SEO is a Strategy NOT a Tactic: Part 3 in a 3 Part Series

seo is a strategy not a tactic

This is the third installment of a three-part series about how SEO needs to be thought of as a strategy, not just a tactic.

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to 1.7% for outbound leads (Imforza)

It is critical that you optimize any content you put online. Otherwise, you end up with the old adage, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there, did it make a sound?”

I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it again: Your SEO team should be involved from the very beginning! Otherwise, it’s like throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping it sticks.

Search engine optimization, the thing that many people like to call a mythical, magical thing, really is not so magical if you know where to look for clues.
That is the third reason why SEO needs to be included at the beginning of a project.

3. The results don’t lie! Analyze the SERPs to see Google’s real ranking priorities

Think about it. Digging into the search results to see what types of content is ranking well will lead to a better understanding of what is important to Google’s algorithm. Understanding this is the only way your content will earn a high ranking. Marketers need to understand what is important for their vertical, niche, demographic so that their content has a chance of ranking well. Otherwise, we’re back to the spaghetti analogy.

By comparing what types of content that rank including, factors such as, backlinks, load time, post date, types of visualizations or content form marketers can understand what is most important for a solid search ranking. For example:

  • For your keyword, the search results page is filled with images, infographics, videos, and diagrams. Then searchers for that term prefer visual content.
  • If the results are dominated by comprehensive case studies, text with 2,000+ words. Then users are looking for in-depth long-form content.
  • When the majority of results are videos, then, you guessed it, searchers prefer video.
  • Do maps come up as the first result? Then users are really looking for a location.

I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that. The point is, your SEO team can provide this information to you at the beginning of the project. That way you don’t waste valuable time and effort trying to rank for content in forms that people aren’t interested in seeing.

Hopefully, after reading all three tips you better understand why SEO needs to be included at the beginning of a project rather than later. So for your next content project, invite your SEO team to the initial strategy meetings. This will make sure you are heading in the right direction right from the start.

Need help with your content marketing process? We can help!

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SEO is a Strategy NOT a Tactic: Part 1 in a 3 Part Series
SEO is a Strategy NOT a Tactic: Part 2 in a 3 Part Series

SEO is a Strategy NOT a Tactic: Part 2 in a 3 Part Series

seo is a strategy not a tactic

This is the second installment of a three-part series about how SEO needs to be thought of as a strategy, not just a tactic.

73% of in-house marketers and 76% of US agencies said SEO provided excellent or good return on investment (ROI). (eMarketer)

How do you create an SEO strategy that achieves “excellent or good ROI”? By building SEO into the beginning of every content project, not at in the middle or even worse at the end of the project.

As I said last time, Your SEO team should be involved from the very beginning! This is the only way you will be able to create remarkable content marketing campaigns.

Here is the second reason why SEO and keyword research are so important.

2. Keyword research defines what content to use

Search engines have become much better at understanding user intent. What this means is they can better assess what it is that the searcher is really looking for. Marketers can use keyword research to understand where searchers are in their purchasing journey, what information they need, and what type of information they want to see.

  • Where are searchers in their buyer’s journey?
    Broad keywords that give searchers an intro to a high-level category of results are often used for searchers that fall into the “awareness” stage. Think “shoes.” This a stage where they may not really need shoes, but they are thinking about what is out there. Where more specific keywords typically fall into a stage that is later in the journey. Searchers know they have a problem and they are looking for a solution. Or in this case they know they need new shoes and they know what type of shoe they want. For example, “brown leather hiking boots.”  
  • What information do searchers need?
    Keywords that produce results the include how-tos or basic understanding of a topic are typically being used for a learn intent. Or to gain knowledge. However, if the search results offer product comparisons, branded pages or pricing, then the usually the goal of the search falls into purchase intent.  
  • Who is searching for the information?
    Understanding who needs the information will help marketers build a search strategy for content marketing around personas that match the way people search. For keywords that produce in-depth, highly technical search results, then the audience is most likely people who are working with the products or data. If the search results are a higher level strategy or business ideas, the audience is likely executives or business owners. For example, “specs for Windows laptops” compared to “profitability Windows laptops.”

