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Search Marketing... notes from eduWeb conference

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More than dozen dedicated people continued on for another three hours last Tuesday after the close of the eduWeb 2007 conference for my workshop on "Simple Steps for Search Engine Success."

We had a fine time until 5 PM finally ended our explorations. From all that we what we discussed, here are some key points that stand out today.

  • The emphasis on speding time to rewrite title tags was well worth the time in the presentation, as many of the people present agreed that the title tags on their pages (the first thing a visiting search engine sees) are not detailed enough about the content on the page. To see a great example of a page optimized for search results, from title tag on down through the page, visit http://www.mbaregis.com/  
  • The keywords tool at Google (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) can be used for a quick visual review of the number of people searching for related terms and the number of times that keyword is being bought for online advertising. Use this and you might be able to find keywords for paid web advertising on Google or elsewhere that are somewhat popular but are not often used by advertisiers.
  • If you plan to spend money on search advertising, plan to evaluate the results just as you evaluate any other advertising: track inquiries from the source and know your "cost per inquiry" and your "cost per enrolled student." That's the only way to decide if paid search advertising deserves a place in your marketing budget.
  • Everybody speculates about what's next in search marketing and optimization so get close to the source with Google's Matt Cutts in his blog at http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/
  • You can't tackle an entire website at once so identify the pages you'd most like people to find at your website, the key "entry" pages, and work on those first.

Why the emphasis on Google?

Simply because it is has by far the largest share of the search market (50 to 60 percent depending on the source) and the market share has been increasing in 2007. Yes, Yahoo still has a large share at over 20 percent, Ask might have the most elegant reporting, and you might feel pity for Microsoft and Live. But if you have little available time, focus on Google.

And in any case, what you do in "organic search" to optimize your site will work well for all the search engines. That Indiana "careers in elementary education" page noted above was top ranked by each of the major search engines.

Most college and university websites will benefit from careful attention to improving organic search features from the page title tags to the careful use of keywords throughout the page in headline, subheads, and regular text. Start soon, be patient, tend to the most important pages first.

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