Recap: Chicago Search Engine Strategies Conference

OK church webmasters, here are highlights from this year’s Chicago SES conference for those of you running parish websites.

  • Write down 10 reasons why someone would want to link to your site — if you get stuck at #5, go back and get some good content before you embark on a link campaign
  • Handle misspellings in your meta keywords tag or in a glossary — not everyone is going to spell “catechetical” correctly, but make sure you do
    • Common misspellings in your meta keywords won’t influence your rank, but will show SEs a potential connection there
  • Cross link within your site — your anchor text is helpful to visitors and SEs;
    • Repeating key navigation at the bottom of each page helps and also saves your visitors the trouble of having to scroll to the top
    • Site maps help here, too, but be sure to include an introductory paragraph and explanatory phrases for the humans
  • For FAQs, list all the questions at the top of the page where visitors can see them without scrolling
    • Use anchors to jump down to the answers below the fold; you want as many questions visible as possible so don’t let the answers get in the way
  • Forms on the left side of the page typically perform better
  • Include phone number(s) on mobile version of website — will become a click-to-call link on a phone browser (I’ve updated my mobile guidelines accordingly); move navigation to the bottom so that new content is clearly visible when a new page loads on a tiny screen
  • Optimize your site for video
    • Put all your clips in a single /video/ directory for organizational and search engine (SE) purposes rather than scattered across your site; your visitors and the SEs are more likely to look in one location to see your vids rather than expecting it be related content under different topics
    • Tag, tag, tag — use descriptive, not clever, title tags, file descriptions and body tags; if you’re reconverting video to an alternative format, make sure your tags aren’t lost in the process
    • Create a video site map — similar to a regular site map, but just for your videos; include it in your regular navigation if you have lots of clips
    • Yahoo in October said more folks were looking for video than love, news or religion-if you can’t beat ’em…
  • Optimize your landing pages for where your visitors are in the “buying” process — sure, you’re probably not a pure e-commerce site, but church websites still have “shoppers” who may be doing early research on area churches or might be ready to commit immediately; make sure you speak to both groups
  • Monitor trends with google.com/trends to see how the popular search terms for your site ebb and flow over the year

You’ll find more SES coverage by Search Engine Roundtable and Bruce Clay recaps Chicago and then some, too.
Updated 12/16/2006: Search Marketing Standard’s comprehensive SES Chicago round up

Technorati tags: seschicago06 and seschicago

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