In a growing digital age where Google has replaced the traditional system of looking up business in the phone book or by calling Information, small businesses should have a strong search strategy implemented to attract their target customers to their websites and other online content. Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as part of your inbound marketing and search strategy is essential to directing the right kind of traffic, at the right time, to your content to engage potential leads and convert them into happy customers.
SEO: The Basics
So, what is SEO? It is the process of generating traffic to your website, blog, Facebook page, etc. from the natural listing on search engines like major browsers Google or Yahoo. These search engines look at the design of your website, technical coding, written content, incoming links, and website updates to boost your SEO ranking.
The design and content of your website is crucial to having a high ranking on search engines, as well as creating clarity in your marketing communications. Content should be current and continually updated, which can be done through a blog attached to your website, or just by keeping your site content fresh. Having a visually appealing website is also important, as consumers tend to scan websites, so your content and visuals should be easy to read, engaging, and intentional to help boost your SEO ranking and level of website usability.
Your content is ranked on what the search engine deems as most relevant to users; this is where SEO comes into play within your inbound marketing strategy. To “optimize” your ranking within a search engine, you can use keywords and titles within your content as search engines pay close attention to these, and will rank according to how often those keywords or titles are searched for, but also the quality of the information, and if it is current and relevant.
The best part about SEO is that the major search portals want to keep online users as happy as you do; just make sure that you’re not “overdoing” it on the keyword (called “black-hat” SEO: a big no-no) thing as search engines can “blacklist” these websites and ban them for any search results.
SEO And Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
You must keep in mind that loading your content up with keywords and links will not solely benefit your SEO ranking (and will put you dangerously close to “black-hat” SEO); you want to have a great balance and small saturation of keywords and links. Your main focus should be providing high-quality and relevant content, but another feature of your site that Google especially focuses on is the level of usability and navigability your site is providing visitors.
This is true with mobile users as well, with Google reporting that 61% of those searching on a mobile platform who land on sites that are not optimized to be highly user-friendly and navigable will leave the site immediately, and go back to Google to find a site that is optimized in these fields. This will also affect how users perceive your website on computers, too: your site may be the first option when they search, but if it is not readable then the visitor is not likely to stay on your page and engage in your content, or retain any information about your company and your product.
SEO And Social Media
As social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) use continues to increase, so does the possibility of a high SEO ranking for your business. Facebook and Twitter especially can be a great way for your company to interact with potential and current customers, generate leads, and major search engines like Google and Bing confirmed that Facebook and Twitter influence SEO positively. This is due in part to ‘shares’ or ‘mentions’ on these social networking sites that act like viral word-of-mouth marketing; consumers are more likely to trust recommendations from their family and friends than from commercialized promotions, so having your content shared or mentioned is huge in generating leads, and customers, for your business.
SEO is a crucial part of your inbound marketing strategy and, if it is managed properly and optimized for your business, it can bring in a 4% increase in leads than traditional outbound marketing strategies like direct mail (Hubspot.com), and the forecast for SEO is one of substantial growth.
Generating a high ranking can be completely free to do on your own, or you can take the guesswork out of SEO rankings by hiring an expert or buying inbound marketing software to help you, and your business, navigate the oft-overwhelming world of digital marketing.
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