sites with drop down boxes for menus, chances are the search engine is only reading the first page of the Web site, Wright said.

NetConcepts offers a Web site audit that starts at $5,000. The audit will inform business owners of the positives and negatives on their site and recommend changes or enhancements for optimal results, Wright said.

Other tactics TriTech used to get its name on search engine pages included paying for advertising on Yahoo! and Google, Hrdlicka said.

"Right now, people are looking for me … It is the best marketing move I have ever made," Hrdlicka said.

Mequon-based Outdoor First Inc. is a media buying agency for outdoor media including billboards and mobile advertising. Linda Tooke, president of the company, first launched her Web site in 1998 and used it as an information tool for potential clients and as what she calls "the whip cream and cherry" for current clients.

Tooke’s business mainly relies on face-to-face or over-the-phone contracts. Tooke met Kirk Strong, sales and marketing consultant for Thiensville-based Smart Interactive Media (SIM) last year, and when she heard about search engine optimization, she hoped it could help her get more requests off of her Web site.

SIM’s search engine optimization service focuses primarily on keyword choices. Business owners think of all of the keyword combinations that both Web surfers and those looking specifically for a company and product would use to find a Web site. SIM then applies the keywords into critical places within the site, Strong said.

Outdoor First finalized the keywords and implemented them into its Web site in July. Because it is also an organic approach, it has taken some time to kick in, Tooke said. In August, Outdoor First had 677 hits on its site. After the changes in September, the site attracted 6,842 hits, Tooke said.

"Not only did I have more hits, but people were spending more time on my site and went to more pages than in previous hits," Tooke said.

Tooke chose keywords including "outdoor buying, Dallas, Chicago, transit billboards, alternative and mobile," she said.

"Any product that we deal with in our buying agency we try to put into our keywords so that if someone did a search using the word ‘mobile,’ we would pop up or ‘outdoor Dallas’ we would pop up," Tooke said.

SIM offers a search engine optimization service included in a Web site development contract, but also offers three packages for companies that already have an established Web site, Strong said. The company’s gold package has the most optimizing services and costs $2,000 for the first year and $1,000 for the second year. The basic package, the bronze package, costs $1,500 for the first year and $750 for the second year.

"Search engine optimization should be considered part of the marketing mix, part of the brand of a company," Wright said. "Businesses use direct mail to market their company. Well, the Web is the best global marketer. If the main goal of a business is to reach out to people who don’t know about it then search engine optimization is a key ingredient."

Optimize

The Learning Center section of the NetConcepts Web site (www.netconcepts.com) offers tips, checklists, strategies and general knowledge on Web-related issues, including a report entitled "Search Engine Optimization Best and Worst Practices." The following are some examples of the best and worst things business owners can do for their Web site.

BEST PRACTICES

  1. Targeting keywords that are relevant and popular with searchers.
  2. Page titles that lead with targeted search keywords.
  3. Body copy that is sufficiently long and rich in the selected keywords.
  4. Creating a site map with text links.
  5. Listing your site in Open Directory, an Internet directory used by most search engines.

WORST PRACTICES

  1. Using drop down boxes for navigation.
  2. Creating a Web site with more Flash or graphics than textural content.
  3. Having the same title tags on every page.
  4. Pop-up ads.
  5. Incorporating competitor’s brand names in meta tags.

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