What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques used on a website to get it to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). It is a strategy based on many factors that include keyword research, the use of keywords on posts and pages, internal link building within a website, and backlinks from other sites. These factors increase the accessibility of your content so search engines can best deliver the links to that content to users.
While this may sound like a straightforward process, it’s definitely not in reality. SEO is a complex, evolving and dynamic part of the digital marketing process. On top of that, SEO should be used in conjunction with other internet marketing practices as part of an overall strategy that delivers results.
An SEO service can help drive traffic to a website, but without compelling content those visitors won’t stay. That’s why content creation should be an important focus when creating an SEO strategy.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a part of digital marketing that focuses on creating, publishing and distributing content to a specific audience. The main goals a marketing agency will look out for include:
Attracting attention to a product or service
Increasing brand awareness
Generating leads and sales
Converting leads into customers
Growing a consumer base
Creating a community of users
Achieving these goals requires a content strategy that includes articles, videos and audio promotion via podcasts. These pieces of content can then be published on your website, social media profiles and other sites such as podcast directories, news portals or other information websites that accept articles from outside authors.
Content marketing can drive an SEO campaign farther and faster than just technical SEO techniques aimed at driving visitors to your site. This is because great content creates a “pull” factor that attracts prospects like a magnet.
When combined with an SEO strategy, content marketing can accelerate all aspects of the marketing process that scales up over time. These two essential components of digital marketing can accomplish far more than either could separately.
What’s the connection between SEO and content marketing?
Both SEO and content marketing attract visitors. The key difference is the method: SEO works by drawing in your audience through organic search with the use of keywords while content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
The relationship between the two is synergistic. Content marketing - when done right - magnetizes customers to your products and services. Effective SEO draws them in through keywords and organic search results. The two together are a powerful combination that draws visitors to your site and keeps them there.
How do I know what’s right for my company?
In most cases, both SEO and content marketing make a great combination for most businesses - with a few exceptions.
Consider a pizza shop or a courier service. These are straightforward operations that offer a limited amount of services. No amount of videos, posts or podcast episodes can substitute for the experience these services provide in the real world. What is required most for businesses like these is to be found online through a strategy focused on local SEO.
A service like an insurance agency, however, is another matter altogether. This is a more complex operation that offers a range of service options personalized to its clientele. Along with the tangible benefits insurance provides is a range of emotional benefits associated with increased security and peace of mind.
That’s where the importance of content marketing comes in. The quality differential of content published between agencies can make a huge difference in the leads each receives, along with the quality of those leads. Content marketing done well targets a specific audience with quality content and reels them in.
The addition of SEO powers up content marketing as part of an overall marketing strategy. Being found for a term like “independent insurance agency” may suffice, however that agency may offer specialized insurance for restaurants or manufacturers. Optimizing for these search terms via SEO is one part of the process and drawing them in with specialized content completes the equation.
How to hire an SEO company that gets results
A qualified SEO firm should understand how search engine algorithms work in addition to staying up to date on any changes. They should be able to create an overall strategy based on all aspects of digital marketing, including content creation. That strategy should also be verifiable through demonstrated case studies showing how it can work for your business.
Some SEO agencies make unrealistic promises without explaining that SEO is a long-term game. The right SEO company should be able to manage client expectations while being able to make promises that can be delivered in a reasonable timeframe.
SEO is a large investment for any business. The right SEO firm should be able to help you plan your budget while delivering a high-performing, verifiable ROI from your investment. Hiring the right SEO company for your business is an important decision and should never be rushed because the right choice can pay dividends over the long term.
What should the SEO company focus on?
A cutting-edge SEO strategy that gets results in today’s competitive economy blends traditional marketing with advanced technical SEO knowledge.
Similar to a traditional marketing company strategy, a modern SEO strategy should first focus on the needs of the customer and leverage technology to create a wider outreach. Some parts of that strategy can include:
Buyer personas (also known as customer avatars) are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They include detailed demographic characteristics, psychographic information, “pain points” (that your products or services can solve), and media consumption habits.
The Buyer’s Journey
The Buyer’s Journey is a multi-stage path taken by customers as they progress from a lead to a happy customer to an advocate or affiliate. Also known as a “marketing funnel”, each stage along the way uses different marketing tactics that address various questions, objections and pain points.
Strategic Initiatives & Campaigns
For most businesses, it’s not possible to accomplish everything at once. A long-term strategy can be broken up into several campaigns with each focusing on 3-4 strategic initiatives at a time.
SEO is a long-term game and every strategic plan should be looked at as a “live” document that can be tweaked as a business evolves. The entire digital landscape is always innovating and changing and a long-term plan should be flexible for when conditions change.
KPIs: What metrics should I be watching?
Progress is best seen when it can be measured. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used in SEO help marketing agencies determine where their plan is working and what areas need to be adjusted. Some important KPIs to look out for include:
Unlike pay per click campaigns, organic traffic refers to the number of visitors coming to your site naturally through search engines results. Measuring that organic traffic month over month will help determine the success of a keyword-based content strategy.
One of the most important goals of an SEO strategy is to get a business on the first page of the SERPs. This is accomplished by competing for a set of keywords and we can measure the performance of the site for these keywords on a month-over-month basis.
Page speed is increasingly becoming important for search engines - especially Google - and this factor can affect a website’s ranking. In addition, users with slow internet or older devices are also less likely to stay on a website that loads slowly. Along with affecting clicks, slow websites are also less likely to be shared. All this can factor into your SEO ranking.
Backlinks are links to your site from other sites. The reputation of those sites - known as “domain authority” - can also affect your ranking. It’s important to regularly check all backlinks and remove any that are toxic through tools like this one in the Google Search Console.
Google gives a reputation-based score for all websites from 1 to 100. Known as “domain authority”, this measurement is important both for the ranking of your website in addition to the websites that link to your site.
The rate of conversion from leads to customers is known as the conversion rate. This measure is highly dependent on the content of your website and the effectiveness of its copy. While organic traffic is wonderful, it’s not working if those leads aren’t converting into customers.
A Final Word
An effective SEO strategy should include more than just techniques for driving traffic to your site. Traffic alone is not enough. There needs to be compelling content on your site that converts leads to customers.
The right SEO company has traditional marketing tactics built into its overall process. By fusing together all these elements, an effective overall SEO strategy will bring traffic to your site, draw visitors in with content, and convert them into a loyal customer base.