By Daniel Lassman, Senior Director of Search & Analytics, Bullseye Strategy
It’s that time of year when we give thanks to our friends and family, our health and our prosperity–and it’s also that time of year when we start planning for a more prosperous business in 2019. The temptation is to run for the next bright, shiny object. In marketing, that might mean investing in a video series or podcast advertising or sponsoring the in-flight movie to Mars–which can and should have their place. But, we urge you to take a moment to be grateful to a critical type of digital marketing we often take for granted: search engine optimization (SEO).
Power Plays by the Search Engine Giants
Staying current to all the latest changes in website back-end technology is a full-time pursuit. According to Moz, the search algorithm changes each year “around 500–600 times.” Not all of these adjustments affect digital marketing in significant ways, but we still need to be cognizant of how they alter our SEO strategy.
These are a sample of alterations in Search Engine Result Page (SERP) made recently:
- Answers to questions are being put directly into the search results with what’s called structured snippets. If you want to see movie times, local events or learn how to bake a chicken, you can get these answers from structured snippets without having to click into a website. Google wants to give you the info you need faster.
- SEO policies (and Google) are forcing the web to be faster and mobile optimized. It’s rare now that we have to wait — gasp! — 4 seconds for a website to open. With site (both desktop and mobile) speed as a ranking factor, it’s forcing web developers and SEOs to make the websites faster to load.
While these changes keep us on our toes and make brands reliant upon the expertise of digital agencies, we should take a moment to appreciate all of the ways that a solid SEO strategy can grow your business.
Here are 7 reasons why digital marketers should be grateful for SEO:
1. A good SEO strategy will give your brand the upper hand.
SEO is the way your website talks to search engines, whose two primary functions are to index (determine relevancy) and answer questions raised in the (search) query. Start with the end in mind when strengthening your SEO strategy. What will people type in the search bar, and how does your content answer those questions? An “optimized” webpage will speak clearly and quickly to both the search engines and the users, and soon, you’ll be pulling rank.
2. “Algorithms” sound complicated, but ranking high is simply about relevance
Algorithms have been around for centuries; it’s just recently that the problem-solving properties are relevant to modern-day marketing strategy. Web crawlers use algorithms to seek out keywords, links, web traffic, and code that match the query to the results.
Now, how do you unlock the “authority” level in search results? There are hundreds of different paths, with the main two being content and links. Keywords help with signaling content seekers, and inbound/outbound links to other sites accomplish the linking requirement. But ultimately, if your product is widgets, and your website content is about widgets, you’re already on the right path.
Ultimately that means you simply need to provide information your customers are looking for. Optimized content that attracts visitors, and keeps them on-site is a critical part of SEO strategy. We’re talking bounce rates and dwell time here. Algorithms consider how long each visitor spends on your website and assigns a value to duration. Video and other graphics-rich storytellers will keep eyes locked on the screen while boosting engagement analytics. What you want to avoid at all costs is “pogo-sticking,” in which a user bounces back and forth between a search engine and individual pages that show up in the search engine results–indicating to the search engine that what they clicked on wasn’t what they were really looking for.
3. If customers like you, Google will like you a little bit more as well.
Think about SEO as the ultimate popularity contest. A customer who writes, “This is the best ice cream downtown!” then gives an ice cream shop a five-star rating will help the website associated with said ice cream shop to rank higher. Customer reviews are one of hundreds of factors impacting rank, but they definitely help. So keep doing a good job, and the search engines will take note.
4. Whether you’re a big brand or a local mom-and-pop, SEO can be your best friend (or your worst enemy).
If you’re a restaurant owner, you want to be in a search for “restaurants near me–and you will, if you’re properly set up with Google My Business–whether you’re the Olive Garden or Olive’s Sandwiches, and whether a customer is typing in the query or asking Siri for her help. Mobile devices use voice-activated digital assistants to query web pages, creating an additional layer of SEO functionality on site content. If you haven’t properly set up your local listing, though, your prospective customers will be dining elsewhere.
5. You don’t have to beat the system.
Smart search engines can understand user intent, and so should you. Revise your SEO to include the “semantic search” that uses natural language synonyms in blog articles or web copy to convey information relevant to the user, not algorithm. If anything, “tricks” like spam links and bad content will hurt your rank, not help you. Keep it real and the search engines will reward you!
6. Your social media content has been doing more than support your social media strategy.
Social media brings traffic to your site as well. Users of popular platforms like YouTube and Twitter will search for terms within those sites to find answers, products, local resources, or news. Sharing your SEO-rich video, blog post, picture, or domain link on social media will attract visitors and web crawlers to your site. Carefully consider titles when posting to social media–again, be straightforward rather than gimmicky so customers will find you easily.
7. If you’ve got something to say about your industry, that’s good for SEO!
At the holiday dinner table, a diatribe about what’s new in business might be unwanted, but on your website, long-form content will boost your SEO rankings, if done correctly. There are abundant opportunities to signal semantic search terms, keep readers on your website, and link to pages within your site and external authorities with 1,000 or more words in a blog post. Never forget that quality is more important than quantity–but quantity can be a whole lot of a very good thing.
So let’s talk turkey–Bullseye Strategy can help your business to become as popular in search engine results as Aunt Jane’s famous stuffing is at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Reach out to us today for more information.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Bullseye Strategy!