With more customers turning to the Internet for products and services due to the pandemic, search engine optimization (SEO) is more important now than ever before.
SEO involves implementing tactics, both online and offline, to increase the visibility of your website and business listings in online search results. When a user (aka potential customer) types in or says a search query, SEO has a big impact on if your website or online business listing shows up and on which page of the results it appears.
No business wants to be on page 10, or even page 2, of Google search results. Competition for page 1 is fierce! This is where an SEO strategy comes into play.
IF your business
shows up in search results
WHERE your business
shows up in search results
Search engine optimization is all about making your website easier to understand for the search engines (such as Google and Bing), so in return, the search engines can deliver the best and most relevant information to users. For your business to provide the best information, you must understand how your customers search, the phrases they use (called search intent) and how to implement SEO to help the search engines. Oftentimes, when a website isn’t performing, a business immediately thinks it needs a new website. However, it may not require a complete rebuild! Your website may just need an “update” or search engine optimization to start showing up in search results.
On-page SEO, sometimes called online SEO, is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to off-page SEO, which refers to links and other external signals.
Examples of on-page SEO include:
As the name suggests, off-page or offline SEO doesn't take place on your website and actually may not even take place on the Internet at all. Off-page SEO is defined as any tactic you conduct outside of your website to drive traffic back to your site (external links, social media marketing, brand mentions, etc.).
If you post a blog about recent advancements in your industry to your own business' website, that would be an example of on-page SEO. If you post a blog about industry advancements as a “guest contributor" to a popular industry blog and that guest blog is linked back to your website, that would be an example of off-page SEO.
Inbound links can make a huge impact on SEO. These links from relevant websites act as a vote of confidence that search engines should trust your website and see it as authoritative.
Examples of off-page SEO include:
Technical SEO refers to the optimization of the basic structure and design of your website for search engine crawling and indexing process. Technical SEO is essential if you want to ensure that your web pages are structured for both humans and search engine bots.
Some of the most important components of technical SEO include:
Local SEO refers to the tactics used to better position your website in local search, such as if someone looked for “an Italian restaurant near me” or “the closest hardware store.” Local SEO ensures your business shows up on the map, with a phone number or other contact information.
You want to optimize your website to include local keywords, along with claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing and other key directories. Having online reviews also can boost your business listing’s chance of appearing in a local search listing.
Local SEO tactics include
Google (the world’s most popular search engine) updates its algorithm 500 times a year -- meaning search results are always changing. SEO must be monitored and continuously optimized as the algorithm changes if you want to gain - or even maintain - your search ranking. SEO is not a one-and-done tactic and should never be cookie-cutter.
Plan for four months to a year to see SEO improvements and benefits, Google advises. Be leery of any SEO vendor that promises immediate results, as they are likely using Black Hat SEO (unethical SEO practices used in an attempt to trick search engine bots). An effective SEO campaign must be strategized, implemented, monitored and tweaked -- and then monitored and tweaked again, and again, and again to stay up-to-date with algorithm changes
When you search online, you’re seeking an accurate answer, item, detail, date, image, address or definition. And you expect your answer in a split second.
That’s exactly what Google, Bing, YouTube and the other search engines want to deliver. They want to provide the most accurate, relevant info to users as fast as possible.
If you provide the best information, in a format that is easy for the search engines to read, then you will be promoted to a better position in search results. How do you do just that?
Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Run a search query on Google using keywords and the most common questions prospects ask. Make a note of who’s on the first page. Do you see the same organizations showing up in prime spots? Make a note of any direct competitors who are claiming top rankings. It’s important to understand what your prospects are experiencing.
Run an SEO audit of your site and your competitors’ sites. You can learn where you rank, what keywords you are ranking for and what keywords your competitors are ranking for. This is valuable data to create a starting point for any SEO strategy.
Understand what questions your customers are asking, how they’re asking, what their needs are and what keeps them up at night. Your company is already solving their problems and fulfilling their needs, or you wouldn’t be in business, right?
Translate these questions and answers onto your website and into your overall content strategy. Become a top resource for your prospects and customers, and Google will reward you.
