Insurance Search Engine Marketing For Insurance Agent Leads

For many insurance companies and insurance agencies, insurance search engine marketing is a brave new world, filled with a litany of confusing terms and acronyms. Like any emerging field, what might seem confusing at first, is readily understandable after a quick review of jargon and basics. Let’s take a look at insurance search engine marketing and define terms and acronyms along the way.

For the time being, let’s think of insurance search engine marketing (insurance SEM) as it relates to the insurance business, as if we were talking about the printed Yellow Pages phone book of the not distant past. Fifteen years ago, if someone was looking for a business, product or service, they could take a Yellow Pages off the shelf and open the phone book to search for the given product, service or company, flipping pages until they arrived at the relevant phone book pages. For the purposes of this example, let’s say that someone wanted property and casualty insurance, and were looking for insurance agents that they could contact. The person who was searching for the insurance, upon finding the two yellow pages which listed insurance agencies, might scan the insurance agency names beginning with the letter “A”. This is roughly analogous to a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) from Google, Bing or Yahoo. A key difference here is that these search engines display their results by relevancy as opposed to alphabetically. The placement of the names on the SERP relates to organic SEO, or in this case, insurance search engine optimization.

Of course there would also be many advertisements interspersed within the two phone book pages of agencies, both small and large. These ads are roughly analogous to PPC ads (Pay Per Click ads) found today on the search results pages. One notable difference is that in the case of the old Yellow Pages phone book, your insurance agency would pay a flat fee for the ad, whereas with a PPC, your agency only pays when a user clicks on your advertisement. Just for purposes of clarity, there is also something called PPI (Pay Per Impression), where your business would pay for impressions, though for our insurance agency web website optimization discussion, we’re going to stick with our PPC ad analogy. The difference between organic insurance search engine marketing and insurance PPC ads is as simple as having your agency name listed in the Yellow Pages at no charge, versus a display ad in the Yellow Pages at a cost of perhaps $1,000 per month. Thus the appeal of organic web marketing, if your insurance agency can rise to the top of the organic SERP, you are very likely to direct web surfers (read that as insurance agency leads) to your website and reap the benefits without any PPC costs. Think of this in the same way as the old phone book listings with company’s starting their name with “AAAA Auto Parts” or “AAAAA Insurance Agency” to ensure their names would appear first. A SERP offers a better alternative than the printed Yellow Pages name game, in that the agency name is secondary to other, more relevant criteria. This criterion is determined by search engine algorithms which can have over 100 attributes they use to determine relevancy, and subsequently determine if your insurance agency website should be on page one or page ten (SERP Ranking).

A simple explanation of some key terms often associated with insurance search engine marketing (insurance SEM) include:

Back links – Links to your agency site from other internet sites and directories.
HTML – Code used to create many websites.
Keyword Density – The number of times, in terms of percent, that a keyword phrase is used on any given page of an insurance agency website. Divide the number of uses of that keyword, by the total number of words on the page. Experts disagree on the ideal percentage for optimization with all engines, but targeting a number around 5% as of this writing should be effective. An important note, some article directories only allow keyword density of up to 4%.
Keywords – Words typed into a search engine to return a list (SERP) of relevant sites and documents.
Long-tail Keywords – Longer keyword phrases, which yield more specific search results germane to your insurance agency. These long-tail phrases are three or more words bundled together. For example, “insurance agency marketing” is a long-tail keyword where as “insurance” is not.
Off Page Optimization – Content creation, directory submission and back link building used to improve search engine rankings (SERP placement).
On Page Optimization – Modifications made to insurance agency website content and HTML code to improve search engine rankings (SERP placement).
Organic SEO – Page ranking results returned by a search engine based purely on relevancy as opposed to a paid ad placement.
Page Rank – A gauge of the popularity of your site, typically determined by the volume of visitors and links to your site. This was once a preeminent performance measure, but for niche industries like insurance agencies and agents, other criteria is now more important than page rank and back links.
PPC – Pay Per Click where your business posts an ad on a search engine and pays each time a web surfer clicks on your advertisement. These ads are displayed above and on the side of many search terms. Another variation on this is PPI, which is Pay Per Impression, where you would pay a bulk rate for every thousand times your ad is displayed, regardless of the number of times your ad was clicked.
PPI – Pay Per Impression where your agency pays a flat fee per thousand of times your ad is displayed on the Google, Bing or Yahoo results pages.
Search Engine Marketing – The process which is used for insurance companies and insurance agencies to rise to the top of the organic SERP listings, or to place ads that will be posted on page results for selected long-tail keywords.
SEM – Acronym for insurance search engine marketing
SEM – Search Engine Marketing.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
SER – Sometimes you may see the acronym SER used, which can refer to Search Engine Results, Rankings or even Relevancy.
SERP – Search Engine Results Page
Web Marketing – Insurance agency search engine marketing is a subset of an overall insurance agency web marketing plan.