Doing this kind of keyword research up front will help develop a content marketing calendar that is detailed, is aligned with your business goals and provides direction for content before it is written. Content will then include the relevant information, target the right audience at the right point of their journey and remove the wasted time and effort it takes to fix content after it has been produced.

Next time we’ll talk about how combing through search results pages reveals ranking priority and the most popular ways people are digesting content.


return on investment roi

SEO is a Strategy NOT a Tactic: Part 1 in a 3 Part Series

seo is a strategy not a tactic

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often thought of as a strangely mystical practice that many people, including marketers, don’t understand. It then becomes an afterthought. The thing is though it is just a strategy that starts with the question, “what are people searching for online?

Keyword research is instrumental in answering this question. It can help determine who your real audience is, where they are in their buyer’s journey, help you discover what information people are really searching for and what formats they like the best. This will help you develop a better more effective content strategy.

SEO is the number one lead-generating source reported by inbound marketing professionals. You should be thinking about search every time you create content! 

Once you understand that the next question you might ask yourself is when do I need to start the process. There’s an easy answer to this too. As soon as possible!

Too often companies wait until too late to get their SEO team involved in content projects. Then it either creates more work because copy needs to be rewritten or it is not effective because not enough consideration was taken when creating content and campaigns. Your SEO team should be involved from the very beginning.

I’ll say it again. Your SEO team should be involved from the very beginning! And here is the first of 3 reasons why. We’ll talk about the other two later in the series.

1. SEO should drive content not be a fluffy decoration that is nice to have.

When you wait until a campaign is developed or a new page is created to consider SEO, it becomes a decoration, not a driver.

When you’re looking for ideas for your content calendar you want to answer questions that your visitors ask. Yes, questions or issues that come from support or your sales team may be good topics to address, but are they really what people are looking for digitally? Online content that has SEO value needs to be developed based on the questions that people are asking, you guessed it, online.

Developing an effective content strategy starts with keyword research. This will give you insight into what your audience wants, needs and questions for which they are searching for answers. The keyword research process helps marketers brainstorm to come up with content ideas, create effective copy the first time and find plenty of ideas to fill their content calendar.

There is, however, one caveat to this one. You do need some direction from your business objectives before starting. Your SEO team will need to understand what you would like to accomplish. Are you trying to sell more product, teach people a new process, etc. For example, if you sell carpet and your keyword research shows that a lot of people are searching for “chairs” is this really helpful to your content strategy? A better scenario would be if you have a new product coming out that is great for offices and if the SEO team is up to speed they will know to look for what office managers are searching for when they think about flooring.

Make sure to involve your SEO team in the very beginning when you are building your marketing strategy. This will keep them close to the business objectives and provide deep insight into what people are looking for online.

Next, we’ll talk about how keyword research should define your content.


Need help with your keyword research and content strategy? We can help!

SEO and Web Design – Plan for a Ongoing Updates

I’ve written about this before (read Building a Website & Getting it Found Online is Not a “Once & Done” Tactic), but unfortunately many people still believe if they build and optimize a website once their site will be #1 in Search. Sadly this is rarely if ever the case with SEO and Web Design.

website optimization servicesYou could look at it like buying a bike. When you buy it and take it home from the bike dealer it is shiny and new.  Everything works great. Gears shift smoothly and you can stop on a dime with the brand new breaks. You know what it’s like, it’s exciting!

To keep your wonderful new bike in top shape you need to do some small regular maintenance.  You need to oil the chain to make sure it doesn’t start to wear out and maybe eventually break.  If you ride it in the rain, wiping it down afterward is good practice to keep it from corroding, rusting or so pieces of dirt or rock don’t damage the rims when breaking. The brakes may need adjusting or the pads may need replacing. It’s the same with websites.

This is why many SEO experts charge a monthly or quarterly fee.  As you add blog posts, pages or other content, even when you remove content, you need to think about how it affects the optimization of the site.

Create a Procedure for Updating and Optimizing Your Website

One of the best things you can do is create a process for website updates and optimization. If you have a system in place for adding and removing content as well as optimization, you’ll have a concise process that leads to the best SEO results. This will ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page and your site stays uniform.

