Arguably the highlight of the day is sitting down to enjoy a delicious meal, created out of fresh, tasty ingredients. Our entire days are structured around meal times with breakfast, lunch, and dinner often used as reference points for what we do and when. So why not apply this same methodical approach to ingredients and mixtures to concoct the perfect blend of SEO activities?
As with personal taste, not all of these points will be to the liking of all websites and the quantities and weights will change with each individual site, but if we were to create the perfect campaign for a typical website, keen to target both local and national traffic, stir up sales figures, and create a credible online brand at the same time, what would we need to put in the mixing bowl?
1. Great SEO Needs Great Content
No doubt about it, the most essential part of any optimization campaign is great content. Keyword-rich, fresh, and interesting information is the lifeblood of a website and is great food for thought for the search engines. Content underpins a search engine optimization campaign because not only does it provide a vehicle for on-page elements such as keyword density, optimized keyword placements, bold text, anchor text, and internal linking but it also is essential to off-page optimization. Content on site gives a reason for other websites to direct traffic and inbound links, helping with off-page optimization.
2. Ethical Link Building
Inbound links are just as important to SEO as content – the optimum split between link building and content creation is 50/50. This allows time to create great content and sufficient time to work on building awareness of that content via ethical link building. Link building is not just crucial to SEO, it’s also needed for business reasons. Search engines generally look for quality, quantity, and content when assessing website referrals. These are also the things that can help business boom. When building links, the aim is to put the URL in front of interested traffic – thereby driving interested potential clients to the website. This can then lead to sales. If you’re a plumber, for example, there’s little point in having a link from your local garage, as someone looking on a car repair site isn’t looking for a plumber. However, if you can get a link from your local DIY store, electrician or joiner, you’re more likely to capture interested traffic by being in the right online neighborhood.
3. Online PR
Most website optimization campaigns will take longer than a few weeks to show results. Therefore, an online PR campaign can help to generate awareness and create visibility in the meantime. Online PR also helps reach certain SEO goals when done properly – it’s no use simply copying and pasting a press release crafted for an online audience. The PR in question must be optimized for a digital audience when integrated with a search engine optimization campaign. The same on-page considerations should be worked into a PR for it to be effective online and then, a targeted distribution strategy focusing on relevant online outlets developed. Again, distribution online should follow the same guidelines as those you would adhere to for white hat link building – think quantity, quality, relevance.
4. Social Media
Very few effective SEO strategies ignore social media, and those websites or businesses that give blogging, bookmarking, and community sites a wide berth are potentially missing a great opportunity to brand build, link build, and relationship build. Depending on the scope of the SEO campaign as a whole, social media work may be restricted to a few select outlets or, in the case of more comprehensive optimization activity, encompass a wide range of portals and properties. Much with online PR, social media can often be a useful tool for reaching decision makers and potential clients while search engine rankings are still works in progress. A good Facebook page or Twitter account helps to generate the cyber version of word of mouth buzz, meaning it doesn’t matter if your site itself isn’t on page one of Google just yet as lines of communication are open between your site and your target demographic.
Reporting is an intrinsic aspect of any marketing activity, be it online or off. Particularly in SEO where trends and techniques change so quickly, reporting provides a bird’s eye view of what does and doesn’t work. Reporting can also act as an incentive by giving visual confirmation of ranking progress and can be used to take the leg work out of link building by highlighting the links competitors have back to their sites. Using an analytics package such as Google Analytics is recommended for all but the smallest campaigns as this kind of reporting system will show where site refinements need to be made – high bounce rates and declining visitor numbers will be picked up, suggesting that on-page efforts be focused in certain areas rather than spread around the site as a whole. This level of insight is what sets a great SEO campaign apart as efforts are focused and targeted.
6. The Chef’s Secret Ingredient
There are other elements of online marketing that some websites will use as part of their SEO mix. Pay per click, for example, is a great source of keyword research and indicator of consumer interest patterns. It isn’t for everyone and budget may prohibit a PPC campaign but for some sites, paid search is an effective side dish for SEO. Smaller sites or businesses with a number of physical locations may also wish to include some elements of regional or localized organic search marketing to drive footfall through stores. This can be achieved by including very locally targeted keywords such as ‘plumber Manhattan’ to the keyword list or including addresses in web page content. The use of local resources such as forums and business listings can also be integrated into link building efforts to increase local awareness and search engine presence.