Finding the Needle in the Haystack: Using SEO to Find Great New Clients
By Emily Taibl, Sweeney Conrad, PS
As marketers, we live in a world of shiny things. It seems like every day we are bombarded with the newest and greatest “must do” of marketing magic that is going to have new customers banging down our doors. Should we build an Instagram page? Are firms doing Snapchat? And what is all of this talk about inbound marketing?
While marketers of the past spent their budgets on print ads and mailers, savvy marketers are now relying on inbound marketing. Wikipedia defines inbound marketing as “a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding.” Inbound marketing is actually a much more efficient way of getting leads, because potential customers come to you already aware of your product, and proactively in search of a service like yours.
One of the most effective tools for inbound marketing is Search Engine Marketing (SEM), more commonly referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While most marketing trends come and go, there is no denying that “Googling” is here to stay. In fact, it is so ingrained in our lexicon that Google is no longer just a company name, it is becoming a verb. Like “Xerox-ing” and “FedEx-ing”, “Googling” has become something we all do -- including your potential clients. If optimizing your SEO is not on your marketing radar, you might want to consider adding it to your strategy. “More and more firms are refining their strategy to include SEO and other SEM tactics. The payoff has been experienced by many generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue”, said Brian Swanson, partner at FlashPoint Marketing.
When it comes to SEO, its Google’s world, and as marketers we are all just living in it. In 2017, Google accounted for over 79% of all global desktop search traffic, followed by Bing at 7.27%, Baidu at 6.55% and Yahoo at 5.06%1. With Google changing the algorithms hundreds of times a year, how can we as marketers keep up the changes?
According to HubSpot2 one of the leading platforms in inbound marketing, mastering SEO can be broken down into three stages: being discovered, creating relevance, and building authority.
- Being discovered happens when Google “crawls” your website (or essentially scans it, taking note of the topics that you cover).
- Creating relevance is achieved when the search engine bots “index” your site, and determine your site’s relevance through things like keywords.
- Building authority can be accomplished by getting high-quality backlinks to your site. In other words, the more people are sharing, talking, citing and linking your content, the more Google considers you to be an authority on a topic, thus moving you up in the rankings.
Now that you know how it works, what do you do?
Evaluate. Use Google Search Console to determine how people are getting to your site through Google searches. This will provide insight into which content is currently working.
Examine your website’s authority. Is your content being talked about, shared and backlinked? This is called your “backlink profile.” You can do this through paid and free services such as Moz, Majestic and Semrush. If your authority is lacking, you can create interest through public relations, featuring guest writers on your blog (a lot of times, they will share on their own blog and social), and by sharing other people’s content (if you share their articles, they will be more likely to return the favor as long as your content is high-quality).
- Build relevance. If you’ve got the authority portion covered, it’s now time to focus on relevance- by beginning to cover more topics or to dive deeper into your current subject matter. Just be sure that you are always providing high quality information. You want to continue to be seen as a relevant and authoritative source.
- Go for quality over quantity when it comes to SEO. Sure, you can blast a hundred fluffy blog posts out per week, but if they aren’t providing value, being shared or talked about- all of that effort is futile. Spend time creating thoughtful articles that you know will be shareable.
- Go long for the win. The majority of searches these days are made up of four words or more. Rather than simply using keywords, people are using “long-tail keywords”- like “what is the importance of SEO?” rather than just searching “SEO.” Try and use more long-tail keywords in your content. This also applies when it comes to the overall length of your content, in 2016 Backlinko*** reported that the average first-page search result on Google contained 1,890 words! Long content just ranks better.
If this seems like a lot to think about, there is good news. There are a plethora of great companies and tools to make the whole SEO thing manageable.
- Do your research. There are several really cool websites that can help you figure out what people are searching for when it comes to content. “Google offers several tools to help marketers identify the most frequently searched keyword terms such as Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner. These tools are invaluable in determining where to target keyword efforts”, said Brian Swanson.
- Recycling is both good for the planet, and the marketer: With a million (make that a billion) things on our marketing plates, coming up with new quality content can be a chore. Fear not, lead SEO strategists are suggesting that reposting past blog posts can be a good strategy. In fact, in the same Backlinko study cited above, it was shown that by republishing past content can increase organic traffic by as much as 111%. Update statistics, add some length and recycle away.
- When in doubt, hire out. The changing algorithms and complexity can be overwhelming. Many of us don’t have the team size or bandwidth to tackle SEO successfully. There are many great firms out there who specialize in SEO and SEM programs to help you navigate through the process.
- NetMarketShare https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0
- HubsSpot Source https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics
- Backlinko, 2016 http://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking