Top SEO Objectives for any Business - Optimising for the Right Reasons.
2021 might be a year of hope and progression from last but there are storms appearing across all industry verticals. These storms bring with them a massive headache for businesses on how and where they can appear best to their customers. Marketing comms have shifted dramatically in the last year - without mentioning why I think we all know!
From all the burnout and daily global updates one thing emerged a solid marketing strategy to use was SEO, it’s been around longer than Google...well by one year - born in 1997. Many think it’s not relevant anymore and say SEO is dead!, along comes a pandemic and BOOM! It becomes the No.1 marketing channel.
As a tribute I feel compelled to write how useful SEO is to businesses. Many have simply ignored it’s value to the point that they are now so deep in shXXt with poor website performance along with zero search visibility that they don't know which way is up!
Social Media will NOT get you home alone - you need to develop more long-term marketing strategies and with search engines contributing up to 70% of online brand discovery experiences its hard not to ignore it.
Top SEO Objectives for any Business is about highlighting what approach business leaders should take to utilise SEO in different aspects of their business.
1. Demand & Lead Generation.
Probably the single most important reason that companies need to optimise their websites and set SEO objectives is to generate awareness for their products or services through lead and demand generation activities. This is not really related to eCommerce business development more so a strategy aimed towards non-tangible business offerings like professional services or SaaS based ‘soft products’.
I’m sure you are familiar with ‘Request a Quote’ .‘Sign Up for a Free Trial’ or ‘Request a Demo’ these are call-to-actions mainly associated with companies that improve business efficiencies in some way or solve an immediate problem that you might currently have.
What is Demand Generation?
‘Demand Generation’ is different to ‘Lead Generation’ and sometimes people get these confused. Demand Generation is a wider process of building awareness about a particular problem or common issue that often occurs. B2B Demand Generation mainly focuses on identifying an industry pain point propelling the company as a thought leader, then taking a number of steps in proposing their product or service as the solution.
This is subtlety done by introducing a platform for discussion (via a virtual event) or providing information (via a softcopy downloadable piece of content). At this point the interested parties then become top of funnel ‘business leads’, submitting their contact information in return to learn more about these proposed solutions.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead Generation is the process and timeline of nurturing a prospecting lead into a fully paid customer after they arrive on your website. Whether they have registered and attended one of your webinars, have downloaded a content piece like a whitepaper / ebook or even signed up as an email subscriber for your newsletter, they are all driven into what is known as the marketing nurturing funnel.
At these touch points on the ‘customer journey’ where prospecting leads become aware of your brand allow you to gather data forming a bigger landscape within an inbound marketing eco-system.
Some prospects might even absorb two to three pieces of content before they signup and submit any contact information with you. It's important to have multiple solution based content pieces in your marketing mix as it projects your brands value to be far more attractive and appealing.
The nurturing process and timeline for each entry point on the customer journey can vary but will normally involve a combination of outreach activities involving email nurturing campaigns, direct follow-up calls or sometimes even both to engage with the lead and try convert them to a paying customer.
So where does SEO come into the picture?
At the very beginning, SEO starts with keyword research, ‘long tail’ OR ‘commercial keyword’ search terms especially when prospecting leads are driven deeper to research in finding a solution to their problem.
Long Tail keywords sometimes begin with questions like ‘How to’ or ‘How do I’ there are more specific, so its best to begin with having your landing page metadata and content aligned with the most accurate long-tail target keywords and search queries to give them the best opportunity in appearing in relevant searches. Sometimes commercial ‘short-tailed’ keywords can be very difficult to rank for organically so long-tail versions can work better, although they drive less traffic, the search intent is more accurate which will result in a higher quality lead and quicker conversion time.
Other things to consider.
Optimise your web forms, use target keywords from your keyword research.
How many fields of data do you really need on your webform? Unnecessarily long web forms with detailed questions will surely drive visitors from completing them, resulting on you missing out on capturing valuable lead data. This can be extremely expensive if you are also driving paid traffic to these landing pages.
Click depth from your homepage, how many clicks does it take to get to your primary lead generation / revenue pages? To adhere to best practices in SEO there should be no more than 3 clicks from your homepage to your main conversion pages. Search engines usually don’t crawl URLs beyond as their crawl budgets won't allow, resulting in them not being indexed.
Use of appropriate Call-To-Action buttons, A/B testing might be necessary here. Getting valuable insights on what users are more likely to click on so you can reach your lead generation KPI’s.
2. To Increase your Organic Traffic.
Optimising your website for search engines by using target keywords to create compelling content produces stronger search visibility and more organic traffic for your business website. There is also another plus to this type of approach, content shares, book marking of enriching content, creating more direct traffic and referral links as more users read and enjoy the content you have published gets you a better reputation with Google.
Organic traffic is far more valuable to your brand than immediate paid users who might or might not have heard of you until they saw your PPC ad. *Don’t get me wrong paid search traffic is also good for SEO, as many times it has the same keyword origins as organic. But organic traffic is far more engaging, users from organic search will have browsed your website, know your brand and brand values, as a result possibly followed you on social media, signed up for email insights and/or downloaded a content piece or two.
For any business website, generating traffic is the biggest objective at first, it helps drive traction recognition with search engines, from an analytics perspective it allows you to gain insights into user engagement on pages that create longer user sessions than those that create high bounce rates.
