11 / January 2016, Matt
Every December as the new year approaches, people start making plans, resolutions, and vows. Most of these turn on achieving some kind of success, whether personal or business-related. The new year signals a rebirth of motivation and excitement, a moment of renewed conviction. For this moment, the world feels open and great things seem not only possible, but inevitable.
Of course, the hope and determination tend to fizzle out within the first few weeks of January. Many factors weigh in to this, but one key reason is that people have trouble defining exactly what this success might be. This becomes particularly true for new business strategies. When you start an SEO marketing campaign, you need to take the time to map out what is involved, and what steps you need to take to get where you need to be.
When people look at long-term goals, they tend to follow one of two distinct patterns. Some look at where they are and where they want to be, and get discouraged quickly by the gulf between. When you aim high, the sobering reality of how much climbing you will have to do hits suddenly, and it hits hard. And the moment you take a step down and widen the distance remaining, it becomes too much.
On the other hand, some start smaller, with the idea of moving incrementally, but soon get so caught up in the short-term that they lose sight of the big picture. Frustration over a stumbling block can lead to the same frustration and eventual apathy as trying to skip the middle stuff in the first place. When trying to reach the summit, a slip along the upward path can feel like a landslide.
In both cases, the danger comes not from an unattainable goal, but rather from failure to see different kinds of goals for what they are. However you define success, the end goal should remain paramount—but you can and should create intermediate goals that will lead you there. Think of these as landmarks along the way, a preferred path to get you where you plan to end up. When you lay out that path clearly, it becomes not a set of obstacles to surmount so much as a series of steps along the way.
You define these intermediate goals just as much as you define the ultimate destination, and the greater the distance, the more choices you have available to make. When you take a road trip, you have more potential stops along the way for a cross-country drive than for an in-state day trip. Your ultimate goal gives you a direction in which to move, and your intermediate goals serve as guideposts that help steer you there.
When viewed in this way, every goal you set along the way matters—but not in its own right so much as in terms of where you are going. Getting to the plateau matters because it is a step you must reach en route to the summit. Focus on each goal you need to realize should never overwhelm your focus on where you need to be.
When you run a business, your SEO campaign is not your end goal. It represents a process, with a series of goals within it that you need to achieve to find the level of business success for which you are striving. It will get you there, but it is not itself there. And each step leads the way to the next as you move inexorably toward your final destination. When you hold that truth in mind, you are ready to move forward with setting the goals that will lead you where you want to go.
The first goal for your SEO should simply be to improve your site’s rankings for relevant keywords and keyword phrases. For you to build your business, you first have to get noticed by the people most likely to become your customers. Those people are searching for the products or services you provide, and the higher your search term rankings, the easier it is for those people to find you. Most people don’t look past the first or second page of Google or Bing rankings when they run a web search; getting your site ranked within that range is thus critical to bringing people to you.
Definition again serves as your starting point here. The keywords in which you rank must be relevant to your business, and they must have enough search activity to matter. On the other hand, the competition among other websites for those keywords should not be so great that your site gets lost in the wash. Identifying the best words and phrases to employ requires research over time, updated frequently to account for changes in search trends over time.
After this, you need to publish unique, relevant, quality content to your site, optimized around the keywords that your research identifies. Proper optimization means using the word or phrase in the right concentration, and in the right locations. You need a percentage high enough to be meaningful but not so high that you get flagged for spam or readability. You need usage in title or header tags, and early in your content. And you need to do all of this with well-written content that focuses, or at least relates directly, to your company’s business niche.
When you build out your content in this way, you will begin to develop organic search rankings for your site. Still, this only gets you so far. When you run a business, you do this not as an end in itself, but as a means toward your ultimate goal of driving revenue for your company. To reach that goal, you need to make it easier for people to find you. Organic search rankings will help you toward that. But you can do more, both to build the rankings further and lead more potential customers to you, by actively driving traffic to your site.
