There are thousands of digital marketing solutions out there. A short look at any search results for “digital marketing” shows you that the tactics for finding success online are various and often conflicting.
There’s one method, though, that stands alone as the best way to increase your digital marketing ROI; search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is undervalued in a lot of cases, and we’re here to show you why slacking on search engine optimization is a big mistake. We’ll look at how small business owners can link SEO and ROI and finally find their place online.
Hopefully, the ideas below clear up any confusion you have about optimization and set you on the right track. Let’s get started.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
Most of us have some slight knowledge about SEO, but it’s easy to get the terminology mixed up. Let’s look at the fundamentals of SEO as a refresher for those who haven’t thought about it in a while.
The basic idea of search engine optimization is tailoring your website to match the preferences of the search engine algorithm. In almost all cases, the algorithm you’re optimizing for is Google’s.
It’s possible to optimize for the other popular search engines as well, but most niches find the bulk of their users on Google. The algorithm consists of roughly 200 ranking factors that work together to determine your position in the search engine results pages (SERPS).
To gather that information, Google uses artificial intelligence called “crawlers.” These are bots that weave through various internet pages collecting information, going to and from those pages via links.
When the bot arrives on a particular page, it gathers up all the discernable information it can about that page and sends it back to Google. The goal of SEO is to present your website’s best self when the crawlers come around.
It’s possible to adjust and optimize for almost every factor that Google prioritizes in the rankings.
What Google Values
We’ll take a look at key ranking factors a little later on in the article. That said, it’s good to understand the general purpose or ethos of Google’s search algorithm.
On a fundamental level, Google looks for customer value. So long as Google keeps putting up relevant websites in their search results, people will keep using their platform. It’s as simple as that.
The algorithm seeks web pages that respond to user keyword searches in a valuable way. That means your website works well, your user experience is up to par, and the information on your site meets the needs of your users.
Google, on the other hand, isn’t looking for the sites that put the most energy into “good” optimization. In fact, there are some penalties for trying to cheat the system in that way.
Instead, positive ranking factors should come naturally when you curate your site with the user in mind. If you were to create a perfectly user-friendly and helpful website, it would be pretty well optimized already.
Optimization provides the scaffolding for you to create that perfect site. So, the point is to keep the user’s experience in mind at all times. It’s easy to slip into SEO tunnel vision and forget that there are real people visiting your site who need your help.
Why Do Search Rankings Matter?
It’s worth wondering why it even matters where you end up on the results page. After all, there are plenty of other platforms that draw business, so why is Google so special?
While it’s possible to generate a lot of revenue through other platforms, Google holds down the primary position as a place to find new customers. You can position yourself in the perfect place to attract individuals who have searched for products or services like yours.
It turns out that most people start the buyer’s journey by making a search engine search. This is true for those that intend to shop entirely online as well as people who want to figure out where they’re going shopping that day.
Whatever your niche, there are individuals out there making Google searches that could lead them right to your door. Any given niche offers thousands of chances to reach those users as well.
Considering that most people start the process with a search, that means that rankings are a gateway to most of the revenue in your niche. Google rankings seem trivial when you’re not aware of their value, but the truth is that they’re everything.
Plus, the importance of Google and search engines, in general, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Many other web giants have risen and fallen, changing the order of importance in various niches, but Google has stood the test of time.
What Happens if You Don’t Optimize?
There are a select few businesses fortunate enough to have popularity and interest in their sites without optimization. For example, a popular business in your area might get a lot of natural traffic from people in your community.
The engagement and interest of that site tell Google that it’s a relevant page for others in your city. So, Google prioritizes the page in the search results in your local niche.
That said, most businesses aren’t that fortunate. Even if you have a decent reputation and regular in-store traffic, there’s no telling where you’ll end up in the search rankings. Businesses that hire professional digital marketing services and work on their sites easily outrank those that don’t.
So, the cost of failing to look at SEO is that you won’t get on the first page of Google in most cases. That means that you’re missing out on a huge influx of business that’s running through those keyword searches.
At the very least, you’re taking yourself out of the running for that business. Few people click on the second page of Google, so landing anywhere past that is a big problem.
What SEO Digital Marketing Should You Do?
The fundamental idea of SEO is easy enough to understand but putting it into practice is a little harder. It’s tough to piece through all of your options and land on essential actions to take for your campaign.
