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If you’re operating in today’s business environment, then you know how important it is to have an online marketing strategy. You are also probably aware of how dependent on organic search the online marketing landscape is. This means that search engine optimization (SEO) plays an important role in the growth and profitability of your business. It allows you to position your company not only as an influencer, but even as an industry leader. It is therefore imperative for you to learn how to make SEO work to your advantage, and that begins with adopting the right mindset.
Here are some facts you need to bear in mind so as to achieve excellent SEO results:
1. SEO is a build-in, not an add-on
Most consumers now conduct an online search prior to making a purchase decision. This is why organic search has become essential to the success of any business. Your web pages and your brand needs to be highly visible on search engines, particularly Google, because that is where most consumers search for information on products and services these days. That is also where you can expect a majority of your web traffic to come from.
It is for this reason that you shouldn’t look at SEO as something to add to your online marketing strategy. Rather, it should be built into every aspect of your online marketing campaign from the start. When your SEO team works hand-in-hand with all the other teams in your marketing department, that’s when you can truly take advantage of the entire process and reach your full potential in terms of gaining a solid online following.
Note that in today’s world of online marketing, the three pillars of SEO, which you need to place special focus on, are content, links, and social media. As a general rule, your content has to be of high quality, you need to earn links from authority sites, and you need to work on strengthening social signals such as likes, retweets, and +1s. If you are able to successfully combine all three elements in your online marketing strategy, you stand the best chance of getting to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
Content – Content became a buzzword in the online marketing world after Google updated its algorithms to give more value to quality and penalize sites with low-quality content. When you create and post content, therefore, you should make sure that your target customers’ needs are truly met. The necessary first step in content marketing is therefore research. You need to know what kind of information your target market regularly searches for online, what kind of content they typically consume, and when they usually conduct online searches. This will be the basis for the kind of content you put out and the schedule you need to follow when posting content.
Note as well that you can’t just focus on posting content on your own website. You should also make it a habit to post content on other platforms. You could, for example, maintain a blog, guest post on other blogs, or actively post on social media platforms. It is also a good idea to diversify your content by posting a healthy combination of text articles, video content, podcasts, infographics, etc. But whatever type of content you post and wherever you choose to post it, you have to make sure it is relevant to your target audience, well-planned, and generally of high quality.
Links – Some business owners choose to pay for links in hopes that it will aid their SEO campaign. Do NOT make the same mistake. Paid links are among the things Google especially hates; not only will it yield no results, it may even hurt your business. Instead of paying for links, therefore, you should focus on earning authority links and the best way to do this is to constantly put out excellent content and promote it extensively. Yes, effective link-building still points you back to content marketing, which drives home the fact that high-quality content rules today’s SEO landscape.
Social Media – In a 2013 survey, Moz found that there was a high correlation between web pages that rank high on SERPs and +1s, which is equivalent to a “like” on Google+. In that same year, search analytics software company Search Metrics also noted that Google+ in general and +1 shares in particular are growing in importance where Google search rankings are concerned. Considering these, it has become important for businesses to share content on Google+. Of course, other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are also useful, since they are generally more popular. But Google+ is owned by Google, so it definitely won’t hurt to build a community there as well.
2. SEO should be data-driven
SEO is among those things that rely heavily on planning. If your SEO strategy has failed in the past, it may be because you didn’t plan it very carefully. In most cases, failures are the result of setting up SEO campaigns based on gut feel, rather than facts. You need to bear in mind that digital analytics plays a major role in the success of any SEO campaign. You can’t just rely on your guts; you need cold, hard data.
You need to gather data about your target market (their needs and online behaviors), your competitors (what they’re doing right and what they’re not), your industry (latest trends), and the online marketing landscape in general (this is a highly dynamic landscape, so you need to keep up with the constant changes). You need to constantly monitor your performance (website traffic, conversions, etc.) and make adjustments wherever necessary.
3. Automations and plug-ins can never replace an SEO professional
There are plug-ins and automated tools that can help make your SEO work easier. That much is true. However, you should never think that having these plug-ins and tools is enough to launch a successful SEO campaign. Bear in mind that SEO is a complex process that requires a lot more than ticking-off boxes in a computer application’s settings. Many business owners have failed at SEO and online marketing simply because they made the mistake of thinking that plug-ins can do the work for them.
In recent years, Google has launched one algorithm update after another, and there’s no telling when they’re going to stop making such major changes. The problem with plug-ins is that they cannot tell when changes have been made, nor can they adjust accordingly. This is why, no matter how many tools and plug-ins may be at your disposal, it is still advisable to get a professional to handle SEO for your business. You can hire an in-house SEO specialist or outsource your SEO campaigns; what matters is that an expert handles it.
An SEO expert can help ensure that you do not make costly mistakes. He/she makes it easier for you to avoid common errors such as neglecting to run occasional SEO audits, installing plug-ins that cause your website to slow down, and making website code changes that harm your SEO efforts. Additionally, your SEO specialist can strengthen your online marketing strategy by effectively planning and implementing such things as information architecture, internal link architecture, website structure, and site navigation. These are all important aspects of an effective website, which no plug-in can truly address.
4. SEO can never replace a good product/service
No matter how good your SEO specialist is, if you don’t have a good product and do not deliver excellent service to your customers, your SEO efforts aren’t likely to do you any good. We can talk all day about how you can create high-quality content and earn valuable links or how to promote your website and brand on social media platforms, but none of that will matter unless you are able to keep your promise in terms of product/service quality.
You may be able to achieve a modicum of success in the beginning if your SEO is really good, but at the end of the day, you’re bound to lose whatever success you may have gained if the quality of your product/service isn’t up to par. Never think about SEO as a quick fix solution. That kind of mindset will only keep you from reaching your true potential and achieving your business goals. In the long run, it is your customers’ opinion about your products/service that matters most where success is concerned, so keep working on enhancing your product/service offerings. That’s how you’ll achieve long-term business success.
By keeping these four things in mind, you should be well on your way towards SEO success. Ultimately, though, SEO is all about trust. When you successfully earn Google’s trust by constantly posting high-quality content and building a solid network of quality links, you stand the best chance of getting all your web pages to rank well for all of your targeted keywords. And in the same way you don’t build a person’s trust by lying to him, you also cannot earn Google’s trust by trying to trick it into seeing your website as something it isn’t. Just keep offering excellent content and a positive user experience; you’ll soon reap your well-deserved rewards.