Step 1: Start with buyer persona research rather than keyword research.Like in any marketing function, technical or not, understanding the audience prior to launching a campaign is an essential step in the strategy.
Step 2: Perform Keyword Research: Segment by Keyword IntentThere are many ways to perform keyword research, however, keyword segmentation is extremely important if you want to be effective. Some keywords won’t drive conversions but they have a huge amount of traffic potential to bring your brand awareness and interest. Segment your keywords by informational and intentional keywords so that you have a better understanding of your buyer journey.
Step 3: Apply Mobile First Methodologies and StandardsToday, you absolutely need a great mobile user experience. Run your site through the mobile usability test by Google. This should give you direction on what items need to be addressed.
Step 4: Use Schema Whenever PossibleStructured data is becoming more and more important for strong search visibility. Many authorities in the industry predict that is will be more important than ever in 2017.
Step 5: Build long form contentTrends show that long form content succeeds better in search engines than thin content. Average word counts for top ranking results are increasing consistently as time goes on.
SEO Learning Resources are all over the web, but we don’t always know which ones to trust! In most cases, people are just publishing curated content that they see from the original sources. So, I’ve put together a list of SEO Resources that you can count on.
The most widely used website on the internet is call Google. For those of you who don’t know what Google is, I’d just give up right about now…
Millions of people conduct searches on the Internet using search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing on a daily basis. While you and everyone else in the world use search engines every day, it begs the question… do you really know how search engines work?
Core Functionality of a Search Engine
Basically all search engines both large and small function and operate in the same manner. Their purpose hasn’t changed much over the past couple decades. Search engines capture information from websites using what is commonly called a spider, crawler, or bot.
The Role of Hyperlinks
The search engine spider crawls webpages all throughout the internet, using links to find new pages. Hyperlinks determine the architecture of a website.
Understanding Search Engine Indexing
Search engine indexing is the process of a search engine collecting, parses and stores data for use by the search engine. Once the information is captured, the spider submits it to the search engine’s index. This information is utilized to store data in a logical format, making information retrieval much faster and more efficient.
How Algorithms Affect Search Result Rankings
Algorithm - a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.
Every sophisticated computer program has some sort of algorithm that it uses to work through a sequence of events. This algorithm determines which decisions it will make. In Google’s scenario, the decision is going to be where to place each webpage in the index.
Just to give you an idea, Google incorporates more than 200 different ranking factors with its algorithm. Here is a nice infographic so you can more easily visualize it.
How Search Engines Are Unique From One Another
It’s all in the secret sauce, baby! Well, an algorithm at least. While every search engine has an algorithm to provide search results, each calculation is somewhat different based on the particular search engine. Each search engine may have different criteria that is used in the algorithm or the criteria may be weighted differently. This results in different rankings for each search engine results.
Ranking Factors Other Than Keyword Relevancy
There are many moving parts with search engines, especially search engines like Google. While, the core functionality comes down to relevancy and keywords, how does Google determine which website hits first page for “Ford Trucks. “
Think about it. There are only 10 spots on the first page and you get over a million search results when you Google “Ford Trucks.”
While every search engine seems to work the same in function, each search engine company keeps their algorithms a secret. The reason is because they do not want people outside the company to understand or know the specifics behind the search engine’s design or operations, especially the algorithm.
How & Why Google Favors Brands
Google favors big brands. This is partly due to the fact that bigger brands spend more time developing their content. They spend a lot of money and they abide by very strict brand guidelines. That said, bigger brands pose less of a threat to Google’s users in terms of displaying spammy or low quality content.
Hopefully you don’t feel discouraged by that because with SEO, you can still beat them. You just have to be more efficient, develop better quality content and have a solid SEO plan in place.
Google rankings are all a Popularity Contest
The other reason why it seems that Google favors brands is because Google’s ranking algorithm is pretty much a popularity contest. For instance, take the keyword “Ford Trucks” again with over 1 mm results.
While theoretically, all one million pages could have the same exact keywords and number of words on each page, but that still doesn’t help us determine the quality, validity and value of the content to Google’s users. Google’s smarter than that…
Instead, Google uses links or backlinks to help separate the most helpful, relevant content from the low quality content which provides Google users little to no value.
In fact, this idea, PageRank, developed by former Google CEO, Larry Page, was what truly separated Google from other search engines like AOL, ASK Jeeves, Yahoo, etc..