If we break down optimization to its core elements, though, we find a few things that stand out above the rest. Let’s take a look at those elements and explore what they do to help your business.
1. The Quality of Your Website
The first thing to hammer out is the fundamental piece of your digital presence; your website. This is the backdrop on which all of the rest of your efforts take place.
You have to make sure that your site is well-hosted, your pages are organized in a logical way, and that your site loads at speeds acceptable by Google. A new addition to the search algorithm is something called “Core Web Vitals.”
These factors include things like your load times, the ability of your largest page factors to load, and the way that the arrangement of your content shifts to adjust to different screen types. Those factors are difficult to try and troubleshoot if you’re not someone who knows a lot about web pages, though.
You might have to dig into the web hosting platform you’re using, manage the code of the images on your page, and adjust different back-end hiccups to improve site speed.
2. Your Target Keywords and Niche
The currency of SEO is keywords. If you’re able to discern the best keywords for your business or brand, you’ll be able to get a lot more traffic.
The entire process of optimization starts with a keyword and moves into what that search phrase says about the user’s needs. The keyword indicates the target niche, the type of business needed, and the sort of content that the user needs to address their search.
Keyword research helps businesses understand what their target audiences are interested in. There are various keyword research tools available online, and some of them are even offered by Google itself.
The main idea is to find keywords that are popular among your target audience, but not bogged down with competition from bigger sites. In a lot of cases, the most popular keyword phrases in your niche have top-ranking positions occupied by industry giants.
The beautiful thing, though, is that every keyword has dozens of offshoots with the same users. For example, “best new running shoes” might get bogged down by Nike and Adidas.
That said, “best new running shoes in Stillwater, Nebraska” could open up a chance for small businesses to take the top spot. Once you’ve got the keyword in mind, you incorporate it into your content.
3. Content Creation Campaigns
The term “content” encompasses everything from the copy on your homepage to the information in your blog. It’s also videos, infographics, and more.
There’s a common misconception about content, though. A lot of small business owners think that content gets created on a whim. You have a thought, you write it in your blog, and you put it out there.
This is one way to do things, but that method brings success if you’re an influencer or you already have a large, dedicated audience. Small business owners looking to boost their rankings have to create content in response to keywords, though.
You identify a target keyword, think about what that keyword says about user needs, then create content to address those user needs. Throughout the process, you insert the target keywords at specific points in the content.
Doing so establishes that content as a piece that’s a part of a particular niche, addressing the particular user concern in question.
4. Linking Structure
Links are a very important aspect of SEO. On one hand, the way that your pages are linked establishes where those pages sit in your niche. Links from powerful companies let Google know that your content is useful and worthwhile.
The more that you’re linked to, the more perceived value your website has. This, in part, is due to the fact that Google lands on your pages more often as it works through links. The more often bots land on your site through new links, the better your site seems.
It’s also important to link to different pages on your own site to establish a healthy internal link structure. The linking structure should be logical and make it easy for users to work through your site without clicking too many times.
Ideally, someone can get to any page on your site from any other page on your site without clicking more than a few times. The difficulty is that it’s hard to generate backlinks (links from other sites to your own site) without a lot of web visibility.
Digital marketing professionals have great insights into getting those links to your site, though.
5. Data Analytics and Response
Once you’re situated with a solid website and enough content to get the ball rolling, your job is to look at the metrics. Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and other web tools are great places to start with data.
You can use the data to look at your site traffic, examine user behavior, identify issues with your pages, and troubleshoot solutions to those issues. It’s not enough to create the site, see how it does, and make changes on the fly.
The only way to truly rise up the ranks is to look at your data and respond with solutions.
6. Professional SEO Services
The ideas above are just the baseline needs of any SEO campaign. There’s a lot more you can do to secure the top spot in your niche. The best way to get those results, though, is to work with a professional agency.
The benefits of professional success far outweigh the costs, especially when the alternative is to dedicate countless hours of your precious time working through optimization data.
Want to See What SEO Can Do for You?
Once you get things in order, SEO and ROI go hand-in-hand. We’re here to help you get started in that process. It’s always good to get professional digital marketing insights before you embark on a campaign. Contact us for more information on professional SEO services, tips for success, and creative content solutions.