16 / January 2016, Matt
SEO marketing provides myriad opportunities for your business when you plan and execute a campaign well. This means smart planning and informed strategy can carry you a long way toward reaching your company’s goals. When you think through what you want to do and what you hope to achieve by doing so, you can create a map to success, one that can lead you back where you need to be when things inevitably veer off course.
Unfortunately, many people look for shortcuts to success that do more to limit what they can achieve than help them get to where they want to be. This is true in almost every walk of life, and SEO marketing is no different. A steady, carefully orchestrated approach remains the best path to sustained success for your efforts. There may be times that the effort might not seem worth it, but the rewards for taking the time to build out your online presence the right way may be exceeded only by the penalties you can see when you execute poorly. Be sure to avoid these common errors to make sure your marketing efforts stay on track.
The biggest shortcut people try to take with online marketing is to try to lure people in with gimmicks rather than content. The best known of these is probably keyword stuffing, trying to cram as many iterations of a keyword, or as many different keywords, as possible into a single post or article. Sometimes this can even give a short-term bump in page rank, particularly among low-competition keywords. Still, Google and Bing’s algorithms have been designed to catch this quickly, and flag pages that use this strategy as spam.
Similarly, tricking users into visiting your site with titillating headlines that don’t deliver, or buying backlinks by the thousands in hope that sheer volumes will lead to more visits to your page, are strategies that will lead your campaign very quickly in the wrong direction. Either of these strategies has some short-term appeal. Backlinks to your site represent part of your site’s reputation score, and garnering a sudden, high volume of traffic could theoretically push your page rankings up quickly.
Unfortunately, the search engines are on to this approach. Many of the backlinking sites that sell links have already been identified by Google and Bing as sources of spam, and others are being identified every day. Whatever momentary lift they provide will thus be more than countered when your site is connected to this kind of activity. Similarly, clickbait that links from unrelated sites based on something that is at best loosely related to your content will hurt you in the end. Relevance has always been part of what Google looks for when its algorithm ranks sites, and intentionally leading Internet users astray will get you punished through much lower rankings than you should be garnering.
Poor website design can hinder your SEO marketing efforts as well. Some business owners believe that their name and contact information placed on a website is all they need to establish an online presence and bring traffic to them. If only it were so easy! Not only do you need content optimized to get search engines to lead users to you, but you need to create a website structure that gives you the best chance to drive and convert traffic.
Part of this comes from how you set up the pages. Search engines place more emphasis on keywords that appear in titles and headings, so setting up title tags and header tags is critical to garnering the most search traffic. These should help tell the search engine, as well as the reader, what your content is about, so treat them as a road map for both person and machine. Your headers both lead the search engines to you and lead your users through your content.
This work to benefit those who do visit matters greatly. The user experience leads site visitors to stay or leave, to return to the results page after one page of content or continue clicking through the site. The longer your site design makes people want to stay, the more it does both for your page rankings and for your conversions.
Finally, your site design should be flexible enough to encourage readers to stay whether they are on computers or mobile devices. A responsive web design adjusts your content to fit whatever screen your visitor is using. This prevents a design for one kind of device from pushing away potential customers who are using another. Again, the more time the average site visitor spends on your site, the more your rankings will rise. Your design should deliver the best experience possible, both for the short term rankings boost and for the long term gains with both search engines and customers.
Site design is only part of the equation. Content containing grammatical or spelling errors can turn site visitors off quickly once they arrive on your website. People want content that they can read easily without fighting through mistakes. If you create a website, there is no reason and no excuse not to take the time to proofread content before you put it up online. It is one of the surest ways to convince online visitors that you lack the competence for them to put their trust in you.
In addition to glaring mechanical errors, some writing you will find online reads much better than other. The best writing flows from point to point and leads a reader through it. Too often, you find online copy that jumps around, or moves stiffly from one heading to the next without a compelling direction to it. Just as organization within your site design affects the user experience on your website, so too does the ease with which a user can read the content itself.
