I want to give you my primer on SEO. In this video, I’m going to cover the following areas…
- What SEO is.
- Why it’s different from other digital marketing tactics.
- Why it’s important
- And finally, why you should even care.
First off, what is SEO?
One definition says: “SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website to users of search engines. And SEO also refers to the process and practice of improving that visibility with respect to the organic — that is, unpaid — search listings”. Ok, so in short, SEO is: “increasing the visibility of your site specifically in organic search engine listings”, and in truth, most people know at least that much.
But then why is it so hard to rank?
Well, one reason is because of what your competitors are doing. They’re working to improve their ranking at the detriment of yours. The other is because SEO techniques are always changing and that’s because algorithms are always changing. And that’s because people are always trying to manipulate the rankings in ways that Google frowns upon. So Google keeps changing their algorithms to make that harder to do, and importantly so results reflect authentic and reliable recommendations — ones that aren’t manipulated or artificially biased towards one site or another. The system can be influenced if you know how it works and you work within the rules that Google and other search engines dictate.
So why is SEO important?
Well, the crux of business growth comes down to being able to acquire customers efficiently, that is, time-efficiently and cost-effectively and being able to replicate a successful formula for doing that over and over again. Organic search is one of the most cost-effective ways to do that, hence the role of SEO in advertising and marketing. Why is SEO better than paid advertising? Well first off that’s not necessarily true, but what is true is, if you do SEO well, it becomes a valuable business asset — you can’t say that about digital advertising. With digital ads, you put money in and you get returns. But if you turn off that spending, the returns stop. This isn’t true about SEO. A well-optimized site, that is maintained, will return better and better returns over time, and much more cost-effectively than digital advertising so your margins keep improving. But why is SEO sometimes not an option? In highly competitive industries sometimes the amount you would need to spend to be competitive can’t be justified. The return on investment just doesn’t work and so paid ads or another paid strategies are more effective and efficient. I’m always upfront with clients about that. I get nothing by charging a client to execute a strategy that my research tells me will ultimately fail or that the economics of just won’t make sense.
So what are the key components of an SEO strategy?
#1. Keyword Research: Which is, In a nutshell, researching which search terms people are predominantly using when searching on a given subject. Of course, that explanation is a little simplistic. It’s a little more nuanced than just that but for this purpose it’s close enough. Keyword Research is the core of every SEO strategy. It tells us which terms the competition is ranking for and which terms we can be competitive on.
#2. Onsite Optimization: This answers the technical questions about your site— like:
- “Is it mobile-friendly?” – In other words, does it work well from phones and other mobile devices
- “Is it fast?” – Google cares a lot about how fast a site loads for a user, especially for mobile phones
- And finally, “can google index it effectively or are they blocked by technical challenges?” – In other words, can Google’s bots get through it and read it — an important consideration.
Onsite optimization is also about your site’s content. For instance…
- “Which topics is the content relevant to?”
- Or, “is the content in depth on those subjects?”
- Or, “does the site have authority on those subjects?”
- An important thing we do for clients is to ensure their site content reflects the topics it needs to reflect — that it has all the right keywords in order to be relevant and so it can rank well in the industry or sector in question.
#3. Offsite Optimization: Offsite optimization includes: Backlinks, Local SEO and Social Media. First with backlinks, the key questions are:
- “Who is linking to the site?”
- “Do those sites have authority?”
- And, “what links can we get?”
Backlinks are at the heart of SEO and the strategy for getting them is called a “link building strategy” and is arguably the most important part of an overarching SEO campaign. A link building strategy can include, among other things:
- Getting links from PR.
- Or from writing guest articles or blog posts
Next, in Offsite Optimization is Local SEO. This is the placement of the site and name of the business in specific local directories, like for instance, chamber of commerce directories, or sites with content of local interest. It’s also about having well-crafted business pages with good reviews, like a Google My Business page. Google My Business pages show up in Google Search and Google Maps, which are very important organic placements. And finally, social media. Social media can have a big impact on organic traffic.
Search engines now take into account:
- Tweets and retweets
- And people connected to you via social networks. The assumption is that content that you or your business shares, or is shared with you or your business, indicates your relevance and authority on certain topics. So Google draws signals from them that affect your ranking.
Key Metrics of an SEO Strategy
Now covering the key metrics you want to keep track of, to measure the effectiveness of your SEO strategy.
- Rank and Traffic: First, rank and traffic. That is, where you rank on a given set of search terms and how much traffic that rank drives to your site.
- Leads: Next, leads generated. This tells us whether or not the traffic that is coming to your site is a good source of new customers. In other words, are we targeting the right terms for good, qualified prospects.
- Conversion Rate: Conversion Rate is a good indicator of the quality of traffic coming to a site. Related to lead quality, conversion rate is a measure of the rate that people are converting from prospects to customers and/or leads. And the difference between customers or leads, in this case is based on the type of business model. If the transaction happens online, then the goal is to convert a sale online. If the transaction generally happens offline — like in business to business sales or a large dollar transaction like buying a house — then the goal is probably to get the best leads possible so you can spend your time talking to people with the highest probability of becoming customers. In this latter case, the conversion rate would probably be the measure of how many people that come to a site that go onto complete a sales inquiry form.
- Sales Volume: Sales, of course, are critical to track. Ultimately all of this is for naught if it’s not generating revenue. Thus sales are the ultimate measure of success.
- ROI: Then we have ROI. ROI is the cost of that revenue. It measures the efficiency of your marketing expenditures.
- Average Customer Acquisition Cost: Then the average cost of acquiring a customer is important to track. This is the most meaningful component of ROI and the lower the better.