To create a website which earns its keep as a sales tool, you need to work hard on the SEO (to get visitors to the site in the first place) and then on the engagement (to get visitors to stay and take action in the sales funnel).
A robust SEO strategy will help customers to find you by making your website visible for relevant search terms.
To do this, there are no short-cuts or tricks to the top – you’ll need to play by the rules and abide by Google’s webmaster guidelines which emphasise the need to put users first, not search engines. (Find out how to maintain a Google-friendly website.)
However, while the technical SEO on your site needs to be right, it’s not going to be enough to maximise the visibility of your site on Google, or convert visitors into customers.
Quality content – content which answers your visitors’ biggest questions – is a vital component.
This is where good SEO crosses over into the realm of digital marketing.
Most businesses will need to optimise their site not just for products and services they provide, but for the information people need to make a buying decision.
This is because Google is increasingly used to answer questions in the information-gathering stage of a buying cycle.
The companies which answer these questions well are shown to achieve the highest search engine rankings, and the best conversions.
That means you need to understand your customers, and create on-site content which gets their attention and engages them enough so that they take the next step towards a sale.
Google rewards companies which create high quality content which gives users the information they are looking for.
When creating content strategies for clients, we focus on a ‘wide and deep’ strategy, creating content which covers a wide spectrum of related issues and deep content which covers some key subjects in depth.
This approach helps us to improve rankings for specific search terms, but also for related search terms which engage customers while they are researching possible solutions (and improve the visibility of a site for a more comprehensive set of search terms).
Quality content will not only help your website to be more visible on search engines, it will also help you to use social media more effectively.
All too often, businesses find social media is a drain on time and resources, and they find it hard to see the payback.
However, with focus, social media can enhance your SEO and digital marketing efforts.
This is because people like to use social media to share information and ideas, so authoritative content which is highly shareable can be a great way to reach a wider audience and build referral traffic.
Plus, sharing content on social media can help you build a good backlink profile, which is something Google will reward.
While Google says social share counts don’t have a direct impact on your site’s ranking, it’s clear that social profiles can be a useful marketing tool as they’re often featured on Google’s search engine results page, particularly when it comes to a branded search term.
By analysing what’s happening on your website – which pages people are visiting, how long they’re staying for etc – it’s possible to understand how to improve conversions.
As well as taking an honest look at whether and how you are providing the information a visitor needs to feel secure in taking the next step in the buying cycle, there are various calls to action (CTA) devices which you can use to build a connection.
From email opt-in to forms, contact options, free downloads and guides, introductory offers and pop-ups, there are a myriad of devices you can employ to prompt action in your site visitors.
The right approach will depend upon your company, industry and audience, of course, but it’s an essential component of an effective digital marketing strategy, and will help to make all your SEO efforts worthwhile.
Taking an holistic view of SEO and digital marketing means you have all bases covered.
A digital marketing expert with SEO skills will ensure all the technical aspects of SEO – URL structure, alt attributes, keyword focus etc – are not overlooked. But digital marketing skills can be used to create customer-driven sticky content which leads visitors through the site and into the sales funnel.