Does anyone remember David Blaine?
He was one of the first magicians I really enjoyed watching on TV. One trick in particular was of him ripping an entire Yellow Pages in half. For those that might be too young to know about it, the Yellow Pages was a phone directory of various businesses and small ads. If you needed a plumber, you’d flick over to the “plumber” section and call the numbers in that category. With the whole city’s business listings in there, the Yellow Pages was as thick as a brick. So yeah, tearing something like that in half was really, really impressive!
These days, the internet is our first port of call to get any sort of information. If we want a plumber, we just chuck our query in Google. Then call the top few numbers listed and Bob’s your uncle. It’s amazing to think that we ever sought our answers in something as antiquated as books!
How we consume information is changing
Yes. How we search and consume information is rapidly changing. With a big shift in our focus to digital media, businesses must position themselves at the center of everyone’s attention: the internet. Often, this entails getting your business found on the first page of Google for relevant terms like “plumber” (if you’re a plumber of course). Second page just doesn’t cut it (because when have you ever clicked on the second page of Google?)
It’s so important to get this right that a whole industry and field of study has sprung up around it: search engine optimization (SEO). The core premise behind SEO is to structure your web pages such that they’re “preferred” by search engines. Your webpage will float to the top of the first page, and naturally you’ll get more website visitors that can become leads, customers and loyal fans.
You might already know a thing or two about SEO, and might be itching to dive nose first into an Advanced Guide to SEO. Unfortunately, many businesses do this while neglecting the most basic concepts. These basic concepts turn out to be some of the easiest wins that you can make when doing search marketing.
Let’s go through a few of them here:
Just as your business has an operating strategy or marketing strategy, it also needs an SEO strategy. In fact, it is your SEO is likely going to be part of your overall business and marketing strategy. That’s why, the first step is to get clear what your business goals are. What does your business intend to achieve by the end of the year? What about 3 years from now? 5 years from now?
Whether you need more customers, leads, or more brand awareness to hit certain business goals, your search marketing strategy should work to support those business goals.
Many businesses merely intend to get as much traffic as possible with the hopes that more traffic means that there is a higher chance that a an interested prospect will see their service and become a customer. However, not all traffic is made equal. Can you imagine if you were providing plumbing services, and you were driving traffic that was only interested in watching cat videos?
How much would traffic be worth to you? Likely, not very much at all.
This is because they don’t have the intent to hire a plumber.
Think about how you market your business offline. If you sold women’s clothing, would you offer coupons to children or men? It would be far more effective to hand out your flyers to a woman who was already looking into shop windows. Your search marketing efforts should reflect the same thought process.
“Great Content” and “High Quality Backlinks” have become industry buzzwords in the wake of spammy practices employed by many SEO practitioners. No doubt, relevant, high quality content and backlinks can provide a company with solid ranking power. But it’s all worthless (or at least less effective) if a site is not optimised for a SEO.
That’s where on page as SEO comes in.
Onpage SEO refers to how well your website is structured such that search engine crawlers can easily understand and classify your website’s information. Without a strong onpage game, your content and link building efficacy will be severely diminished.
Think of a house built on weak foundations. No matter how much you try to reinforce and renovate the house, it will never be as strong as a house that started off being built on good foundations in the first place.
Just like any business activity, you must track your SEO efforts. Otherwise, it will be difficult to attribute your site’s ranking success (or lack thereof) to any particular activity. Luckily, there are numerous tools to help you with that. Chief among them are Google Analytics and the Search Console.
Like any other marketing method, SEO is not a set and forget strategy. It needs to be constantly monitored and tweaked for better results. In fact, it is even more imperative to monitor your site’s performance for SEO. This is because Google’s search engine algorithm is constantly changing. Therefore one must stay on top of the current trends and make moves accordingly.
Forget about crawlers, speak to humans
One of the most fundamental mistakes that I see people make is that they ask themselves, “what would Google’s crawler like to see?”
Let’s not forget that search engines were made for human searches. So while it is profitable to build your strategy around what the crawlers are currently looking for, it is far more sustainable to deliver value to human readers. No doubt, as crawlers become more advanced they will begin to emulate human readers more and more closely. Therefore, the businesses that are able to provide the best content for human readers will inadvertently provide the most preferred content to crawlers as well.
It absolutely imperative that businesses these days make the most of SEO. However, it is important to remember not to over-complicate things. If you are a business owner and you have done any sort of marketing online or off-line, then you would have the discussed above inherently instilled in your mind.
It is also equally important to remember that SEO is not the be all and end all of digital marketing. There are numerous other traffic sources that you need to be leveraging in your business. Some of these include social media, advertising and more. All the best for your business endeavours and please ask any questions that you have about search marketing in the comments below!