If Google is your Everest, than SEO is your climbing gear. Without it, you're unlikely to reach that coveted summit: search result number one.
SEO is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase a website's visibility in a search engine's search results. While the rules of SEO are always evolving, one thing continues to remain constant: To take full advantage of SEO, it should be integrated across all inbound marketing efforts.
Weaving SEO into your marketing strategy is one of the most productive – not to mention cost-effective – methods of driving organic traffic to your website, retaining existing customers, converting new customers, maximizing visibility and enhancing brand credibility.
Here's how to get started.
A pain point is a problem a customer is facing. A good product or service solves their problem and good marketing targets an audience who is most likely to experience that problem. Good SEO follows the same logic.
The first step in integrating SEO into your marketing strategy is to understand your customers’ pain points, and identify the keywords and phrases they associate with them.
Imagine you are the customer. What problem are you trying to solve? Which words and phrases are you using to search for that solution?
For example, say your company manufactures and sells beard oils.
If the problem your beard oils solve is one of an odorous nature, perhaps your customers are inputting search terms like “how to make your beard smell good” or “best beard oil scent” into search engines.
With a data-backed list of quality keywords, you can begin assimilating them into your marketing messages.
Create An SEO-Friendly Blog
As of 2015, running a company blog is pretty much a standard cost of doing business. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. companies use blogs for marketing purposes, and marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive return on investment (ROI).
First and foremost, your company blog should serve as a resource for your customers. Think of it as a content hub where they can find helpful and informative material, as well as updates on the latest company news and happenings.
Your blog should also be built on a solid SEO foundation, which means that properly constructed, keyword-rich title tags, meta descriptions, headers and URLs are essential.
For a SEO-friendly blog to function as intended, every post should be geared toward the customer’s interests while seamlessly incorporating the keywords and phrases those customers are using to find your company.
To establish site architecture and promote link equity, you also want to embed internal links into your content. Internal links are hyperlinks that point to another page on the same website the link exists on. If thoughtfully executed, internal links can further engage customers while enhancing search engine placement.
But the use of keywords and internal links requires a certain amount of finesse.
In the past couple years, Google has retooled its ranking algorithms to penalize purveyors of spammy content and keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is exactly what it sounds like: overusing keywords for the sole purpose of manipulating search engine results.
Here is a real example of keyword stuffing.
“In fact there are several proven assisting weight loss healthy supplements which are available. They are six and have indisputable weight loss proofs behind them. The weight loss food supplements are calcium, fiber, conjugated linoleic acid, green tea extract, meal replacements and orlistat – an over-the-counter weight loss medicament.”
Aside from the abundant grammatical errors, notice how the phrase “weight loss” is used four times in only three sentences.
Now here is a SEO-friendly slice of content covering the same topic.
“As you lose weight, your metabolism can drop because your body requires less calories or “energy” to fuel a smaller you. The calorie intake that you initially had when you began your weight-loss journey will need to be adjusted to match your body’s current needs for weight loss.”
In this example, the phrase "weight loss" occurs naturally, and does not overload the content. The copy has more personality and feels less generic than the previous example.
To play by Google's new rules, aim for original content that provides real value to readers. When possible, prioritize long-form content over short, flash-fried tidbits, and take a more thoughtful approach to keyword and internal link integration.
Crafting an SEO-friendly blog is a tricky balancing act. On one hand, keywords and internal links are important for link-building and search engine placement, but on the other hand, Google is cracking down on their usage.
While this forces content creators to work a little harder, it also makes the internet a better place. Good content is in, and bad content is out. Quality over quantity baby.
As of 2015, any self-respecting marketing strategy should encompass social media. If you're not promoting your brand through tweets and posts, you're turning your back on a massive audience of savvy and engaged consumers.
But not enough marketers are packaging social media with SEO.
Social media is another arm of your business, and SEO can be implemented within any online content under your control. This means that SEO is just as important to social media messaging as it is to you website or blog.
Incorporate keywords and links into your social media messaging, as tweets and posts containing quality keywords are indexed within search engines. In some cases, a company's social media profile might even pop up first in the search results.
Social media messaging is also highly shareable. An SEO-friendly tweet is more likely to reach a higher percentage of your target audience, who will in turn be more likely to retweet you.
The wedding of Press Relations and Search Engine Optimization is a fitting example of something old and something new. PR has typically been relegated to the offline sector, but by combining traditional PR with digital, SEO-based strategies, companies can create stronger media partnerships and gain more press coverage.
Here are some SEO-based PR strategies to consider:
By contributing SEO-friendly content to related websites and blogs, your company can increase link authority and bring in more traffic. You’re also building brand credibility by borrowing trust from other brands.
It's crucial that all PR initiatives stay consistent with the company's other marketing efforts. Accomplish this by creating a calendar that every department can share. This way, if a blog post about the company's professional development program is scheduled for Thursday, the PR team knows that on Thursday, they should focus their message on professional development. Mixed messaging can confuse customers, divide interest and siphon off attention.
PR execs maintain a long list of contacts with which they have developed personal relationships. Share those contacts with the SEO team, as they might come in quite handy when promoting a blog post, event or publicity stunt.
SEO should not exist in a vacuum. To maximize its effectiveness, companies must integrate SEO practices throughout their entire inbound marketing strategy. This means weaving keywords into social media messaging and including internal links in blog content. This means knocking down the walls separating the PR and SEO departments. Invite the marketing and SEO teams to bar trivia. Go on a vision quest. Do whatever it takes to make SEO an everyday part of your business.