Last week, we started the 4-part blog series on The Pillars of Online Marketing with Content Marketing being the strongest foundation on which the other three pillars rely. Content Marketing, being the lifeline of any internet marketing campaign should be valuable, relevant, and consistent to be able to influence your market’s decision to buy from your business. To be valuable, relevant, and consistent, your content should be able to educate, engage, or entertain your target market.
This week, we will continue this series with SEO or Search Engine Optimisation – what it is, its components, and the challenges businesses need to address in order to be successful at it.
What is SEO?
First off, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Search Engine Optimisation, as per Search Engine Land:
“It is the process of getting traffic from the “free”, “organic”, “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.”
This means that SEO is the process of making changes on your website (on-page SEO) and spreading relevant content with links to your website across the internet (off-page SEO). This way, major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo will see it as relevant to internet users, thus, ranking it higher on their results pages. The higher you rank on search engines, the better chance you get of being seen by internet users who are likely to search for products and services like yours.
Unlike paid advertising, which will be discussed in the next part of this series, SEO or Search Engine Optimisation doesn’t have any payments involved as it banks solely on your ability to optimise your website. Optimising your site on-page and off-page is the ultimate driving force behind the success of your SEO campaigns.
Let’s face it, no matter how good-looking your website is and no matter how valuable, relevant, and consistent your content is, people won’t visit your page if they can’t find it.
If you’re not sold yet on the importance of SEO to your overall online marketing strategy, here are some statistics to prove just how essential SEO is to your business:
- Google now processes at least 2 trillion inquiries per year as opposed to approximately 73 billion searches per year from 2004-2008. That’s over 100 billion searches per month. (Search Engine Land)
- In December 2015, Google had a total of 94% of the worldwide mobile (smartphone and tablet) search market share. (Net Market Share)
- As of 2015, in-house marketers and digital marketing agencies worldwide collectively gave SEO an 89% success rating for achieving objectives of improved search rankings, website traffic, and lead generation. (eMarketer)
- 81% of B2B purchase cycles start with an internet search and 90% of buyers say that whenever they’re ready to buy from a business, they’ll search for you. (Freely)
- Search engines are the number one driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%. (Outbrain)
How do we optimise our websites?
Now that the importance of SEO has been established, the next question that we will try to answer is how to optimise our websites or webpages so that they will rank higher on the search engines. Let’s go through this by briefly discussing the components of SEO:
- Keywords or key phrases – These are a word or a group of words people use to search for you on search engines. A good and successful SEO campaign always starts with a thorough keyword research. You need to research on what keywords or key phrases your target market uses to search for your business.
You would then use these keywords to summarise your page and include these when you are writing your content. When search engines see your content as relevant to the keyword you are optimising your website for, they’ll see you as an authority for that specific keyword, thus, ranking you higher on the results page.
- Title Tags – Same as with articles, essays, and stories wherein we get an idea of what they’re about from their titles, title tags should give search engines an idea of what your webpage is all about.
Therefore, it is important to include your keywords in your title tags. Don’t just stuff all your keywords in there, though. Google hates keyword stuffing and might rank you lower because of it. Instead, describe your page concisely with your keyword in under 64 characters and you’ll be fine.
- Meta Descriptions – If your title tags are like story or article titles, meta descriptions are your topic sentences. Think of your meta descriptions as your website’s topic sentence informing and focusing your site’s visitors on what they’ll be reading in the rest of your website or webpage. Although search engines don’t use meta descriptions as bases for your site’s rankings, these will showcase your ad copy and will give your potential web visitors snippets of your website. As a guide, keep your meta descriptions 150-160 characters short.
- Heading tags – Just like the title tags and meta descriptions, heading tags (or at least the h1 tag) should include your keywords and should tell the search engines what your web page is about.
In turn, you can use these heading tags to logically organise your content from the most general web topic (H1 tag) to the subtopics using sub-headings (H2 to H6 tags). Ideally, you should only use one H1 tag per web page.
- Content – With Google’s Panda algorithm, content is a major part of the core basis on how Google, the biggest search engine, “decides” which websites to put high up in the result pages. This means that unlike before, when you can get away with thin content and keyword stuffing, original, fresh, and engaging content should always be a priority.
This is not only to “impress” the search engines but to add value to your business by increasing brand awareness among website visitors who are likely to purchase from your business.
- Link building – As the first 5 components mentioned are directed toward on-page optimisation, link building focuses on the off-page optimisation of a website. Link building is the process of spreading backlinks to your website. Backlinks are links that direct back to your website. As per search engine “thinking”, the more popular and relevant a website is, the more backlinks it has. The more backlinks it has, the more it is considered an authority and as a trustworthy resource for internet users, thus, ranking it higher on the results pages. Simply put, more relevant backlinks = more popular, and more popular = higher rank in search engines.
What are the challenges of SEO?
Arguably, the biggest challenge for digital marketing agencies and in-house marketers today is that they fail to recognise that the way search engines determine website ranking constantly changes to improve user experience. Because of this, they fail to consistently and constantly improve their SEO to adapt to these changes, too.
Below are the most pressing challenges for SEO in connection with the one above. Become well-versed and maybe re-evaluate your current SEO campaigns if you’re still using an old one:
- Users’ short attention span – with everyone being restless and trying to multitask over short periods of time, it has become harder for businesses to catch the attention of their consumers. It is one thing to rank your page and have potential consumers visit your website; convincing them to buy from your business through the overall look and content of your site is a completely different story. So, how can you optimise your website to hold your site visitors’ attention until they decide to actually buy from you?
- Content competition – if you still don’t realise how important content is to your SEO campaign, then you have to get up to speed as most marketers include content marketing in their campaigns. Because of this, content marketing competition is getting stiffer and the bar for quality content gets higher, too. The question that you need to address now is, how can you be at par with other content publishers to compete in the content marketing department?
- Rankings fluctuation – Due to Google’s (and other search engines’) constant algorithm development to improve user experience, websites regularly experience fluctuations in their rankings. One day, you can be on the first page of the search results, the next day you’re out. So, how can you keep up with all the search engine updates to improve your rankings and stabilise them once on top?
How do you address the challenges of SEO?
Be informed of SEO trends and use these to get your websites on top of the major search engine rankings. Let NeoRanking help you by talking to us today. Let’s collaborate to bring you to the forefront of your industry through a powerful and integrated digital marketing strategy that will bring the highest ROI to your business.