I entered the digital marketing industry in 2012 when Search Engine Optimization was a simple blend of keyword stuffing and link building. If anyone suggests those strategies still hold up, then they’re living in the past. SEO has changed because the search behavior of consumers has changed. According to Google, 84% of Americans are shopping for something at any given time, in up to six different categories. During their journey, shoppers are searching online, verifying references, reading reviews, connecting with local businesses, and (the most important step of all) converting.
The once linear buyer’s journey has become a multilateral experience full of content consumption, brand impressions, strategic ad targeting, online searches, remarketing, and email marketing. To be successful, brands must be present in the ever-changing and always competitive online market. As digital marketers, our job is to connect searchers to the right businesses, and SEO is one of the most effective ways to do that.
Table of Contents
SEO allows businesses to connect with the right audiences by increasing the quality and likeliness to convert traffic to a website while improving brand recognition.
The way Google connects businesses with audiences is through its algorithm, which changes about 500-600 times a year. The algorithm is intended to keep up with consumer behavior and keep searchers from ending up on untrustworthy websites. To quickly connect searchers to businesses, Google’s algorithm includes some of the most popular “checklists” that searches have indicated are important.
Can I trust them?
Are they located close to me?
Do they offer the service I need?
How SEO Works
The three most effective constituents for any SEO campaign include content, brand authority, and local presence.
Content helps answer the question “Do they offer the service I need?”
It looks like on-site content, blogs, videos, whitepapers, email marketing, infographics, content marketing, product descriptions, information about the business’s history, and social posts.
Shoppers consume content differently on mobile devices than on desktops and through different avenues like video, blogs, graphics, and social posts. Content is the most effective way to communicate who you are and what you do to search engines and your audience. This gives businesses a great opportunity to get creative and engage with audiences outside the traditional text of website content.
Create and optimize unique content for each service or product that you want to rank for next time a user is searching. For example, a lawyer who specializes in personal injury should have dedicated pages for each practice area they offer like medical malpractice, car accident, wrongful death, etc. Having dedicated pages for “medical malpractice” precisely and effectively communicates to Google that the content on these pages strictly focuses on “medical malpractice.” This strongly impacts content relevance and organic rankings when people search “medical malpractice lawyer.”
A click to a site, organic or paid, is a very strong sign of a user’s level of intent and conversion. On-site content should be used to communicate competitive advantages, prices, products, and services. Onsite content should deliberately be written in to drive conversion behavior, with strong calls to action like “call now”, “sign up for our newsletters”, “contact us today”, or “buy”.
Research by HubSpot suggests that using videos on landing pages will increase conversions by 86 percent.
Businesses need to communicate their message and engage with their audience. A video can be a 30-second teaser for a series of blogs, 2-minute testimonials of a happy client, or 5-minute highlight summary of a recently sponsored community event. Videos are great for users engagement and even better for product promotion. Almost 50 percent of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.
To learn more about how to incorporate video into a marketing strategy, check out our webinar on using videos to showcase your business.
According to HubSpot, companies that published more than 16 blog posts per month got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published zero to four monthly posts.
This type of content should be slightly more engaging and address identified topics and related topics interesting to the audience. Blogs should always be shared on social, and including videos is a great way to complement the content and increase engagement.
This helps answer the question “Can I trust this business?“
It looks like earned media like press releases and brand mentions, industry recognition and noted awards, customer reviews, backlinks for all off-site work and publications, and Google posts.
88 percent of people trust a review from a stranger as much as they would a referral from a friend or family member. Having reviews on your site builds trust with readers while highlighting customer satisfaction. Potential customers trust user-generated content, and all businesses should encourage their clientele to leave reviews or have a dedicated strategy in place to generate them.
Other ways to increase brand awareness off-site are through earned media publications like brand mentions and press releases. Anytime a business has a newsworthy topic like a major event, community sponsorship, new leadership, or a new location, creating and publishing a press release can establish brand trust and awareness while gaining reputable backlinks.
Brands should always assure they are receiving link backs from any third party publications and sponsorships. Not only do links build trust with Google, but it also provides a way for referral site traffic from other sources and sites.
This help answer the question “Are they conveniently located to me?”
It looks like local on-site content, correct and consistent listings on maps like Google, Apple, Yelp, and Bing, and showing up in Google’s Maps Pack.
While consumer behavior continues to move off of the streets and onto the internet, communities supporting local businesses stay strong. In 2018, HubSpot’s data stated that 72 percent of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. Being found locally is crucial, especially for businesses in the service industry like landscapers, restaurants, groomers, mechanics, etc. According to Google, mobile searches that include the phrase “near me” have grown by 500 percent in the last two years.
So how can businesses communicate they are in fact “near” searchers? First, make sure that you claim and optimize the correct name, address, and phone number across the major local directories like Google, Apple, Yelp, and Bing. Also, build out local landing pages for each location on-site to include a map, local content, hours of operation, and directions. Check out our location page for a concrete example.
The way consumers search for dresses, landscapers, and car dealers will continue to change, and therefore the digital marketing industry will too. Just as our campaigns have strayed from the simplicity of keywords and link building, our marketing campaigns will continue to develop and change. In an everchanging and competitive industry catered to consumers, businesses must have a strategy to be successful. If you don’t, Search Influence’s digital marketing experts can help you develop one.