What is SEO Marketing, and How Does It Work?
So you put together what you thought was a killer marketing campaign to help draw people to your site and drum up some attention for your business, but the campaign completely failed and you didn’t leverage any new customers.
Yeah, this sucks. But to be honest, it probably wasn’t a fluke. You are doing something wrong.
Don’t worry. This isn’t because you don’t have an awesome business or that people aren’t interested in your services.
You probably failed because you weren’t using any SEO marketing strategies.
“Um, what is SEO marketing and what the heck does it have to do with my small business?”
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the fancy term for how high your site ranks in search results.
And where you rank in search engines is super important.
Studies show that SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. Search is also the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating out social media by 300%.
Pretty big numbers, right?
If you’ve been using print advertising and have no clue how SEO marketing relates to your business, don’t sweat it.
This article provides a beginners’ guide to give you an in-depth understanding of what SEO marketing is, how it works, and what it can do for your business.
What is SEO Marketing?: Let’s Start With the Basics
Before we can understand what is SEO marketing, we first need to understand SEO and how it works.
As stated earlier, SEO has to do with how well you rank on searches. But how do search engines, like Google, decide on this ranking?
Through a lot of complicated algorithms. Basically, they do some search engine quality control to make sure the most relevant and reputable websites rank towards the top.
And what’s so great about life at the top? Being on the first page of a search result is like sitting at the head of the table for a family holiday dinner. Second or third page? Sorry, looks like you’re eating at the kids’ table this year.
Sorry, looks like you’re eating at the kids’ table this year.
In fact, studies show that 75% of users don’t click past the first page.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to learn any of these complicated algorithms to reach that top spot, but it is important to understand some of the basic principles behind them.
In order to determine SEO ranking, Google uses something called spiders. These spiders “crawl” the web to gather every website containing the words typed into the search box.
For example, let’s say someone’s search query is “best scary movies of all time.” Google will gather all of the hundreds of thousands of sites that contain this search term, then it will go through about 200 or so questions to determine which sites should be at the top.
Questions Google asks to determine ranking include:
- How many times is the keyword used?
- Where does the keyword appear?
- Are synonyms used for the keyword?
- Is the site high quality, or is it kind of spammy?
- How many outside links point to this page, and how reputable are these links?
Doing all of this takes about half a second. And then, voila! You are well on your way to finding the perfect scary flick.
Matt Cutts, a former quality engineer at Google, breaks down the science behind their ranking system in this easy to follow, three-minute video.
One super important aspect he mentions is that Google NEVER accepts money to help improve a site’s ranking. Your organic ranking will always be unbiased.
What is SEO Marketing?: Success Factors
Ok, now that we have a basic idea of what Google’s looking for, in order to answer, “what is SEO marketing?”, let’s delve a little deeper into what specific strategies need to be implemented in order increase your search engine rankings.
For SEO marketing, there is a rough, three step plan that you are going to follow to help spread the word about your business:
1. Creating awesome, high-quality content for your site, strategically using words and phrases that people will search
2. Make this killer content you’ve created easy to share and easy for other sites to link to.
3. Rinse, and repeat
What is SEO Marketing?: Quality Content
Now, let’s take a look at these steps in further detail, starting with the most important aspect, creating quality content for your site.
Quality content means creating a site that is more than just a brochure page.
If you’re selling something, chances are you’ve got some pretty good competition out there (unless you’ve got some niche product- like your Grandma’s used dentures- good luck with that).
So, you need to do more than just list what you’re selling. You need to explain why your product is valuable, unique, useful, and better than the competition.
How much time do you have to do this? Unfortunately, not a lot.
According to Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, you’ve got about 15 second.
This is why producing quality content is the cornerstone of a great site. You simply cannot skimp on this step, or you are going to lose a lot of potential customers.
But how do you know what your potential customers consider valuable information?
Well, lucky for you, there are several places you can look to find out what your audience actually wants to read about.
Here are the best places to start searching:
Social Media: If you want to start gauging trends and learning what questions people are asking, you need to hit up the comments section on social media to find out people’s biggest concerns.
Customer Feedback: Here’s a place where people aren’t afraid to let you know what they think. If you have customers who have used your services, chances are they have opinions on how whether or not your services helped their business.Start looking through your testimonials and surveys to drum up some ideas.
Q&A Sites: Sites like Quora, Reddit, and Yahoo Answers can be a gold mine for finding out what questions and concerns people have pertaining to your industry.
What is SEO Marketing?: Keywords
Quality content may be the most important part of the equation, but the equation wouldn’t be complete without keywords. We cannot answer, “what is SEO marketing?”, without talking about keywords.
Keywords are the actual search terms that people are using, and you want to make sure you are creating content that uses these search terms.
In order to figure out these keywords, you need to figure out your target customer.
To reach this target customer, you need to talk on their level, selecting keywords they would actually use.
For example, if you’re an injury lawyer looking to get new clients, putting content on your site that makes you sound like a Harvard professor isn’t going to help you. No one wants to read a dissertation, they want your help!
This doesn’t mean talking down your capabilities, however. It just means you gotta talk in lay man’s terms so people feel like they can understand your message without having to bust out their pocket dictionary every two seconds.
Also, whatever you do, please do not take your keywords and stuff them into random places that make zero sense. Google hates it and will flag you for it. Your audience hates it. Literally, everyone hates it.
When placing keywords, just use your common sense. There is no magical number or exact percentage. You just want to make sure the keywords help your content flow, rather than disrupt it.
What is SEO Marketing?: Freshness
Another thing search engines love about content? Freshness.
In order to keep your site a chart topper week after week, you need to be adding some funky-fresh content on a regular basis. (And to be clear, we’re talking about information, text, and pictures, not layout and design).
How regularly should you be doing this? For your site to be considered frequently updated, you should be adding some fresh content two-five times a week.
But don’t think that making changes every hour of every day is going to help you either.
Remember those spiders we talked about earlier? In order for them to crawl to your site day after day, the content needs to keep its high-quality standards.
What is SEO Marketing?: Sharing
In order to make it easy for people to share and link the awesome content you keep creating, you should be sharing it as much as possible yourself!
Ways to share content include:
- Re-share your own content
- Send emails about your content
- Add social media sharing buttons
- Create a basic infographic for visual sharing sites like Instagram
- Keep the comment sections open on your blog, as those who comment are more likely to share the content they commented on
- Embed “tweet this” calls to action
What is SEO Marketing?: Summary
In order to boost your business, you need a great site. In order to create this great site, you need to do some homework and figure out what kind of content your potential clients are looking for.
Then, you need to develop quality content that speaks directly to your audience and is easy for them to share. This will bring more traffic to your site which will, in turn, bring more customers to your business!
I know, all of these SEO marketing tactics may seem like a ton of work, but as we discussed in the beginning of this article, it’s essential for boosting your business.
If all of this seems like too big of a beast to tackle on your own, contact us today. We can help you every step of the way!