Feature Article (Pub: July 05) Defining external and internal search engine optimisation by Paul Rudman
External search engine optimisation
Millions of searches are conducted each day on search engines as more and more internet users turn to them to help find information about topics of interest. The majority of searches are conducted across a few search engines, namely Google, MSN, and Yahoo. Being well placed on these search engines for relevant phrases can generate thousands of visits per month.
The traditional view that search engine referrals make up 7% of all visits to a website is questionable, as it does not take into account websites that have been optimised to achieve high rankings where this percentage can be far higher.
A search engine optimisation campaign involves identifying the most relevant phrases to your business, matching these phrases up with the actual terms users are searching on, and then optimising the website using a variety of ever evolving techniques to make sure that the coding of your website and numerous other factors increase the number of phrases you appear on search engines for, and also the relevency of them.
With the advent of the content management system and database-driven websites this also introduced the concept of 'indexability'. Search engines use spiders to crawl and index your website so users can find it, however with some dynamic websites and coding methods it is increasingly common that the spiders cannot index the content of a website and follow the links within it to the other pages.
A well planned, well implemented bespoke search engine optimisation campaign represents an excellent return on investment as - if successful - your website will receive relevant traffic while not having to pay for each exposure or click, which differentiates it from a pay per click or banner advertising campaign.
Internal search engine optimisation
Search was recently identified as the second most important facet of an Intranet by the Gartner Group. An effective internal search tool helps open up the wealth of information that is generally stored for employees usage but difficult to access due to the often ramshackle, organic growth that occurs with either a badly structured Intranet, or one where the employees themselves can contribute towards the information stored within it, such as a document management system.
The problem for many businesses is that the quality of the search tool rarely matches the quality of the information contained within the documents, so how can you make sure that you choose the most relevant search product on the market, and also make sure that the documents are created in a method that allows your chosen search tool to find what people are looking for?
The product selection process is probably the most important part of getting the best search facility for your knowledge base. Choose wisely and you work within your budget with software that is both effective and cost efficient from the start while being expansive for the future to cope with your ever growing, dynamic site.
Once you have selected your preferred search tool it is essential to monitor and constantly evaluate the performance of your search tool and the behaviour of your search users, the optimisation scorecard is an ideal method of benchmarking performance and goal-setting to help you get the most out of your search tool and provide an optimal search experience for your employees.
Paul Rudman is the director and head of optimisation at CommerceTuned, he's been involved in developing search strategies and search engine optimisation for 7 years.