“Google it.” The phrase that has all but eliminated the home encyclopedia set. We use search engines to find everything in the digital space from a good pizza joint to the capital of Uzbekistan (it’s Tashkent, for those of you who were wondering). Somewhere between searches for pizza and Tashkent is your business. If people can’t discover you digitally they’re going to have an awful hard time becoming conversions. Being discovered includes your home page, landing pages and all of the content you put out into the digital space. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of designing your content and pages to appear as high as possible in search engine results. After reading two fantastic ebooks by MOZ, The Beginner’s Guide to SEO and The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building, I feel confident that I can supply valuable information and insight on the topic of SEO.
Let’s first talk about how search engines work. A quick synopsis of Google’s process is provided in this video. When a search engine is responding to a search query it ranks pages based on their relevance to the terms in the search query and the popularity of a page. Search engines like Google assign value to the popularity of a page as they assume that the more visits a page receives, the more valuable the information on the page must be. While the popularity of your page is something that must be built over time, subtle changes to your pages can immediately help you rank higher in terms of relevance. For this it is important to note that search engines do not look at your page the same way you do. For example, if you’re entire page is built in Flash, a search engine may very well just see a blank page. Search engines also won’t pick up on the content of videos, audio files or infographics. To remedy this solution, you can provide HTML transcripts of each of these forms of media, guaranteeing that they are discoverable by search engines.
Of all the tactics that go into SEO, the king of all tactics is probably Keyword Optimization. Keyword’s are best optimized by researching the efficacy of relative keywords. In the article cited above, MOZ provides a good guide to this research process:
Is the keyword relevant to your website’s content? Will searchers find what they are looking for on your site when they search using these keywords? Will they be happy with what they find? Will this traffic result in financial rewards or other organizational goals? If the answer to all of these questions is a clear “Yes!” then proceed …
Search for the term/phrase in the major engines
Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.
Buy a sample campaign for the keyword at Google AdWords and/or Bing Adcenter
If your website doesn’t rank for the keyword, you can nonetheless buy test traffic to see how well it converts. InGoogle Adwords, choose “exact match” and point the traffic to the relevant page on your website. Track impressions and conversion rate over the course of at least 200-300 clicks.
Using the data you’ve collected, determine the exact value of each keyword
For example, assume your search ad generated 5,000 impressions in one day, of which 100 visitors have come to your site, and three have converted for a total profit (not revenue!) of $300. In this case, a single visitor for that keyword is worth $3 to your business. Those 5,000 impressions in 24 hours could generate a click-through rate of between 18-36% with a #1 ranking (see the Slingshot SEO study for more on potential click-through rates), which would mean 900-1800 visits per day, at $3 each, or between1 and 2 million dollars per year. No wonder businesses love search marketing!
SEO should be a massive part of your digital marketing plan. Companies such as MOZ can provide expert services though they can be costly. For the smaller company who can’t afford or just doesn’t feel it needs SEO consulting on a professional level, there is a lot you can do to improve your SEO in-house with a bit of elbow grease. Jake Goldblum provides some advice on how to do this in this article.