There are very few businesses that don’t have a sales function. The generation of leads is an absolute must for a healthy sales pipeline, and they must be of sufficient quality and quantity to meet the financial goals of the business plan and to deliver its projected sales forecasts. That is why a search engine optimisation (SEO) marketing strategy is always worth considering…
The purpose of marketing is to create sales opportunities for a company’s products and services. One way to acquire leads is through search engine optimisation. Many people are suspicious of SEO, and this is most probably because it began as a ‘dark art’ about a decade ago. These days, nothing could be further from the truth. Its aim is to wave a friendly flag of welcome to Google’s army of digital robots, which ceaselessly crawl every page of every website around the world, in order to feed information into their huge data repository. This information is used to solve a hugely complicated algorithm which is recomputed on an ongoing basis, the essence of which continually delivers the best possible results for their customers.
An integrated approach
Of course, all companies are different and each will, therefore, require its own bespoke marketing strategy, based on a clear understanding of the target market they are selling to and the features and benefits that make them stand out from the crowd. A strategic marketing plan will ultimately depend on a wide range of factors and will be informed by what competitors are doing too. A customer acquisition strategy will almost always take the form of an integrated approach that includes both digital and non-digital media.
Digital marketing is not rocket science
Digital marketing includes search engine optimisation (SEO), advertising on search engines and social media (such as PPC and remarketing), social media marketing, content generation, and email marketing campaigns. Which of these solutions are most appropriate to an organisation will depend upon the business plan, its goals, the marketplace it operates in, its customer base, and so on.
Cold calling is (for most organisations) not an effective sales solution. Ringing up hundreds of companies every day in the hope that you get through to the right person at the right time is a real ‘finding the needle in a haystack” approach – plus, most people dislike receiving sales calls and they can have a negative impact on your company too. It’s a much better strategy to make sure you are easy to find when people need your services, which is why it important to have a marketing plan in place. This article explains how to create a successful SEO marketing strategy for your business.
A quick caveat…
It is worth noting that SEO might not be the best strategy for your business. For example, an SEO strategy is not for those wanting instant results – it can take months if not years for the fruits of your labour to be seen. And, dependent upon the maturity, size, and competitiveness of your industry sector, it might take a significant amount of activity each month before your business hits the first page of Google too.
Test your strategy with PPC
Because of the time lag before SEO delivers results and the large investment involved, we recommend that a company invests in a short-term PPC (pay per click) advertising campaign on Google AdWords to establish which keywords are likely to deliver the best results in terms of quality and quantity before proceeding with SEO. Typically, a business will generate 80% of its leads from 20% of its keywords – this process will find out for sure what those keywords are. There is nothing to stop you continuing with a PPC campaign for non-core keywords if there is a benefit to doing so.
Content marketing is key
An SEO marketing strategy requires an investment in content marketing, such as blogs which support your keyword strategy and talk about subject matter likely to be of interest to your prospect customers. Content media forms also include elements such as videos hosted on YouTube (which is owned by Google), presentations hosted on SlideShare (which is owned by LinkedIn, which in turn is owned by Microsoft) and other content hosted both on your website and on other third-party repositories such as Pinterest and Vimeo. A top tip, however, is always making sure that you write first and foremost for your customers rather than for search engines. And whilst there is a lot of debate about what length a blog should be, don’t let this truism lull you into thinking short blogs are OK. Longer blogs do tend to have more value. Or, if you do feel more comfortable writing shorter blogs, then make sure you write more of them..!
Social media marketing is also pretty important
Another key element is social media marketing. This means creating social media sites that are relevant to your business – these typically include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and YouTube, though the correct social platforms to use will of course depend on your customer base. They also need to be active, which means an investment in regular and consistent posting. You also need plenty of followers and you will benefit from engagement too, so make sure that your strategy is as interactive as possible.
“On the page” and “off the page”
SEO activity broadly splits into two areas – “on the page” and “off the page”. “On the page” refers to factors relating to your website. “Off the page” relates to factors relating to third-party websites where links to your website are hosted. The best summary we have found for all the factors involved in these two areas has been put together by Search Engine Land and is called the Periodic Table of SEO.
Navigation, mapping and journey planning
Technical SEO factors
You also need to think of other technical aspects of how your site’s pages are set up. One example is the use of headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.). Another factor is responsiveness; how well your website displays on a mobile or tablet device. The speed of loading is also key, so you need to make sure that you have a decent cloud hosting package in place.
Building trust and authority
All off-page factors have one thing in common – the aim is to demonstrate that your website is trustworthy in the eyes of Google for the keywords you wish to be ranked well for. Trust has to be earned. We all build up trust in someone or something over time when our expectations are constantly met or surpassed. The same process is true for Google, which is why SEO takes time to work well. This is especially true when you have set up a new website and don’t have an online history, so it will take more time and effort to gain good rankings from search engines than with an existing URL.
Both quality and quantity are important
Off-the-page SEO is all about building links on third party websites. All websites are given a series of ranking factors by Google that reflects their authority. The higher this figure, the more authoritative a website is perceived to be. In an ideal world, your website will have backlinks on top authority websites. Of course, this is not always easy to achieve or to deliver quickly and cheaply, so it is a good idea to target lower authority links too – it is all about getting a decent balance of quality and quantity.
Local SEO is simple
Another factor to consider – and something that is big for Google these days – is local marketing. For example, we predominantly work with companies located within the M25, so our focus is very much on being visible to organisations based somewhere in and around London. Google searches are smart enough to serve up results that are geographically resonant to the person making a search. To achieve this goal, you need to sort out your NAP (Name Address Phone) profile.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is another element coming in to play. This basically means that Google not only searches for specific keywords you have targeted through your SEO but also on others that it believes are related to these keywords. This increases your chances of being found in searches for relevant terms, but only if you are doing all the right things in terms of both on-the-page and off-the-page SEO.
A final word…
Although we have essentially just talked about Google in this article, it is not the only search engine out there. It just happens to be the biggest in the western world, accounting for about 90% of all traffic. Generally speaking, if you follow Google’s rules, you will also appear well on Bing and Yahoo too. You can access Google’s Starter Guide to SEO here.
Keep up to date
The world of SEO changes all the time. To keep up to date with all the latest news is almost impossible, but you can keep on top of things by following us on social media – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you would like to have a conversation with us about SEO, please contact Stephen Brown at Abacus marketing agency London on 020 3858 7836 or email to [email protected] – you can also visit our website at www.abacusmarketing.co.uk to find out more. We are more than happy to meet up for a two-hour chemistry meeting at a venue of your choice without cost or obligation to discuss your requirements in more detail.