searching for users: seo as an engine for customer acquisition (stephan spencer, startonomics sf...

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Presentation by Stephan Spencer,, on startup stragies & tactics for using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a core customer acquisition channel.


  • Searching for Users: SEO as an Engine for Customer Acquisition By Stephan Spencer, Founder & President, Netconcepts
  • The 4 Big Keys to SEO
    • Keywords Target the words that your target market uses.
    • Content Its got to be great, unique, linkworthy, fresh, keyword-focused content.
    • Links No links? No rankings.
    • Site structure Its essential you get the technical details right (redirects, HTML templates, URLs, internal linking structure)
  • SEO Fundamentals
    • Tried-and-true SEO tactics
      • Topically relevant links from important sites
      • Anchor text
      • Keyword-rich title tags
      • Keyword-rich content
      • Internal hierarchical linking structure
    • The whole is greater than the sum of the parts
    • Synergistic effect of natural + paid search
  • SEO Fundamentals
    • Links (internal and inbound, along with the anchor text) beat out content
    • Link building, link baiting, blogging, SMO are crucial SEO activities
      • SMO (Social Media Optimization) = infiltrating, popular,, reddit, StumbleUpon, Wikipedia,
      • A rising tide lifts all boats
  • Light on content, but on page 1 in Google for silver earrings
  • Their CEOs blog accounts for over 13% of online sales
  • SEO Fundamentals
    • Rewrite your URLs
      • Avoid ? & = characters, minimize directories, include keywords, hyphens preferred over underscores
    • Rejig your hierarchical internal linking structure
    • Optimize your HTML templates and CSS
      • Reduce code bloat, separate out presentation layer from content layer, image replacement, optimized elements like H1
  • SEO Strategies for Your Head Terms
    • Focus a page on no more than 3 keyword themes place targeted term in the title tag, H1 tag, & high up in the body copy
    • Build link gain (PageRank) to that page through internal links & inlinks
    • Consistent keyword-rich anchor text from internal links
    • For deep inlinks, vary the anchor text a bit
  • SEO Strategies for The Long Tail
    • Focus on unbranded search markets
    • Leverage website scale and brand strength
    • Employ testable strategies that scale
    • Treat consumers as co-creators
    • Measure against a new set of KPIs
    • Grow your long tail of search
  • The Freeloaders on Your Payroll
    • Most merchants have 80%+ of their pages driving no search traffic
    • Most don't even know this, or why it is a problem (no javascript based analytics package will tell them this either)
    • Its a red light that they lack a long tail of unbranded keyword traffic
    • The # of searches for unbranded keywords is nearly 40x as great as searches for the brand name (put another way, 97x the # of pages onsite)
    • Tapping that opportunity means leveraging the size of the website and the brand strength to convert unbranded searches into clicks
    • How to achieve this tail?
  • Scalable Long Tail SEO Strategies
    • Mass optimization:
      • Single techniques capable of creating cascading effects throughout large websites template pages for instance
    • Rewriting URLs:
      • Simple and static have profound impact on PageRank and traffic
    • Thin Slicing:
      • Touching key elements across thousands of pages quickly, monitoring, and expanding based on results
  • Scalable Long Tail Strategies - Web 2.0
    • User generated content (e.g., wikipedia)
      • Freely append searcher vocabulary into your website
    • Tagging and social bookmarking (e.g., Flickr,
      • Listen and create feedback loops using search terms
      • Use cloud taxonomy to flatten your structure using good link text
    • RSS and Blogging
      • Long tail is driven by efficient distribution of pages
    • Create link bait rather than soliciting link targets
    • Provide lists of most searched keywords
    • Long tail optimization means outsourcing to your users
  • Gone Off the Rails
    • Misfires, mistakes, etc. often occur because your developers, sysadmins, or marketers didnt know what they didnt know
    • Examples
  • Not Spider Friendly
    • GET --> 302 Moved Temporarily
    • GET --> 302 Moved Temporarily
    • GET --> 302 Moved Temporarily
    • GET --> 200 OK
  • Not so good title wheres the phrase credit card?
  • No link text or body copy
  • No link text or body copy
  • Duplicate pages
  • Still feeling good about being at the bottom of page 1?
  • Search listings 1 good, 1 lousy
  • Title tags the same
  • Spider unfriendly URL structures
  • Yikes! home page PageRank score looks abysmal
  • Phew! true home page PageRank score
  • hosted many doorway pages like this one
  • Sneaky redirect sent searchers to this page
  • Hidden link in the All of All Rights Reserved leads to a hallway page
  • Hallway page not meant for human consumption Lets start scrolling
  • Everything still looks copasetic, until
  • A-ha, spider food
  • Screenfuls and screenfuls of it!
  • Find Link Targets
    • Review links of competitive sites, sites in your keyword market
      • Use tools like the ones just mentioned
      • Check sites with high rankings for relevant keywords
      • The fewer the number of links on their page, the better
    • Review links to your site; look for opportunities to get the link text revised
  • Request Links
    • NOT:
      • Hi, Lets swap links!
      • Ive already linked to you.
      • Great site!
      • You already link to our competitor and we offer a better product.
      • Please use the following text in your link
    • Maybe?
      • Hi, found a broken link on _____. btw, you might want to add as a link.
    • What then?
  • Hi Lois, My name is Eric Ward, and I am working with to help them announce the launch of their new web site located at I am hoping you will consider mentioning or linking to the site on your Water and Wastewater Engineering page at I have included a brief overview of the site below, and should you need anything at all I am a real person and actually reply to email. You can also contact me by phone. Thank you for your time and consideration. Regards, Eric Ward (On behalf of voice 865.637.2438 ------------------------------------------------------ Overview of Source: Eric Ward


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