The goal of insurance search engine marketing is driving qualified insurance agent leads to your agency website. Once these web prospects have arrived at your insurance agency website, you need an effective call to action, which in itself, is the topic for another insurance agency marketing article. Obviously, more qualified agency leads, combined with a compelling insurance agency website and call to action, should yield increased premiums and help grow your agency’s book of business.

Five Tips For Stress Free Travel

Let’s face the fact; the whole traveling event is quite stressful. We plan a holiday to get away from the pressures of home and work, but navigating through the airport to catch your flight becomes the most stressful part of the whole trip. You don’t want to become all stressed before you even leave the airport, so here are some helpful tips that will help you travel smoothly without any stress and enjoy your vacation.

Arrive Early

Long gone are those days when you can show an hour before your flight, but now the circumstances have changed a lot. Many times I have seen people waiting outside in the parking for a shuttle complaining that they might miss their flight if the van doesn’t come soon. That’s why my honest recommendation that arrives at least three hours before your flight at the airport.

Pack Light

The best way to reduce stress is by packing light. If you can pack light with only one carry-on bag, it will save you time at the check in counter. You can walk straight to the computer, check in your bag and be on your way to the security line in not time. Trust me, lugging a heavy back anywhere can be stressful. You will realise half of the things you don’t need on your vacation, and you won’t be happy with all that clutter you carried for no reason.

Check In Online

Check in 24 hours before your flight will save you a lot of time and will help you in avoiding all the hassle at the airport. Make use of your smartphone, check in online and either get a print out of your ticket, or you can save it on your phone. That way when you reach the airport, you don’t have to waste your time at the check in counter.

Be Prepared

Be ready to face strict security measures at the airport. I keep all the things that I need out onto the bin, so they are readily available. When I reach the conveyor belt, everything is out in a flash. All liquids should be packed in a bottle of 100ml or less and then kept in a small Ziploc bag. Don’t wear any metal jewellery or keep any loose change with you as it will beep when you pass the security check and create trouble.

Create A Care Package

When packing your luggage pack a small handbag or backpack in which you can carry the things that you will need during the flight. Ever since I started carrying a small bag with me, my trips have become more enjoyable. I usually pack things that I’ll be needing urgently like the following:

• Ear buds to prevent noise

• Lip balm and skin moisturiser

• Hand sanitizer

• Credit Card to make any in-flight purchases

• Travel toothpaste and toothbrush

• iPhone

• Sunglasses

• Some basic meds if I feel nauseate on the flight.

Get in touch with us and book your holidays to sandals online today. We offer the best holiday deals and offers to our customers.

Scientific Reasons Behind Why You Should Visit Hindu Temples

The common notion is that a visit to the temple is just to pray for God’s blessings. But the truth is that, temples are the best places to relax and to calm your body and mind, too. That is a scientifically proven fact. Here is why:

The Location and Structure of the Temple

Temples are filled with positive energy because they are built in a particular way. For instance, the main idol is placed at the centre of the temple, known as Moolasthanam, where earth’s magnetic waves are found to be quite strong. And the structure of the temple is built around it. That is reason for the positive energy.

Removing Your Footwear before Entering Temple

Temples are epicentres of positive energy. The floor at the centre of the temple is a good conductor of these positive vibrations. And if you want to allow positive energy to pass through your feet to the body, you should not use footwear. Another reason is that shoes and chappals will have all the impurities as you use it everywhere. Hence they tend to spoil the pure environment of the temple.

Activating the five senses

All five senses in your body should be activated if you want to absorb the positive energy in the temple.

