Search engine optimization is not exactly a new industry, yet many small business owners are struggling to find high return on investment. In fact, frustrations are high because business owners have been advised to blog and gain exposure for their websites but often don’t see the traffic and leads to justify their efforts.
Google remains a dominant force in the search engine business with a significant share of the digital marketing ad revenue as well as the preferred search engine for most users. Most experts agree this trend will continue in the coming years unless we see antitrust activity from the government.
In this article, we will outline five strategies that small business owners can use to bring new life to their failed search engine optimization approaches. By focusing on high-quality content, understanding recent trends in the Google algorithm, coordinating social media and email efforts, and applying a very a cost-effective pay per click advertising trick, SEO can bring a positive return for businesses.
Write Better Content
Over 2 million blog posts are released onto the internet each day. To stand out in this ocean of content, blog posts need to be significantly longer than they used to be.
In fact, a typical page one ranking has over 1,500 unique words. This is not particularly good news for small business owners who are incredibly strapped for time. Producing content is an ideal candidate for outsourcing to a qualified marketing firm or web design shop.
In addition to longer length, content needs to be much more focused on answering the question posed by the searcher. Many believe that Google has become quite efficient at identifying thin content that does not actually meet the needs of the searcher. Research is therefore needed so that useful statistics and facts are identified by the user.
Graphics are an excellent way to accentuate useful statistics and keep users on the page long after they have become tired of reading. Key points can be presented graphically throughout long-form content, which will help impatient users stay engaged with your content.
Another approach for keeping audience attention is to reevaluate the overall user experience of your website. Modern approaches to UX have favored a much simpler design and have been decluttering for years. Fonts are getting bigger, and line spacing is getting much taller. In many cases, you will not see a left-hand or right-hand navigation bar at all.
Understand the Value of Backlinks
Backlinks are still incredibly important if you want your content to rank highly in the search engines. Many small businesses get extremely focused on content production, failing to realize that a larger percentage of their effort will be spent on content promotion.
The most effective search engine optimization strategies have a heavy emphasis on content marketing and the budget to back it up.
In practical terms, this means that after a blog post has been produced, a significant effort will be put towards promoting that blog post in the form of acquiring backlinks. It is not uncommon to see more budget spent on the promotion than the actual production of content.
Small business owners need to understand that not all backlinks are created equal, and as they pursue a well-rounded backlink strategy they need to be picky and strategic about which links to target.
Backlinks from domains with high authority are generally seen as favorable. There are several third-party tools which can help you evaluate if a backlink is from a healthy domain. Google heavily favors backlinks from strong domains, and it is widely believed that this is a logarithmic function such that one very strong backlink may be equal to as many as 500 cheap spammy backlinks.
Google also understands relevance, and it is widely believed that the relevancy of a backlink is a factor in the ranking algorithm. This means that the more similar the website is to yours, the stronger the backlink will count towards your ranking.
Email Is Still In
In a world dominated by high technology companies and rapidly advancing home automation, most people believe that email is an antiquated invention. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Most professionals spend the majority of their time in an email-based application, and it is still a very reliable communication path. In fact, many consumers prefer to be contacted via email over telephone or text.
For these reasons, it is critical that small business owners have an active email marketing strategy. They should be building and maintaining an email list of people who have given permission to be contacted in the future. The same can be said of social media, but many small business owners don’t love social.
One of the easiest ways to build a small business email list is when they pop up on your website. While pop-ups are, again, seen by many as an outdated strategy, we have seen a strong resurgence of pop-up technology for the precise purpose of email capture.
A well-designed pop-up will give the user some sort of offer in return for surrendering their email address. Psychologists call this type of approach the law of reciprocity, and it works very well. Other pop-up technologies use countdowns and exploding offers to incent users to drop their email address into an online form.
A high-quality list of users who have offered their email with consent is invaluable for content marketing and SEO success. Each time a blog post is produced, the list can be blasted to notify potential readers that new content is ready.
This list becomes a ready-made audience that will provide instant engagement in the discussion area in the form of comments and will also share your content and social media. These signals serve as social proof to other users and — some believe — picked up by Google as ranking signals.
Retargeting PPC for Higher SEO Conversion
The fourth method to drive higher ROI from your search engine optimization is to use retargeting-based pay-per-click advertising. Many small business owners are using PPC campaigns via Google and have negative experiences due to the high cost per click associated with high-value keywords. That’s not the strategy we are talking about here.
Retargeting is the specific method of advertising where ads are only shown to users who have previously visited your website. In what many would consider creepy or invasive advertising, Google drops cookies in your browser based on every site you visit. This allows advertisers to follow you around the internet as you visit other websites who are also in Google’s advertising network. If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is.
The cost of retargeting-based advertising is a fraction of PPC advertising on google.com because your ads only show on third-party websites. And as mentioned above, your ads only show to people who have visited your website within the last 90 days.
If you attract people to your website via SEO, social media, or email marketing, and then use retargeting advertisements to follow them around the internet with tasteful advertisements, you can bring these users back at a reliable rate. If you subscribe to a first touch advertising attribution theory, where the source of the lead is attributed to the first method by which they found your business, retargeting PPC will serve to drive up your conversion rate for SEO.
Google remains dominant in the search engine world to the frustration of many small business owners who have not been able to find a positive return on investment from their SEO efforts. Writing better content based on solid research that answers questions thoroughly will form the basis of a better user experience. This, coupled with smarter web design and cleaner overall visual experience, can drive up the time-on-site in overall conversion.
Email marketing and PPC retargeting are excellent companions for content marketing launches. When used in a well-coordinated marketing campaign, small businesses can find their SEO performing to extremely high levels.