Tag Archives: Search Engine Optimization

How do you calculate the ROI of your government online campaign?

Governments are often notorious for announcing campaigns and publishing press releases without optimizing content on their websites to enable visitors to find information to back up the campaign announcements.

So I was really pleased to read this great article by Augustine Fou at Clickz the other day called "How to use search to calculate the ROI of awareness advertising".

This article hit the nail on the head about what Government should be doing: ie.

  • make sure the website or content sections on websites are set up before releasing the press release. A classic Victorian Government example was the announcement of the Bushfire Royal Commission. Everyone wanted to read about the Royal Commission from the official source, yet it took a number of weeks for this to happen. When they did release the Royal Commission website, they appeared not to take out a Google AdWords campaign to support its release. As you can see from this screen shot, the ABC is really well optimised for bushfire royal commission, and the government is not.

Google search results for bushfire royal commission.

  • make sure you search engine optimise your website so that the specific information which is announced is easily linked to from the press release, so that the visitor can easily find the supporting information they are seeking – government should be a lot better at doing this than they are in reality (read my earlier article entitled: "How to increase traffic to Government websites with press releases");
  • ensure you are using an analytics package, such as Google Analytics (its free and fully integrated with Google AdWords!) to establish how successful or not the announcement, banner ad, search engine marketing and so forth, really is. Putting campaign tracking on your email newsletter links, or on links from press releases or ads you want to track will give you great information to analyse the return on your investment.

Hopefully this will change when one day governments take the web as seriously as they do their television, radio and print campaigns. Until then, how do you work out the return on investment for your government online campaign ……?


Some good introductory guides on Search Engine Optimization

Google has just published its Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, so I thought it was time to list a few introductory guides on the topic.

Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization. by Rand Fishkin. SEOmoz, 2008. "This guide provides a complete overview of many of the processes, techniques and strategies used by professional search engine optimization specialists…"

Pandia Search Engine Marketing 101 – Written by Per and Susanne Koch. "Pandia’s Search Engine Marketing 101 will give you the basics of search engine promotion — knowledge you may use in your own optimization efforts or when buying services from others…"

Search Engine Marketing 101 – "This section of Search Engine Watch (formerly called A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines) is primarily for webmasters, site owners and web marketers. It covers search engine submission, optimization, and marketing issues. It explains how search engines find and rank web pages, with an emphasis on what webmasters can do to improve their search engine rankings by properly submitting, using better page design, and other tips…"

Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide – in pdf format (518kb) – (This document requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader). Google, 2008. "… following the best practices outlined below will make it easier for search engines to both crawl and index your content…" You can also convert PDF documents into alternative formats.

The Search Engine Dictionary – Pandecta Magazine, "The aim with the Search Engine Dictionary web site and the accompanying book is to establish a standard for search engine terminology by creating a comprehensive glossary of search engine terms…"

The Search Engine Marketing Glossary – SEObook.com. Provides a dictionary of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing terms and phrases.

Google AdWords Glossary – Google, 2008.

If you have come across any other introductory or beginner guides in SEO – let me know so we can add to the list.

Free tools you can use to do Keyword Research – Part 2 – Firefox Browser tools

[ 18 Nov 2008 – A new tool has been added called Rank Checker – see item 16 below]

This is Part 2 of my series of tools you can use for Keyword Research. In part 1 of this series, I looked at free tools which Google offers. In Part 2, I am looking at the tools available as add-ons to the Firefox Web Browser. These tools do more than help you with your keyword research. [Note: I have only included the tools which work with Firefox version 3, there are numerous other tools which work with earlier versions of Firefox]

7. Keyword Trends in Google Analytics With Greasemonkey – By Sal Uryasev – This Greasemonkey script works for keyword data in Google Analytics, by showing increases and decreases in organic search traffic.

8. Firefox SEO Toolbar Extension with Website Ranking Features – This is a Toolbar extension for Firefox browser. Firefox SEO Toolbar Extension Features The features available in Firefox toolbar: Popular PPC Engines site; Web SEO and search engine tools; Online keyword research tools; Links to SEO-related forums; Search Engine view on the current page; Google PageRank, Alexa Ranking and Popularity Index; Link to Wayback Machine. ToolbarBrowser is a freeware project supported by Trellian Limited

9. SEO for Firefox – Provided by SEOBook – Version 2.9 has added SEO X-ray feature which gives you the keyword density of the page and popular phrases on the page.

