So you’re “doing SEO” now. That’s great, really. But if by “doing SEO” you mean that you are doing basic on-page optimization, such as adding some keywords here and there, I think you are going to be sadly disappointed in the results! Once upon a time in a marketing world far, far away, that may have been good enough to get you decent search engine rankings. Today, focusing only on traditional SEO is, quite frankly, half-assing it. As I like to say, if you are going to succeed in web marketing, you need the WHOLE ass. Find out exactly what that means in my latest LinkedIn article.
Sometimes I wished we lived in a world where SEO was all a website needed to get rankings. But then I realize that world did once exist, but it no longer does today.
Things were so much simpler back in the days of AltaVista, Excite and WebCrawler. SEOs just had to worry about adding keywords into the keyword tag, update title tags and throw keywords into the content, and presto, top rankings were achieved.
Heck, back in the day, SEOs didn’t even care about how good the content was. It was all about getting top search engine rankings. Ahhh, those were the days!
But that’s all behind us now. And you know what? We are better off for it. Unfortunately, a remnant of those days still lingers today. Too many companies are still looking for top search engine rankings rather than looking for ways they can grow their business. Yes, they do care about messaging on the site, but they still somehow expect SEOs to make a few tweaks and–Presto!–search engine rankings appear.
That’s not the way it works any more. In fact, search engine rankings are (or should be) less the goal than they are the reward for a web marketing job well done. In order to earn top search engine rankings, web marketers have to do a whole lot of things right. SEO alone just isn’t enough to get the job done.
If You’re Just Doing SEO, You’re Half-Assing It
Success is never achieved by half-assing anything, and web marketing is no different. In fact, I like to say, web marketing requires the whole ass. SEO alone is only half the job. It’s important, valuable and essential, but it’s simply not enough. If you truly want to succeed at web marketing, you have to include a number of other components that will help drive your online business success.
Web Design Is Web Marketing
Many people don’t realize it but web marketing starts with the design of the site itself. If you’re not thinking about marketing when you develop your website, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening later. Too many websites are not designed with marketing in mind.
If you don’t start marketing with the design of the site, you’re going to find that much of what you paid for is going to have to change. If not properly considered, navigation, page layout and visual design can all interfere with helping your visitors get the information they came for quickly and/or moving them through the conversion process.
Website Architecture Provides the Foundation for Success
Website architecture is generally considered the realm of SEO, but it’s better addressed during the development phase of the site. Web development covers both visual design and the coding of your website, which can play a significant role in your success. Code that is bloated can slow down the loading of your pages, causing a higher than normal bounce rate. It can also affect the ability of the search engines to find and analyze key pages properly.
Other architectural issues, such as excessive links, broken links, redirect issues and even how pages are linked together within your navigation can all play a significant role in your site’s success, or lack thereof. These are all things that should be considered during the design phase. But if they are not worked out then, they need to be addressed before you go too deep into other forms of marketing because bad architecture can diminish the effectiveness of those other efforts.
On-page Optimization Isn’t Just About Keywords
Most consider on-page optimization the basic idea behind SEO. We research keywords, then optimize them into pages. It sounds pretty straight forward, but there is more to on-page optimization than just integrating keywords into content.
One of the goals of on-page optimization is to make sure the content is fulfilling its role sufficiently. Adding keywords to content is one aspect of that, sure, but we have to make sure that the keywords being used match the goals of the page.
While keyword research may uncover a lot of keywords on a given topic, some keywords are more research oriented while others are more consumer oriented. It’s the job of the optimizer to ensure that the right keywords are used with the right content. If the content of the page is shop-oriented, then only shop-type keywords should be used on the page. If the page is research oriented, you don’t want to use shop-oriented keywords but research-oriented. It’s the job of the SEO to ensure the keywords match the content and that those keywords are used in a way that delivers the proper messaging for the page.
Content Strategy Goes Beyond the Website
When it comes to on-site messaging, there are some definite overlaps between content strategy and SEO. But developing a good content strategy goes beyond the borders of the site itself.
Blogs are a great way to create additional content that reaches customers and prospects alike. However, if all you’re doing is blogging, you’re still missing out on a number of other content opportunities. Content isn’t just the written word. It can come in all kinds of flavors. Whether that be video, images, infographics, whitepapers, ebooks, etc, you have to have a good content strategy in place to take advantage of all the potential content opportunities there are.
We often talk about content as being something search engines love. But people love content, too, and every search is really a search for a specific kind of content. Your web marketing strategy needs to take this into consideration and look for ways to deliver the content that people are looking for.
Social Media Promotion Is a Double Whammy
Social media marketing alone can drive a lot of traffic and revenue for businesses. It’s a great opportunity to engage with your audience and deliver value, information and positive brand messaging to an opt-in audience. But social media also provides value that works in tandem with your other online marketing efforts.
While search engines may not be using social shares as a ranking signal, we do know that when social media is done right, it often helps those other signals that do improve search engine rankings. So much so, we rarely will even consider doing SEO without also overseeing the social media efforts at the same time. The two need to work in tandem.
Conversion Optimization Increases Sales Without Needing to Increase Traffic
Conversion optimization is often overlooked in web marketing campaigns. Too often, companies are looking for ways to drive traffic to their site, but they have not considered that they could be better off focusing on how to convert more of their existing traffic into customers.
Since search engines take some conversion signals into account (such as bounce rates), this can make conversion optimization an important part of your SEO efforts. In fact, some might argue that conversion optimization should come before you even try to drive more traffic to the site, but that’s not always feasible. At the very least, they should be done simultaneously.
Analytics Shows Your Successes and Failures
Analytics itself will do little to increase your web presence or website performance. But that doesn’t make it valuable. Think of analytics as both the measurement of your efforts and the tool with which you can uncover areas of web marketing that need the most work.
We use analytics to help drive all our web marketing efforts. It can tell us what pages need to be optimized, changed or improved. It can outline our successes but also show us where we might have failed and need to improve. Without analytics, you’re left only guessing as to what is working or not.
For example, you might want to rely on counting the number of times the phone rings, but that doesn’t tell you the whole story. A lack of phone calls could be the result of something completely outside of the web marketing efforts. Without analytics, you’ll look for solutions in all the wrong places.
PPC Adds Additional Traffic, Sales, ROI and Branding Value
Let’s not forget about the value of pay-per-click online advertising (PPC). While we don’t consider this to be an essential part of a web marketing campaign, it can add a whole lot of value to the efforts you’re already putting in. Not only can PPC drive immediate traffic and help you fine tune your messaging for better ROI, it can also help you drive an exponential traffic increase when side by side with organic rankings.
Half-assing your web marketing campaign might get you some value and a very low-growth rate. But if you really want your web marketing campaign to succeed, you’re gonna have to put the whole ass into it. Don’t just focus on SEO, or social media, or PPC, or content marketing. Dive in and hit it on all cylinders. You can either succeed a little or you can succeed a lot. The question is, are the limited efforts you’re investing enough to catch up and surpass your competitors, or will you be the one being surpassed?