You've done everything right with your SEO, but you're still not getting the results you want — what gives? Columnist Stoney deGeyter discusses the ways amplification can help take your SEO efforts to the next level.
If you’ve been doing SEO full time for more than a couple of years, chances are you’re pretty darn good at it. Spectacular, you might say. Keeping up with the algorithms isn’t that hard when you’ve been diligent about staying ahead of them. Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird are things that bother other SEOs, but not you. You’ve been delivering the goods long before Google made it official.
But no matter how good your SEO kung fu is, there always seems to be something lacking. There are no doubts that you have SEO down to a science, but you’re still having trouble cracking the top search results or increasing targeted traffic for your site. What gives?
For the sake of this post, let’s make a few assumptions about what SEO means:
- Optimizing the website architecture
- Optimizing content for keywords/rankings
- Site speed optimization
- Mobile optimization
- Local optimization
- Image optimization
You have all of these in your back pocket. You know ’em, you do ’em, and you’re killing it every day. In fact, let’s just say that you’ve got each of these areas perfected on your site(s), but even still, performance isn’t what you (or your client) hoped to see. What’s the missing component?
Even the best optimization is dead in the water without amplification.
Let’s say that SEO is the vehicle for your site’s success. You have the car, you have the tires, you have a high-horsepower engine — but even with all that, the site is just not moving. That’s because you need fuel! And not just any fuel. You need the right fuel. Fuel that gives your SEO the acceleration (read: amplification) it needs to succeed!
Without the right acceleration components, SEO will die in the pit — or at best, putter around the track. It’s easy to blame the SEO when a site isn’t successful, but it’s usually the accelerants being used… or more likely, ignored.
Stop me if you’ve heard any of these:
- “Content is king.”
- “SEO is dead.”
- “We’re all publishers now.”
Those are all familiar cliches that we’ve been hearing for some time in this industry. In a sense, they are all true, and they are all false. Basically, there is merit to the thinking, but you can’t go too far overboard on them. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself… well, overboard.
Setting the triteness of the cliches aside, content plays an important role in the acceleration of your SEO. And I don’t just mean writing more content specifically for keyword optimization.
A good content strategy should focus on providing information that searchers want. That means answering questions; providing tips and tutorials; giving out tactics, strategies and recommendations; offering solutions; showing “how to”; giving real-life demonstrations; and about 70 other things.
But the important thing here is to have an actual strategy. Don’t just throw content out there. You have to take time to develop great content that people want, need and are looking for. Content such as this helps people find you — not because they were looking for your products or services, but because you have answers and solutions. Every new visitor reading your content is a potential customer down the road.
Social media promotion
Speaking of cliches, we’ve all heard the classic one from the movie, “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come.” Many marketers have expressed that as a solid web marketing strategy. Well, guess what? It’s not. It might work to get a bunch of dead guys to play baseball in your cornfield — I haven’t tried, so I can’t say for sure — but it doesn’t really work in digital marketing. This is what happens when people take movies too literally.
So you have content, and yeah, you even used some of your SEO kung fu on it to get search traffic, but it won’t naturally land in front of too many eyeballs. Good content deserves good promotion, and social media provides a great platform for that.
There are a lot of social promotion opportunities, including posting a link to your content onto your streams, syndicating it on other blogs, running social ads and so on. And while social promotion is an essential aspect of accelerating your SEO, you can’t subscribe to the “if you post it they will come” philosophy, either. Successful social promotion requires even greater amounts of social media engagement.
Social media engagement
Social media requires the 80/20 rule when it comes to self promotion. Only 20 percent of your social posting should be self-promotional in nature. The remaining 80 percent should be spent promoting other content and/or engaging with your community.
But that doesn’t mean that you should engage in social media just so you can get your 20 percent of self-promotion time. Social media is a powerful tool that mustn’t be used strictly for selfish purposes. With great power comes… well, you know.
Social media is where you build your brand. It allows you to talk directly to your audience, enabling you to learn more about what they want. Use engagement as a tool to find out what your company is doing right and what it’s doing wrong. Learn about pain points that you might be able to address with new products or services. Talk to people about how you can do a better job of meeting their needs.
As a broadcasting platform, social media is great. But it is far superior when used for engagement and learning. And the better job you do with your engagement, the more powerful social media becomes as an amplification platform — not just for your content, but for your brand and entire web marketing strategy.
User experience (UX) optimization
One of the key goals of SEO is getting visitors to the site. So, if SEO is to get traffic, how does visitor interaction on the site impact SEO? That’s putting the cart before the horse, is it not? Well, even though the horse pulls the cart, if the cart has four square wheels, the horse is going to have a difficult time performing its job. UX optimization rounds out the wheels so the horse (SEO) can do what it was intended to do.
The search engines have one product, search results. If the visitors like the product, they keep coming back. If they don’t, they try another engine. This tells us that the search engine’s primary goal is to ensure that the product (the sites that rank) meet the customers’ (searchers’) needs.
Which brings us to UX. It’s not enough to have the best answers, the best products or the best services. You also have to make sure you provide the best on-site experience for your visitors. This means having navigation that helps them quickly find solutions, and having content that answers a variety of questions and offers specific advice. It means making it easy for visitors to flow from page to page getting the information they want with as much ease as possible.
The more your site meets the needs of the searcher, the more Google will want your site to top the search results.
A close cousin to UX optimization is conversion optimization. While UX focuses primarily on the full-site experience, conversion optimization focuses almost exclusively on improving the actual conversion paths the visitor takes through the site. Where you might implement testing for UX optimization, conversion optimization demands it.
The goal is to make every improvement possible on your site. Does a red button work better than a blue one? Does this call to action work better than that one? Are the images making visitors more or less likely to buy? These are just a few of hundreds of questions you should be asking in order to not just increase conversions but to add grease to your newly rounded out wheels on the cart.
It’s all about delighting visitors, and what better way to delight them than to have them leave your site fully satisfied?
Build it, then amplify it
SEO is good, but on its own, it’ll only take you so far, unless you’re on a downhill journey. But most of us have uphill battles in claiming victory in the web marketing race. If you find your SEO insufficient — and most do — you’re not adding enough of the right amplifiers to the mix.
Successful web marketing requires SEO. But successful SEO requires additional web marketing amplification. No one ever said building a winning web marketing strategy was going to be easy, but if you don’t build it, they certainly won’t come!