It is the constant buzzword – SEO, or search engine optimization. Thinking about SEO drops into two camps: If you’re not an SEO expert, you probably believe your company needs SEO but don’t know the first thing about it. The other side is that you know you need SEO and think you can do it yourself. Either way you need SEO.
But step back a moment. The very first questions should be, is SEO even the right for the company?
Here at Blue Sand Group, we specialize in SEO, thus we do possess a pronounced bias. However, we can present both sides of the argument and leave the decision-making factors up to you.
The initial query we get after the individual fully understands what SEO is and what it accomplishes, is: How can a company know if SEO is the right choice when evaluating an advertising budget?
Yes, SEO is important
“Back in the day” when there were banks of pay phones in front of every liquor store and every pay phone had one or more giant paper directories. Half of the pages in the book were yellow…paid ads for businesses. Online search engines have become today’s Yellow Pages. If your company would have paid for a prominent Yellow Pages full display ad 15 to 20 years ago, in the modern age, you now want your business to appear at the top of search engine results pages on any and every device.
As an additional dimension, SEO takes into account your company’s online reputation and overall presence, items of vital importance these days. For example, if Company ‘A’ has a great reputation and publishes articles written by its management team on its website, it may have a good ranking for searches. Company ‘B’ has a great website with all the pieces Company ‘A’ holds, however, they also encourage their executive team to write for other websites and be quoted in other places around the web. More exposure means higher rankings. AND they also have a fantastic social media plan. Summary: Company ‘B’ will obviously show higher in search.
Google’s latest algorithm, Hummingbird, emphasizes the intention of the searcher. It’s great if you understand your buyers’ intention, but it’s far more important to understand what Google thinks the intentions of your prospects and buyers may be. What your buyer wants and thinks as opposed to what Google believes your buyer wants and thinks. Knowing how to optimize your website, offers and messaging around what Google believes the intention to be will not only save you thousands of dollars in your advertising budget, but it can also substantially increase your lead acquisition efforts and sales.
Clearly, SEO isn’t the only answer but it is a crucial piece of a large and growing and constantly more complex puzzle that you must either stay abreast of or get left in the digital dust. Improving your specific marketing strategies requires setting up specific technical foundations. Blue Sand Group highly recommends you take these initial steps:
Develop a strong mobile website strategy. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to analyze your site.
Test at your website page load speed. This is an increasingly important part of Google’s ranking formula. Getting to world-class speed may be beyond your current budget, but there are almost always at least two or three simple tweaks you can make to improve.
Obtain continuous new content that sells strategy (and appeals to Google’s formula). Your customers go to Google for answers. Insure your content to gives new answers to them. Content marketing strategy moves your customers to the next step: to contact you or buy from you.
Implement a personal brand strategy. Prospective customers, premium clients, strategic alliance partners, investors and members of the media actually Google you. It’s increasingly important to stand out in a crowded field so seekers contact you first.
SEO’s Potential Downside
Most of what you read only promotes the positive side of SEO. So, in all honesty, BSG will tell you that there actually are some negative elements that can come about. Well, the negatives come from people who believe they can game the system. Yes, there are SEO firms still using black-hat tactics. Beware! Any company that pitches you about amazing results via social bookmarking, article directories, website directories, forum posting and blog commenting, then seriously take it as a warning sign. Those who guarantee you hundreds of links is another big red flag waving at you. These tactics worked some years back , but fell off into the digital dustbin with Google…gone and forgotten.
Finding the Right SEO firm
Business and the Internet move faster than humans are able to comprehend. Conducting SEO successfully takes flexibility, adaptability and knowledge that most companies don’t possess in-house. That Goliath Google updates their search formula several hundred times a year with a crack team of experts. Each major update (and often smaller updates) alters the search results moving forward. Often, companies who were shining in the top five previously suddenly drop away to page three or four, depending on the outmoded tactics they or their SEO agency had used previously.
Whether or not you select BSG for your SEO work, our firm recommends that you search diligently for a firm whose core competency is Google SEO. They should demonstrate to you that there’s more to SEO than just rankings, and should understand that getting people to visit your website is just the beginning. They should also know how to turn visitors into buyers and employ strategies to continually make touch points with site visitors who don’t make a purchase decision right away.
Ask about their process — if long-term sustainability is important to your company, you don’t want to hire a company that takes shortcuts. Ask about their ongoing content strategy, and listen for a mention of searcher intent.
Whether you do SEO in-house or hire a capable firm, this is not an area where you want to skimp. Getting and maintaining high rankings on buyer keywords, then converting them to buyers takes a reasonable investment with people who constant update and seek the latest and newest of every alteration and improvement the web makes at every turn.