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Apr 08 2021
SEO is one of the most important pieces of a solid digital marketing strategy. When you need something, what is the first thing you do? For most people, the answer is “Google it.” When your ideal customer is searching for a need related to your business, it is imperative that you show up on the first page of Google.
While SEO can feel mystical and overwhelming for many business owners (and even some marketers), it is actually pretty simple. Google has the exact same goal as you: to serve their customers. When someone searches, it is Google’s job to provide them with relevant information that answers their questions and responds to their needs. If your business is creating relevant website content that answers your ideal customer’s questions and responds to their needs, you’re already on your way to becoming an SEO guru!
SEO, unlike other marketing tactics, is a long game. When you make a website optimization, you then have to wait for Google to crawl your website, notice the optimization, and decide if it should affect your rankings. Depending on how much website traffic you’re receiving, this waiting game could take
three to six months.
That being said, once Google does start ranking your website favorably, it tends to stick. Many of my clients have top performing content that has been ranking on page 1 of Google for years. They get thousands of website visitors coming to their site every month from optimizations that we made years ago. They haven’t paid a dime for this traffic, except for the amount they paid me way back when I consulted on how to best optimize the page. Ever since that initial work, the traffic has been flowing in for free!
If your business is spending a lot of time and money on advertising, it might be time to take a deeper dive into SEO. While the up front work can take a while, the payoff, in the end, proves strong ROI.
When explaining SEO to my clients, I like to use a house metaphor to explain the three key pillars of SEO.
● Technical SEO is like the plumbing and electrical work in your house. It is behind the walls and not something you see when you first walk in but, if it is not working properly, you’ll know right away. On your website, this equates to the backend coding and infrastructure. Some examples include your website speed, broken links or 404 errors, and your SSL.
● On-Site SEO is like the decorations and furniture in your house. It is what makes it pretty and inviting to guests. In website terms, this is your content. This could be blog posts, resources, case studies, service pages, and more. Any content on your website that is crawlable by Google has the opportunity to rank.
● Off-Site SEO is like your landscaping, neighborhood, and curb appeal. It is how your neighbors see you. On your website, this equates to backlinks. When high-authority websites link to your website, Google deems your website authoritative too. On the flip side, if spammy websites are linking to your website, Google may think that your website is spammy and rank you below your competitors.
Each pillar is important and, if one is out of whack, your website as a whole won’t perform well in search.
When building an SEO plan, it is important to think about each pillar. Your optimal SEO plan is going to differ based on your current website, goals, and industry. However, here are some ideas to get started.
1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly by using Google’s free mobile-friendly test.
2. Run your web pages through Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool to get your score and recommendations to improve performance.
3. Use a tool like Screaming Frog or SEMrush to conduct a website audit and look for 404 errors.
1. Interview your sales team to understand what questions prospects are asking during the sales cycle and create blog content that answers those questions.
2. Build long-form service pages that thoroughly explain what your business offers and how you help your customers.
3. Google your target keywords (what services/products you offer) and see what websites show up on page 1. Review their pages and look for similarities that you can implement on your site.
1. Reach out to your business’s associations and partners and ask if they will link to your website from their websites.
2. Find industry-specific blogs and offer to submit a guest post.
3. Research competitor backlink profiles using tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush and see if you can get backlinks from the same or similar websites as your competitors.
When building an SEO plan, it is important to align on what success looks like. At the end of the day, SEO efforts should always equate to increased revenue. It is easy to get caught up in generating more traffic or ranking for more keywords but, if that traffic is not converting into sales, it is pointless.
Whether you are tackling SEO in-house or hiring a partner, these are the KPIs (key performance indicators) that you should be tracking and discussing on a regular basis:
– Leads from organic
– Note: This can be tracked for free by setting up event/goal tracking in Google
– Sales from organic
– Note: This generally requires marketing automation or a CRM. My favorite is
HubSpot, which is free to get started with.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of clutter in the world of SEO. Whether you are a seasoned expert or someone just getting started, it is easy to fall for spammy SEO practices. In the SEO industry, we call these “black hat” tactics. Black hat SEO comes in all shapes and sizes but it often looks like:
– Keyword stuffing: Writing website content that is repetitive with the sole goal of ranking on Google, not helping or educating website visitors
– Link farms: Creating (either manually or automated) a group of websites that all link to other sites in the group with the goal of boosting off-site SEO
– Hidden text: Putting your target keywords in the margins or footer of your website in the same color text as the background so they are not visible to users and only to Google’s crawlers
My #1 rule of SEO is the same as my #1 rule for life: Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, that generally means that it isn’t right. If you are maintaining a healthy website with helpful content geared toward your target audience, SEO should naturally fall into place. However, if you need an
extra push, here are a few starting points:
– Find a trusted SEO mentor. Almost everything I’ve learned about SEO has come from a handful of mentors. SEO requires a lot of trial and error so it is great to speak to people who have tried it all and can give you a “dos and don'ts” list to get started with.
– Hire a pro. SEO can be overwhelming. If you have the resources, it might make sense to hire a pro to handle it for you. Do your research to ensure that the person you hire doesn’t implement any black hat tactics and has a proven track record of success.
– Keep up with the trends. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing so it is important to stay on top of the latest trends. Subscribe to SEO publications like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land to get the latest news right to your inbox.
About Jasz Joseph:
Jasz Rae Joseph is an experienced digital and inbound marketer with experience working with both B2B and B2C companies. She helps companies convert leads, improve brand awareness, and generate revenue online.
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