25 / January 2016, Matt
Every year, Google makes over 500 changes to its search algorithms. For companies looking to SEO marketing strategies, this carries a few important ramifications. First, the idea of chasing the algorithm is foolish. With changes coming more frequently than daily, by the time you have drafted a single page of content for your site, the logic by which search engines direct users to your site will have changed from when you started writing. While most of the changes are small tweaks, all are intended to reward companies that provide information that matters to the people to whom that information matters.
So does this mean that SEO marketing strategies are a waste of time? Far from it! Instead, it means that your focus needs to be on the bigger picture. Instead of envisioning SEO as a set of minutia or a detailed road-map toward magic marketing power, you should see it as a part of your process, a foundation that you can design to build out your marketing platform to grow your business.
With this in mind, you need to consider how to create this foundation in a way that can be effective not to match a current iteration of the Google (or Bing, or Yahoo!) search algorithms, but rather to match the goals those who design the algorithms seek to achieve. In other words, you need to work to get the information people want to the people who want it. These seven tips for SEO marketing provide a good launching point for your platform.
The first piece of this puzzle is knowing who your customers are. In the days of keyword stuffing for SEO growth, this did not matter as much; the idea was to pull in as many people as possible and let them sort themselves out through conversions. Now, not only does this not work, but it can be counterproductive. Search engines lower your rankings if you write to trick people without providing reliable, relevant, original content. And your content, no matter who you are or what you do, will not be relevant to everyone.
So how do you determine whom to target? Answering this question requires the same kind of market analysis that traditional marketing work has always involved. If you are a bricks and mortar company, start with location. Your customer profile includes those who either live in or are traveling to your state, your city, your neighborhood. People need to be where you are, and they need to be able to find you.
Next, focus on your product, and who would want it. Some of this will come from your sales experience. If you know who has bought your product or service, you can develop an idea of who your most likely customer will be. This includes age range, gender, income range, interests, and any other information you can gather. And if you have a disconnect between who you think your customers should be and who has actually made purchases, SEO marketing can be directed toward bringing in the customers you think would most benefit from what you provide.
Ultimately, your answer to this question will tell you a great deal about who you are and for whom you exist. Understanding your business and your customer base better gives you the direction you need to direct your SEO marketing focus.
Next, look for phrases within the higher opportunity ranges that have lower competition scores. No matter how strong your SEO writing may be, fighting with a few competitors for keyword volume will always be easier than competing with hundreds. Doing your research means setting yourself up with the best chance to succeed in your space.
Once you’ve established your keyword space, it’s time to start building. When you build around a keyword phrase, though, you may be tempted to focus on the phrase you use and construct an article around it. To some extent, you will do this. You have identified the keyword phrase you will use to optimize your content, so your page will include a concentration of that term, ideally in the one to two percent range.
Still, when creating the content, the term should not drive your writing. Rather, treat it as a conceptual guide for your writing. Create a topic and title that fit with the keyword phrase, and write meaningful content that fits the concept. Write to inform your audience on the topic you have chosen, rather than to fit the keyword into your post. Then, once you have your draft written well, part of your revision process should involve editing to set your keyword at the appropriate concentration level.
Of course, writing one page of content is great, but it will not get you very far in your page rankings. SEO marketing builds over time through the creation of consistent content over time, each article or post optimized around a keyword phrase and providing new, unique information. This isn’t a one-shot deal, but rather a process you need to repeat over time.
Fortunately, running a business gives you new experiences every day. Your continued keyword research and your growth and interactions in your company should provide plenty of fodder for new content over time. Use what you know and what you learn to develop and grow your content library. In doing so, you can generate the content over time that will allow you to keep informing your current and potential customers—and in the process, continue to improve your site rankings over time.
To help this process along, you need to have a social media presence. This presence should make sense, of course. You should not create a hobby page for macramé on Pinterest just to have a Pinterest page if your business is HVAC. Still, there is no good reason not to have a Facebook page and a Twitter page, and if they make sense for your business, Instagram and Pinterest as well. Develop these pages with images and post daily, with links to content as you post it to your website.
Second, you should reach out to the biggest influencers in your area. What companies or professionals have the biggest following in your field or market? When you identify and follow those people, you get a chance to learn a great deal about your line of business. In addition, by cultivating these relationships and earning the trust of these influencers, you can earn backlinks from them that provide a significant boost for your efforts.
Driving traffic to your website is only a good thing if users like what they find when they get there. SEO content strategy focuses on bringing people to you; it needs to work hand in hand with a web design that users can navigate quickly and easily. No one wants to fight through a website that doesn’t let them move among pages, and very few will make an effort to find a path to e-commerce that is not laid out clearly for them to follow.
This reality demands a few responses. First, every page of your website needs to load quickly. Test your site, and if a page takes more than two seconds to load, it is too slow. Work with a web designer to find ways to increase load time, whether by streamlining your page design or changing the file types you use for image or video files. More than anything else, pages that load too slowly turn off users.
Next, make sure your site moves easily among pages. This particularly means each page should link at a minimum to your home page and your contact page. If you sell through your site, you need also to give paths to shopping and checkout pages. A pulldown menu can be okay, but clickable icons are better.
Finally, make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Smartphones and tablets hold more of the market for web searches than desktops and laptops, and your site needs to take advantage with a design that allows easy mobile navigation. Clean designs that fit on a smaller screen, or responsive web designs that flexes to fit the screen used, are essential to maximizing the impact of your SEO.
Links within your site allow visitors to act on content they find, and readable, navigable web pages make them more likely to choose to do so. Your SEO strategy can only be effective if users can and want to act while they visit your site. Conversions will come, but only if you let them.
When you write SEO content, you should organize your content with a strong title that includes your keyword, and with subheadings to guide your readers through what you write. Online readers are easily distracted, and content headings give them a roadmap through the page. Further, they break the text into smaller, more manageable chunks, each of which can be finished quickly. All of this encourages readers to continue through what you write.
In addition, you should include your keyword phrase in a subheading. Search algorithms weigh the presence of search terms in a title or subheading more heavily than in the regular text of the document. Again, this makes intuitive sense; in well-written, informative content, a key term in the title or a heading represents a focal point of the article or post. While cramming in terms where they don’t fit will be harmful to your rankings, focusing writing on ideas that your titles and headings highlight can powerfully drive the effectiveness of your SEO marketing.
SEO marketing work is a powerfully means that helps you reach this end. But bringing in site visits gives the bridge to you; once people cross that bridge, you need conversions. You must track all of your web statistics, not so you have a nice report, but so you can act on what you see. If your visits are diminishing, you need to adjust your approach on content: create more, focus it differently, vary word counts, or update your keyword research. If the visits are coming but conversions or not, you need to address the site experience and develop ways to encourage and bring in more purchasing behavior.
In short, always remember that SEO strategies are part of the work of bringing in customers. When you keep that focus and track what happens at different stages of user behavior, you can map out where you need to change your approach and how to continue improving what you do.
With everything you need to do, test, and adjust, SEO marketing and content development could easily occupy all of your time. As a business owner, this just isn’t practical. You need to work with a partner who focuses on SEO work and can raise your internet marketing to the next level. This lets you work on the running of your business and put the marketing in practiced, capable hands. 1st in SEO can drive this aspect of your marketing, working with you to keep your site bringing you business. Contact us today to get started.