June 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

Panelists probe how-to’s of economical natural search success at IRCE

Keeping site architecture spider-friendly and insisting vendors explain what they propose are two keys to success in search engine optimization, IRCE speakers say.

Knowing their customers and business thoroughly is the critical starting point for any search engine optimization program, especially when doing search engine optimization on a tight budget, panelists told attendees at IRCE 2009 in Boston this week in a session called, “Optimizing a site for Internet search engine results without breaking the bank.”

That knowledge allows site operators to sift through site data that web analytics can generate to figure out what’s important. “Information that is not actionable is useless,” said Ross Lasley of the consulting firm The Internet Educator.

Lasley encouraged retailers starting or expanding a search engine optimization program to ask questions when they don’t understand what vendors are proposing. Some technically focused search engine optimization vendors seem to feel that “if you keep throwing around enough three-letter terms, eventually some people will write you a check,” he said. “Don’t sign anything you don’t understand, and don’t hesitate to insist they explain until you really get it.”

Co-presenter Danielle Leitch, executive vice president of search marketing firm MoreVisibility.com, offered specific tactics on how to improve search engine optimization. For example, sites should modify site coding and architecture to eliminate any problems that could reduce search engine spiders’ ability to crawl the site. Leitch also advised attendees to first determine the keyword terms most relevant to the business and then decide which pages on the site to optimize for those words.

Leitch advised the retailers to optimize each page for no more than one to two keywords. “Any more, and you’ll dilute their importance the page,” she said. She also advised them on the right levels of keyword density per page to attract search engine spiders. “For every 100 words of text on a page, you want your keyword to repeat two or three times,” she said.

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