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Forget About Online Marketing Results

This article is an SEO refresher.

If you are involved with online marketing it is quite likely you are familiar with SEO and appreciate how important it is. Having said that, it is surprising how little SEO is done on most online marketing endeavors.

Summary:

Improve your SEO or forget about improving your online marketing results!

  1. Perfect your on-page SEO first
  2. Develop a powerful SEO strategy
  3. Incorporate a formidable content strategy
  4. Measure and test results and performance regularly
  5. Adapt and evolve constantly

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If you want to achieve good online marketing results then a clear SEO strategy is imperative. It is not a quick once-off task so you will also need the support to execute it.

What is SEO?

(I am sure you understand the elements but bear with me until we get to the juicy part.)

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a complex effort of various techniques used to get your content to be seen by your target market. The main goal is to get your content to rank either first or near the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). You will identify keywords that are specific to your product or service that you are trying to market and make every effort to come near the top of a Google or other search.

What does SEO entail? A quick reminder

SEO is a complex and dynamic process. Note that I use the word process as it is not something that you do once and leave. SEO is a continuous effort. It involves 2 main areas: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

1.On-page SEO

As the name suggests, this refers to all (mostly) technical optimisation efforts done on the page itself. It includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Keyword research and selection
  • URL selection
  • Title tags
  • H2 and H3 tags
  • Meta description
  • Content (more on this later)
  • Image optimization
  • Video optimization
  • Internal links
  • Schema markup

Apart from the above essential elements, there are a number of other on-page techniques that are important.

On-page SEO includes page load speed, multimedia use, responsive design, and social sharing buttons. 

2.Off-page SEO

Off-page naturally refers to all SEO work that is done externally, not on the page. Here are some of the main factors that make up off-page SEO:

  • Inbound links/link building
  • Social media
  • Reviews/Citations
  • Social bookmarking
  • Document sharing
  • Image submissions
  • Video submissions
  • Blog submissions
  • Questions and answers

Obviously, these lists are not exhaustive and only give a brief outline. Each one involves a lot more detail, but you already know this.

SEO strategy

The power and importance of SEO should be clear to all online marketers. The only way to achieve significant results and get a decent ROI (return on investment) is to have a strategy. It will not help to do a halfhearted job. SEO is all or nothing. The competition is fierce on only the fittest will survive. SEO takes time, effort and perhaps a bit of investment. Most importantly, it requires a strategy.

To get SEO right takes lots (and lots) of energy.

Formulating an SEO strategy is an involved and complex process. It requires a good understanding of SEO as well as up to date knowledge of the current SEO environment. A quality SEO strategy will result in increased traffic, more relevant traffic and a better ROI.

The ultimate goal of SEO is to drive relevant and quality traffic to your site and, generally, to convert that traffic into a measurable ROI. There are obviously other goals and some campaigns seek to grow brand awareness, educate customers or grow subscribers.

You would not build a store in the desert or an uninhabited forest. You would strive to position your brick and mortar store in a high traffic area with good visibility. The same concept applies to any online marketing effort. Without SEO your online presence will be out in the cold. Only SEO can drive traffic, quality traffic in the right direction. This requires a comprehensive strategy.

Change. And more change.

Remember that today’s SEO strategy must be flexible. It will have to constantly change and evolve if is to be effective. One has to keep up to date with the landscape and environment as well as the regular changes made by Google and other search engines. With a market share in excess of 90%, Google is the one to watch.

Be quick to change.

In 2018 alone,Google made a staggering 3 234 changes or “improvements” to their search algorithm. This number is increasing year on year and the trend will continue. Most of these changes are minor while some are more significant. Either way, it is clear that the goal posts are constantly moving, therefore, the need to be aware of the changes and adapt accordingly. Searches with the term “near me” and voice search are just two examples of significant changes.

Get your on-page SEO damn near perfect

On-page SEO is the first step and it needs a fastidious eye for detail. There are multiple elements so each aspect needs to be addressed, tested and perfected. Regular follow-up checks are essential. If you are not an expert on SEO with the time and resources to do top-notch on-page SEO for your own or your clients’ websites and blogrolls, then get one. Immediately. It takes time, effort, expertise and experience — and we haven’t even got to content creation!

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Another important aspect that can be included under on-page SEO is technical SEO. This refers to the architecture of the website, how it is created and coded on the backend. This is also important to Google.

Content strategy

Ah, here we go. Most conversations around SEO generally involve some variation of the old cliché — Content is King. The reason it is used so often is simply that it is true. Content, however, is tricky. Google and other search engines to consider content quality take relevance and originality into consideration before serving your content on the SERP. So yes, a content creation strategy can’t be ignored.

Here are the important elements of a content strategy:

Keywords

This is one of the most important aspects of your content strategy and it is imperative that you get it right. Take the time to do quality research and make use of some of the many tools that are available. Look for keywords for which you can rank. If the competition is too intense, you will not make headway.

