Tag Archives: Organic Marketing (SEO)

How to write a good meta description tag

html acronymThe meta description is a special tag placed within the source code of your webpages. It’s used by search engines and directories to help understand what your page is about.

Sometimes, they’re also used as your “snippet” on the search engine results page.

The tag, placed between the <head> and </head> section, looks like this:

<meta name=”description” content=”your content here”>

As suggested by Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, here are the best practices about using meta descriptions:

  • Each page of your website should have a unique meta description
  • It should contain a factual statement about the content on the page, not already mentioned in the page title
  • The description should be easy to read

Here is the actual meta description from this article, which supports the promise made in the page’s title:

<title>How to write a good meta description tag | FIND the CLIENT</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Short article on how to write this important HTML code, and why writing good meta descriptions are worth the extra effort.”>

Well-written meta descriptions are preferred because they give users a clear idea of the page’s content. It’s important to note that while good meta descriptions can improve click through on the search engine results page, they don’t affect your natural rankings.

Your meta descriptions do not have to be solely in sentence format – it’s OK to follow a clearly defined formula listing data about the page. For example, a website about books could include the title of the book as the page title, and a description about the content of the book:

<title>Playing For Pizza: A Novel</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Author: John Grisham, Publisher: Doubleday, Category: Fiction, Price: $21.95, Pages: 272″>

Your meta descriptions need to be descriptive. Even though they’re not displayed to a user when viewing your webpage, they’re important enough to spend a few extra minutes on. They could help improve the quality of your snippet — leading to more and better user traffic to your webpage.

Photo credit by svilen001.

Pay-Per-Click vs. Search Engine Optimization

There are few websites online today that don’t crave more attention from search engines, more views and purchases from customers, and more inbound links from other sites. However, getting to the point of online rock stardom takes more than simply wishing your way to the top. It often takes a ton of work optimizing pages, a few dollars spent on advertising, and an ounce of good luck to seal the deal. Two very different approaches – Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO), have been known to produce favorable results in increasing a website’s visibility, but the key to success online is in understanding and taking advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of both.

Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of following best practices in order to gain better position in a search engine for one or more keywords or phrases. With SEO, visitors use a search engine to find sites that are relevant to the keywords and phases they provide. The most common search engines used today (Yahoo!, Google and MSN) are relied on by over 90% of web users to find what they are looking for online, but most only view the top 30 results produced by search engines. These factors make getting to the top of a search engine’s results for specific keywords an absolute online necessity for websites.

Search Engine Optimization has several advantages which make it appealing to those looking to be online for the long run. Its most noted advantage is that, when using sound practices, its results are realized for the long term. Another major advantage of organic SEO comes in its cost, which ranges from free to minimal as the only costs incurred, if any, are those paid to make website changes. SEO methods that focus its keywords on the products, service and information provided by the website also have a better chance of delivering repeat visitors and customers that are ready to act.

Organic search engine optimization has two clear disadvantages, which are always outweighed by the advantages SEO methods provide. The first disadvantage is that SEO takes time – time in constructing pages to appeal to search engines; time for the search engines to find, index and “trust” the pages; and time to realize the positive ROI between customers and efforts spent. This disadvantage is usually minimal to those looking to be online for the long term. The final disadvantage with organic search engine optimization is that it does not deliver guarantees, especially for websites with lots of competition online. Keeping in mind that each website has the opportunity to “optimize” their pages as well should put the chances of success through SEO in perspective.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Both new websites and those finding it difficult to get their fair shake in the top of the search engines, may opt for Pay-Per-Click advertising to increase their visibility online. In short, Pay-Per-Click advertising allows you to select, bid, and pay for keywords that are relevant to your website’s offerings. In exchange, the Pay-Per-Click program offers a website guaranteed visibility when a searcher enters in the chosen keyword and when the searcher is on a website that is related to the keyword.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising guarantees that websites are put in the eyes of their chosen target audiences. When properly managed, the pay-per-click advertising costs can often times be recouped through the increase in sales that are driven to the website. In addition, the flexibility in keyword selection, the precise management of campaigns, the instant feedback provided, and the ability to budget spending make PPC appealing to most companies that do not appear in top search results.

