This post is part II of my three part series on my core principles of Digital Marketing. In the first part, I detailed my thoughts on your website presence, sharing my top three considerations. But here we take a look at Search, mainly focusing on SEO.
Influencing the judgement a consumer makes when attempting to locate their desired service is accomplished through many mediums. However, the first thing many potential consumers do is “Google it” when they are looking for something. When they “Google it” they are presented with two main results – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Fundamentally the difference between the two is that SEO is “free” while SEM is paid.
Given SEM is dependent on so many factors: who is searching, your strategy, and your budget, it is not usually the first step to take. Therefore, let’s first focus on SEO. In general SEO is not simply doing one thing well. It is a summation of many parts creating an overall experience resulting in being found via search results more frequently than your competition.
The key elements of SEO are development, content, and time. First, focus on designing and developing your website to industry best practices. Then combine that with solid content development and continuous creation. With the final and most difficult step, patience. Then vola, you have your SEO strategy! (well at least the basics)
Development – Page Elements
Gone are the days of “keyword stuffing” or relying solely on gaining back links to other websites. Search engines such as Google are continuously improving their algorithms that create their suggested ranking of search results. As these algorithms have evolved it has become more important to ensure the usage of best practice web development efforts.
The most common elements to consider are your page titles, meta descriptions, and alt tags on your images. There are many more elements to examine, however these three items apply to virtually every site. So users should at least know about the big three.
The key with these three items is to make them flow and interact with each other as much as possible. To get started review your page titles and verify they are no longer than 60 characters, but at least 30. Ensure they have the site title, a page description, and one or two keywords that your page is working toward.
For the meta description, work on something that is around 300 word. Focus this description on taking advantage of displaying your top keywords from the page. Lastly for the alt tags, make them descriptive of the photo they are referencing. However if they can include your keywords as well that will create the trifecta.
So on to the big one, content curation. Considering content curation in your ongoing SEO strategy is arguably the single most important item as you move forward. A solid commitment to content strategy will allow your ranking to move higher as time goes on. While the static content on your site is still very important, the content I am referring to is original content. This content comes in one (or many) of the following forms: written, video, and/or audio. As a starting point, often the easiest is in written form – a blog.
Blogs provide continuous fresh content for your website. A blog allows your organization the ability to offer original thought, and if done correct, a brand can establish themselves as an industry leader. Blogs typically range in length. However anything between 300 to 500 words is sufficient to engage a reader, while not losing them. At the same time one can provide powerful information with this word count.
While the rule is the more relevant content the better. But simply starting with monthly blog posts, then flexing to weekly is a great way to begin. As you get the hang of the monthly posts, create a content development calendar. With these couple steps, teams quickly find it simple to continuously curate content.
As I said before, this is by far the most difficult element. As with any “free” service, it comes at a hidden cost. In this case it is patience to trust that your hard work will one day pay off. The goal is to experience a continuous rise in search rankings.
There are really not any definitive metrics for when results will start to show. However in my experience, when you start a solid SEO campaign, initial results will show in three to six months. If done correctly (and again continuously) the theory is that your results will continue to grow from months six to 12, and beyond.
Even with these typical ranges, there is not a defined set to tasks to complete for a specific result. There are simply to many factors. The best way to look at SEO is an investment. Just like a stock, you will see some gains, maybe some losses but if you commit to the process your ROI will be there over time.
SEO is such a complex thing, and you will likely see that if you start doing all the above items really well your results may improve over time, but plateau before you get to that #1 or #2 ranking. While I called out three items I consider to be foundational, did you know Google uses around 200 factors when considering your organic search ranking? So if you need more information or want to spark a conversation about how to improve your SEO ranking, reach out and find out how I can help you steer away from those potential pitfalls and move you toward an improved ranking.