Back at your desk for the first full week of 2020 and ready to dig into some marketing with vigor? While all that enthusiasm is great, making sure it’s focused on the right types of marketing tactics is key to building momentum and achieving results that will help you keep fighting the good fight. SEO is something that gets bandied about quite a bit in marketing circles but is often misunderstood. In this post we’ll give a high-level explanation of what SEO is and some thoughts on when SEO is a good marketing tactic for your business.
What is SEO?
SEO is the short form for search engine optimization. It’s the process of building your website and online marketing presence in such a way that your pages shown near the top of search engine searches.
Keep in mind that there are usually paid ad placements at the top of search result pages – advertisers willing to pay to have their pages shown at the top of the search results pages. The only commonality between paid ads and SEO is that they both appear at the top of the search results pages. Paid ads cost money but produce results quickly whereas SEO is a much slower build.
The algorithms the search engines use to rank content is highly confidential. However, there are enough marketers out there trying to crack these algorithms that we have a pretty good idea of the most important factors in ranking content for SEO. Forming content around these factors is the basis of search engine optimization.
SEO 101: The Basics
SEO is a complex concept and is constantly changing as search engines keep up with evolving search habits. Here’s a very high-level overview of what is SEO and how to create content that ranks:
- Focus Keywords – Identify focus keywords and key phrases people who are searching for the products and services you offer are using. An important point here is that these keywords and phrases might not match the products and services that you offer: searchers might use keywords that focus on a problem they’re facing while your products and services might focus on solutions. Understanding how people search is key when selecting the best focus keywords.
- Create Focused Content – With your focus keywords in hand, you create content on your website that resonates strongly with those focus keywords. According to what marketers have determined about the search engine algorithms, there are over 200 factors that affect SEO ranking. Some of the main factors include using the focus keywords in the page title and URL, in the body of the page text, in headings, and in descriptions of the images used on the page. If you want your content to rank for a specific focus keyword, then you have to show the search engines that your page includes great content related to those specific keywords.
- Promote Your Content – There are over 1.5 billion websites on the internet today and only one top ranking position. Even though not every site is fighting for the top position for your focus keywords, you’re probably in for a tough fight to get to the top. This means that simply creating great focused content isn’t going to be enough, you have to work at it. There are many different SEO strategies including sharing content to drive traffic, building external backlinks and building an active community.
- Measure & Improve – Tracking how well your site performs on your focus keywords tells you how effective your SEO strategies are and help calculate whether you’re achieving a positive ROI.
The Misconception About SEO
There’s a very common misconception about how to implement SEO. Some companies (typically web hosting companies) sell it as a monthly add-on. For a few dollars a month they’ll “SEO” your website.
Nothing could be further from the truth and paying these services is a waste of your money.
SEO is a long-term, highly focused and on-going effort that can take many months to even start moving the needle on. It’s not a quick-fix that you can just tag on and see results with, it’s something you have to work at day in and day out for a long period of time before you start seeing results.
Should You Include SEO as Part of Your 2020 Marketing Plan?
Ranking at the top of organic search results is desirable for every business: the top two or three organic positions get the lion’s share of the click traffic so getting in those slots can be very lucrative for driving traffic to your website.
Here are four quick questions to ask yourself to get a feel for whether you should include SEO as part of your 2020 marketing plan:
- Do you have the resources and discipline to fight the long and hard SEO fight? If you’re not ready to make a solid commitment, you might be wasting your time.
- Are people looking for your products and services in search? If people aren’t looking for you in search, doing the hard work to start ranking might also be a waste of your time.
- Do you stand a chance? If you’re in a competitive SEO space and other companies have a head start on you and momentum already built, other marketing strategies might be more effective.
- Do you have the expertise? SEO is a blend of art and science and if you don’t have the right expertise and experience then you’re unlikely to get the results you want.
Intentionally Good Marketing in a Minute
SEO – creating content on your website that ranks at or near the top of search engine search results – is a marketing term that gets bandied about quite a bit. Oft misunderstood and underestimated, it is a very complicated marketing tactic that typically takes many months of hard work to start seeing the benefits of. If ranking in search results is valuable, achievable and practical for you, SEO might be a worthwhile as part of your 2020 marketing plan. Otherwise, you might be wasting your time and money.
If you’re looking for a marketing partner to help evaluate SEO as part of your overall marketing plan, give us a call and let’s chat! With a full suite of marketing services backed up by effective marketing strategies, we love helping business owners grow their businesses through intentionally good marketing!