Here are a few examples:

  • New pages and posts: Each time you add a new post or page you should take into account a few aspects. What is the purpose or intent of the page/post? What keywords are you targeting? What part of your business does the post or page support? Each post or page should be designed with these factors in mind.
  • Moving content and redirects: This is critical when developing a new site as well as maintaining a website. Maybe you have a page that is no longer relevant and you want to remove it. If the page received any traffic you need to create a 301 redirects (permanent redirect) to let the search engines know where the visitors show go now.
  • File naming: With the invention of Universal Search, it is now possible to rank for multiple types of media. So you can be found in search via many different types of media. By making sure that your files are name correctly, i.e. clearly describe the content or media and include relevant keywords, you have a better chance of ranking in multiple ways. You can also add descriptions for images and other content.
  • Linking – Internal and Inbound Links: Both are very important. For inbound links you should create a standard for linking before you start acquiring links. This means the anchor text should be established as well as what type of links you want to acquire.  Internally this also means making sure links are up to date and not pointing to pages that have been removed.

Having a process in place will definitely help keep your website uniform and help maximize your SEO efforts.  So if you don’t have one, get your process plan in place today!

Need help with your process? Contact us to see how we can improve and maintain your website and digital marketing. 

 

“Don’t forget About the Body” When it Comes to Website Optimization

Straight from the disembodied head of Matt Cutts… “Don’t forget the body” when you optimize your website.

Each page of a website is made of at least 3 main parts.

  • The Head: This is where links for style information, scripts and meta tags (Title, Description) are found.  The code in the Head is not directly visible when someone visits your page.
  • The Body:  This is where the main visible portion of your page is. So, what visitors see when the view your site. The main body copy, images, etc.
  • The Footer: This also has contains elements that are visible to visitors, but it can also contain scripts and other code.

When it comes to website optimization, one aspect of optimizing is to make sure that the Title and Description meta tags are unique and include keywords relevant to what the page is about (pay no attention to the “Keywords:” meta tag. The search engines don’t, so why should you?). Many people get caught up in thinking this is all that matters and think if the put a bunch of keywords in the Head and meta tags, they will rank high for those keywords. Sadly though if the body content does not include the keywords, they likely will never rank well!

Google continues to improve and is trying to make their search results better. They are looking at the content on websites and what the site is about. Without keywords and content in the body of your pages it will be very difficult for Google to understand what your site is about.

So, listen to Matt’s head, and don’t forget about the body.

 

Building a Website & Getting it Found Online is Not a “Once & Done” Tactic

I just read a great article about what business leaders must understand about SEO and Online Marketing. Here are a few of the things that the author discussed:

  • Offline and online marketing go hand in hand
  • Small changes to your site can have a big ripple effect.
  • Mobile is more than just making your site look good on mobile devices, it’s also about the user experience

But the quote below really hit home. This is the area where I spend most of my time educating clients and potential clients.

SEO isn’t just a one-time implementation of website changes. It’s a strategic initiative with many moving parts. Fixing things locally isn’t enough. Google looks at things like social signals, authority back links and user trust to rank websites. These can’t be easily manipulated or fixed through shortcuts.

Building a website and getting it found online is not a once and walk away tactic. There are many factors that go into keep your site at the top of search results: Search engines change their algorithms, competitors change their tactics, people change their behavior… Just to name a few. Building a site and letting it sit for several years, even several months can quickly ruin any success that you’ve seen.

seo management

Online Marketing, and in particular SEO, is like any other part of your business. You need to manage it to be successful. After all you wouldn’t let your accounts receivable go for months or years without looking at it would you???

So how do you manage your SEO? Here are few suggestions:

  • Implement a reporting plan. Make sure you are running some sort of website analytics on your site. Run regular reports and then study the data.
  • Monitor the keywords that are important to you and how you rank for them.
  • Carefully plan how to improve your ranking using tactics such as, onsite changes, blogging and content marketing, social media promotion, paid search, etc.

Is your head swimming? Not sure what to do first? Start with a Website Audit!

Read the full article: 7 SEO Truths Every Business Leader Must Understand

Which Marketing Channel Will Give You the Best Results? [Infographic]

This is a very interesting study performed by Conductor.  We often here people, even other marketers, touting that, “SEO is dead” or “Email is dead.” According to this study they are both alive and kicking!

