As more consumers turn to the internet to shop, conduct product research, and network, you must optimize your web presence to maintain relevancy. Otherwise, prospects and customers using Google to search for businesses like yours will be lost to higher ranking competitors.
Today's marketers are in a unique position—with each change made to Google's algorithm, the lines between digital marketing strategy and SEO become more blurred. As a result, modern marketers must understand the basic principles of SEO in order to survive and succeed in our hyper-competitive digital marketplace.
With that said, today's blog post breaks down some important SEO concepts all modern marketers must understand. Let's get into it.
SEO is complex and multifaceted. There are many different technical and non-technical factors that influence a website's search rankings—and to complicate things further, Google is constantly changing their algorithm to serve more accurate search results.
Although there are certainly quick ways to influence your rankings, the majority of companies will not see results right away. The key thing to remember is, even though SEO efforts may seem futile at first, they will eventually pay off if executed correctly.
Because most SEO tactics don't provide instant gratification, marketers and higher ups can quickly become frustrated and seek quick and easy solutions. But, we strongly recommend against tactics or tools that promise quick SEO results. Here's why: Google's crawlers easily recognize spammy SEO tactics and will eventually penalize your website if it seems you've made obvious attempts to manipulate search results.
Our motto is this: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Although Google crawls, analyzes, and ranks your website, you should continue to base content and functionality on human preferences. As a company, Google constantly stresses the importance of high-quality content. And, as technology gets more advanced, Google's algorithm will be able to identify the quality of a web page just as well as a human can.
The point here is this: There is no way to trick Google into thinking thin content is actually high-quality content. Invest your time and energy into creating content of value and Google will often recognize and reward your efforts. Remember, if a human doesn't like your content, neither will Google.
For reference, Google's basic definition of quality content is as follows:
Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Don't deceive your users.
Marketers don't always realize how many aspects of a business impact SEO—including social media, IT, public relations, customer service, branding, and much more. For this reason, SEO must be a company-wide initiative. But, how do you get everyone on the same page? Here's what we recommend:
Conduct keyword research as a team: No one team should own sole responsibility for identifying target keywords. Think about it, every department within your company has a different perspective.
The sales team talks to customers every day, and as a result, has a good understanding of how the general public perceives your products and services. They know which terms prospects search for to find products like yours.
Marketing and branding teams have a different take. Just because customers use certain search terms doesn't mean that's how your company should be positioned.
As a group, identify a short list of keywords that have enough search volume, that you can use within content to position your brand effectively, and that also resonate with customers and prospects.
Be vocal and transparent about your SEO strategy: You may not realize it, but how a company talks about their brand internally often bleeds out into the public. So, be transparent about your keyword strategy and the impact it has on branding.
If you can get your employees and colleagues on board with your keyword strategy, they will use your preferred terminology when talking to customers, sharing on social media, linking to content, and so much more—all of which can impact SEO.
Teach content creators how to optimize their own content: You will never have complete control over the content created by your team—no matter how diligent you are. For this reason, we recommend that you teach all content creators your preferred method of optimization.
We recommend that you provide a guide to content marketing that contains information about target keywords, internal linking, UTM parameters, back linking, and other important considerations. Then, distribute this guide to your marketing team.
There is nothing "set it and forget it" about SEO. Because Google is constantly making changes to their algorithms and new content is published regularly, true optimization requires constant attention.
For this reason, we recommend investing in an SEO tool if you don't already have access to one. The latest SEO technology allows you to automatically monitor your search rankings and alert you to any errors or noticeable issues—a necessary edition to the modern marketing technology stack.
Although we've spent most of this article discussing SEO as it relates to content and digital marketing—the modern marketer must also have some basic understanding of the technical aspects of SEO. Otherwise, none of our previous points will even matter.
Whether you suspect something is wrong with your website or you're just interested in conducting some SEO maintenance, there are a few technical considerations that must be at the forefront of your mind. These are as follows:
Technology: Install the appropriate tools to monitor website health. The two most obvious tools include Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
URL structure: URLs play a big role in SEO. When you can, try to keep URLs concise, standardized, and optimized with your target keywords.
H tags: Make sure you use H1, H2, and H3 tags appropriately.
Indexing and crawlability: If Google and other search engines can't crawl your site, they won't index it. This means it won't appear in the search results.
Image optimization: Use your target keywords in your alt image tags to tell help Google understand your subject matter.
External links: Work with websites and publications to build high quality backlinks to your website. Regularly check your backlink profile and work to remove any links that come from low quality or spammy websites.
Mobile optimization: Google places high-importance on mobile optimized websites. So, be sure all of your pages work on a variety of devices.
Site speed: A slow website will drastically impact usability and search rankings. Internal links: Include your target keywords within the anchor text of internal links to other pages on your website.
Meta data: Include your target keywords in your meta description and title tag. Also, avoid using the same meta data on multiple pages so you aren't flagged for duplicate content.
Site errors: Set up the appropriate redirects so visitors don't land on ‘error' pages.
Although most companies have dedicated SEO specialists, it's important for marketers to at least have some familiarity with basic SEO best practices.
As a modern marketer in the age of the internet, it's no longer acceptable to plead ignorance when it comes to SEO. Whether it's a requirement of your job or not, it's your responsibility to understand basic SEO best practices and concepts to help your business be more visible within the search results.
At the end of the day, SEO is everyone's responsibility. No single person can influence search results without the support of their team. So, do yourself and your business a favor, and remember to keep these basic guidelines in mind as you go about your daily marketing duties.