No matter the type of business you have on your hands, it’s high time you set your SEO objectives, as well as defined the audience of your website.
I know Google has the tendency to update its algorithms and even keep some of their features behind the curtain, but some things about SEO marketing never change. I want to share them with you now.
Strategic goals of search engine optimization.
First of all, for all search engine optimization aficionados out there, there’s a book title you should at least browse, if not read from cover to cover, in spite of its 700+ pages: The Art of SEO. It was published back in 2012, but some info is as accurate and unquestionable today as it was back then, even before Panda and Penguin, which rocked the world of online marketers. It is the mother of all books on the topic, and by this, I mean any eager optimization learner should read the book and resort to it as often as the going gets rough.
Moving on to the actual topic, the core goals of you search engine strategy are:
- improving site visibility or brand awareness – a technique used by most companies that are well-known enough to have people looking for them by name. This could happen in the case of giant businesses such as Coca-Cola and Avon, for example. The main advantage that comes from the popularity of these companies is the fact that they are quoted all over the digital place, and the anchor text (the visible link text) is their actual name
- improving website traffic – We’ve always looked at this as being a problem. Each time somebody launches a site, they’re thinking numbers.
- They want more and more unique visitors and the irony is that most personal blogs and un-classically-professional sites receive advertising offers because of this highly irrelevant number. Paid link-building practices and other dirty advertising techniques are ‘loathed’ by Google, and they could result in fatal penalties, such as completely banning your site from this particular search engine. We all know it – if you’re not on Google, you don’t exist.
- So then, how to get site visitors that matter to your business? You want to sell, right? We do too. But you’re not seeing us spamming or buying any link. We realize that by creating stupendous content and by being quoted by others (and it has happened solely because of our articles) we’re slowly, but gradually and surely rising up.
- Do you sell pet food? Then simply optimize your site for pet food. But this goes both ways. The process begins with the development of a website, since some descriptions have to be introduced into the code. And then all your website must deal with pet food some way or another. Just do us a favor – don’t stuff your content with this keyword, because you’ll have a huge bounce rate and you’ll start complaining about how none of these techniques worked for you.
- Instead, perform keyword research. I’ve talked about this in a previous post and about some tools one can use to get started. Let’s say you generally sell pet food (but you clearly have various brands, flavors, or categories: nourishment for cats, dogs, birds, etc). Your site should be optimized for pet food, but your content needs to be optimized accordingly, which is to mean if you’re selling pet food that tastes like barbecue, or salmon food for cats, you need to have your product descriptions optimized as well.
- focus on organic search engine optimization. Eric Enge once said: “organic SEO is one of the highest ROI activities for businesses”. And oh boy, was he right! Let’s just keep in mind that organic optimization does come after paid placement. But if you can’t afford paying for Google Adwords all of your online life, invest in content. Because content is forever.
Raw traffic expectations
This technique works only in the case of websites that intend to monetize traffic, through advertising. We’re talking blogs, product review sites and other places where unique or main keyword targeting is practically impossible. Every post has different keywords, which are so diverse that they are unrelated to one another. The main goal of these websites is to gather visitors through organic search, without performing any direct sale. In fact, the only spice that works for this type of websites is the high-quality content.
SEO plans are unique
Most businesses are different. Except for the ones that sell exactly the same things. It takes a fantastic online professional to realize what they can do for each business, so that they manage to sell.
In other words, before researching any keyword, answer these questions:
- What is the company trying to achieve?
- What’s the target market?
- What is the brand and what measures can be applied in order to turn it into an outrageously well-known name?
- What is the website structure and current content? What needs doing so they’re perfectly optimized?
- How difficult is it to modify the content and the site?
- How fast can someone develop content for the site?
- What’s the number of competitors and where do they stand?
This phase is crucial for your overall marketing strategy, for your brand awareness, and even for your number of visitors, if you’re wrongly focused on that kind of thing.
How are queries performed? Does your search engine optimization strategy depend on it?
There are many ways to search the www, but three of them are most common:
- The navigational query. This is when a user’s looking for a specific name. If I wanted to learn about Magic The Gathering, I’d probably type in “Magic The Gathering”. That would lead me to the exact website where I can enter the land of magic.
- The informational query. Now, my search query would broaden, because I’d probably type in “Magic The Gathering news”, and I would find out that the new one is being launched in 2015.
- The transactional query. I, for one, like Caterpillar boots. I also like the color brown. Maybe I want to buy myself a pair, now that winter is coming. What do I look for? Caterpillar brown boots for women on sale. This is where Google used to be smart with me and recommended me the closest places where I could buy this product. Luckily, this feature is now mostly integrated in the “Shopping” button.
But I’m not interested in going out of the house this weekend, so I’ll just order online. If I find a website that sells boots like these and they’re at an affordable price, why not just get them? The question is: will I discover YOUR site? Or will I find one of your competitor’s, because theirs is better optimized?
Search engine optimization for and before creating a website
Perhaps one or two decades ago, we all started writing and that was it. But nowadays, it’s all about site visibility. Consequently, search engine optimization begins the moment you come up with your business model. It is thanks to it that you can successfully target customers, develop competitor strategies, define your budget for creating content and ultimately realize how clients will search for your services or your products.
Men and women use different words when looking for something, as do people of different ages.
Men and women search differently for the same thing. (via wordtracker.com)
Bonus – How does search engine optimization work for eCommerce websites?
We live and breathe online, and there are statistics to prove it. 71% of buyers think they’ll get a better deal if they purchase products online. According to selz.com, at the end of 2013, over 80% of the entire digital population had at least once bought online.
This means you need search engine optimization if you’re in the business of retail, because you obviously sell merchandise using your website. It could be that paid search advertising works great for this type of business (PPC or PPV).
But what to do when you’ve run out of funds, “thanks” to ample AdWords campaigns?
- perform link building and internal linking, according to how products are related among one another
- optimize each description using specific keywords, so you can rank highly for competitive queries that bring in conversion-intended traffic; every variation of a product should be optimized differently (e.g.: blue denim dress vs red denim dress)
- the more merchandise you’re selling, the more categories you should group it into, and the more frequently you need to update descriptions (some items can be out of stock or simply seasonal)
- categories must also be described
- all descriptions must be unique and differ from the ones existing on the sites of manufacturers
- name all your images correctly. In this case, the title should be blue-denim-dress.jpg, and the alt tag simply blue denim dress.
- with the exception of spam, Google trusts user-generated content, so make sure you build a community around users, by enabling commenting and social media sharing.
Last but not least, eCommerce websites have to be optimized for mobile usage. This, unfortunately, isn’t the responsibility of an online marketing professional.Just think about it: Statista says there are now more than 1 billion mobile online buyers, and 1 in every 10$ is spent through a mobile device. (March 2014)
Stay tuned. The next episode is about how search engine optimization intervenes in generating leads, managing reputation and becoming an influencer.
*Image credit: Flickr