Stay away from keyword-stuffing.

You want to select short-tail as well as long-tail keywords. It is important to test the effectiveness of the keywords and reevaluate them from time to time. There is an art to successful keyword use and it is important to understand this for them to be effective.

Develop topics

Once your keywords are in place you need to formulate topics and ideas for content. Keywords have to fit in naturally and the topics obviously have to be interesting and engaging for your target market.

Create content

If you have the skills, time and resources in-house you can create your own content. If you lack any of these attributes rather outsource to specialist content writers. Given the importance of your content, you want to ensure it is of the highest standard. It has to be 100% original, it needs to be engaging and it should be informative. You want content that will get traffic, likes and shares.

Plagiarism is (still) a big no-no.

Blog regularly

Blogs are one of the most effective ways to use your keywords and interact with your target market. In order to be effective, they need to be fairly regular, at least once a week. This will also help to build your website authority. Apart from strategic keyword use you also want to use your blog to link to relevant content on your website.

Link building

Link building or creating backlinks or inbound links is another important aspect of SEO. You need to have external content that links back to your website. This used to be an easy process but as with other aspects of SEO, it has become increasingly challenging. It is more about the quality of the backlinks than the quantity. Having said that, you still need to have a fair number of these.

Build bridges.

You want your links to come from relevant sites with high authority. Getting links from poor or irrelevant sites can actually do more harm than good.

Social media

Social media is a powerful SEO tool and it is critical that you take full advantage of the opportunities it presents. Facebook, for example, has well over 2 billion users. Twitter has over 300 million. These numbers cannot be ignored. Depending on your business and target market, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other platforms may also work wonders for your SEO. Don’t forget YouTube. And, whatever you do, keep up with developments of new-and-better social media.

Be more social.

Test and measure key metrics constantly

As explained, the environment, as well as the search algorithms, are constantly changing. It is essential that you are constantly measuring and tracking key factors to ensure your SEO is as effective as it could be. What works well today might not be the same in a few months. You want to test, measure and adapt where necessary.

How do you know your SEO is working?

It is important to understand what good SEO looks like in order to be sure you are achieving success. There are many measurables but ROI is the single most important aspect you want to look at. The rest will all lead to a good ROI. In order to get there, here are a few important factors to consider:

Good online marketing results

Traffic

Again, this is an issue of quality of quantity. Irrelevant traffic is of no significance or importance. It will not deliver any ROI so forget about ego boosting figures that serve no purpose. Quality organic traffic is the goal but it has to be relevant.

An increase in qualified leads

Each SEO campaign will have different objectives but a common goal is an increase in qualified leads. In order to measure this correctly, you need to qualify and quantify what a qualified lead looks like. You can then track and measure the leads generated by SEO.

Conversion Rates

This is another important aspect to monitor and measure. This will directly impact your ROI. The art of getting people to your site or content is important but you need them to take action in order for it to be deemed successful. Conversion rates are the best way to measure this.

Conversion means different things to different people so be sure to clarify what it means to you. It might not necessarily be a sale.

Reduce the sales cycle

Each industry has an average sales cycle and any measures that reduce this will lead to an increase in revenue. Good SEO can help you do this. By presenting the relevant facts and getting them in front of the key decision makers you will already have saved time as well as money. Again, you need to define and measure this in order to appreciate the improvement. A shorter sales cycle will also significantly reduce the cost of customer acquisition.

Better Customer Retention and Higher Customer Lifetime Value

Gaining new customers is vital for your business but is it also important to retain existing customers and increase the lifetime value of these clients. SEO can help you achieve this. This is a cost-effective strategy as it is less expensive than finding new customers.

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Improving your customer retention by as little as 5% can result in a profit increase of 25 to 95%. Value, nurture and reward your existing clients. Good SEO will help you do this.

5 Key focus points

Here are the main factors to remember:

  1. Perfect your on-page SEO first
  2. Develop a powerful SEO strategy
  3. Incorporate a formidable content strategy
  4. Measure and test results and performance regularly
  5. Adapt and evolve constantly
Yes! Good online marketing results ARE possible

If you want to achieve success with online marketing then quality SEO is the first and most important step. Many online marketing businesses have proved the power of quality SEO and achieved impressive results. Understand that it is a complex process that requires expertise and experience. You also need the time and necessary resources. Fortunately, there are professionals that have the skills and experience and they are able to assist you with the journey.

What is important is to appreciate the value of SEO and take steps to make it work for you. Measure performance and adapt when necessary. You will soon see results and ROI in your online marketing.

 


Charl Jooste is a Durban man although he likes to travel as often as possible. Being a full-time writer allows him to work wherever and whenever – a freedom he enjoys. After a lifetime of work in the ICT sector, Charl made some life changes and has been a full-time writer for 5 years now. He enjoys the diverse clients he interacts with all over the world. While Charl writes on a wide range of topics his passions are digital marketing and emerging technologies.

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