Ringing the Temple Bell

The hearing sense is activated by ringing the temple bell before entering the inner temple. If you have noticed, after ringing the bell the sound lasts for 7 seconds in echo mode. This timeframe is sufficient to turn on all the seven healing centres in our body. Our brain will also be free from all kinds of negative thoughts. The idol also absorbs the bell sound and it is vibrated within the Moolasthanam for some time.

Lighting Camphor In Front Of Idol

The sight sense is activated by lighting camphor. The inner core where the idol is placed is usually dark. When you pray you close your eyes and after that you open your eyes and see the camphor, which is lit to do the Aarthi. Your sight sense is activated when you see the light after the dark.

Placing Hands over the Camphor Flames

After offering the prayer the camphor is brought to you, and you usually put your hands over the camphor to make your hands warm and then you touch your eyes with your warm hands. This is to activate the touch sense.

Offering Flowers to God

Flowers are beautiful to look at. They are soft and have a lovely fragrance. Only certain flowers that have fragrance like jasmine, rose, and marigold are used in offerings. It is to keep your smell sense active that flowers, incense sticks and camphor are used in temples.

Drinking Theertham

A silver or copper vessel is used to pour Theertham, which usually has thulsi leaves. It is kept aside for eight hours in the copper vessel. This is to positively charge the water. To balance all the three doshas in your body (vata, pitta and kapha) water should be stored in a copper vessel, which is a scientifically proven fact according to Ayurveda. You activate the taste sense by drinking this Thulasi water.

Doing Pradakshina around the Moolasthanam

The Moolasthanam absorbs all the energy and your five senses are also activated when you ring the bell, light the camphor and offer flowers and fruits. You tend to absorb all these positive vibrations when you do the pradakshina.

Applying Tilak/Kumkum

A major nerve point in human body lies between the two eyebrows on the forehead. The Tilak is believed to prevent the loss of “energy”. You press your forehead while applying kumkum. This also facilitates the blood supply to the face muscles.

Offering Coconut and Banana to God

Unlike an apple, coconut and banana are considered as sacred fruits. Apple is treated as tainted because an apple tree grows from the seed of another eaten fruit. To grow a coconut tree and plantain you need to plant an entire coconut and a sapling, respectively.

Features to Expect From a Search Engine Marketing Company

If you’re looking for ways to increase both your sales and customer base, you should consider hiring a search engine marketing company. And if your UK business doesn’t have a presence on the Internet, you should contract a search engine marketing firm to explore the many benefits of affordable search engine optimization. While there are many other factors you can consider when contemplating a website, if the site doesn’t place high in the most popular search engines, you’ll never realize the full power of search engine marketing. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the features a top-shelf search engine marketing agency should have.

Deep Analysis is the First Step

Every search engine marketing company should begin with a thorough analysis of both your needs and goals. Scale is important here and the search engine marketing firm should be able to competently determine the website size and features that best reflect your products and/or services. Armed with that in-depth information, the company should have for its goal a top search engine ranking for your business. And the premiere way to do this is by selecting the correct keywords to include the website’s content.

How Search Engine Marketing Works

Search engines like Google scan your website looking for matches with the search criteria the user types in. These search criteria contain keywords that should match content on your site. Although search engines have additional algorithms for ranking results, if your website is keyword rich, you have a much better chance of gaining top search engine placement. And this is where a professional search engine marketing firm can provide an extremely positive ROI (return on investment). The agency will use specialized tools to determine the most effective keywords and keyphrases to use in your website’s content. Here’s an example: For a company whose primary business is automotive-related, the goal should be to include as many words and phrases that are similar to the “key” keyword “automobile.” Specialized tools are available on the Internet to do just this. Google AdWords, for example, will return several pages of words and phrases related to “automobile,” along with the search volume (number of times a user typed them in). Google returns the information that users typed in the main keyword “automobile” over 2.5 million times. Less used but still effective variations include “automobiles” (over 1.2 million times), “automobile insurance” (over 200,000 times) and “automobile dealers” (over 130,000 times).

Other Important Services

Once the keywords are determined, the search engine marketing consultant should provide multi-lingual services, since about 70% of people who search the Internet do not speak English. This is a great and cost-effective way to reach new customers and markets. For example, an Internet marketing agency in the UK should also provide content translated into French, Spanish and Portuguese if your goal is to reach customers on the European mainland.

Finally, if your site does attain high search engine ranking your consultant should be constantly monitoring and “tweaking” it to improve your ranking even more. A UK search engine marketing company is not only a valuable tool, but also an essential one.

