Your SEO adventure is just starting.
Every SEO strategy begins with two critical questions, and these are the ones every website owner must ask himself:
1. What will your website help you accomplish? Turn you into a well-known brand or into an influencer, manage your reputation or simply get you online leads ?
2. Who are you talking to? Have you sketched the portrait of at least one buyer persona?
Is SEO a good idea for lead generation?
We’ve talked about this in a previous post. People oftentimes fixate on the total number of unique visitors that end up on a site. In fact, B2Bs and B2Cs should focus on creating content that speaks to a particular type of audience. To sum up what we’re saying, there are only two ways to go about things:
- either you create a bucket load of content, you get a huge number of visitors based on varied search queries and out of that (let’s say) million people, there’s got to be at least one that buys something
- or you focus on attracting a different kind of social category, one that actually matters for your business, perhaps even in the long run, which is to say real SEO sales leads.
These are two of the most common strategies in search engine optimization. While the first one works for sites that deal with e-commerce and product review sites, of which the content is more or less mixed, the second one is a “Hail, Mary!” for B2Bs and B2Cs. Which brings us back to the introduction of this article, where questions have to be asked.
How do some sites create so much content?
It was out of curiosity that I checked out a world-known website that specializes in search engine marketing. I don’t necessarily make a habit out of reading everyone’s articles on the topic, but I had heard something interesting about their strategy. It came as a huge surprise for me to realize that, on the 10th of September 2014, they published 11 articles. This, of course, led me to the following (and only natural) question: How do these people afford so many content writers? The answer is simple. They don’t. They accept guest posts and I’m sure their strategy works the other way as well, which means they probably do some guest blogging themselves — although now it wouldn’t even be necessary, with the whole pandemonium around them. But, in the beginning, they most probably did. I’m talking about a website that partly makes money out of ads (therefore it is profitable for it to attract all sorts of site visitors) and partly out of online marketing services.
In other words, in lead generation, these two strategies can be combined, to best achieve a satisfactory result.
Using SEO strategies for lead generation is fantastically tricky.
And that’s because we’re not talking about a simple e-commerce website that offers a wide range of products of all sorts and needs to be optimized for all items. Sure, in increasing lead generation, we may discuss the same things: link building, healthy alt-tags, researching keywords that might relate to the business purpose and the offered services, some guest blogging here or there, but the bottom line is content marketing, social media marketing and email marketing are the keys to opening the door to leads.
The main issue of strictly online trades, particularly if they’re in the tech field, is they can’t afford writing about topics that are unrelated to their services. BoredPanda and BuzzFeed can do it, and so can many others. But when you’re in domains such as web or mobile development, you can’t write about 33 Feminist GIFs You need in Your Life. No pun intended. This is an actual BuzzFeed article title.
How about search engine marketing? Will that get me some leads?
At the end of August 2014, Wharton Magazine published an article about how, in generating leads, SEM is better than SEO. Some may disagree, because they are two almost completely different online techniques. I’ll admit that SEM can initially help website owners do something valuable. Since Google Analytics does not provide the relevant keywords for your business anymore, there’s one amazingly useful thing you can do.
A PPC campaign budget, combined with keywords based on Google Trends, on business activity and on specifically targeted countries may produce this outcome:
a couple of days have already gone by and results in Adwords are already visible. Some ads get clicked on (depending on used keywords) and some do not. In consequence, there are keywords one needs to target and keywords one needs to avoid. And PPC tells you which one is which.
Using SEO strategies for managing online reputation
Every trade, regardless of its experience, expertise and localization, should, sooner or later, focus on managing its online reputation. Marketing and PR must be integrated in a business plan even before the official launch of a service.
Image credit: Flickr user Phil Windley
Think of it this way: You’ve recently opened your first Italian restaurant. You have a small team of employees that are specialized in creating exquisite dishes, that belong to this culture. Business is slow at first, but because of the quality of the ingredients you use and because you focus on offering clients delighting services, you start hiring more and more people. Recruitment processes take up a lot of your time, and you can never know for sure that your fresh employees will do a great job.
Because some are not exactly qualified, this is what happens: one evening, you find out a customer has filed a complaint. Not only did they do this, but they went online and gave your restaurant a poor rating. Since Google Maps now allows anonymous users to post reviews of places, you risk losing clients. What should you do?
Great online reputation management can be performed with the help of some techniques, and most of these require some search engine optimization.
Don’t go into online arguments
Revenge is not an option. Using harsh words in online public comments can only make you look like a spoiled brat, whose toys have been stolen and who can’t deal with it.
Apologizing is an appropriate form of proving you’re mature enough to handle a business. Do it even though you know, deep inside you, that you haven’t done anything wrong. But think about the immense number of other users that will observe how you’ve chosen to deal with the situation, instead of going nuts and virtually ‘screaming’ at your critic.
Write a blog post about it.
In the series of ten articles we’ve written about content strategy, we talked about how difficult it is, at times, to discover interesting topics to write about. Well, there you have it — handling critique is a catchy subject. Not only do you have the opportunity to express your regrets, but you can also offer that dissatisfied customer a coupon or a reduction of any sort. To preserve your reputation, focus on generating smiles, instead of frowns.
Image credit: JWA Commons
In this case, keywords revolve around your business name and around the services you offer. And make sure this is the blog post you distribute extensively on social media.
When managing reputation, search engine optimization goes hand in hand with content creation, social media distribution and link building. Here’s where guest blogging is also hugely useful.
Be it fortunately or unfortunately, when most people research a topic or a service, they usually check out the first 10 results. The main idea is for the business name to appear on the first page of results in Google search, so any negative reviews are pushed down to the following pages. This can be achieved using your brand name in positive contexts and on multiple domains, so performing both on-page and off-page optimization is necessary. Public relations, press releases, various social networks and any other sites brand managers have access to must be used in order to generate fruitful and constructive pictures of a business.
Do you have any other suggestions for using search engine optimization and/or marketing in order to generate leads or manage reputation? Let us know in the comments.