SEO is the practice of running activity on and off your website to push it up to the top search results for keywords that are important to your line of business. With the goal of driving relevant web traffic to your site. Now, it might sound a little crude, but its what it all boils down to. So why should you care? Money and branding, that’s why. SEO is the highest ROI marketing channel.
That’s a big statement so let’s examine it further.
SEO, the highest ROI Marketing Channel
Other marketing channels require outright and continuous investment to make an impact and generate sales.
PPC, media buying, social advertising, affiliate marketing, etc. are all included in this blanket statement. And each year they become less efficient as users get blinder to ads and regulation tightens in the European Union and across the pond.
The behavior of users has also changed significantly since the dawn of the search engine.
Previously and up until relatively recently, companies would bombard potential clients with advertisements to get their value propositions across.
And it was the most creative, interesting and relatable ads that would hold a place in the minds and hearts of consumers.
With the dawn of search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and many more, people started looking for what they needed on search engines instead of billboards and banners. And why is this important?
People trust position 1 on Google.
No amount of budget and branding can compete with the trust people associate with the top search results in Google, for the solutions they are actively searching for.
If your brand or site is not there, you are missing out on the most crucial part of the buying process. Research.
When you rank on keywords relevant to your business, people find your brand organically. While searching for a solution which your product or service satisfies.
That means that if you rank for the right keywords and provide your web visitors with the right experience, product or service, you get quality leads and purchases, at a low price.
SEO Isn’t Free so What are You Going to Spend Money on?
ROI means the return on investment, which means that you had to invest some money to get ranked on keywords in the first place. So where should you spend your money while implementing an SEO strategy?
- Your product or service: If you have a crappy product or provide an ok service, you’ve already lost. Great products and services sell themselves, so make sure that yours, are on point.
- Website tech foundation: WordPress websites and standard hosting just doesn’t cut it anymore. People have no patience. Your site needs to load quickly, wherever your customer is and on whatever device or internet connection they may have.
- Website design, imagery and UX: Following on the previous point, each page on your site needs to have the reason the user clicked in mind. Information and processes need to flow as smoothly and effortlessly as possible, from any device.
- Content: Quality is what keeps people on your site for longer and builds trust. You can work with agencies, but internal content writers generate better content and in the long run, will be cheaper.
- Off-page signals: Social signals, backlinks, PR & if you’re into the darker side of SEO, PBN’s, forum links and much more. In highly competitive niches, this is where the bulk of your money will go.
- Your brand: In SEO people really underestimate this part, but it’s one of the most important weapons in your SEO arsenal and many times, the only real way you can differentiate yourself when the competition is just as good as you are.
So Where do you start?
There are a lot of traps in the world of SEO. It’s a minefield littered with a huge amount of misinformation and focus on details that make no real difference. To add to the complexity, competition can get fierce and Google tends to change the playing field quite often.
So it’s important to focus on the fundamentals first. And the first fundamental to master is search intent.
This means understanding what the user is looking for when searching on Google or other search engines.
There are different types of intent the searcher might have had when typing a keyword or search phrase. But the below are a good place to start:
- Informational: This is what I like to call a top of funnel search. As the searcher is not looking to purchase anything, but consume information for research purposes. This is where you educate the searcher and establish your brand as a thought leader in the field they are researching.
- Transactional: If informational is a top of funnel search, transactional is the lower funnel of search phrases. This is the search phrase people type when they are looking to purchase a product or service. This is when your content needs to provide concise information about the value your product offers and provide the user with a top-quality journey to becoming a customer.
Other types of search intent exist, but we’ll discuss those in more advanced posts.
So now you know a little about why you need SEO, where you need to fork out some cash to get results and where to start your journey. But how do you become a pro?
Think like Google Thinks
This is a really difficult one. Mainly because anyone that says they understand exactly how Google works, is lying. But what you need to do is think about what Google wants to achieve and realistically, the tech they could have by today’s (and tomorrow’s) standards.
The best place to start is the top 10 positions of Google for any keyword you are trying to rank for. Take a look at the information Google presents to users when no special features are triggered:
- The SEO Title: Set with the purpose of getting clicks and helping Google understand what this page or post is relevant to.
- The URL: Domain names and URL text are critical to building a reputation around topics & niches.
- The Meta description: A roughly 150 character description of the article there mainly for attracting attention and convincing people to click on your search result.
These are the first things that Google shows in search results, therefore they are the most important things to focus on as a first step.
Google is a robot, so constantly challenge the way it works by setting up tests to identify the value it gives to different data points.
Start with the little things first, like H1’s, H2’s, Alt text, etc. and then work your way up to the bigger problems.
Like backlinks, social signals and multilingual/ multimarket challenges.
At Gainchanger we’ve been asking these questions for over a decade. The first thing we discovered is that most information online is not factual or outdated. That’s why we’re going to be educating you on the most important part of SEO. Thought processes that help you teach yourself.
When you reach the stage that you know your stuff but need to work faster and scale, that’s where we come in 😉
Gain Changer co-founder Sean Bianco is well-versed in determining market trends. Emphasis is placed on understanding relationships between technical problems and customer impact, resulting in customer-driven products and services.