At this stage because I am still learning the ropes I am having some difficulty with the ad words and SEO experts distinguishing between people who are selling a book worth reading and the snake oil salesmen who seem to inhabit that area of advertising (or is that just the nature of advertising??) So I for one will be very interested to read the question and answers in this section.
I have read so much content on the internet for the past two years. I started to realise pretty soon after learning SEO that you have to learn for yourself, learn from your own mistakes, especially, if your a small company that cannot afford the rates SEO experts charge.
There's three experts who I believe are in it to help (and obviously earn tons of money too):
I think it's great for all levels, whilst I would now like to consider myself an expert* I still pick it up from time to time as a refresher and always find something new/I'd forgotten. When I have used ad words I have achieved a ROI of over 2000% (with a rubbish website and an average gross comission rate of around 11%) which in real terms is much higher, as with the exception of of a few friends and family, all my business has been generated by PPC and subsequently word of mouth. I haven't advertised for months and my existing customers keep me busy now. Because I've been so sucessful with PPC I have never really had time put my SEO knowledge into practice.
I hope it brings similar sucess to you too (I should be on commission :-) )
You may also find Chris Cardell http://www.cardellmedia.co.uk/ useful; although I think the site is far to 'salesy' which puts me off, I subscribe to the free info which is pretty good although I've never paid for membership. I listened to a taster telephone tips 'conference' which I found ever so slightly boring (and a bit too 'salesy') but even so I did listen 'till the end and it remind me of some things I'd forgotten and I think would be really good for a beginner in marketing. He looks at all forms of marketing, though, not just internet based.
Going back to SEO marketing there are plenty of free keyword searches that offer suggestions on other keywords you can bid on that will drive traffic to your site – especially small niche business. For example I was looking after a site on the Dead Sea in Israel and we were getting hits from searches on medical tourism. Typing medical tourism into a free suggestion tool revealed people were searching for psoriasis treatment and ending up at my site as the Dead Sea is known to have skin healing properties! So there are probably keywords you would never have thought of.
A lot of the suggestion tools show how many people have performed that keyword search in the past month – the cheaper key words will be further down but you only need to bid on a couple of lesser used keywords to generate a significant increase in traffic and reduce your spend.
The other point I was going to mention is although everyone is in agreement that Google rules the internet search market– with something like 80% of all searchs in the uk done through Google - just as different people read different newspapers different people use different search engines and again if it is a niche business this can be important distinction. Using a bit of a generalisation as an example a “PC package” brought from places like PC world/Curries could be brought by families buying their first computer etc and they often have preloaded software many default to Microsoft’s MSN search and if a novice user has no reason to use Google through their every day life/job/office they may be quite happy with MSN. Although I realise and understand the budget constraints and this is just another complication of an already complicated subject but thought I would mention it as alternative search engines are often overlooked.
There is one website in particular I suggest to people - seobook.com
There are lots of tools available there and many useful articles as well. I even forked out 79 dollars for the e-book (the only e-book I ever bought by the way) and have not regretted it at all.
Having said that I have two questions - are you seeing a shift form the importance of links to the importance of content for search engine rankings as many SEOs are reporting or are still links the easiest way to get you to the top - and would you suggest that people buy links (despite potential fears of a Google revenge!)?
This is a very good question and one that we spend a lot of time experimenting with to see what works best.
The answer is that you still need both one way, inbound links AND onsite content. It's actually the relationship between the two that can make big SEO waves for Small Fish in the Big Ocean (apologies to Alex!). We have found that with links, you can improve your rankings but unless the page you are working on (to get better rankings) uses the same key phrases as the page where your link is coming from, then any rankings that you achieve from links only tend to be fairly short lived.
To give you an example: Lets say that your page is about holidays in Cape Town and you want this page to get better rankings for the phrase "luxury holidays in Cape Town". If you get a fair number of one way inks from other pages on other websites/blogs/etc that use the phrase "luxury holidays in Cape Town" your Cape Town page could start to get better rankings for that phrase. However, if your Cape Town page also uses the phrase "luxury holidays in Cape Town" a few times in the text and in your meta tags, then any ranking improvements that you get will probably last longer.
Unfortunately, it does mean more work but the good news is that you don't need to be a techie to write good, key phrase rich content for both your pages and for your viral link articles.
I hope this helps.
Frank - originally from Cape Town :-)
We have always spent a lot of time on SEO and paid for advertising for www.citiesdirect.co.uk For paid search we use PPC, as well as sites such as Travelzoo, Teletext, Cheapflights, etc. With so much internet advertising is seem to come down to price, so if me promote a Florence City Break for GBP£139 we get a brilliant response. More expensive product is much more difficult. Our major growth area at the moment is twin/triple/quad centre itineraries - prices often between GBP£500 to GBP£1000 per person. Is there an effective way to promote these on the internet? - or are we look at more tradtional channels Sunday Papers/Travel Agents/Overseas Agents.