The author is an online marketing professional with Infomedia Direct Technologies Ltd – a well known Search Engine Marketing Company in the UK [] The company is an expert providing innovative internet marketing solutions for small, medium sized and large businesses. They offers cutting-edge pay per click, Search engine optimization and search engine marketing solutions for your business with a full refund guarantee.

10 Signs It’s Time for You to Travel

1. The thought of getting up and going to work makes you feel sick… literally!

We’ve all been there. The “calling in sick” phone calls to your manager that you despise, just so that you can take the day off to binge watch your favourite television series on Netflix. But the truth is, when your purposely dodging your work shift, or counting down the minutes until you finish work, there’s a serious problem that you need to finally confront. Switching up your routine or even going somewhere for a long-weekend can revitalize you and uplift your spirits.

2. You spend way too much time living in the past and forget about the present.

Your life is governed by the “What If’s, Should have’s and Could have’s”. Doubt and fear seem to creep its way into your mind and you spend the rest of your days worrying about past choices and experiences. It’s time to wake up! You can’t change what you did or how that relationship ended. Focus on the present, and kick doubt and fear in the ass!

3. Your patterns are predictable… You’re stuck in Groundhog Day!

7am, your alarm rings, out of the house by 8. Stop by your local drive-through coffee shop for your morning caffeine fix. Commence your 9-5 cubicle cookie-cutting job and throughout the day engage in “dexter” small-talk and banter. You drive home, sit on your favourite couch and crush the next season of Game of Thrones. You do it all over again the next day, and the next and so on. If someone wanted to stalk you, frankly speaking it would be too easy. Break free from the rut and explore what this world has to offer. You’d be surprised what you’ll find.

4. Nothing exists beyond your city!

Why travel when you can get the best Szechuan in China Town or have the most delicious Cannoli’s in Little Italy? True, some of the best ethnic foods can be found right under your nose, however to think that “there is no world beyond New York City” or any mega city is absurd. Travelling to a country and experiencing an entirely new environment and culture can really kickstart your senses. So here’s to it… indulge!

5. Small town girl, You’ve been living in your small town world.

I get it… going from knowing your neighbours and the cashier at your local grocery store to getting lost in Thailand’s full moon festival and knowing absolutely no one can be pretty daunting. The truth is, you have to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable to experience life in a different way. Getting used to feeling like a “visible minority” or experiencing language barriers can make you understand and empathize with the other side of the dialectic. It’ll open up your eyes to a world beyond your small town.

6. The English Epidemic

It’s always interesting to see tourists getting frustrated when they travel to a foreign land and expect natives of that particular place to speak English. Cultural insensitivity is probably one of the worst qualities to display on your vacation. If your mind craves a challenge, choose a country that speaks a language that is unknown to you and learn some of their salutations and conversational expressions. You’ll make quite the impression and even gain a lifelong friendship with a local.

7. Stop reading about it, Go live it!

You pick up the National Geographic and read all about the amazing Safari adventures in Kenya, the vibrant eccentric colours of Marrakech and the exhilarating smell of lamb kebab that creeps through the narrow alleyways of Tehran. You take a moment, envision yourself in these pictures and then snap back to reality, allowing doubt and fear to snatch your dreams away. Stop reading about these wonderful places and feed your desires. Book that ticket and spend your nights dreaming about the adventures you’re about to embark on.

8. FoMo

The fear of missing out-hereafter referred to as FoMo, is no joke. FoMo is the desire to stay connected and partake in events that others are doing. It has also been referred to as having a fear of regret. This fear has a way of creeping its way into social gathering discussion topics of “who has the latest gadget” or “who has travelled to Monaco?” If you’re feeling particularly left out in the conversation, maybe it’s time to pack your suitcase and head over to a destination that will take over next weeks dinner gatherings discussion.

9. Single and ready to Mingle?

Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones said it best: “I’ve been in a relationship with myself for 49 years and that’s the one I need to work on.” There is no better way to learn more about yourself than to travel alone. Taking yourself on a lovely date, catching a matinée alone or doing some solo travel might feel a bit awkward at first, but getting to know the awesome person that you are should be cherished and celebrated. So here’s to celebrating you!