Content means more than just your blog. Content covers video, articles, webinars, live chat, lists, how-to guides and much more. Content should be provided on your site and across the web on channels where your prospects hang out. Use different content types to answer your customer questions, understand their obstacles and provide solutions.
As you map out a content strategy, use the customer questions you uncovered in Step 2. Be sure each piece of content has an objective and that you clearly communicate that.
Provide answers. Be helpful. Solve customer problems. Make your content relevant and rich. Ensure your content has sharing value and gives your highest quality visitors what they’re asking for.
As stated above, on-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. Your SEO strategy should include a continuous plan for optimizing your on-page SEO. Where to begin? Start with these questions:
Have you ever visited a website on your phone or your tablet, only to be frustrated by the fact that you had to scroll and enlarge certain sections to be able to navigate? Or, you had to wait more than 10 seconds for a web page to appear? Chances are, you didn’t wait and moved on to another site.
Technical SEO is extremely important for the user experience, and the search engines take this into consideration when ranking sites. In fact, Google may not index your site if it is not mobile-friendly - meaning you won’t show up anywhere, at all, not even on page 10.
Company listings on local, national and niche directory websites let the search engines and your prospects know where to find you. Consistent, authoritative and up-to-date citations create more exposure for your business and improve Google rankings.
Step No. 1 is to ensure your Google My Business profile is complete. Don’t just submit the minimum; take advantage of all the opportunities to promote your business through this profile. Google is looking for images, hours of operation and more. Take the time to get this done!
Begin a backlink strategy. If no one is linking to you, why should Google? Backlinks (links from other sites back to yours) can be golden, especially if they’re from sites that Google respects. On the other hand, links that Google recognizes as toxic can negatively affect your search engine rankings.
You can check your backlinks using an SEO tool such as SEMrush. It will show you who is linking to your site and if there are any toxic backlinks. If you do have a toxic link, you can request the site owner to remove it or attempt to get it disavowed through Google.
The goal is to get healthy referring links from websites that have a high domain authority and high-quality content. And remember, it goes both ways! Share the love and link to high-quality websites that are relevant to your business when it makes sense to do so.
Once you have a core piece of content in place, such as a how-to guide or video demo, don’t expect SEO to do all the heavy lifting. Promote it! Let others know you have valuable content to share. Be creative in spreading the word. The search engines are watching.
Here are a few ways to get started:
Time to evaluate all your hard work. Tracking your progress will inform your SEO strategy and marketing tactics for ongoing strategy iterations. Remember to track with a purpose -- not every number matters. These metrics, or KPIs, should be based on your specific business goals.
Here are a few of our favorite and most relevant metrics that point specifically to search engine optimization:
This is often not a part of traditional SEO strategies, but at Marketing Essentials, we believe an SEO strategy is meaningless if you are not converting that traffic into customers.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) includes making edits to the tactics used on your website (forms, buttons, newsletters, shopping carts, etc.) to more effectively capture new leads and convert leads into customers. The goal of CRO is to continually increase the percentage of visitors to a website who convert into customers, or more generally, take a desired action on a webpage.
Use data from tools, such as heatmaps, user site recordings and A/B testing, to make informed decisions on what’s working and not working to make CRO changes that drive more revenue.
Here’s what it all boils down to: SEO drives traffic to your website; CRO takes the wheel to convert this traffic into leads and customers. As a business, you want both.
If you have traffic to your website but no action that allows a visitor to become a lead or a customer, what does your business gain? Nothing. If you have conversion points on your website but no traffic to the site, again, what does your business gain? Nadathing.
In today’s online and virtual world, your website must be visible. Implement SEO and CRO together as a pair to drive revenue growth into the future
“Our experience working with Marketing Essentials was wonderful! They went above and beyond to make sure that every detail was covered.” - Erin Peck, Centurion Service Group
“The traffic we have seen from our website has been awesome.” - Jeff Knapke, Versa Pak
As a certified Google Partner agency, we offer SEO audits and highly recommend them before any business begins on SEO strategy. We’ll scan your website, evaluate your online presence and analyze your competitors’ sites. You’ll get an audit report so you can see what’s working, what’s not working and where opportunity exists.
Questions about an SEO audit? Contact us today!