10. KGen – by Nicolas Froidure. Version 0.4, September 11, 2008. This Firefox extension SEO tool allows you to see what keywords are represented on your web pages and then generates variations for you complete with misspellings. When installed it opens a sidebar in the browser which provides you with the ability to copy the selected keywords to the clipboard. It also displays the keywords with the repeats, weights and positions on the page. A Tag cloud keyword generator is also provided.

11. RankQuest SEO Toolbar – by Vincent Brown, Updated June 20, 2008 – provides you quick access to more than 30 SEO tools.

12. SEOQuake – by the SEOQuake Team, Updated October 6, 2008 – aimed at helping with search engine optimization and internet promotion of web sites. Provides both a Firefox and Internet Explorer version.

13. SearchStatus – by Craig Raw, Updated October 2, 2008 – displays Google PageRank, Alexa rank and Compete ranking anywhere in your browser, along with a keyword density analyser, keyword/nofollow highlighting, backward/related links, Alexa info and other SEO tools.

14. Google Global – by RedFly Marketing – allows you to view organic and paid Google search results as they appear in almost any location in the world.

15. Web Developer – by Chris Pederick, Updated May 19, 2008 – Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools.

16. Rank Checker – by SEOBook – This tool shows you where your website ranks in the search results in Google (US and international), Yahoo, and Microsoft Live search.

I am sure there are more SEO tools for Firefox out there – tell me what tools you find the most useful especially for keyword research.

How you can increase traffic to Government websites with Government Press Releases

You are a government web manager. Imagine you live in a perfect world. (Suspend reality for just a few minutes!) Imagine you had control over government press release content – (wow like that is going to happen!) then you could optimise its content and potentially bring a substantial increase in traffic to your website.

Keep imagining – To do this successfully you must use keywords (especially those that your target audience are using), in the content of the press release, and link these to strategic content pages on your website(s).

For example, the following press release was published on 15 September 2008 on a State Government website in Victoria: "BRUMBY GOVERNMENT UNTANGLES PLANNING RED TAPE".

There is some really great content in this release, but there are no links to where people can find out more information. Here is how I would have written this release (in my imaginary world) using keywords with links to relevant content, provided by Victorian Government websites, while making the content useful to the citizens of Victoria:

Victorian Government untangles planning red tape

The Victorian Government has acted to remove unnecessary planning permits for some residential and commercial work, including rain water tanks and sheds in regional areas of the state.

Acting Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, said the Cutting Red Tape in Planning exemptions are part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to cut planning red tape.

It is estimated that up to 2,000 planning applications will no longer be required as a result of these changes. Victorians are encouraged to contact their local council to confirm what permits are required before they start any work so they fully understand the changes.

The implementation of Cutting Red Tape in Planning coincides with a reduction in permit application numbers from 54,788 to 49,587 over four years despite strong activity in the building industry.

During 2006-7, applications for residential alteration and additions, specifically targeted by the cutting red tape initiatives, dropped by over ten per cent. However, in the same period there has been ongoing increase in the number of building permits now at slightly over 100,000 reflecting Victoria’s growth.

The new exemptions will mean that:

  • Rain water tanks in rural areas no longer need a planning permit regardless of size;
  • Rain water tanks in industrial areas on longer need a planning permit provided they meet site and height requirements;
  • Domestic sheds under 50 m2 no longer need a planning permit in farming zones (This document requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader). You can also convert PDF documents into alternative formats; and
  • Minor domestic building work such as a pergola, deck, swimming pool no longer need planning permit in most areas that are not in a flood prone, heritage or environmentally significant area.

Cutting Red Tape in Planning is the Victorian Government’s plan from which key improvement in planning have originated including:

For more information visit the Planning section on the Department of Planning and Community Development website.

Forgetting search engine ranking for now, providing links to all this content provided by the Victorian Government achieves two things:

  1. the reader of the press release can find out more information about the topic very easily if they choose to; and
  2. visitor traffic is then driven out to the content providers. This is traffic they would not have received using the existing format of the press release

Which press release do you think visitors to this site would like to read and which one do you think will drive traffic to government website(s)?