Learn Search Engine Friendly Basics
The basic principals on how to make your website search engine friendly
SEO is a marketing tool that enables an enterprise to improve the online rankings and visibility of its website. In order to maximize SEO, businesses need a fundamental understanding of the following search engine basics:
- SEO drives traffic, increases rankings on search engines and enhances online visibility in an organic (non-paid) way, thereby reducing the need to rely on paid search engine marketing (SEM).
- Effective SEO requires identification of keywords consumers frequently use to search the Internet for a specific company, organization, product, service or resource.
- Correctly identifying, therefore, the words most commonly associated with an industry allows a business in that industry to include those words in the content it posts on its website. In doing so, it raises its rankings on search engines.
One of the search engine basics businesses often overlook is that successful online marketing requires more than simply maximizing results based on keyword usage. Additional factors to consider include:
- A website must be simple to navigate. Site architecture that search engines have difficulty understanding will not rank highly and, therefore, not attract much traffic.
- The website should load quickly.
- The site should be formatted for access via mobile devices.
- Search engines utilize proprietary algorithms that read online data to determine which results are most relevant to the search.
- Businesses are not given access to these algorithms, thereby preventing them from developing workarounds designed to circumvent the purpose of SEO.
Regardless of product, service, or mission, few organizations can hope to succeed without a comprehensive marketing program. And for most businesses, online marketing has become a necessity. But, what is so great about online marketing?
When a company has a website that is easy to find, easy to navigate, and engages visitors, this makes that website visible, credible, and a lead generating machine . Sounds simple enough. However, if it was, all online marketing campaigns would be successful. Clearly they are not.
The Key to Successful SEO Campaigns
The key to success is, of course, online traffic and the key to online traffic is effective use of search engines. Consumers won’t become customers of a business if they can’t find that business. This is one of the most fundamental of search engine basics and is why so much emphasis is placed on search engine optimization (SEO).
Google is moving to mobile first indexing in the near future. This is a big move, as no one has ever experienced this type of change before. Mobile first indexing requires a website to be mobile friendly, load quickly, and stay consistent.
What is SEO?
“Search engine optimization”. A mystery to most, but mastered by few individuals who possess the ability to make money fall from the sky. All you need is a computer, internet and a lot of time. If you have all of those things, you can master the art and science of Search Engine Optimization.
Briefly, here’s what you need to know about search engine optimization (SEO):
- SEO is a marketing tactic companies or individuals can leverage to improve the rankings and visibility of its website (as well as online presence in general). This is done by improving the on-page and off-page factors search engines consider important.
- Imagine the power of having your company’s website listed at the top of Google for every keyword that your customers search. That’s pretty powerful because your customers are already looking for a company like you, and now, you are the first website they see.
- If you are not on 1st page or near the top of 1st page, chances of anyone finding you is slim to none. The fact is that 85% of search engine users do not click beyond the 1st page of Google. That said, the company’s website would be buried too far down the rankings to be of much benefit.
Perhaps more important than asking “what is search engine optimization” (especially for small and medium-sized businesses), is why is SEO so important?
Why is SEO Important?
In a nutshell, employing a well planned SEO strategy can drive serious traffic, increasing rankings which result in brand visibility and awareness, all through organic search results (natural search results. Not Ads).
A comprehensive online marketing strategy requires more than simply maximizing results based on keyword usage; however, designing site architecture that simplifies navigation is a key factor to improving search rankings.
- Fix all technical errors. Google has a hard time reading your website when there are a lot of technical errors on your site. If you have a lot of technical issues, more than likely, you will have trouble ranking.
- A strong Mobile User Experience is essential. This means creating a mobile website with lightening fast page load times and easy to navigate.
- Search engines use algorithms that read data found on the Internet and determine which results are most relevant to the initial search.
Each algorithm is constructed using numerous factors, most of which are proprietary and, therefore, not available to businesses so that they can deconstruct them and develop workarounds.
When it comes to increasing search rankings, which then drive traffic to a website, the site’s content is the factor that most influences algorithms to rank some results higher than others.
So, what is search engine optimization? It’s the best, most cost-effective way for companies to market themselves and what they sell or do if they produce content that is unique, informative and related to topics for which Internet searches are conducted and the website it is easy to view and use.
