There’s a debate raging in marketing circles: should you use seo or Search Engine Optimization techniques on your website or not?
First of all, what do I mean by seo? Search engine copywriting requires that the copywriter concern himself with the strategic placement of keywords, tags and the like within his web copy to get the web page as high as possible in the search engine rankings.
According to a survey by Enquiro and MarketingSherpa on the role of search, over 60 percent of BTB buyers research products online from 2-12 months in advance of a purchase, and 69 percent of them start with the “organic” (i.e. search engine) listings. So, ranking high with the search engines is important.
That said, there are several other points to take into consideration:
(1) How does “organic” website traffic fit into your overall sales process? Do you drive traffic to your website using other means (advertisements, direct sales calls, seminars, free white paper offers, etc.)? And how qualified are the leads that come from the search engines?
(2) You need to make it into the top 10 or top 20 (any lower position is of little or no benefit). How much competition is there for the keyword? How likely is it that you’ll make it into the top 10-20 listings without too much effort?
(3) Search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms (partly to prevent the “black hat” SEO experts from manipulating rankings) so just optimizing your pages is a moving target.
(4) Ultimately, content is king. Having plenty of useful (fresh) content on your site will probably do more for your rankings in the long-run than SEO will. Moreover, content is a more stable contributor to high rankings.
(5) Incoming links (other website linking to your site, ideally websites that are ranked high and are highly respected) are generally considered more valuable than simple keyword optimization and the like. See http://www.alexa.com to research website rankings.
(6) Keyword optimized pages can sound slightly strange; they often don’t read well. Moreover, their selling power may be weaker than pages that focus first and foremost on the prospect, rather than the engine.
In the end, it’s probably best to follow a 3-part strategy:
(1) Focus on writing the most convincing copy you can, aimed at the human reader rather than the search engines.
(2) Optimize the keywords, if you wish, but never change a word of strong copy if that change will weaken the copy, even if SEO best practices dictate such a change.
(3) Once the page is up and working (e.g. generating strong conversion), optimize it for the engines by tweaking the copy, but test to make sure that those edits don’t reduce conversions.
So, do SEO, but use SEO intelligently and always put your (human) prospect first.
There’s also a larger point here: besides search engine optimized pages and clever copy, what really drives traffic to your website – and keeps visitors coming back – is useful, fresh content.
Content is STILL king!
Copyright 2006 Paul Arinaga
Paul Arinaga is a professional freelance copywriter specialized in helping software and other technology companies improve their marketing materials to get more and better leads. http://www.paularinaga.com This article is excerpted from “The Software Marketer’s Toolkit”.