LA2M SEO Presentation

If you saw this presented live at LA2M, I hope you enjoyed it and learned a few things. If you were not in attendance, I have posted the slides below and an outline of the presentation, including all of the links and resources that I mentioned.

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Executive Summary

Search engines evaluate hundreds of variables when determining how to rank individual web pages in their search results. Effective, integrated Search Engine Optimization can improve your website’s accessibility, relevance, and credibility.

The presentation includes a quick overview of SEO best practices and a review of a local organization’s website.

The Peace Neighborhood Center

This year we are partnering with the Peace Neighborhood Center on the west side of Ann Arbor as our project website based on their commitment to the Ann Arbor community and their website’s inherent shortcomings as it relates to Search Engine Optimization best practices.

About the Center

For over 37 years, the Center has played a significant role in helping unite the varied communities and social and economic groups on Ann Arbor’s west side. They take on the tough issues by combating drugs and violence and providing educational and economic support to thousands of Washtenaw County residents.

The good folks at the Center have agreed to participate in our project and are very grateful for any help we can provide. Representatives were in attendance at the lunch to learn alongside the LA2M group. Please feel free to say hello and thank them for the service to our community.

About their Website

The Peace Neighborhood Center’s website does a great job conveying all of the necessary information for their donors, volunteers, and support recipients. However, due to some inherent structural issues, search engine crawlers are not able to access all of the content. This limits the website’s visibility in search engines and drastically reduces the amount of potential traffic to the website simply because the highly relevant content may not be appearing in search results for some obvious keywords.

The Keynote Slides

Presentation Outline

This may not match exactly what is said during the presentation (I’m winging it…shhhh!) but it’s a close match.

  • Introduction
  • Today’s Topic
    • We are discussing Search Engine Optimization best practices.
    • SEO is an important part of any online marketing program.
    • It’s an effective, efficient way to generate relevant website traffic and, when done right, can have extremely positive ROI.
  • About the Site Review
    • Throughout the presentation, examples from the Peace Neighborhood Center website are used to illustrate key points.
    • Kevin Lill and Dan Brady represent the Center and can better describe their mission.
    • After the presentation I will organize more resources to help make the changes to their site. You can help!
  • Let’s Define SEO – What it IS NOT
    • A One-Time Project
      • You can’t just “set it and forget it.”
    • Rocket Science
      • Although there are many technical components (and solutions), SEO is not just a problem to be dumped on your IT team.
      • Many of the most common and effective tactics are related to content and promotion, i.e. a Marketing challenge.
    • Voodoo
      • There are no hidden secrets or silver bullets.
      • There is a LOT of misinformation out there.
      • The challenge for beginners is knowing who and what to believe.
      • Trial and error and experience are the only real way to learn.
    • Free Traffic
    • Proper SEO requires an investment in time, resources, and people.
    • It becomes much more efficient when integrated with existing internal processes (copywriting, design, development) and business roles (marketing, sales, IT, etc.).
  • So What IS SEO?
    • A Subset of Internet Marketing
      • It does not (and should not) exist in a vacuum.
      • It has a multiplier effect on other marketing initiatives: PPC, Broadcast, PR, Digital, Social Media, etc.
    • An Ongoing Process
      • It’s a mindset, not a project.
      • SEO should be integrated into other processes and business roles. Education of these decision makers is key.
      • Somebody needs to own SEO within your organization.
      • 5 People You Need on Your SEO Team
    • A Funnel For Searchers’ Intent
      • People using search engines are trying to accomplish a task.
      • Search engines compete to provide the most relevant results.
      • The keywords searchers use demonstrate their “intent.”
      • SEO is a great way to promote your content that helps them accomplish their task.
  • The Three Pillars of SEO
    • Accessibility
    • Relevance
    • Credibility
  • Accessibility
    • Content Structures
      • Can search engine crawlers access your site’s content?
      • Is it in a format they can understand?
      • If they can’t see it, they can’t read it.
      • HTML + CSS is the best way to present content.
      • Flash presents problems for crawlers. Google says they can index it, but results are spotty at best.
      • Crawlers cannot “see” text that is embedded in images or video.
    • Navigation Elements
      • Most dropdown navigation menu effects can be achieved with CSS.
      • Flash, JavaScript, and AJAX elements are typically not visible to search engines.
    • Sitemaps
      • HTML sitemaps are great for human visitors and usability since most pages are only a couple clicks away.
      • XML sitemaps act as a “Table of Contents” for your site so search engines can discover new pages.
      • An XML sitemap won’t help your site rank better directly, but it can lead to more pages being indexed.
      • For more information, go to
      • The Peace Neighborhood Center does not have either type of sitemap, so many pages are not indexed.
    • How To Tell If Your Pages Are Accessible
      • Use the “” command in Google, Yahoo!, or MSN to get a list of all pages from your site in their index.
      • Use the “cache:” command in Google to see what they have indxed on a particular page.
      • Sign up for Google Webmasters Console for more information about how Google crawls and indexes your site, links, and other obstacles.
      • Use the Yahoo! Site Explorer tool to see which pages and links Yahoo! has indexed for your site.
  • Relevance
    • Keywords
      • Rankings are determined in part by a page’s relevance for the keyword or phrase.
      • When optimizing your site’s content around particular keywords, don’t overdo it!
      • Humans are your customers. Write for them, not search engines.
      • Typically, what’s good for users is good for search.
      • Insure proper use of keywords in the body copy, title tags, URLs and file names, meta data, alt tags, header tags, link anchor text, and digital assets.
      • Keyword Research Tools: Google Adwords, Keyword Discovery, SEOBook
    • Digital Asset Optimization
      • Helpful for getting traffic from other types of search engines (video, audio, images, PDFs)
      • Take advantage of Universal Search Results
      • Start with incorporating keywords in the file names, tags, descriptions, transcripts, URLs, and links related to the content.
  • Credibility
    • Links
      • Links to a website can be thought of as a “vote” for that site’s credibility.
      • In general, the more links a site has, the more “credible” it is.
      • Authoritative sites like tend to attract more links.
      • A few links from very authoritative sites are more valuable than tons of links from spammy or low-value pages.
    • Link Building
      • Two ways to go about it: manual requests or organic link acquisition.
      • Manual requests involve contacting individual websites to ask for a links. It’s very tedious.
      • Organic link acquisition involves creating and promoting content in ways that entice other people to link to it naturally. This is harder to do but more scalable and ultimately more valuable.
      • Popular link building tactics include getting involved in Social Media, Online Public Relations, Generating and Promoting Linkworthy Content, Directory Submissions, Joining Professional Organizations, and direct requests.
      • Put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Would you link to your site? If not, reconsider your approach.
  • Analytics
    • Rankings for Targeted Keywords
    • Traffic from organic keywords
    • Conversions!!!
    • Look for trends, not individual data points.

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