SEO in simple terms: bring prospects to you; increase sales

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There is no lack of articles on the internet about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and its benefits.  But we find a lot of times that they’re written in a very technical way, and they don’t address the bigger picture of what SEO can really mean to a business.

So consider this statistic:  70% of B2C and B2B purchases begin AND end with a search.  So it’s critical that you understand enough about SEO to understand how it impacts your company’s ability to be found at the right time, by the right prospective customers.

So we’ve set out to “decode” SEO efforts for you at a high level, so that you can instruct your teams to implement some of these strategies with full confidence of what SEO can accomplish for your business.

Definition of Search Engine Optimization

So let’s start with a basic, broad definition of SEO:  it is a collection of activities a company does to ensure that their website shows up when their potential customers search to find them online.

Ok, simple enough.  But what does this really mean?  Well, it means that you want these potential customers to come to your website, and give you some indication that they are interested in your products or services.  They can give you indications that they’re interested (we call those “conversions”) by doing things like:

  1. Clicking on your “Contact Us” page to call you
  2. Fill out a form fill you might have on your website
  3. Sign up for your e-Newsletter
  4. Download a white paper

“Organic” versus “Paid” traffic

So there are two different ways you can get traffic to your website:

  • You can pay for it – you can run ads on Google, Facebook, and other sites which encourage people to click on the ad and come to your page.  This is referred to as “paid traffic.”
  • You can have people come to your website naturally; for example, find you through a Google search.  This is referred to as “organic traffic.”

So a good analogy that tells the difference between paid traffic and organic traffic might be making a tomato sandwich.  There are two ways you can make that sandwich. In one way, you can go to the grocery store, buy a tomato, and make your sandwich immediately.  This is a comparison to paid traffic. On the other hand, you can buy tomato seeds, grow a tomato plant from scratch, and then pick that fresh tomato at the height of ripeness, and then make your sandwich from that tomato.  This is an example of organic traffic. It might take longer, but the result is just as sweet.

The two types of SEO:

SEO is not just one large effort; it’s actually comprised of two different types of efforts.  Let’s discuss briefly what those efforts look like, and how they work together:

  • Onsite – this is work literally done on your website
  • Offsite – this is work done outside of your website

Onsite SEO is made up of the following components:

Foundational work – this is the technical, behind-the-curtain work that is done on a website to make sure the website doesn’t have any error messages, and that all of your backend code is configured to best adhere to what the search engines expect to see.  This form of SEO is best handled by experienced individuals who understand all of the complex rules search engines use to make relevant recommendations.

Content writing – this has to do with the way the content on your website is written.  Search engines are focused on serving up the most accurate, relevant results to their users, so your content has to be written in a way that answers questions, provides relevant information, and is related to what people are searching for when looking for the types of products and services your company supplies.  This content should be updated and optimized frequently, based on the updates that Google makes. Google made between 800 and 1800 optimizations to their algorithm, which is why you’re constantly optimizing your content.

An important component of content writing is blogging, which gives you many opportunities to showcase your Thought Leadership on a variety of topics, to educate your clients and prospects, and to provide answers to the questions they’re asking every day.  Search engines love content, as it gives them context as to how valuable of a resource your website is. A marketing director can most readily influence these two SEO components.

Offsite SEO is made up of the following components:

Backlinks – this approach involves increasing the number of other web pages that link back to your own.  Search engines give your website respect and validation if many other respected websites link to your own.  Part of this work is done by your SEO specialist behind the scenes. But part of this work can be done by creating opportunities yourselves to get backlinks.  For example, if someone in your organization is invited to speak to the local Rotary club, when they announce your speaking engagement on their website and include your website link, this is a valuable backlink.  Other ways you and your teams can help develop valuable backlinks is to have articles published about you in the local media, press releases that are picked up by local publications, and guest-blogging on other people’s websites are just a few examples of organic backlinks.    

Business Listings – did you know there are over 300 business listing directories online?  You therefore cannot underestimate the value that local business listings and citations have on your Google ranking.  In short, when businesses cannot be found online, they might as well not exist in real life! The more listings you have, the more chances you show up on the first page during a search.  We usually recommend that you have a business listing on the major players (Facebook, Yelp, Google, etc.) and then focus on other platforms that are related to the industry you’re in.  Also, it’s very important that you manage these business listings frequently to ensure that your information stays consistently correct as your business goes through changes.   

A few last thoughts about SEO

Here’s a simple exercise for you.  Do a Google search for what you sell.  Do you see your competitors? Are they ranking above you?  Chances are they are implementing a robust SEO effort themselves.  You can’t win if you’re not present at the time your prospect is searching, and your competitors could be beating you out for these prospects.  

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, 70% of B2C and B2B purchases begin and end with a search.  Google processes over 40,000 searches a second, which equates to 3.5 billion searches a day.  

You think any of your future customers are in some of those searches?

Bell Media is a leading digital marketing agency that is focused on delivering desired business outcomes for clients. We are a Google Premier Partner, and a 3X Inc 5000 Company, with offices in Montgomery, Birmingham, Nashville, and Houston. We consult with businesses to determine where they want to go with their businesses, and then recommend the best product mix to help them achieve their goals. Check out more of our thought leadership in the Blog section of our website.