Remember in terms of traffic and brand awareness:
PPC is Short-Term, Social Media Medium, SEO is Long Term!
Think about your product or service, what do people ask when they look and discover you? It’s best to refer to Google Suggest to see what are the most common questions asked by users - its likely you will find a competitor link there.
You can also find more insights under rich snippet sections like ‘people also ask’ it will give pointers on the type of keywords you need to include in your page titles and also how to structure the content properly to satisfy search intent to gain more credibility from Google.
The main metrics you should consider to gauge your SEO Performance.
Keyword Ranking - track your main keywords every month, from your keyword research you should have a very clear idea on what you want to rank for in terms of your target / power keywords.
Your Organic Traffic - has your organic traffic increased as a result of your SEO activities? What percentage of your traffic is organic? If you’re not hitting 60% in organic traffic then you need to consider an SEO Growth Strategy.
Website Bounce Rate - satisfying search intent is the biggest goal in organic and paid search...why? Because it drives conversions! So having a website with high bounce rates should send alarm bells ringing that your SEO and content are not aligned or your audience is just not excited about your brand.
Benchmark bounce rates: Below 40% is very good | 41% - 55% is average, anything above is too high!
Return Visitor Percentage - if your audience like what they read and/or purchase from your website then you can be guaranteed they will come back! So this metric will clearly show if your products and after sales offering is invigorating your customers. Remember these are your loyal brand followers, the cost of getting them back dramatically decreases with good SEO & UX practices.
Benchmark Return Visitor Percentage: You should aim to have a 25-30% return percentage, anything below that will indicate that you still need to do some work on your content.
3. Develop Your Brand Authority - E.A.T.
E-A-T. Or Expertise - Authority - Trustworthiness. is not directly associated with SEO but it is still embedded in the lexicon of many SEO’s and Content Marketers, as it has a strong correlation with Google ranking signals.
This is because, it was the brainchild of Google, E-A-T was delivered as part of the ‘medic update in 2018’ to improve the way content creators wrote high quality, well researched content that Google wanted people to read. Google’s objective was to spotlight expertise and authoritative content by way of ranking it high in search results so they developed the acronym E-A-T to establish pillars and guidelines.
In terms of SEO objectives, there are a number of things for a business to consider.
Firstly establishing target keywords that will align with the commercial objectives of business in delivering the right lead traffic.
Secondly choosing target keyword groups that produce content that adhere to E-A-T principles?
Tip: Think commercial keywords for search engine growth, use a pillar and cluster content strategy to profile your expertise with your readers. Once your publications develop a structure with pillar topics and cluster sub-topics you are on the road to establishing yourself as authoritative in your area of expertise.
It takes time, well researched, authoritative content is better than rushed publications where your readers and Google can easily spot you are writing for ranking positions and not for conveying helpful, meaningful content that will benefit their reading experience.
4. Enterprise SEO.
P.E.S.T. is a term or acronym more commonly used in economics or traditional marketing. In relation to SEO or Enterprise SEO in particular the last year has seen political, economic, social and technology factors shift dramatically, this also has impacted on how organisations see themselves in the eyes of their customers.
As consumer search patterns changed due to economic lock-downs, SEO became more important than ever, as users took to their mobiles and computers to find solutions to unfamiliar every day obstacles. This activity prompted organisations to gather information on how consumers searched and discovered their products or services. SEO gave them that opportunity to track and analyse the reaction users had in their discovery patterns, feeding back important data for the marketing and analytics teams to understand and the wider organisation. as a whole.
This type of business intelligence is vital for other key departments to gain an understanding into how consumers discover the organisations products or services.
Below is a list of key enterprise activities that can be developed with the use of good SEO insights.
Allowing product development teams understand how consumers search for the brand and if any unique features drive more traffic and revenue.
Creating a feedback loop to senior management on other areas of investment like new content creation and international SEO.
Providing valuable insights to sales and product teams on search patterns and algorithm updates and how they have impacted on the brands search visibility.
Providing key insights to business development teams on new market opportunities through user traffic analysis.
5. Optimise Your eCommerce Product Pages.
As product pages are the most important pages on an eCommerce website it’s vital you optimise them with the right metadata and target keywords so you only drive the most appropriate traffic to them. So look at the following when optimising your product pages. Again think about 'commercial (high search volume) keywords'.
> Page Title: ensure it has your primary target Keyword.
> Page URL: the URL must contain the target keyword as well, try to keep the URL short and to the point - don’t use filler words or be too conversational.
> H1 Tags: must also contain target keywords. Only one H1 tag per page!
> Include subheading headings and bullet points to segment your product page content.
> Buy Buttons: If possible add more than one ‘Buy Button’, tests have proven that adding more than will improve your conversion rate.
> Product Collateral: Check that all your product page collateral ( i.e. videos and imagery) is optimised for web so load speed isn’t affected, also assign size dimensions so that they land in the correct place and don’t shift during upload this can impact on page experience.
To summarise, SEO has a wide variety of uses for your organisation, leveraged correctly it can keep you ahead of the curve and relevant with your customers. Be smart and use SEO as part of your business stratgey!
Whether you’re a Services provider, eCommerce store, e-Learning or SaaS based platform, SEO has scalable strategies that will help you achieve your commercial goals.
If you don't know where to start feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation. It's never too late to optimise!