The Business Case for SEO
It seems like everyone you talk to has a different opinion on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and a different experience with whether it’s worth the effort at all. “Experts” have competing views on which strategies work and how every new update to Google’s algorithm will send your site back to Square 1.
With all this noise, it’s no wonder that Search Engine Optimization is one of the most confusing components of managing a website for many people. In today’s article, we’re going to try and definitively answer some of these questions. We will discuss how SEO can help to achieve business goals, the importance of high value SEO content, how to create tangible assets, how other websites can help your own site’s SEO value, and how to measure your success.
This article is presented with thanks to ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign is an Email Service Provider focused on marketing automation. It makes it easy to reach the right contacts at the right time. And with more native integrations than any other ESP, it’s sure to plug right in to your existing workflow. So you can spend less time managing your marketing emails and more time getting back to your company.
Start with the basics
Before we start to get into all of those questions, let's take a step back. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of working to improve a website's "organic" (unpaid) position in search results (normally, though not exclusively Google) for a given keyword or keyphrase. This can be accomplished with on-page optimization techniques and/or off-page optimization techniques. Not every strategy is appropriate or effective for every website, so we'll walk through both and consider how you might find the best options for your site.
In the past, you may have heard that the Google algorithm is always changing so it's only a matter of time before a change destroys your SEO investment. It’s true that Google’s algorithm is always changing, but nowadays a steady evolution is more common than a large and sudden update. As a result, it’s as important as ever to understand these fundamentals:
- Match “searcher intent.” This is a fancy way of saying have really good quality content that gives people what they’re looking for when they come to your site.
- Meta tags matter! Although they aren’t necessarily the primary vehicle for Google to determine relevance, it remains important nonetheless that your title tag contain your target keyword. Additionally, the description tag is the short snippet of text that will show up for your listing on the Google results page, so make it count!
- Your site should be mobile-friendly. Google now crawls most sites with a mobile Googlebot so it’s essential that you offer all your content on your mobile site.
- Quality “backlinks” (these are links to your site from another site) can help your site. On the other hand, “black hat” links (or low quality links potentially made by violating terms of service) can hurt your site.
- Your site should be secure (HTTPS). Google penalizes sites in the results for not having a valid SSL security certificate.
SEO to Further Business Goals
Search Engine Optimization can be a key component in attaining your business goals, but the strategy doesn’t work for every type of business and you’ll need to carefully consider if your goals complement SEO.
Consider these questions:
- Who is your target audience? You will need to understand how they’re searching for your product or service (i.e. which keywords are they using?) and, if it’s a highly competitive unbranded keyword, then organic SEO could be challenging for your company.
- How niche is your product? A more niche product may perform better in branded or long-tail search terms, but there will likely be fewer people searching out those terms in the first place.
- How valuable is an organic customer to you? (i.e are they statistically likely to buy and, if so, how much will they spend?)
- Are LCV and/or AOV higher from organic traffic sources?
- What information do your customers need to see before progressing down the sales funnel? Is your website equipped to share this information for organic traffic sources like search where you’re not entirely in control of the page that visitors land in?
Ultimately, if SEO isn’t aligned with your business goals, then even if it works it may not deliver the sustainable results you need. For instance, if Google searchers tend to be less likely to buy something and more likely to spend less if they do buy something compared to your social ads, then it doesn’t make sense to pour more money and effort into SEO.
High-Value SEO Content
If you’ve determined that SEO is worth the effort to your business, one of the best ways to get started is to produce high-value content. This is content that answers a specific question, demonstrates how to do something, or solves a problem. It should tie back to your business and/or provide detailed information about a product or process (if it’s relevant).
It’s easiest to start by writing articles about your company or product that are not timely—meaning, they won’t go out of date quickly. That way, you can reuse them for a long p
eriod of time. Consider consistent use cases for your product and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
If you already have content created for another channel, it’s ok—in fact, it’s suggested!—to repurpose it for SEO purposes. For instance, if you produced a video that you shared on your Facebook page, you should also use it on your own site, either as a video or reformatted into text or a table.
Build Your SEO With Other Websites
When we talk about using other websites to your benefit, there are really two components that we’re considering: Google and backlinks.
Even when a user doesn’t conduct a search that exactly matches your keywords, it’s possible to still be listed high in Google search results. A key goal is to optimize your site to be included in parts of Google results such as video, Featured Snippets, People Also Ask, or images. Of course, you can also buy paid ads for your competitor keywords, but that’s no longer under the umbrella of “organic”.
Backlinks are the heart of many SEO campaigns. A significant calculation of the Google algorithm has traditionally been the “PageRank” which is a proprietary score that Google calculates for each page on the internet. At least one somewhat significant determinant is the PageRank of other pages that link to your page in question. In other words, Google recognizes and considers that it is more important if ABC News links to your site than if a small local newspaper makes the same link. Yet the newspaper’s link is infinitely better than no link at all because people do visit the newspaper’s website, so it’s at least somewhat important, relative to your own site, and the link from that symbiotic relationship can therefore help to improve your own page’s PageRank and, in turn, improve its search performance.
SEO Takes Time!
As you begin to implement these strategies, remember that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take a long time to make updates that make your site attractive to the algorithm and for the algorithm to notice. Search Engine Optimization can increase your site’s traffic in the long term, but you’ll have to put in all the effort and build up to it first. At Empower Ideas, we strongly recommend a minimum 3 month term for our SEO services and usually recommend clients wait six months to begin seeing stable improvements.
The crux of Search Engine Optimization is to improve your website in a targeted way that improves where your site is listed on Google search results, which in turn improves your visibility in the results, your click-thrus and, ultimately, your revenue. SEO doesn’t make sense for every business, but if it makes sense for your goals, then the best way to get started is by creating high-quality and engaging content and requesting links (unpaid) to that content from other sites and blogs across the internet. Finally, remember that SEO is a long game; you’ll need to keep up the effort without immediate payback. If the strategy is successful, however, your visitors from organic search can skyrocket.