"Techniques for optimized search engine marketing make a quantum leap every year," says Kevin Hourigan, President and CEO of web design, Web development and Internet marketing agency, Bayshore Solutions. As more media appears on the web, customers have many more ways to find out about competing products and services. Thus the search engine optimization (SEO) methods required to keep your business in front of customers online become more complex. “The cost of not strategically executing SEO is loss of significant business to your company and to the gain of your competition.”
Here are some critical items your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan should address in order to stay ahead of your competition.
What SEO Items are “Must-Haves”?
Every business website that wants to capture customers needs to be relevant for what those customers are searching for when they “Google” about a need or question they have. This starts with “On-page SEO” which includes: selecting and implementing the right keywords, placing the proper meta-data in the code that supports them, and communicating the right on-page message that addresses these keywords and entices your potential customer to convert to the next step.
It is very important to clearly understand your keywords and have a strategy around them. Anyone posing as an SEO expert can advertise and achieve impressive #1 rank for your exact brand name or a niche keyword phrase, but are enough targeted potential customers searching the Web using this phrase? You want to be found for competitive keywords that bring you real business prospects. This is where SEO gets competitive, and where the true experts are separated from the rest.
When I’ve optimized my website, then what?
You must have solid keywords and on-page follow through optimization. Today this is a given for any business website. High performance websites optimize well beyond keywords and meta-data. They pay specific attention to functionality, linking, social, local and mobile interconnectivity with SEO. Here are some strategic moves in these areas that you should consider to keep your business competitive and growing in our online world:
Really thinking through your website’s functionality is key. Industry statistics claim that for every extra “click” of the mouse you require of a potential customer on your website, you lose one third of your audience. I would suggest that your website strategy operates under a “One strike and you’re out” search mentality.
Search engines like Google and Bing actively index and rank your website on how relevant it is to searchers. Although your keywords may exist in all the right places, if people consistently don’t find what they search for when they click to your site, search engines will quickly attune to this and drop your ranking accordingly.
Another case I saw of a strategic SEO functionality mistake was with an auto dealer who had built up considerable search engine disrespect, from the good intention of trying to run a clean online inventory. When a specific car listed on their site was sold out, they simply deleted its web page. In effect, all the search engine links they had built around these pages would take searchers to an ugly error screen, rather than closing the loop and presenting a page where the customer could see similar or same-model cars the dealer did have available. While the Inventory systems were able to be accurate, they were inadvertently damaging their reputation and results with the search engines.
Search engines have made no secret that links from reputable websites to your website can add great weight to your site’s chances of top search engine results. Links that bring targeted visits back to your website are the driving reason for businesses to engage in content marketing, social media marketing, and most advanced online tactics. There are standard best practices for obtaining and implementing these links and then there are “best-performance” practices. Do you have specific strategies for getting the best possible SEO benefit from your link building efforts?
There are many social, bookmarking, reviews and reference networks that connect people to relevant information. Search engines are giving increasing attention and credit to these new media and the influence they have with your potential customers. Last year local listings, social media and real time search results (like Twitter feeds) gained prominent real estate placement on the first page of search results. This increased pressure for SEO efforts to show businesses in the top 5 results to often be visible on the first page.
Bing partnered with Facebook to show how much your friends “Like” websites shown in their search results. Google introduced their own crowd-sourced review function with their “Plus-One” program. Implementing social and local online initiatives with an understanding of your SEO keywords and strategy will help these channels be effective traffic drivers to your website. This approach also can detect trending changes in the market that indicate needed keyword changes. Siloed SEO, social media and local online marketing strategies, lose this critical synergy. How do your strategies in these areas connect with each other?
Search engines are increasingly detecting and refining the results they present to mobile devices. a Mobile experience is a significant ranking factor for favorable Google search results. Mobile search optimization and mobile advertising fulfillment require a focus on not just meeting the mobile visitors current needs but presenting an easy path for your business’s best outcome (like mobile-accessed specials and reasons to keep clients in your store as they are doing mobile research a product’s UPC barcode there). Industry sources forecast that mobile will overtake desktop Internet access in the next few years. Does your SEO strategy put you on top of or rolling under this next wave?
SEO needs to be connected to every aspect of your marketing online. When all tactics are working in sync with your web strategy and with each other, your business is primed for optimal results in leads, sales and growth.