There are several disadvantages to pay-per-click advertising which can be reduced or even eliminated with proactive PPC campaign management. One major disadvantage results from the bidding nature of PPC programs, which tend to list the highest bidder for a keyword ahead of lower bidders. This “bidding war” forces the lower bidder to increase their bid in order to regain position, and can squeeze out companies with smaller marketing budgets. Another disadvantage to PPC advertising comes in the improper selection of keywords which results in bidders paying for visitors that are simply “window shopping”, and have no intention of buying products. The final disadvantage to PPC advertising is the most obvious and the most painful – once the payments for keywords stop, so does the website’s visibility.

Which Method Is Best?
Websites with little or no visibility can easily change their circumstances by using Pay-Per-Click advertising to instantly gain web presence. And although the guaranteed visibility comes at a cost, those just starting out on the web can often time recoup their expenses through the building of repeat customers, word of mouth referrals and increased traffic flow. Also, keep in mind that paying to be in front of visitors has major disadvantages that good SEO should eliminate over time. So, our suggestion is to always use Pay-Per-Click advertising to get into the face of web surfers in the early stages of a website’s growth, but to also implement the techniques of Search Engine Optimization which will provide the website with long-term staying power. Used in conjunction with each other, your website will realize both immediate and long-term success on the web.

Photo credit by svilen001.

Questions to Ask Before Buying SEO Services

Securing the right search marketing agency for your law firm or other professional practice is challenging. Here are questions you should ask not only of yourself, but to potential search engine optimization (“seo”) consultants, before you sign on the dotted line.

Questions You Should Answer First

  • What are my goals? Better positioning on search engines is an “ok” goal. But it’s more valuable to you if the goals are specific (and realistic), such as “20% more inbound leads” or “50 requests for more information per month.”
  • How will I measure the success of this campaign? I work almost exclusively with law firms, and it’s common for lawyers to want double or triple firm revenues as a result of an SEO campaign. But in nearly all cases, this isn’t realistic, since contested matters could take many months or even years to yield fee revenue. Instead, refine your goals a step further and look at total number of cases or files working as a good indicator of success (at least early in the campaign).

Questions Good Consultants Will Ask You
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people selling SEO just looking to get rich quick. Most don’t have a clue about your business and very few even understand the basics of website optimization. The best, most capable consultants will ask questions like these:

  • How much can you afford to pay for a lead, subscriber, download, etc.?
  • What’s worked best (and least) in the past to generate the above?
  • How will you measure the success of this campaign? The consultant is looking for realistic, measurable goals, which you’ll have already prepared.

Questions to Ask Your SEO Consultant
Finally, the time has come for you to examine the qualifications of the consultant. Ask some or all of these questions to help make your decision the right one:

  • Do you have proof of your work? You’re looking for the consultant or vendor to have or quickly produce client testimonials, case studies, and sample rankings for firms similar in size and scope as yours.
  • What results can I reasonably expect? And how long will it take? Demand to see or have prepared a detailed game plan. Get vague responses explained., and avoid any consultant or vendor promising specific placements (e.g. “We guarantee first place results for keywords on Google”).
  • What is your experience in my industry? Work with a specialist. You wouldn’t go to a general practitioner for your heart condition, and neither should your law firm or other professional practice go with an all-purpose vendor.
  • What techniques do you use to achieve results? What is the overall strategy? Anyone who mentions “meta-tags” as their first answer should be shown the door. You really want to hear them say things like “produce high-quality content” or “develop relevant inbound links within your industry.”
  • When do I get updates? How often do you communicate to me? Who can I call with questions? At minimum, monthly reporting on progress and monthly reports on positions achieved should be the norm. And every program should have a point-person or main contact person, since most vendors use a team of specialists, strategists and analysts to fulfill your objectives.

Armed with these questions, you’re certain to catch most consultants (even the good ones) off-guard. Listen carefully to the responses, and if you get resistance, move on.

Photo credit by svilen001.