Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Using Keyword Clouds for SEO and User Insight

Trust The Vote - an OSDV Project

Using Keyword Clouds for SEO and for User Insight is a valuable tactic in the goal of high visibility in search results. First two definitions:

A Keyword Cloud or Tag Cloud is a visual representation of frequently used words on a website. Keywords having higher density are displayed in larger fonts, so the more frequently a word appears on your site, the larger it appears within the cloud. The following is an example of a keyword cloud that appears on the TrustTheVote.org. In this case, the tags link to a page of community postings that are tagged with the keyword.

Keyword Density is the percentage of occurrence of your keywords to the text in the rest of the website or web content. For example, let’s say your keyword occurs only once in a page of one thousand words, it has a lower keyword density than a keyword that occurs (say) four times in a page of similar length. It is very important for your main keywords to have correct density to rank well in the Search Engines. There are a number of free online tools that will generate an instantaneous keyword cloud that will visually represent the current keyword density on your site, such as: Metamend's Keyword Density Visualization tool.

Tag Cloud Widgets are available for wordpress and look to your CMS or web hosting service for the cloud tag widget and/or functionality.

Why Use a Tag Cloud? There are three reasons to incorporate a tag cloud:

1. For your users – Tag clouds highlight the most important or/and popular subjects dynamically, providing an easy-to-use, visual navigational element that is differentiated from other navigation schemes. This may help users more quickly find the page they are looking for.

2. For the KnowledgeBase/Support/Product Management teams – Tag clouds offer instant insight into user behavior at any given moment - through clouds that have been created from user-generated content; forums, blog comments, etc. This information can be used to optimize the site/product to best meet user needs. For example, what tone and terms are used to describe a certain product? Discovering the vernacular that surrounds a brand or product by observing tag clouds can certainly generate some insight on how an audience feels and thinks.

3. For SEO - Tag clouds are textual and keyword-rich. An increase in text-based content helps with visibility. And here are all of the top keywords in one place.

Best Practices for Displaying Tag Clouds:

1. Consider including a tag cloud within each category on the site; not just on the home page.

2. Be careful not to create more than one URL for each keyword/keyphrase. This will avoid duplicate content issues.

3. Ensure that the links from the cloud are absolute links.

4. If the links need to go through a redirect for, say, rewriting the URL to a friendly one, then make sure it is a 301 redirect so that the destination page will be indexed.

5. Use a sin­gle color for the tags in the cloud: this will allow vis­i­tors to see fine dis­tinc­tions in size dif­fer­ences.

6. Use a sin­gle sans serif font fam­ily: this will improve the over­all read­abil­ity of the ren­dered cloud.

7. Use con­sis­tent and pro­por­tional spac­ing to sep­a­rate the tags in the tag cloud. Pro­por­tional means that the spac­ing between tags varies based on their size; typ­i­cally more space is used for larger sizes.

8. Avoid sep­a­ra­tor char­ac­ters between tags: they can be con­fused for small tags.

9. Avoid using Flash to render the cloud as the font ren­der­ing in older browsers is not always good or con­sis­tent, and you want to ensure indexability by search and index­ing engines, both locally and publicly.

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posted by Barbara 'webmama' Coll @ 9:43 AM     Permanent Link

Monday, November 02, 2009

Do Searchers Still Start with Google?

In reading a report/analysis on the ecommerce market I read with interest the following statement:

Bazaar Times: Online Specialty Retailers Thrive. Deep selection, wide
variety, product information, interactive education and shopping
tools, as well as third party product reviews and recommendations will
continue to drive retail sales to online specialty retailers, in our
opinion. Companies such as Art.com, Blue Nile, eBags, Hayneedle, U.S.
Auto Parts, and Zappos are positioned well to thrive in this long-tail
environment.

Each of these sites has created a way for the engines to navigate the key content on the site even if the visitors navigate through the internal search. Some of these sites have extensive user generated content that is indexed and highly visible in 'real-time' and 'show options' search results. Each site is HUGE in terms of number of pages and all that are mentioned in the full report are old domains with good reputations.

My question is: do people still go to Google first to find the a good place to buy shoes or are they navigating directly to the long-tail sites? Are the e-commerce brand sites well enough known for people to go directly to them looking for a bargain or are the search engines still the originator of traffic? I believe that pure search drives most of the traffic into these sites. Pure search could result in any of the optimized elements of these sites being clicked on but the traffic still originates from search. Opinions?

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posted by Barbara 'webmama' Coll @ 2:48 PM     Permanent Link