The Seattle Sounders player, Zach Scott once told me “you miss every shot you don’t take.” To be successful in the digital age, organizations need to have an online presence; or in other words be searchable. Most Internet traffic occurs through search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. But, if unable to be found by search engines, businesses are missing the opportunities that these search engines provide.
According to Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO, “search engines’ primary responsibility is to serve relevant results to their users,” by having 2 main functions:
- Crawling and Building Index – Automated robots (spiders) search the web for documents, pages, files, news, videos and media through the use of links, and store them in hard drives in order for them to be recalled when searched
- Providing Answers – Using algorithms, search engines provide answers to user queries (the words/phrases entered into a search) usually through a list of relevant pages, which are ranked by perceived usefulness.
Popularity matters. Search engines’ results are based on the importance of a page, which is interpreted by its popularity. The more popular a page is, the more valuable its information is. Most Internet users know that the top results are usually the best results.
So why is this important?
- Search is the primary method of navigation for most Internet users
- Search provides opportunities for organizations
- To have empathy for your audience (know what they want and appeal to them)
- Ranking of search results determines credibility
- Top ranked searches get the most visibility and traffic
“Second is the first loser,” another quote told to me by professional soccer player Zach Scott. The top three search results get the most traffic. How do we become the top search results? Search engine optimization (SEO). What is SEO? Moz, (formerly known as SEOmoz) defines it as:
- Search Engine Optimization: “improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines”
If you read my last post, “They want you, to want them – Inbound Marketing” you might have caught on that SEO and inbound marketing go hand in hand. Using search engine optimization increases a sites’ ability to be found, or searched, increasing its overall rank. Inbound marketing is attracting potential customers to your page through engaging content. A site can be searched, but not have good content, or a site can have good content, but not be found. They are peanut butter and jelly!
By adding keywords, or simply restructuring a website can make all the difference in showing up in a search. Keywords are essential and the most important for search. When search engines spiders crawl, they organize their findings based on keywords. For example, to find this awesome cat .gif, I searched “cute cat gifs” (originally looking for something cute, but this was way cooler) and the first link that resulted (believe it or not) was cutecatgifs.com!
Keywords are the “money makers” in search marketing, being able to produce high returns. Though keywords, one can learn about buying behaviors and motivations, which is important to compete in the market. This is also the basis of inbound marketing, getting the customer to find the company. Having an optimal page, with keywords, enables and facilitates users to find websites they potentially didn’t even know existed. (One should have only assumed a web page solely dedicated to cat gifs existed) Here are some keyword tips:
Where to put keywords:
- Tag in title at least once
- Prominently near the top of the page
- 2-3 times in the body of the page
- Alt code of an image
- Meta description of a tag
Important reminders when using keywords:
- Relevant to content
- Specificity = less competition
- Attract the right audience
When using keywords, keep in mind the 3 main types of search queries. This will help understanding customers problems and help to provide them with answers:
- Transactional Queries (Do): making a purchase
- Informational Queries (Know): seeking information
- Navigation Queries (Go): seeking an online destination
Keywords gone wrong! Jonathan Strickland does a good job explaining black hat SEO techniques in his article “How Search Engine Optimization works,” which are something one should not participate in!
Black Hat SEO techniques:
- Keyword stuffing: “altering search results by over using keywords on a page.” This can consist of inserting words that are not relevant to a pages’ content.(although this may sound like a good idea, it can hurt your ranking, or attract the wrong people)
- Invisible keywords (cloaking): inserting words that aren’t visible to web users, usually because the color of the text matches the background. But since spiders decipher content through HTML, they detect text even if people can’t see it.
SEO companies track and analyze data in order to continually improve SEO strategies. Keeping track of rankings, referrals, links and keyword searches is how SEO is successful. Moz recommends the following metrics to track:
- Search engine share of referring visits
- Visits referred by specific search engines
- Visits referred by specific search engine teams and phrases
- Conversion rate by search query term/phrase
- Number of pages receiving at least one visit from search engines
Inbound marketing wouldn’t be possible without search engine marketing. SEO increases the chances for customers to find businesses. Increasing presence and accessibility on the Internet is a good thing. Although you may have implemented these strategies to your page, increasing rank takes time.