One terrific way to help people find you is to take advantage of your social media pages. There is no reason in today’s market not to have at least a Facebook page and a Twitter account. The sheer breadth of these platforms, with over a billion users, means a potential audience far bigger than your business could ever need. Further, you have the ability to direct loyal customers to your social media presence, and in doing so reach their entire network. Because friends and acquaintances on social media generally have some commonality of interests, some members of their network will be more likely than the average, unconnected individual on the street to have a similar likelihood of wanting the services or products you provide.
In addition, advertising provides opportunities for you to lead people to you. PPC advertising, for example, allows you to post ads on websites with content related to yours, and pay only for those who click on the ad to be taken to your site. Social media ad programs allow you to target very specific demographic or interests groups to further drive traffic to your site. Both of these advertising approaches help bring people to you who are likely interested in what your business provides, so they generate traffic that represents real opportunities for you.
Finally, you can drive traffic through guest blogging and commenting on reputable sites within your industry. This should not represent a large portion of the backlinks to your page, as it can trigger red flags for Google. Still, when you identify sites with strong reputations and have the opportunity to link from there, your own reputation, site rankings, and overall traffic will increase.
Once you do generate traffic, you need to be able to do something with it. You can build your page rankings to the top of Google’s search rankings for multiple keywords, and you can drive relevant traffic to your site through social media, advertising, and backlinks from industry sites, but unless you can show something to your potential customers, that potential will eventually wither and die. You need to take the next step of converting them into customers.
Indeed, even before Google started adjusting its algorithms to eliminate the benefits of such tactics as keyword stuffing and purchasing swaths of backlinks from non-relevant sites, this step put on full display the limitations of that approach. You can bring people to your website in myriad ways, but you need them to stick around for long enough to act. This means either getting them to purchase through your site or getting them to go to your physical location.
To get conversions, you must start with excellent content. Little annoys busy people as much as getting to a site and seeing nothing of value. Strong SEO marketing includes consistent, relevant content that your customers will care about, not only to help with your search rankings, but to show people your expertise once they find you. Good content marketing provides important information to people about who you are, what you do, and what you know. It isn’t necessarily full of sales pitches; you should instruct, inform, and delight.
In addition, you should provide content interesting and engaging enough to keep someone on your page. Often blending images and videos helps accomplish this. The longer someone states on your website, the more likely that person will be to follow up with purchases. Give them something to hold their attention, and then issue a call to action. Give them a reason to trust you, and then look to close the sale.
With your call to action, of course, you need to lead people to the action you would like them to take. A great way to do this is to enable e-commerce on your website. If you are selling a product that can be reasonably shipped, provide a link and a page that allows a customer to securely order that product. If you provide a service that you can schedule in advance, provide customers the ability to schedule it from your website. The less delay built in between reading your website and allowing someone to purchase, the more likely that purchase becomes.
On the other hand, many businesses rely on bringing customers to a physical location. For you to get them from your site to your store, you must let them know how to get there. A phone number and a physical address, preferably with an embedded map and directions to you, can make all the difference here. People look for information on the Internet with an expectation that the information will be easy to find and apply. Make it as easy on them as possible. In doing so, you can start building your revenue stream for your business—and thus reach the point of all of this.
When you are striving for increased revenue, SEO marketing provides an effective, efficient route to get there. As you know, though, that revenue stream is not merely a point to reach and then stop; you want to keep it going, and even build further once you hit your goal. With this in mind, SEO marketing is not a one-time journey; it represents an ongoing process that you can use to build up to your business goals, and then keep operating on that level.
At 1st in SEO, we focus on the process. We will work to build your site rankings for keywords, and identify new and improved keywords around which to optimize over time. We will drive traffic to your site, not in one quick shot, but steadily over time from a strong foundation. We will give you the content that allows you to convert site visitors into customers, and to increase your revenue for the long haul. This year, don’t rely on luck or hope to get you to where you want your business to be. Contact us today and start the journey to your success.