Owning a business is not easy, and I think most would agree that one of the biggest challenges is knowing where to invest marketing dollars. The first step is to understand your market. This is something that every business owner or company executive should know; otherwise the business is being setup for failure. Keeping this in mind, businesses are currently spending billions of dollars on online advertising like Google Adwords, Facebook, etc. However, many small business owners are still resistant to change while they see their old offline marketing return on investment (ROI) quickly shrink. Why is this happening? Here are 5 answers to that question.
1. The Yellow Phone Book Is DeadIn a recent survey performed by Harris Interactive reports that “Nearly 70% of adults in the U.S. “rarely or never” use the phone book.” This survey was conducted on behalf of Whitepages.com to bring more attention to their website, Ban the Phone Book, designed to educate people about the 165,000 tons of waste phone books generate per year.
2. What About Email Marketing?It’s no secret that email marketing has become a core component of many businesses’ marketing strategies; however, one must beg the question, which component is producing the best ROI? It’s no doubt that email marketing is much less expensive than direct mail marketing. There are no printing or postage costs associated with it. While email marketing may be cheaper, does it get as high of a response rate? The data below is from a real case study on a business marketing to their customer loyalty program members. The case study was performed by the Harvard Business Review.
The campaign consisted of 105,000 customers in a database. They were distributed into three groups (35,000 for each group). One group combined Direct mail and email marketing; one was direct mail only; the last was Email only.So, to figure out the actual ROI, we will first calculate the amount of revenue generated by each group. We see that the response rate on direct mail is higher, thus generating more revenue; however, the cost for direct mail marketing is about 100 times more. By doing a simple ROI calculation (ROI = total revenue / total spend), we find that the ROI is literally almost 100 times more than direct mail marketing.
3. Mobile Devices are Taking Over the WorldWe live in a mobile age. Typically, when someone is searching for a local business to meet whatever need they may have, Google geo-targets (finds where they’re located) their location by using GPS. For instance, if someone is driving around in Pearland, TX looking for Restaurants, they only need to type in the keyword “Restaurants” on their mobile devices. With GPS enabled, Google will show local business results. Notice under each location, there is a ‘Call’ link, ‘Directions’ link, and a ‘Website’ link. This is a significant factor to consider when driving online traffic to your business. Quick Fact: 48 percent of U.S. mobile users used their devices to access local content in December 2012, up from 42 percent in December 2011. According to Televox mobile traffic has surpassed desktop and laptop traffic in 2013 and is growing by about 3.5% each month.
4.Track All of Your LeadsYou can track all of your online marketing efforts, which give much more transparency than traditional marketing. Knowing where your leads are coming from is a key component of understanding your most profitable marketing efforts. Online marketing has even made traditional marketing more effective by using coupon codes on print ads that customers can claim on the website. Most business owners are also aware of mobile apps that allow people to scan QR codes to go directly to a page. These can be tracked as well. Google Analytics is the first step to understanding how your website is performing online. With this tool you can track the amount of visitors that are coming to your site, how they are getting there, what type of devices they are using, and much more. This is an essential part of any type of online marketing campaign. Taking a step further, one might want to install call tracking on their website. Software such as Marchex, allows one to track and record calls by using different phone numbers for different sources. Additionally, the phone number will automatically change for website visitors that come from paid advertising versus nonpaid search traffic. Being able to track every lead makes it much easier for a business to figure out its return on investment (ROI) for each type of marketing and optimize their budget to reflect that. It’s important to know what is working and what is not to be successful, thus giving online marketing a competitive advantage when comparing it versus offline strategies.
5. Leveraging Social MediaIf your business isn’t using social media, it should be. Today, a majority of online adults are using social media. In a study done by the Pew Research Center they found that 72% of online adults are using social networking sites. Interestingly, women were found to use social networking sites more than men. Furthermore, the research study found that regardless of income the percentage of online adults using social networking sites is about the same across the board. While income factors stay consistent, the statistics that were found based on age are most likely what everyone expected. The older the individual, the less likely they are going to be using social networking sites. So while the older population is much less likely to be using social media, it’s important to point out that almost half of senior citizens are using social media (43%). Keeping this in mind, it tells business owners that no matter how old their target market may be, social media should not be discounted as a means for effective marketing. As of December 2012:
- 15% of online adults say they use Pinterest
- 13% of online adults say they use Instagram
- 6% of online adults say they use Tumblr
- 67% of online adults say they use Facebook