According to a study conducted by Econsultancy, spending in the North American Search Engine Marketing sector is projected to grow from $16.6 billion to $19.3 billion in 2011, a $2.7 billion increase. At Sparxoo, we have written about search marketing before: Optimizing Content Using Keywords, Branding in a Keyword-Driven World, and How to Find Keywords Using Google Adwords. To succeed in SEO, marketers must continually adjust site content to improve organic search results while also delivering a high quality user experience. Below we share additional tips to help you achieve your search marketing goals.

1. Start with title tags
Use “title tags” to indicate to both the user and search engine the title of your website. The contents of the title tag will usually appear on the first line and in bold if they match the search query. Create a title that is both descriptive and unique to help Google identify your site. In addition, write a concise, yet telling (and interesting) description meta tag. The meta tag is displayed under the page title to clearly communicate the page’s content matter. The search engine will pull fragments from this description to display in the user’s query. Be sure that to use unique title tags and meta tags on independent pages across the site to improve search results for both the user and search engine.

2. Valuable site content
While this may seem obvious, truly rich site content will increase search results organically. Captivating content will be posted in blogs, linked into social sites, and shared amongst others through emails, forums, etc. Quality content is commonly the basis behind the organic buzz, and thus site reputation, created by both users and search engines. Beyond quality, sites must stress the importance of unique and fresh content to gain a consistent and growing visitor base. While you must certainly be mindful to include keywords throughout your site’s content, writing for the user, not the search engine, is essential.

3. Proper anchor text
Anchor text is the text displayed as the result of a link and clicked on by the user. Every link contains anchor text, yet not every link contains descriptive anchor text. To inform the user and search engine about what they are about to click on, create anchor text that explains the content accurately. The more descriptive, concise, and formatted the anchor text, the easier the navigation will be for both the user and search engine.

4. Searchable images
Every image on your site has an individual filename and an “alt” attribute that can be optimized to improve search results. If the image cannot be displayed for some reason, the “alt” attribute is the text that is specified as an alternative for the image. “Alt” text can provide guidance to a confused user by stating a description for the image that was intended to appear. To further facilitate guidance to the user, create a directory (and Image Sitemap) to store all of your site’s images. This consolidation will simplify the course to your images, as well as provide an aid to the search engine through the sitemap.

5. Deep linking
Creating links into and between the most pages on your site as possible is the basis behind deep linking. In order to be found on the first page of search results for related searched words or phrases, your site must be highly ranked and reliable, meaning that the search engines find that other highly ranked, reliable sites have links to your page. In doing so, your site should have links form other sites, Facebook, your internal blog, etc. directed to as many interior pages on your site as possible. There should also be links on your homepage to move visitors to and between as many interior pages as possible. Generally, the more multifaceted and mixed the deep linking, the higher search engines will rank your site.

6. Promotion through quality content
Self promotion through link sharing is an effective method of gaining quick detection by people sharing common interests, but must be used sparingly. Blog posts and newsletters promoting changes, additions, and new features to your site will help to increase traffic and viewership. Promoting on social media sites and throughout your sites’ associated community will match interested groups to relevant information and quality links.

7. Easy navigation through breadcrumbs
A user-friendly site is one that is easily navigated. To simplify navigation for both the user and search engine, start with your “root” page (homepage) and base a row of internal links that stem from the homepage. The directory structure outlines the way a typical user would pilot through your site. Referred to as a “breadcrumb” and displayed at the top or bottom of the page, this row of internal links will facilitate fluid user navigation on your site.

8. Site maps and webmaster tools
Preparing two sitemaps is crucial to display the structure of your site to both the user and search engine. An HTML site map (in lower-case) is typically displayed to help a visitor who is having issues finding certain pages on your site. An XML Sitemap file (in upper-case) helps search engines display correct URL’s for the various pages on your site, as well as outlining all of the pages on your website. In optimizing both site maps and the rest of your page, utilize webmaster tools provided by the majority of search engines. Webmaster tools will better control how search engines interact with your website, thus getting useful information to the source and performing better in search results.

9. The dreaded 404 page
Without the use of a breadcrumbs page or sitemap, a user may get lost in translation and land on the dreaded, “page not found” 404 page. A 404 page can come from a user typing in the wrong URL or following a broken link that does not exist on your site. To avoid potentially losing this visitor, create a custom 404 page that matches the design of your website and has a link to your site’s homepage. Creating a guide back to your page with your site’s design will greatly enhance the user’s experience; it is possible to have a constructive 404 page.

10. Go mobile
In comparison to normal desktop sites, content from mobile sites is formatted and managed quite differently. It is important to configure your mobile site appropriately to be indexed and crawled by search engines accurately. Creating a Mobile Sitemap and ensuring user-agent access will verify that the search engine indexes your mobile site. In addition, make certain that your mobile URLs are recognized by the search engine through testing from various mobile devices. Once testing is complete, verify that a mobile site display for a desktop user is redirected to the standard version of the site and vice versa.

While independently these modifications may seem insignificant, the combination of the above best practices will influence your site’s overall search engine marketing effectiveness and reach. For further reading on search marketing, we suggest these search marketing articles: Improve Your Google Quality Score, Optimize Text Ads for Search, and Boost your CTR. Sparxoo Agency is a specialist in search marketing. Please contact us if we can be of assistance in your search marketing campaign.