10. Big Decisions, Big Commitments

Whether you are entering University, starting your new career or settling down with the love of your life, it’s always a good idea to travel prior to these commitments. It will allow you to feel balanced, re-energized and ready to take on what’s to come.

Absolute Top Five Search Engine Marketing Myths Uncovered!

It’s no secret that Search Engine marketing can drive significant amounts of very qualified traffic to a web site – as 85% of Internet users utilize search engines to find/research for goods and services. The problem for many companies is the difficulty they face sifting through conflicting information and hyperbole! Here is my top five list of myths that need to be run to ground.

Big Picture Myth One – Search engine ranking leads are not as good as those which originate from other forms of traditional marketing (print, direct mail, PR, etc.) – this is absolute hogwash, the truth is many agencies don’t have a clue about s/e ranking, so they push their clients to ignore this form of advertising. They simply don’t want to recommend anything they don’t understand and/or utilize an interactive marketing vehicle that requires a blend of very specialized technology and processes.

We’ve in fact found just the opposite when we’ve analyzed s/e traffic versus other types of leads for our clients; i.e. search engine traffic can be much better, as it is comprised of individuals who are actively seeking info, not just people whose curiosity has been piqued by an eye-catching publication ad or press release. And, when we’ve analyzed the data by tracking leads via a landing page (on a web site) we’ve discovered that CPL (cost per lead) numbers can be much lower for s/e ranking than other more traditional marketing methods.

Big Picture Myth Two – Effective s/e marketing can be done in house – this is rarely the case, the sheer complexity and online competition (digital warfare!) for rankings makes this extremely difficult for most companies. Based upon our analysis over 73% of corporate accounts don’t understand the basic fundamentals; i.e. how to properly use keywords, meta tags and titles and worse, don’t submit their web sites to top tier Directories (Yahoo, LookSmart, OPD) and the hundreds of second tier directories.

Most companies delegate the s/e submissions to the webmaster or web site development staff and they just don’t have the time to understand the daunting complexities required to generate page 1-3 rankings – or to stay abreast of the shifting submissions and ranking criteria standards, as modified monthly by top tier search engines. And, in many companies the s/e ranking is added to the over worked webmaster’s tasks purely as an afterthought – as opposed to being addressed formally by the marketing department, with dedicated personnel and a budget.

Big Picture Myth Three – off the shelf software that submits a site to thousands of web sites and presents snazzy reports can do it all. This is so inaccurate and nothing can be further from the truth – it takes a tremendous amount of labor and time to identify keyword sets (not just words), optimize the content for these keywords, submit the pages while obeying the rules of the road and then continually analyzing rankings and tweaking to maintain and drive rankings (web site visibility).

Software can certainly help to automate some facets of the process and be used for back end analysis – but you can’t expect any application to make the job easy, there is too much inherent complexity in the processes. And, competition for keyword sets is fierce – as there are an estimated 5-10M registered domains (the numbers vary widely) with 60K new domains being registered every day.

Big Picture Myths Four and Five – Any page listing will help to drive traffic to a web site – this is another misconception. If you are aren’t achieving page 1-3 rankings then your wasting a great deal of time and resources – most people never drill down below these pages. Another common mistake is trying to achieve s/e rankings for a specific URL or product – if people know the name of a company or product they will find your web site easily, it’s a waste of resources to optimize for these specialized terms in 80% of most cases.

Does Your Business Need a Search Engine Marketing Consultant?

Many businesses in the UK make the mistake of not using a search engine marketing consultant, especially when they are first contemplating whether or not to design and implement an Internet website. In this article, we’ll answer some of the commonly asked questions about search engine marketing.

Q. Why do I need a search engine marketing specialist?

A. First, some background: Successful Internet search engine marketing services can provide highly specialized services. One of these is called PPC (pay per click) and it’s a powerful way to direct customers to your website. But not just any customers, PPC helps assure that the customers who visit your site are already interested in your products and/or services. PPC is driven by search engine results. Search engine results are in turn driven by keywords.

Q. How can a pay per click consultant help me choose the most effective keywords?

A. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking they can generate their own list of keywords. While this may be somewhat true, an experienced search marketing consultant often sees the “big picture” and can consider tangential but critical issues like keyword variations including regional keywords, negative keywords, abbreviations, misspellings and unique brand and/or product terms and descriptions. Competent search engine marketers will also target users who are looking specifically for your products or services with a customized and effective landing page that will capture the user’s attention.