There are two key ways in which good writing improves your website’s performance. The first goes to your authority with readers. Well-written copy persuades not by telling people what to think or do, but by leading them through your content without seeing you working to persuade them. Any time your writing gets choppy, readers’ attention slips through the gaps and wanders away. When you have mechanical errors, the reader pauses and questions your expertise and your attention to detail. Either of those can derail your efforts.
The second way writing affects you is in its impact on SEO performance. Your potential customers only have so much time and energy to devote to reading online content. If you give them something to enjoy reading, they will be more apt to click through to additional pages, to spend more time on your site, and to return to your site over time. All of these help increase your page rankings in search engine algorithms, because they reflect the quality and relevance that those algorithms are designed to identify. By creating a good reading experience, you thus enhance your page rankings as well.
When you produce content, part of that process involves identifying the right keywords and the most relevant topics on which to write. These words or phrases work best if you have a relatively high volume of searches being run for them, and a relatively low level of competition among other sites optimized around those keywords. Once you identify the best options, you go about creating timely, relevant, excellent content that employs them judiciously.
The problem with trends, though, is that they change—constantly. If you settle on a group of keywords and build around them for weeks or months, it only helps you if those keywords continue to meet your criteria. When the competition ramps up or the number of searches run for those keywords goes down, content that you optimize around them becomes less effective in maintaining your page rankings and driving traffic to your site. If you sit still and assume all will continue to be fine, you risk losing out over the long haul.
This does not mean you cannot continue to build around the same keywords. Rather, it means that you don’t know whether the right keywords today will be the right keywords tomorrow, or next week. There is no substitute for a sustained, regular process of researching over time, confirming or replacing the keywords and keyword phrases that drive your content optimization. Your marketing plan is only as good as the data points you use to map it out, and those data points change over time.
A good way to envision the research you do is to consider it to a game plan in team sports. The plan may be sound at the outset, but conditions, injuries, or the other team’s plan can render it less effective, just as a change in the keyword dynamics can do to your SEO marketing plan. The best coaches adjust to the reality before them, and the best marketing companies do the same.
When you take the time to create a strong web design and add well-written, relevant content, you set yourself up for good things to happen. When the results start to justify the efforts you have expended up to that point, you may be tempted to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Unfortunately, though, this approach will not work for much more than a week or two before your page rankings start to dip. Before you know it, the well-performing content you have counted on no longer attracts the searches it did.
Search algorithms reward content that is unique, fresh, and current. However good the information in your SEO marketing copy may be, it cannot remain fresh forever. And with new websites leaping into your market every day, your chances to remain unique diminish daily as well. Because of this, if you do not create new content regularly, you cannot hope to keep up, much less stay ahead.
Your approach to content creation should contain two key elements: evergreen content and current trend-tracking content. The former consists of articles that hold information that will remain relevant for a long time, regardless of marketplace trends. The latter includes content that you produce at regular intervals, with a blog or a recurring theme on your site. You can push this out with social media and e-newsletters to further drive traffic, but it all starts with a steady, consistent approach to building out your content library. Do so, and you keep improving your chances to not only build your page rankings, but to sustain them well into the future. Stop producing, though, and that future will start to fade.
Many things can go wrong as you build out an SEO marketing campaign. Trends change, consumer interest and behavior change, and competitive landscapes change. Each of these can put a dent into your plan and require you to change course. What’s more, there is little you can do to prevent any of them from happening. Absent an extraordinary level of market influence, most of us have to react to the shifting world around us.
In the face of this reality, the potential missteps in your campaign are vast. Almost all of it, though, boils down to the need for your approach to SEO marketing to be nimble. When the world inevitably moves, you need to be ready to adjust. By identifying what is happening and why, you can act quickly to get ahead of new trends as they arrive. Market research remains vital, not only at the outset of your planning, but throughout your campaign. You need to remain on top of what the market and your potential customers are doing, and adjust accordingly.
For most companies, this means working with a partner focused in the SEO marketing space. Rather than constantly examining and tweaking your website, this allows you to focus on your business while experts handle the day-to-day grind of keyword research and content creation. 1st in SEO thrives in this environment and continues to develop ways to help clients succeed in a challenging market. Contact 1st in SEO today to learn how we can put our expertise to work for you.