SEO has become one of the most important capabilities for companies to master today. Imagine you are put in charge of a company. Your business model is sound, you have hired a talented team, you have prospective customers, and almost everything is ready. But what to do about your website? It seems a pretty basic question, but it is still one that many businesses regardless of size, struggle with. Is Search Engine Optimization being considered in your digital development?
The digital world is a constantly evolving space. Companies today must have a variety of websites, digital properties and platforms that allow them to provide different services or functions just to survive. Some companies view their website as a business card, showing their capabilities and contact information. Some use their website to drive traffic, ecommerce and sales. Others view it as a medium to spread brand awareness, messaging and information both internally and to prospective clients. What you imagine your digital properties to be can substantially affect the success of your business.
SEO in Practice
Take the example of a midsize mortgage company as they went through a digital transformation. Before they decided to transform into a modern, digitally focused entity, they were a company that practiced “traditional” marketing techniques. They were starting to get eclipsed by their competitors, business was declining, and they recognized the need to change what they were doing. The company had a goal to expand their digital presence in order to drive new customer acquisitions.
In order to transform digitally they needed to understand why their business was declining and specifically what they could do to change it. The first thing they did was to build an analytical foundation that helped them measure and understand their performance. By doing this they were able to better understand their audience, their purchase journey, key performance indicators, different consumer touchpoints, on page and off page factors.
Understanding all these aspects are key to creating a digital experience that improves your business. By analyzing your audience and their journey, you can better match user intent with what your products or services can offer. For example, if your audience finds your Dog Food store’s website by searching for hot dogs, your traffic will have a steep drop off when they realize they can’t buy hot dogs at your dog food store. In the examples of both the mortgage company and the dog food store, SEO is the solution.
SEO: A Digital Footprint
SEO is such an important tool to utilize for improving your company’s digital footprint. Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing and ever-changing battle to reach the top of the search engine results page (SERP). The goal of SEO is to maximize the number of visitors to your site by ensuring the site appears high on the SERP. It builds brand awareness, that drives qualified traffic and increases conversion on that site.
SEO is a daunting phrase to many. It is a difficult capability to master as certain technical factors like information architecture, search engine crawling and indexing. are not the most crucial digital infrastructure elements business owners typically think about. However, these factors play a crucial role in determining your website’s SERP. In fact, for some companies the difference in your SERP ranking can impact millions of dollars in possible revenue.
In the example of the hot dog/dog food situation, a focus on keyword strategy and properly tagging their pages could address their traffic problem. Keyword strategy is identifying keywords and phrases that allows people to find a site in a search. Understanding this can allow one to create relevant content could help drive qualified traffic to their site. However, this is not the sole issue that SEO addresses.
Insurance is an extremely competitive industry when it comes to SEO. Insurance companies often operate with a network of independent agents. These independent agents have their own websites that they use for their business in which they sell multiple companies’ lines of insurance. In order to keep these independent agents competitive, local SEO is an important tool. Local SEO is about optimizing pages with a local presence. This will keep these agents at the top of the search for their most important keywords against any local competition.
SEO Reflects Customer Intent
Regardless of the type of business you are running, it is important to consider the customers’ funnel stage intent. The four stages of audience intent dictate how digital properties should be organized, packaged and marketed. A page can be purposed for awareness, consideration, comparison, purchase or some combination of these stages. It is important in SEO to create relevant content for each of these stages, to help ensure there are few gaps in this customer journey. One thing that separates effective content from less effective content is the integration of intent. Whether you are creating blog pages, paid media, PR, videos or social media content, matching customer intent for each of these stages is key. Doing this helps drive qualified traffic and ultimately increase conversions on your site.
Whether you are running a small company or an enterprise, understanding the different possible functions your digital properties can serve can exponentially improve your business. Understanding how to focus these properties on optimization, acquisition and conversion is key in growing your digital footprint.