The study examined four areas:

  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Paid ads (Paid Search and Paid Social Ads)
  • SEO

They also looked at metrics such as:

  • Which marketing channel gets the most visitors?
  • Which brings in the greatest amount of qualified leads?
  • Which channel gets the most customers?
  • Which sparks the best engagement?
  • Are there different effects on B2B and B2C companies?
  • Which channel has the highest ROI (Return On Investment)?

The results may not be the same for every industry or company, but you may be surprised at what was discovered.  View the results in the infographic below.

Best marketing channels in 2014Want to use the infographic for your blog? Get the original here: [Infographic] Which Marketing Channel Gets You the Most Bang for Your Click?

Cyber Monday Deal – Get Your Free Website Audit

Cyber Monday business to business

Cyber Monday isn’t just for consumers! Your business can enjoy the spoils of the day too!

We’re offering businesses a free Website Audit today!

Why do a website audit? Most companies build their website and forget about them. A website audit will check the health of your website to see if it follows today’s SEO and webmaster guidelines. Search engines regularly update the way the view and rank your site. In fact in the last year or two, Google made some of the most drastic changes in its history.

Here are a few points that will be checked in the audit.

  • Does your site follow the latest webmaster guidelines from Google and Bing?
  • Have any changes the search engines made to the way they rank sites, hurt your site?
  • Are there “bad” or “low quality” sites linking to your website?

Read more about website audits check out our post: 5 Reasons Why a Regular SEO Audit is Important to Your Business

Want to see an example summary? Example Audit Summary

When was the last time you checked the health of your website? 

Here’s your chance! Just fill out he form below and we’ll run the the audit and get it out to you right away. 

Why a Regular SEO Audit is Important for Your Website

Regular SEO Audit CycleA website audit or SEO audit is very similar to taking your car to get an oil change. You know you need to do it and it will help extend the life of your car. Your mechanic will change the oil, check the fluids, check the air pressure and more, but sometimes it can be a hassle. After all taking your car to the shop means being without it for a period of time, and who wants that! But it is a necessary process that has benefits in the end.

There are also lots of excuses for why not to do regular a SEO audit; you need to close that sale you’re working, training new hires or staying on top of customer service, whatever the reason, often the website audit gets postponed. Plus, many companies subscribe to the “do it once and forget it” plan, but just like your car an SEO audit is important part of a long-term success plan.

Want to see an example? We have one for you here: Download an SEO Audit summary example

5 Reasons Why a Regular SEO Audit is Important to Your Business

To put it simply an SEO Audit is a check-up for your website.  It means going through your current SEO strategies and measuring what has been successful and what has not. Then figuring out what needs to be fixed or improved.

Here are reasons why you need to complete an audit on a regular basis:

  • Webmaster Guidelines – These are constantly evolving and you need to make sure you are following their recommendations. If you are using webmaster tools from Bing of Google  they will even tell you where there are issues.
  • Algorithm Changes – Search engines periodically update their algorithms to provide better search results. The algorithms are how search engines measure where your site will show up in search results, so you need to make sure you keep up with the latest changes to make sure you are ranking well. In fact Google made 14 updates this year alone!
  • Link Profile – One thing that search engines are still relying on heavily are incoming links to websites. That means other sites that are linking to your site. You need to check this regularly because it can change often and being associated with bad sites can really hurt your ranking.
  • Outdated Content and Website Errors – This is one that many people miss. Outdated content can hurt your site not only for ranking, but visitors will see it is outdated and question if your business is up to date. You’d also be surprised at how often links break. Maybe caused an update to the site or something else. If people are not going to or staying on a page.. Fix it or remove it!
  • Benchmarking – Regular SEO Audits will show you your progress and give you a track record for what works and doesn’t work. Plus, looking at this on a regular basis means it will be easier to go back and undo tactics that didn’t work. Trying to go back several years to when you initially built your website would be much more difficult.

How often is “regularly”? That depends somewhat on your site. If you have a very active site or you have a lot to fix, a monthly SEO Audit might be necessary. The internet and online marketing move fast so you should perform an audit at least every 6 months.

Want to see an example? We have one for you here: Download an SEO Audit summary example

A Little Weekend Fun, An SEO Expert Walks Into a Bar…

bartender cartoonAn SEO expert walks into a bar, bars, pubs, Irish pub, watering hole, tavern, place to buy beer, beer, alcohol, wine…