Less than five years ago, search engine optimization (SEO) was the turbo fuel to propel a company past its competition. Today SEO is a necessity for businesses of all sizes and types. Effective SEO strategies help a company rank higher on the search engines and generate more leads. Complex algorithms and changing protocols have digital marketing pros scratching their heads. Many executives wonder – is my SEO working or does my web content need help? Fortunately, there are some definitive ways to gauge your progress and hone your approach.
Define Your Goals
Most people want to get more traffic and rank higher on the search engines. These general goals aren’t refined enough to realize specific results. Define your goals to determine the necessary steps to achieve them. Who is your target market and what do they want now? Are you looking to brand the business? Is your goal to drive targeted traffic to the site and improve conversion rates? Focus on one or two goals at a time to gauge the progress of your latest web content. Recognize it takes much longer than a couple of weeks to see any meaningful progress. SEO marketing is a long haul pursuit.
Time Is On Your Side
Most people ask when the site will rank #1 on Google – or at least, land on the first page of the search engine results. The answer to this question is more complicated than you think. Factors that help determine ranking include:
- the savvy use of keywords that rank well without being saturated by the competition;
- headlines, subheadings, title tags, and metadata that attract attention and accurately describe what the content delivers;
- quality web content with a unique approach that provides real value to the reader;
- a perspective that appeals to the typical persona of the chosen target market;
- a technically healthy website that loads quickly and is mobile-friendly; and
- a site design, content, and blog that are free of significant errors.
Time is on your side when it comes to SEO. It takes several months to see any notable results. In the meantime, marketers must have faith in their strategies. Measuring the site’s progress helps determine which tactics work – and the ones that don’t. After six months, there should be some positive upticks. Keep in mind, SEO efforts level out after a couple of years, and progress slows down. This is a time when companies should re-evaluate current SEO strategies and update their approach.
Taking a Chance on SEO
Search engines seem to make their updates mysterious and difficult to understand. SEO can be as chancy as the stock market. A pragmatic approach keeps you in the game. No matter what changes, the bottom line is to provide content people want to read. Most content is developed for promotional purposes. However, it should never read like a sales pitch. Answer the questions people have about your industry. Find out what people are asking by visiting sites such as Quora. Use these inquiries to find keywords and develop content for your target audience. Give them the facts about topics they can’t wait to explore. Well-written content timelessly endures the evolution of the search engines.
Metrics to Measure
Referring to metrics is one of best ways to answer, “Is my SEO working?” Look at specific metrics that measure the performance of SEO web content, such as:
- check keyword rankings and if the site uses a variety of keyword phrases commonly used to find specific information;
- use Google Analytics to determine the amount of organic traffic a site gets, which means people type a topic into the search bar and find the web content without ads or other paid means;
- consider the conversion rate to figure out if the content encourages people to take action – usually, a rate between 1 to 3 percent is considered good; and
- note the bounce rate to determine if people are staying to read the content and surf the site or choose to leave right away.
Make the Metrics Matter
But it takes more than fundamental metrics to figure out if SEO is working or needs improvement. Consider examples of how to make the metrics matter to your market:
- companies should use long tail keywords with moderate competition to boost rankings and corner less competitive keyword phrases – consider 50 percent of search queries are four words or longer;
- organic traffic is the ultimate goal of SEO professionals who recognize free traffic based on valuable content and targeted keywords is the holy grail for getting more leads;
- traffic is only the beginning – the readers should be interested in the content and want to take action, which improves conversion rates; and
- when people stay at the site longer, they are finding more of what they want rather than surfing away because they feel misled or disappointed.
Dedication Makes a Difference
There is no magic formula to SEO success. It takes hard work, dedication, and ongoing education to optimize a website continuously. It takes more than getting in the SEO game to see results – you have to stay in the game and play according to the current rules. Revise web content regularly to reflect industry changes. Tweak title tags and metadata every few months to be relevant and keyword-specific. Post original blogs regularly. Stay on a schedule to attract more readers. For example, post articles weekly or bi-weekly to keep driving traffic to the website. Share content on the company social media pages. Interact with visitors and followers, especially if they comment or share an entry.
Traffic Jam or Coffee Break?
Reduced traffic can be a cause for concern, especially if leads are dropping. But what if traffic is down, but conversion rates are up? In this instance, SEO is working as it should. A traffic jam filled with visitors that surf away means little or nothing to a business. Less traffic that has a greater interest in the web content means more viable leads. The ultimate goal is to raise revenue, which means getting the right traffic rather than attracting more traffic. Ideal visitors stop, take a coffee break, read what the site has to offer – then they take action.
An Objective Eye
Often companies become accustomed to tired slogans, taglines, and logos. What worked yesterday may not be a smart decision today. The market is continually changing, and companies must roll with these changes. View site and web content with an objective eye. Are the images blurry or unprofessional? Do you use any infographics and charts? Has the same web content been on the home page for years? Are the latest blogs from months ago? An unattended site drives traffic away. People might think the business is lagging or not looking for new customers. An active, updated site shows people the organization is ready for business.
Creating SEO Content That Performs
There was a time when one writer handled all the SEO content for a corporate site. The world of online content has become far more sophisticated and complex. It takes a team to fulfill the various stages of SEO web content writing including:
- comprehending the business objectives the content is being crafted to achieve;
- conducting keyword research pertaining to these objectives to find short-tail and long-tail phrases with enough volume to build a target audience;
- narrow down the keyword selection based on intent that is consistent with the company objectives;
- reviewing the content that currently tops the search results for the chosen keywords to create original and relevant content for the business;
- create the content that reflects brand standards, business objectives, search intent, SEO best practices, and industry standards;
- crafting long content that is interesting and relevant – keep in mind, the average first-page result on Google contains over 1,800 words; and
- review the content with stakeholders before its launch and evaluation.