Being ranked highly in search results feels like a complete mystery to many of us. I’m going to discuss it here without dragging you too deeply in to the details. If you want more details, there are folks here who would love to spend the day discussing them with you…but that’s not me.
I’m not a technologist, I’m a sales and marketing person. My goal is to get you more customers, and be able to charge more for your products and services. In sum, to improve results, and to become more competitive.
Relative to search results, the all-powerful Google seems to control all things related to search …and we’re so often told that the way to rank highly on search keeps changing!
But there is good news. Long gone are the days of black-hat SEO trickery. Websites aren’t getting away with keyword stuffing, link buying, cloaking, etc. The search engines have finally established clear rules that sites are expected to follow. If they do not? Google will find them and penalize the sites that don’t follow the rules.
Why so many rules? Because search engines want to provide the best possible experience for their end users. And since we do as well, it’s a good partnership – in theory.
Because we are businesses who want our customers to find us easily if they search anything related to our business, but we still have do at least these two simple things:
- Build the foundation of our websites with the technical components needed to rank highly in search results.
- Create juicy content for our customers to enjoy on our site, but do so in a data driven way. (I’ll explain that in a minute!).
To set your site up with the right technical tools is really what sets your site up for success. It works like the engine of your site, and if it isn’t performing smoothly (if you have any technical issues) your site will not rank well on Google.
BUT…Google is tight-lipped about what actually makes up the algorithm that decides how websites rank in search engine results pages – at 200+ algorithm changes per year, even if it was public knowledge, it’d be hard to keep up with the changes. It is really challenging working with the behemoth that Google is!
However, we do know what’s important for visibility. And through regular audits we measure and act on anything that could be hindering our ability to improve rankings in the engines. This is an ongoing practice – not a one time effort ( Note: More to follow on what we look for in an SEO audit to follow).
For today’s purposes our focus will be on the content on your site, and keyword research.
I mentioned juicy content above. The truth is, you can spend a ton of time on a well-written piece of content; you can do your research, create an outline, craft really thoughtful language, however, if no one is searching for your content – the topic, or the keywords that you’re using – then the content might go into a black hole and never be appreciated for the breadth and depth of what you’ve written!
Furthermore, you have to also create content that is going to support your business objectives. If your website is being used for lead generation it might make more sense to expose part of your content, get your audience wanting more, and then gate the rest of your content to capture lead information. It’s about a balance and it really depends on your objectives.
But here’s an idea on how to create compelling content that ranks highly on search:
We start not with our idea of what we want to write about, but the opposite, with what your customers and clients are searching for.
Next we look at how they’re searching for these topics (keywords, also known as queries) so when we sit down to draft the copy of the site, we know what content will show up highly in search (that’s data-driven content – see?)
Then with our keyword research in hand, we know what keywords should be weaved into the copy, in the most natural way.
From here it’s a lot of back-end stuff that we build that informs google what else is on the site. (i.e. meta titles, image tags, meta descriptions, which are back-end tags that don’t live on the site but inform Google about what’s on the page.)
Sadly, it doesn’t end there – in fact, it never ends! Because with any of our digital marketing strategies, we always measure and respond to what we learn from measuring results to continue our performance improvement programs.
After we launch your site with some of the above mentioned techniques, we will evaluate:
– Are we seeing a large uptick in traffic?
– Are the pages that we optimized ranking higher on search engines?
– What is our rank for specific searches that are highly important to the business?
– Is organic traffic (different from traffic driven by ad campaigns) contributing a larger portion of the leads?
– Are the leads from Google more or less quality than our other channels?
We use this information to analyze trends and then we decide on our next steps.
And while you may be focused on other parts of the business, nothing excites the technology folks more than driving you more traffic, more leads and ultimately more revenue!
And that’s the goal.