SEO Expert Offers Insights for Publishers
Tom Lynch, director of search engine marketing for ePublishing—a Chicago-based Internet and e-commerce consultancy—will lead an intensive half-day search engine optimization training session on Wed. March 7 at 9 a.m. at the upcoming Publishing Executive Conference & Expo at New York’s Marriott Marquis. Lynch has been studying and enacting search engine strategies for more than a decade and works daily with publishers looking to optimize their own sites for higher search engine rankings. Lynch gave Inbox readers a preview of his presentation at next week’s conference.
Inbox: What are some ways to help determine whether a publisher will need to outsource the implementation of the company’s SEO strategy?
Tom Lynch: It’s really about staffing. If you have someone who can do it and has the skill set, it makes a lot of sense to do it in-house. I’ve been doing this since 1994, and the business keeps changing. I also have a direct marketing degree which, I would assume, most in-house techies don’t have. Being able to optimize a site or put together a pay-per-click program anyone may be able to do that, but are they asking the right questions?
The big questions are: who are your audiences and what are the business goals by audience? Once we can define that, now we can start thinking about keywords used to get them to that business goal. So anybody could take an existing site and optimize it for the words that are already there. But have we even chosen the right words in the first place?
If someone is on a really tight budget and you have a tech-savvy person that understands SEO, I’d say give it a try. Take a look at your analytics—which are how you can see what’s actually happening on the site—and take a look at your sales after six months … and if you’re not happy maybe you should outsource it.
Inbox: What’s another SEO-related question you frequently hear from publishers that will be addressed at your session next week?
Lynch: I’ve been hearing a lot from writers and editors that they’re all stuck in AP Style. … But if you write only for AP Style—because search engines are literal, not lateral—you’re only going to get traffic for the words that you put on your site. So in order to do well on the broader category … you have to pepper that into the copy and put it into the right other site elements so you get more people coming to your site.
The other issue has been who is going to actually do it? Is that really a writer’s job? Is it an editor’s job? Frankly, I think it’s a marketer’s job. Because I don’t think you want the writer and editor thinking about those words, you want them writing about the topic. And then you want someone coming back at it later and then optimizing it. I guess the rub comes with “I don’t want someone else touching my copy.” Well, that’s something you have to work on internally and maybe say, “This is a new process that’s going to generate revenue that might give you a big bonus at the end of the year. So we’re going to have to let people touch your copy.” That’s really up to the publisher to enforce that.
Inbox: While many of our readers are advanced in their SEO approaches, some publishers’ understanding of the differences between SEO and SEM may still be blurred. Can you outline the differences between the two?
Lynch: SEO is search engine optimization and SEM is search engine marketing. Search engine optimization speaks to making your Web site better—using specific tactics to optimize your site for targeted key words. Search engine marketing is the broader category and includes not only optimizing your site but then using things like Google AdWords to promote your business.