Online Marketing Strategy: Build Your SEO, Build Your Business
You’re probably familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by now, and you probably know that it’s really important - but do you understand how it works and how to make the most of it? Getting to the top of search rankings, or landing on the first page of results for the top search engines, is a priority for most businesses. In order to do that, you’ll need to understand how search engines work, and how to plan and structure your content so search engines can easily find it.
So, how do search engines really work?
From a user perspective, search engines are reasonably basic tools. Visitors type search terms, or “keywords,” into a box on a page and violà! loads of relevant content appears, right at their fingertips. Most users don’t know that all this information made it to just the right place, at just the right time, through a series of pretty complex processes. Becoming familiar with just three of those base processes will help you understand how search engines function.
Crawling: Search engines “crawl” the internet looking for new information
Search engines constantly scan, or “crawl" the internet, to make sure they know exactly what’s out there, what’s new, and what’s getting the most attention. Each major search provider (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) has powerful computers that scan the entire internet looking for new websites, new pages, and updates to old content - basically looking for anything that has changed or wasn’t there before.
Indexing: New information gets “indexed" for future reference
After all that new information is discovered, it gets indexed. Think of this like the index of a book, or the index of an entire library. While indexing, search engines rely on the structure of websites and the content on a page to tell it what that page or site is about, which is why structure, and putting keywords in the right places, is so important - more on that later!
Serving: Content is “served” or displayed to visitors
Information that has been discovered and indexed gets stored in a database, just waiting for eager searchers to call it up. When a visitor goes to a search engine page and types in what they’re looking for, the search engine sorts through the information stored in their index then serves up, or displays, the relevant results on a page for the visitor to consider clicking.
This, of course, is a simplified overview of how it all works. Search engines take into consideration a lot of other important things - such as how fast your website loads, if it works well on mobile devices, if anyone is talking about your site on social media or other websites, how frequently it’s updated, and whether or not you’ve done a great job with the structure of your overall site and content. All of these things should be considered in your SEO Strategy.
What should I include in my SEO Content Strategy?
Before diving head-first into writing fresh content for search engines to find, you’ll need to do some research. Primarily, you'll need to know the topics related to your business that people are searching for and talking about. There are plenty of tools out there to help you find out the relevant keywords and keyword phrases people are typing into search engines most often, and what they are talking about on social media. Here are a few to get you started:
- SEMrush - a search trend research platform with both free and paid options
- Ubersuggest - a free tool that makes keyword and phrase suggestions based on your initial input
- Google Trends - see what topics are trending on Google in various geographic locations
- Wordtracker - a keyword research option that displays search volume
- Keyword Eye - research keywords, get keyword suggestions, see what’s trending, and explore your competition
- SEO Book Keyword Tool - offers suggested search volumes for Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
- Hootsuite - set up feeds to monitor keywords and trending topics across social media platforms
Putting keyword research to work
Make a list of the relevant keywords, keyword phrases, and topics discovered during your research. Consider how you can incorporate them into your website and content marketing plans, starting with the pages and blog posts that already exist on your site. Can you add some of these keywords and keyword phrases to your existing pages in a way that makes sense? It isn’t a good practice to just toss them in to have them on the page, or to try and cram your pages full of keywords - they should flow logically within your content, and page structure matters.
SEO Page Structure Basics
When you’re putting together a page or a post, content structure is key. Here's what you need to know:
There are several levels of title formatting, known as H1, H2, H3, and so on, in addition to standard paragraph text. When a search engine indexes pages, as mentioned earlier, it takes titles into consideration because they usually tell readers (and now search engines) what the content that follows is about, like chapter titles in a book. Search engines scan the rest of the content on the page as well, but this is why having titles and subtitles, and getting search terms/keywords in them, is so important. It helps get your site indexed for the right search terms. Every page should have only one H1, at least one H2, and use H3s as necessary.
Also, don’t forget to use keywords when coming up with page meta descriptions, and optimize image filenames, descriptions, and alt text. Visitors to your site might not see this information, but search engines do. This also helps make your site accessible to disabled visitors who depend on assistive technology to read out and describe what is on the site.
Finally, make sure to add links to other pages or posts on your site to increase engagement, and include a closing "call to action" paragraph. Think about what you want your visitors to do after they read your content, and ask them to do it!
Now that you know how search engines work, which keywords your target audience is searching for, and how to structure your content - it’s time to add new content!
Ok, but what new content should I add to my website?
Although it helps, it isn’t optimal to produce just any content based on the keywords you’re targeting. Try and think of interesting and engaging topic ideas based on what your audience wants to know or likes. Give them information that they will actually want to read and share, like “how to” articles that help potential clients solve problems.
Also, consider creating pages that are targeted to specific geographic locations if that is relevant to your business model. Combining those researched keywords with city or location names puts your content on a shorter list of results for the people who know what they want, effectively jumping ahead in your conversion process. When people search, they often target their search to a specific location, for example “defense lawyer in Seattle.”
By creating content relevant to the user, you’ll gain trust and loyalty, establish yourself as an expert on the topic, and get plenty of SEO benefits too.
A Comprehensive SEO Approach
I know it's a lot to think about, but maintaining a solid SEO strategy will help search engines find you, and result in more visitors and more ongoing engagement - all of which is needed to get higher search page rankings and attract more attention to your business. It’s well worth the effort!
To do it right, you’ll need to think about what people want to read, use words that users actually type into search engines when you write, and you’ll need to make sure your content is structured so that search engines can easily find it. This goes for both standard website pages and blog posts. Also - share, share, share! Get your content out there on social media so you can reap the SEO-boosting benefits of inbound traffic (traffic coming from other sites and social media to YOUR site).
Need help with your SEO Strategy? The digital marketing experts at efelle creative can help.
The award-winning team at efelle creative in Seattle includes website designers, web developers, SEO copywriters, and digital marketing specialists that will help your business maintain an SEO content strategy that gets results. Call us at 206.384.4909 or use our online contact form for a free consultation.