Q. What search engines does a search engine marketer work with?

A. At the very least your search engine marketing plan should include Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask, AltaVista and AOL. But the consultant’s actual expertise is best utilized by helping clients determine what second level search alternatives are available for the client’s specific products and services. A partial list of second tier search engines includes,, and Your consultant will also help you find specialized search engines that will, for a small fee, provide a customized search platform for you. Beyond search engines, a search engine marketer will help expand your web presence into blogs, forums and sites that review products and services.

Q. What about the costs?

A. Search engine consultant costs can be customized and tailored to your particular needs and budget. PPC advertising is extremely flexible and allows you to determine the amount you’re willing to pay whenever a user clicks on your ad. But this isn’t the whole picture. It’s important to remember that factors like how relevant your content is and the historical performance of your keywords will effect the bottom-line cost. This cost can range from $.05 to more than $20 per click. So the experience of a search engine marketing consultant would be of prime importance.

This FAQ has touched on only the very basics of what a search engine marketing consultant can accomplish for business in the UK. But the fact remains, that such a consultant these days is a definite necessity for a successful online business presence.

The author is an online marketing professional with Infomedia Direct Technologies Ltd – a professional Search Engine Marketing Consultant in the UK [] The company is an expert in providing innovative internet marketing solutions for small, medium sized and large businesses. They offers cutting-edge pay per click, Search engine optimization and search engine marketing solutions for your business with a full refund guarantee.

10 Secrets You Really Should Know About Search Engine Marketing

Beverly Sills, the opera singer who died earlier this year, is famously quoted as saying “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going”. As a specialist online marketing professional, I spend a lot of time reading about the latest developments in search engine marketing and how this or that tweak, ploy or shortcut will suddenly change your life and lead to huge amounts of traffic; riches beyond your wildest desires and everlasting happiness. At the risk of sounding something of a cynic (I suppose 8 years in online marketing gives me a right to be!), if not a downright party pooper, I have to say I’m with Beverly Sills on this one. Yes, there are some things that you can do that might give you an edge, but if you are lucky it will only give you an edge for a very short time (before you’re found out). At best you could have just wasted your time, at worst you could be set back significantly and lose far more than you gained.


Before I elaborate, it’s important, in my opinion, to understand, the history and culture of the net and of a lot of the people that have been involved with it. The Internet’s early success was largely promoted by a group of altruistic, non-commercial, caring, sharing and fair minded people, who wanted something to develop that was free and good. After all, this is a community that gave their time and knowledge free to develop Open Source software, in response to what it saw as the commercial dominance of software by certain companies.

The Internet’s now most mighty company, Google, grew up with this altruistic ideology, even having a corporate motto of “Don’t be evil”. It embraced these principles to provide a free search engine that allowed people to find what they were looking for on the internet. It continued to develop this engine to become better and better and provide its users with a better and better experience, even though those users didn’t pay a penny for its services. Eventually, it developed so much trust that it was able to start generating revenue by offering paid advertising alongside its free results, however it has continued to invest in making its free service ever better, based on honest, fair & good, “Don’t be evil” principles.

Admittedly Google has had one or two blips along the way but it has developed, generally, a trust amongst its users by delivering what they want and being fair about it. Search Engine optimisation whizzes and website owners who ignore ‘Don’t be evil’, do so at their peril.

The Accidental Search Engine Marketeer

So, if there are no shortcuts and you have to play fair and by the rules, then why “10 ‘secrets’ you really should know about search engine marketing”?

Well, let me tell you another secret, I discovered search engine marketing almost by accident! Ten years ago, when I started out online, search engines were very much in their infancy. In fact, to me, when you typed anything into a search engine, the results reflected what seemed to be the web’s main purpose and preoccupation, sex and pornography!

Back in those days’ people had lots of other ideas how they were going to get visitors to their website, many of them a lot more glamorous than using search engines. Anyway, let’s face it, there were a lot less websites back then.

Being in possession of very few resources (in comparison to the huge amounts of money being thrown about by other start ups in those dot com boom days) and at the time a relatively limited understanding of the internet, I concentrated on simple and, what seemed to me, common sense ideas and business principles to drive visitors to my website.

