Winning the Battle for Customers in Google Search
The world of internet marketing has now become a more voracious marketplace than the offline world.
Every eCommerce store, business website or sales page are at war to convert the same audience into clients or customers. The markets are competitive and the margins are often tight.
And so, having your search marketing strategy in place has become critical for those startups who want to go the distance in digital business.
If you are reading this, chances are you are a startup, and you are trying to do everything right. You are reading as many blogs and marketing guru tips as possible to help you dominate your market when you kick off.
While there are plenty of opportunities for traditional, viral and social media marketing, for those who are in this for the long haul, and especially for eCommerce, nothing is more basic - and more essential - than good on and off page search engine optimization.
This is not only the word from those digital agencies in the trenches, it is also the word from on high - Google. Their position on the SEO is very straightforward: The earlier, the better.
Here are the four areas you need to either outsource or become competent in for your startup to compete in the organic search market adn win custoemrs to your website.
Content: Quality, Quality, Quality.
As far as SEO is concerned, content quality is not defined by how attractive your headlines, sentences or phrases are. The strategic juxtaposition of keywords (single words and long tail keywords) matter as much as an exciting content headline.
In the past, your startup eCommerce or website could survive on sketchy blog posts laden with carefully selected keywords and phrases. Today, a more deliberate and thorough approach is needed.
You need to do more than produce a few keyword rich articles. You need to develop your keyword list into a powerful content marketing strategy using content hubs.
A Content Hub is a collection of articles, video’s or other rich media that form a wide base in a general niche and which all point to a specific hero page on your site.
Google treats these internal links as backlinks and they carry weight.
Between 800 - 1200 words should be your goal for most of your written blog content. Content should be:
- Truly helpful to your target audience
- Laid out in easy-to-read formats and,
- Written in a style that your audience can understand
Pay attention to your target audience. You need to be able to speak their language. Well written content leads to:
- Loyalty (increase in repeat visits)
- Increased time on site
- Increased Social sharing (Which amounts to more traffic)
All of which are ranking factors and important elements in any SEO campaign. More importantly, they are strategies that build consumer trust and generally lead t ogreater time on site - a key factor in customer conversion.
The Power of Social and Rich Media Content
SEO has become synonymous with articles and blog posts. However, there are other forms of rich media to be considered: Video, Slideshows, and Infographics are but three.
These are highly mobile and tend to be favoured by Social Media platforms over traditional written content.
The search marketing strategy of The Dollar Shave Club demonstrated the power of SEO on a small budget. They kicked off against big brand giants with a $4,500 video which went viral. The campaign netted over 12,000 orders in two days.
Takeaway: Find out where your customers are likely to be online and speak to them - artistically and culturally.
Since SEO includes traffic in it’s ranking algorithm 0 and social media is a great way to boost traffic - using these forms of media in social media can have a substantial (if not viral) impact on your movement in the search engines.
The quality of the SEO includes more technical data such as meta tags, captions, and descriptions which will help searchers find your visual content before your rival and are another area where startups should be optimised from day one.
Links and Backlinks
Startup businesses or websites may struggle to compete with older and more established websites as Google and Bing both give deference to the age of its relationship with your business in order to determine things like authenticity and authority.
One of the metrics used to calculate this authority are backlinks on the authenticity of your business. It is still true that “the more the merrier”. But, startups can compete on another - if not superior metric - link quality.
Sourcing high profile and branded links from already established online business put a startup in good company - something which Google recognizes.
A link from Forbes or Entrepreneur is worth a lot more than a link from a blogger with 1K visitors per month and a Domain Authority of 24.
Website Responsive Technology
Mobile now provides more internet traffic than desktop. That makes mobile responsiveness an important aspect of search optimization for a startup.
Along with other technical aspects of SEO, using advanced coding (HTML5 and CSS3, for example) on high performing CMS and eCommerce platforms will give startups a good footing in Google’s organic search results and put them squarely alongside the bigger brands online.
I am not saying that Google will favour you if, for example, you use WordPress or PrestaShop.
What I am saying is that platforms like these - that are well coded and comply with best industry practices have a natural advantage as they are built specifically to meet the expectations of the major search engines.
They are typical user-friendly and crawlable by Google bots.
Analytics like Google Page Speed and GTMetrix help Google identify how comfortable and stress-free it is for users on your site. So, keep the website detailed but light and responsive across multiple devices.
Using SEO successfully as part of your overall startup marketing campaign takes careful planning than spending. But with 33% of clicks still going to the first organic result in Google, it is worth the investment of both time, talent, and money.
David is a small business consultant based in Australia. David has worked in small business tourism and retail and also writes for Business.com, GrowMap and Born2Invest.
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Agree with your points David. Will also add that it's not just traffic that's increasing the importance of responsive design.
Starting sometime next year, the mobile version of your website is likely to be what determines your ranking. Google is switching to a "mobile first" index.
I completely agree with you. A number of webmasters have given up with SEO after realiozing that their social media marketing far much outdo search marketing. In fact there are some marketing gurus who are giving prominence to social media traffic over search traffic while bragging how they have lived without Google and the other major search engines.
Still, as the expert (business web page) I think we should think "quality inbound link" (emphasis on INBOUND) since it's always been part of any search engine algorithm, not just Google. Google has obviously decided to emphasize it more than in past versions. The reason it's freaking out SEO consultants, and why hiring an SEO consultant may not help, is because there's probably not much they can do to get such links. Sites like WaPo that draw a lot of traffic are not very likely to link to your website - and certainly not for free. Getting them to do so would require explicit permission from them, plus the action of their web team to put that link somewhere on their page. Such actions are not within the control of an SEO consultant. And putting a link on your website to WaPo may or may not help WaPo, but it definitely does nothing for you except to drive traffic away from your site.
Google does this because they want businesses that are trying to sell something to pay for advertising space at the top of the page and the right hand column. That's how they make their money. They want the middle section (i.e., "organic search section") to link to non-ecommerce sites. That's why Wikipedia and other informational sites always show up there. This cat-and-mouse game between Google and SEO consultants has been going on for many years. Looks like Google is winning the latest round.