Free tools you can use to do Keyword Research – Part 1 – Google Tools

There are a number of free tools you can use to do keyword research for your websites. In part 1 of this series, I am going to look at free tools which Google offers. I recommend you add these to your favourites and use them regularly.

1. Google Insights for Search – I have published something earlier on this one – its a great service! The tool lets you compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames. Google provides some good examples of how you can use this tool in their Insights for Search Help section. It is really easy to use.

2. Google Trends – lets you compare multiple terms and graph their usage in Google over time. Google returns broad search patterns. You can search for the last 30 days, 12 months, a particular year or month within a year.

Google Trends graph showing the differences in search volume for public holidays and school holidays over a 4 year period.

3. Google Trends for Websites – provides you with information about the traffic and geographical location of visitors to websites. It allows you to compare traffic for between one and five websites. It also gives you what other sites they visited and what they terms they search for. This tool appears to role all of the websites with a vic.gov.au domain into the one bucket – so it is a little difficult to compare eg., health.vic.gov.au with betterhealth.vic.gov.au. However, you can use it at the aggregate level to compare state domains and the keywords visitors are using to get there.

Google Trends for Websites graph showing usage of Australian state government portals.

4. Google AdWords Keyword Tool – Use the Keyword Tool to get new keyword ideas. You can tailor the results present to the language and country of your choosing. Because I am accessing this tool from Australia, when I first access the tool it defaults to the English language and Australia as the country. If you change this to United States as your country – you get a very different results set. It all depends on who your target market is as to what keywords you research. You are provided with match types to choose from which are broad, phrase, exact, and negative. Keywords shown will also give you search volume trends for the past 12 months – the month with the highest volume of traffic is listed in the next column.

5. Google AdWords Traffic Estimator – This tool will provide you with an indication of keyword search traffic and cost estimates for your chosen keywords/phrases. For each keyword you are provided with a maximum cost per click, search volume, estimated average cost per click, estimated ad positions, as well as an indication of the clicks your ad may receive for this keyword, and the average cost per day for this keyword. The estimates Google provides are based on how much you have bid and your geographical areas you are looking to target. You don’t need to use Google AdWords to use this tool. Use the keywords for your organic search engine optimization.

6. Google Analytics – your Google Analytics account will tell you the keywords and phrases which are driving traffic to your site from search engines. Also if you have Site Search enabled you will be able to see easily what keywords your visitors are are searching for in your internal search engine. Google Analytics provides help on configuring your profile to enable Site Search to appear in your reports.

Next time I will look at tools which are not provided by Google!


Stoney’s Web Marketing Checklist

Stoney deGeyter at Search Engine Guide has published his best ever website marketing checklist. With more than 400 items within 23 categories, there is a lot to consider when marketing your website.

The 23 categories include:

  • Domain name and URL
  • Browser Issues
  • Site logo
  • Design considerations
  • Architectural issues
  • Navigation
  • Content
  • Content appearance
  • Links and buttons
  • Home page
  • About us page
  • Contact us page
  • E-Commerce considerations
  • Product pages
  • Basket page
  • Mini baskets
  • Checkout process
  • Login & My Account pages
  • Help and FAQ pages
  • Forms and errors
  • Site Search
  • Privacy and Security pages
  • Site map

Although not all applicable to government websites, you can pick the ones which apply and do further research on them.

Google Insights for Search launched

On August 5, Google launched Google Insights for Search. This product allows you to get a better understanding of search behaviour and provides some interesting new features such as a heat map to display search volume and areas of regional interest. It also allows you to do some great keyword research.

To access these great features you must be logged into your Google account (if you don’t have one you need to sign up for Gmail).

As an example I wanted to find out the Search Volume for the terms: "climate change" vs. "greenhouse gases" in the state of Victoria, Australia.

Here is the result of the search:

Google Search Results for climate change and greenhouse gases

The Regional Interest I specified was Victoria in Australia which gave me this map and showed that it was specifically Melbourne.

Map showing regional interest as Victoria, Australia

This is what the map looks like for the whole of Australia:

Map showing the interest in these terms from around Australia.

And then you get these great related search terms list:

Related search terms or climate change and greenhouse gases.

This is a really powerful way to start doing keyword research. These terms are what real people are actually searching for.

To access this fabulous tool visit Google Insights for Search and start playing – I highly recommend it!