By employing these, more and more people found my website but not only as a result of all my hard work and efforts, they were also finding the site through search engines because, unwittingly, these same tactics were improving the search engine ranking of the site.

Amazingly today, despite the huge cultural, technological, social and environmental changes (and by that I’m only talking about the search engines!) the same principles still apply, despite the huge volume of different techniques, systems and tricks that have been peddled in the meantime. So what are these ‘secrets’?

The 10 ‘Secrets’ You Should Know About Search Engine Marketing

1. Focus

The internet is a huge ocean. No matter how big a fish you are, you’ll be lost in it. Find yourself a pond. The smaller a fish you are, the smaller a pond you need, but don’t try to be all things to all people: a) it’ll never work, b) you’ll never be found.

2. Differentiate

You need to have a reason why someone visits your website and buys into your product or service. In the offline world it’s often OK to be as good as everyone else and rely on the fact that people like you as the reason they want to buy from you. In the online world, where there is so much competition and, generally, people don’t know you, you need to have sound reasons and differentiating factors.

By all means try to get people to like you (see 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10) but remember they have a lot more choice in a search engine than on a high street, you need to communicate why they should choose you simply, effectively and fast!

If you’re selling motor insurance for disabled lady drivers, yes you have a niche and you’ve completed step 1, but you need to establish the benefits that your customers will enjoy by buying from you and that they will value more than the 237,000 other links they could choose. You then need to communicate these on your web pages and in your Meta Description of your content or Search Advertising Copy, to make it easy for your visitors/customers to establish quickly why they should visit your site when scanning a search page.

3. Build Your Site and Its Contents for Your Customers Not You

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), there is a concept that people are led either by their visual senses (what they see), their auditory senses (what they hear) or their kinaesthetic senses (what they feel). When you watch any great auditor speak (Bill Clinton for instance) you’ll see him trying to appeal to all of these senses, so that he communicates with his entire audience – not just a part of it. Your website must do this too.

Search engines like words but don’t fill your pages purely with text, a lot of your visitors will also like to see images. Likewise don’t fill your pages with images because you like them and you think your visitors should too. A lot of your visitors also want to hear what you have to say and feel comfortable with your site.

Search engines like words because they tell them what your site is all about, so you need to write clearly on your pages just this. But it’s important to write these words with your customers in mind, not what you think the search engines want. Your customers have got to understand them and they need to be written in their language.

If you are selling bling jewellery you need to use a whole different vocabulary to that if your offering savings and investment advice to the over 65’s. The reason for this is twofold:-

a) If you do get them to your page but they don’t relate to the content when they get there or it doesn’t make sense, they’ll just click off.

b) The same language your customers want to read is that they’ll use when searching

Search engines now also have clever robots that can read English and will penalise your site if it thinks you’re trying to trick them by writing keyword intense nonsense. In any case, what’s the point of getting people to your site if you lose them immediately because you haven’t written content they can understand or relate to?

4. Write Well Structured Content

I’ve already said it but I’ll say it again, make your pages easy for your visitors and/or customers to understand. Just like you learnt at school, structure your content to make it easy for people to follow. Write a good page title that explains what your page is about, use headings to explain what each section is about, use sub-headings where appropriate, use the words that are important to your visitors and/or customers in the content (though not repeatedly) and stress the important bits either by using headings or putting those words in bold. That’s just common sense writing.

Remember that people read web pages differently to printed pages (they tend to skim read) so write bulleted points, in sharp, concise text with links to greater detail and further information, if the reader requires.

Search engines like a minimum of around 300 words per page (about the quantity of this number 4 section) so that they can accurately gauge the contents of the page. You’ll also find this just about nicely fills a web page with an illustration or two, without going below the fold, i.e. forcing the reader to scroll down the page.

Add a Meta Content Description to explain to the search engine (or rather your visitor/customer who is looking for your page on a search engine) and lo and behold you’ve got a search engine friendly page! Yes, search engines, just like your valued visitors, analyse your pages by the Page Titles, Descriptions, Headings (H1, H2 and H3 in order) the use of Bold or Strong tags and by analysing the content of the page to understand the keywords and what the page is talking about.

5. Update Your Content Regularly

Just like a good shopkeeper changes his shop window and the layout of his store on a regular basis, then so should you change the content and look of your site. Firstly, in most cases, you want repeat visitors and they need to see you’re alive and care about the website (and them). Secondly, the more frequently you update, you’ll find the search engines will more frequently visit or crawl your website.

