Using search marketing as part of your content strategy can increase web traffic and, thus, visibility for your business.
Search marketing, formerly “search engine marketing,” uses both paid (SEM) and unpaid strategies (SEO) to increase traffic to your business’ website. These two efforts work together to improve the likelihood that potential customers searching the internet will find your content.
Let me explain. When an individual searches for something on a search engine like Bing, Google, or Yahoo, the query brings him/her to a Search Engine Results Page, or “SERP.” Since we read from top to bottom, the person first sees the results that fall at the top of the SERP. Studies overwhelmingly show that the further down on the page that a link falls, the less likely someone will click it. What’s more, people rarely click on results beyond the first page. Thus, it is critical to rank as highly as possible on SERPs to entice potential customers to click through to your site.
So, how do you rise to the top? This is where search marketing fits into your content strategy.
SEO (search engine optimization) is optimizing your content to improve how it ranks in search engine listings. This requires gaining a basic understanding of how and why search engines classify webpages and then catering to those factors where possible.
The search engine’s goal is to bring the most relevant results to someone who enters a search query. They use complex algorithms to determine how relevant a website is based on the query. So, if you type “best restaurant in Boston,” the search engine will scan the entirety of the internet to bring you a list of websites, in order, that are most likely give you an idea of the best Boston restaurants.
Each engine’s algorithm is slightly different, highly sensitive, and a closely held secret to keep websites from maliciously optimizing their content. Google, for instance, uses about 200 factors in its search algorithm, some of which are public knowledge, and most of which are not. This makes SEO somewhat of an art.
The best bet for optimizing your content is to consider those known factors while remaining true to your content. You want the people who are looking for you to find you. Here are some tips.
1) Use keywords throughout your content.
Algorithms crawl the internet to scan text of all kinds (websites, PDFs, documents, etc.) to find content that matches search queries. Identify several keywords that someone who is looking for products or services like yours might use in a search query, and use them throughout your content. It is likely even more effective when you use keywords in URL titles, headings and subheads, and paragraphs near the beginning of the page.
2) Use keywords in meta tags.
Webpages contain data, called meta tags, that search engines read to understand the main idea of the page. These are invisible to the average reader (unless you know where to look). Most important for SEO are the title tag and the meta description.
3) Distribute content through social media.
Social media is increasingly important to search algorithms because these platforms help determine what content people are using and engaging with organically. Post on your social media channels with links back to your website to improve your social media referral traffic metric and, thus, your SEO.
4) Encourage inbound links.
To understand how trustworthy and authoritative a particular website is on a certain subject, algorithms consider inbound links, or other sites linking to the website. HubSpot has some excellent advice on how to grow inbound links.
5) Make your site mobile-friendly.
As web traffic increasingly derives from mobile devices, search engines are rewarding websites that are mobile-friendly. If your website is not responsive or, at least, optimized for mobile, your search ranking will suffer.
6) Create frequent, quality content.
When you regularly publish content that is valuable to your target audience, search engines will “learn” that you are a trustworthy publisher with up-to-date information. Also, the more your content resonates with your target audience, the more they will post and share it, which means more referral traffic and inbound links, which likewise increase SEO.
Search marketing through paid methods like pay-per-click (PPC) or paid advertising helps get your content in front of your target audience, regardless of how it would rank organically. Google AdWords is the most popular paid search platform used by marketers, followed by Bing Ads.
Google AdWords will show your advertisement to people who search with predetermined keywords. You pay per click, meaning you pay a fee for every person who clicks on your advertisement, regardless of how many people Google shows your ad to.
You can imagine that a number of advertisers vie for the same keywords. Google actually auctions off ad space with each search, ranking ads by bid (how much you are willing to pay per click) and quality score (does your content answer the searcher’s need?). To increase the success of your PPC you should:
- Identify relevant keywords that potential customers might use when searching for your products or services.
- Conduct comprehensive research of keywords with tools like Keyword Planner.
- Speak your audience’s language with dynamic keyword insertion.
- Determine which words you wish to bid on, and create groupings of these words to pair with ads.
- Identify and eliminate irrelevant words unlikely to appear in keyword searches.
Remember, search engines cater to the searcher. So, the more relevant your content is to someone who is searching for you, the more likely they will find you and want to do business with you.
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