When it comes to the question “Is your Website doing its job”, the answer lies in whether you can even be found online.
There are more than 1 billion websites and more are being added every single minute so it can be hard to rise above the noise. Even if you look at your own marketplace or industry and your competitors, I’m willing to bet all of them have an online presence, which means you need to find ways to rank above them to secure more leads from online search.
To attract attention, be found faster and more often than your competitors, and rank higher than your competitors requires an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy.
Let’s face it, SEO can be difficult to understand, and even harder to harness. SEO helps make it easier for search engines to find and categorize your company, your information and your content. The how of SEO gets a little more technical and involves things like:
- Keywords – a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a web page and is used as a shortcut to define what is on the page for analysis and ranking by search engines.
- Tagging – unlike social media tags that are visible, tags (or metatags) used for SEO are in the code and not visible to the page. They act as content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about.
- Structured Data – refers to how you annotate (or mark up) your content so machines can understand it and index it easier. Using structured data makes content eligible for Enhanced Presentation in Search Results, can help to identify and promote local business and be presented for expertise in Knowledge Graph.
- Semantic Mark Up – is coding on a page containing metadata describing its purpose. It helps to provide context that is easily readable and indexed by search engines, including mark up of authorship, videos, events and places. Semantic search is changing search from focusing on specific words to attempting to define the intent and context of a search query.
- On-Page Elements – defines how each page is viewed by search engines and how the content is treated including title tags, how you define internal URLs, links and the coding on images and videos.
- Off-Page Elements – are the links to your site from other websites. (Think about the work you’re doing to build your social media profile and blogging as examples.)
There’s a lot to consider when tackling SEO, so let’s take a step back, here’s how search results are delivered:
I know, this all sounds very complex but suffice to say the science of SEO is extremely important if you are going to be found online – and it takes constant attention and nurturing to maintain high rankings!
Knowing what search engines are looking for will help companies improve their ranking. This could involve targeting the right keywords and phrases, and ensuring all your content is annotated correctly so that machines can understand it. A recent change by Google is further changing how companies can manage SEO. A tool used by Google to count links and determine which pages are the most important (PageRank) is being removed from toolbars. This toolbar used to show the numeric rating of how important Google considered any of the pages to be. The tool hadn’t been updated for years and its removal means the general public won’t be able to see or track the rankings, BUT it will continue to be used by Google algorithms to rank pages.
SEO leads average close rates of 14.6%, while outbound marketing tactics average close rates of only 1.7%
Why should you care about SEO? I’d suggest you look at this question another way: Do you need your customers and new business prospects to find you?
We focus a great deal on how Google handles searches and analytics because it is the most popular search platform used more than 67% of the time (significantly higher than the next most popular search engine Bing at 13%). And, when it comes to mobile search, google captures 94% of the market.
While we haven’t really focused on mobile, the mobile search arena is growing exponentially and can’t be ignored by business (especially in light of Googles announcements on algorithm changes that reward mobile-friendly sites). For companies to be found consistently, and rank highly on mobile search, websites have to be responsive.
What does all this mean to your business? Think of SEO as your top sales executive working hard in the background to find and qualify leads. Industry insiders have determined that SEO leads average close rates of 14.6%, while outbound marketing tactics (such as cold calls or print advertising) average close rates of 1.7%. Given these facts, don’t you think SEO is worth the effort?
Like many other aspects of online visibility, SEO isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it formula. To consistently rank highly on searches, you have to be updating your content, working with key words and being active online.
Your website is the frontline to your customers and your most important sales tool. Learn more about website design best practices.
This is part 4 of our blog series “Is Your Website Doing Its Job?” — read the rest here:
Part 1: Is Your Website Doing Its Job?
Part 2: I Never Thought I Would Blog. I Was Wrong.
Part 3: Is Your Social Media Strategy Doing Its Job?
Part 5: User Experience Design: Website Friend or Foe?
Part 6: Steps to get User Experience and Design Right.