6. Give Your Users/Customers What They Want

I know this one is a bit radical but it really is one of the most important lessons you can learn. If you give your visitors what they want, when they want it and provide them with more value than they can get from other people/sites, not only will they be happy (and happy users or customers is surely the chief goal of any website or business) but they will return and what’s more they’ll tell their friends!

7. Delight Your Users/Customers and Make Them Your Evangelists

One thing I learnt early on is that going the extra mile to delight your customers really pays off on the internet. Word spreads really fast online and if you give a really good service and/or deliver an exceptional product, not only will your customers keep on returning (which saves you the marketing cost of getting new customers) but they tell their friends (who go on to buy from you and saves you even more marketing cost). The unexpected bonus is that they spread the word about your product or service through forums, blogs, web pages, etc., which talk about your great website and service and put links to your site, which drives more traffic to your site …… and improves your search rankings because of all these relevant (and not paid for) links.

8. Keep Your Website Simple and Working

Just like most processes, you need to build your website for the lowest common denominator. Make it as simple and easy as you possibly can. Rigorously check everything so that your users have no chance of having a bad experience. Always sacrifice sophistication for simplicity, if simple works.

Badly built, over complicated, unfriendly or broken sites not only turn off your potential visitors and/or customers, making them click off straight away (and what’s the point of going to all the trouble of getting visitors if your lose them immediately) but high bounce rates (people clicking off your site quickly because what they saw wasn’t what they wanted) is a big part in the Quality Score used by Google & Yahoo in their paid search algorithm. Furthermore, badly built sites, poor or obsolete code and broken links is something search engines definitely don’t like and you will be penalised for it in your search engine rankings.

9. Build Links with Relevant Sites

As I said earlier, before search engines became such a dominant driver of traffic, you tended to look all over for sources of traffic. Having no money meant paying for advertising listings was out of the question but if you could find relevant sites where a link to your site would benefit visitors and drive traffic, for instance if your site sold beds and you got a link from a site that sold bedding, then it was win-win. Similarly if you did stuff or created news stories that other sites may want to cover, then you could gain coverage and links.

What I wanted was traffic (which I got) but into the bargain I got what were essentially big votes from credible sites about my pages which boosted my search rankings. If you focus on being really good and giving value, you do develop these links and these are what search engines really want, so that they can establish you are a respected and credible site. Search Engines see links as votes of a websites value. If they see lots of paid or traded links these are not really saying the website is any good. What they want is impartial endorsements of your site and it will accord these links much higher value.

Do not trade links, willy-nilly or engage in reciprocal linking as it is sometimes called. In my opinion, the first and only question you should ask is, will this (incoming) link generate traffic/add value. If the site/page is relevant and/or related then the answer is that it probably will. If you are a management consultant and get a link from an adult dating website the chances are it probably won’t. The search engines see it similarly (though they’re not interested in the traffic). If they see a link to a horse race betting site from a site/page that is discussing racing form then they will see it as a credible endorsement or vote for the site and enhance the ranking of the linked to page. They will see the adult dating rank as being of no relevance to the management consultant with the result that the latter’s ranking could actually be negatively affected because the search engine thinks you’re trying to trick it.

10. Communicate With Your Users/Customers

Having got people to your site in the first place and even got them to buy something from you don’t then just ignore them. Work at keeping them on board and getting them to keep coming back. Communicate with your users/customers by giving them advice, information, offers, support, help – not junk but things they will value. Communicate with them in whatever means they prefer (obviously making sure you get their permission to do so), whether it be by email, text, blog, podcast, special pages on your site or whatever is their preferred choice. An established user will use you again more readily, as they (should!) trust you and this will be a lot less costly than trying to find new users. Once again, if your users value this (which if done right they will) you’ll find links appearing which add more weight to your pages and your search rankings.

Summing Up

Well, I told you there were no shortcuts and I also told you these were “10 ‘secrets’ you really should know about search engine marketing”. You certainly should know them because they all make common sense. Search engines employ legions of highly intelligent boffins to develop extremely complicated algorithms which are designed to make sure the search engine user gets the best result from their experience with the search engine. How they do that? Remarkably, they follow common sense rules to ensure that this is achieved and try to stop “evil” people from coming up with shortcuts.