Web Designers and Social Media Managers talk a lot about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And, they charge a fee to provide this service for their clients. But what exactly is SEO and why should you care? The goal of this article, which is part one of a two-part series, is to take the mystery out of SEO, explain the essential services of SEO, and explain why every company that has a web site needs SEO as part of their marketing plan. If you don’t understand SEO, it is impossible for you to see the importance in budgeting for this particular service. Perhaps worse than that, without proper knowledge, you might end up hiring the wrong consultant/SM manager and waste whatever money you did add to your budget.
First, let’s define Search Engine Optimization. SEO ensures your site is visible when a customer does an online search for the products/services provided by your company via a search engine. For example, if you are a Home Theater Installation Company in Denver, Colorado, you want your website to show up on the first page of search results when the phrase “Home Theater Installation Denver Colorado” is searched. How does this happen? SEO is how this happens. SEO is tailored for each website and may include more steps than what I cover in this article. These are some basic SEO strategies, so you know what to look for from your marketing department or when interviewing outside your company for your SEO needs:
Know Your Audience. However you plan your SEO strategy, you need to know your online target audience. In-depth. Where are they located? What age bracket? What gender? What income bracket? These are just some of the questions that need answers so your SEO can be tailored to grab attention and get people to learn more about your products/services.
Keyword Research. The process of Keyword Research provides an understanding of key phrases, search terms and online demand for your products/services. Step One – Brainstorm like a potential customer. Use phrases and industry terms customers will use when looking for your products/services. There are free tools to help identify keywords, and Google AdWords can take your list of keywords and give you good ideas for related keywords. Also, keywords need to be used in your website content. I will explain more on how this works in my next article.
Start Blogging and Creating Content. Blogs are the best organic way to build your online audience. It is a way of pitching your business. By pitching, I don’t mean a sales pitch. Establish your company as a leader in your industry by sharing your knowledge and how your products/services are better than the competition. The keywords that will be used in this pitch will create a “net” or “funnel” for customers to be caught in when search engines like Google and Bing crawl the web.
Build Your Social Media. Pick social media platforms to support your website and industry. Not all platforms are relevant to all sectors. Research what your competition does and use the same social media platforms they use. Google + is a must for ranking in Google. Websites that have a Google + profile get a higher position than ones that do not. Facebook is also one that in my opinion every business should have because of the sheer number of people that are on this platform. Facebook has great analytics that can help segment your target audience and drive traffic to your website.
Google Analytics. This. Is. A. Must. Google Analytics are the eyes monitoring the Google online world regarding the marketing of your site. Without Analytics, you are creating content blind. Google Analytic Reports show tons of information regarding traffic to your website; where your traffic originated from, the popular keywords used to find your site, which blog topic resonated with the audience, what time of day the traffic is the highest on your website, and the social media platform that is or is not driving traffic to your site. Google Analytics helps you appreciate the concept of traffic and its sources, as well as letting you read monthly or weekly reports that are tailored just for you.
Ask Questions and Read. As I have mentioned in previous articles, online marketing, when done correctly, needs constant research for it to be beneficial. The same goes for SEO. Follow and read some SEO blogs to stay up to date on the latest SEO developments. SEO, like online marketing, is changing all the time.
I read Moz’s, Search Engine Land and Google Starter Guide blogs. Moz’s Whiteboard Friday and Google Webmaster are two important sites that provide beneficial SEO tips. There are also some great YouTube channels. Also, join some forums, so you have a place to go with any questions on SEO. These communities are also a great place to find SEO consultants and/or employees.
This list of tips and strategies could go on and on and take up the entire newsletter. This basic outline is designed to point you in the right direction, whether you attempt to handle SEO internally or bring someone in from the outside. You will be a better SEO client if you can ask the right questions. You will also hire a better consultant or employee with a better knowledge base of the subject matter.