The power of search engines to drive organic traffic is immense. Over the past few years I have spent a lot of time educating agencies, clients, and colleagues about the power of search engine marketing and search engine optimization. When you optimize your product, provide the right foundation, and follow the rules you reap great rewards.
In that vein I wanted to share an interview I conducted with the folks behind Catalogs.com, specifically Leslie Linevsky and Matt Craine about how they have leveraged the power of search.
1. What advice do you have for companies just starting to look at search as a place to spend time and energy?
Do your research, get educated before hiring outside help – there are a lot of spin doctors out there. It is certainly advisable to have some consulting from someone who does this full time with proven experience. Be prepared to put in a lot of work and be in it for the long haul.
2. How to you “stay the course” and not jump on the latest flash in the pan SEMSEO trend?
Lots of “theories” pop-up every so often along with tricks and gimmicks. Wait them out and see what trusted SEO professionals are saying about them online over time. Around 20% of the trends eventually turn out to be useful, but let other people’s sites be your guinea pig.
3. When you have a perceived problem with an engine – where do you turn for help? (i.e. Google, Yahoo, MSN?)
We haven’t had any major issues; however I would turn to the Google webmaster groups – they are great about responding to problems there. We also of course monitor our sitemaps and Google tools carefully, something everyone should be doing.
4. What surprised you about the world of search? (SEOSEM & Social Media Marketing)
The sheer number of companies that are given life by the engines – it is truly amazing how search gives birth to so much business potential.
5. What advice do you have to companies or entrepreneurs looking to use a SEM or SEO firm or agency?
References are probably the best indication of success. Also, look for companies that can show real-world case studies of results of keywords and pages they’ve optimized that are ranking. Also, ask lots of questions about exactly what they are going to be doing and specific steps they plan to take. Firms that talk in voodoo or won’t exactly pin down their efforts for ranking could be doing something shady and get your domain penalized, something never worth the risk.
6. What is the strangest longtail term you are ranking for?
“what engagement ring style fits your personality”
7. What were some mistakes you made along the way?
In the beginning focusing too much on Meta tags and keywords while not paying enough attention to coding adjustments and programming tweaks that allowed our site to be far more SE friendly.
8. What is the best way to think about search when embarking on a new site feature or initiative?
Build SEO in as an organic part of process. When it doesn’t have to be “forced” into the product, it will be much more successful.
9. What are some results you are most proud of? (aside from “Catalogs“)
We are ranking for quite a few keywords due to our work in the article section of Catalogs.com. Through sustained effort there, we have almost doubled our traffic with it in a year. Having an area with a large content base is the perfect place to get lots of relevant traffic from the engines.
10. Finally, how has the world of search changed over the past decade?
Visitors are far smarter and more savvy when searching, seeking out more specific phrases as you recently pointed out. Conversions have also become harder and harder. And obviously the engines have gotten smarter as well – they know a “good” landing page result over a “poor” one – no matter how good the optimization might be. But while search marketing is a very effective tool, it can’t be a business’s only solution. Search should be used to augment a company’s overall marketing efforts that are both traditional and Internet based. It all has to work together in what could be called a “marketing symphony”.Catalogs.com, Internet marketing, Search Engine Marketing, Search engine optimization, Social Media Marketing