SEO has become increasingly difficult. As Google continuously updates its algorithm in its quest to give searchers the ultimate user experience, its Best Practices present more challenges for people who lack the required skills to engineer and run an organic search strategy that not only attracts traffic to a website, but that draws a higher quality level of traffic likely to convert to sales.
If done correctly, organic search strategies can become your most profitable and cost-effective way to generate leads and acquire new customers. But before you entertain the thought of contacting the best SEO agencies, you should first get a clear understanding of what your ultimate goals are, and how SEO can contribute to your blueprint for growth.
What are Reasonable SEO Expectations to Have in Ranking for High-Conversion Audiences?
SEO is a process. Simply initiating an SEO strategy and publishing optimized content won’t result in instant sales. Here’s why:
At the start of any SEO engagement first comes a matter of time (usually three to four weeks) worth of careful research that allows SEO experts to collect the necessary data needed for putting together a successful SEO strategy that will lead to greater sales and overall growth through organic traffic channels. Any aggressive SEO agency will focus their research during the onboarding phase in the following areas:
- Industry research
- SEO competitor research
- Analyzing past and current website engagement
- Analyzing past and current brand recognition through social listening strategies
- On-site and technical website audit
- Backlink analysis
- Competitor backlink analysis
- On-site content analysis and research
- Competitor content analysis and research
- Keyword research (phrasing, context, variations, customer-focused)
- Buyer persona development
Once research has been completed and the strategy is engineered and partnered with any adjoining strategies, it will take time for Google to crawl the new content, recognize how it relates to the overall site architecture. There is also a waiting game play in the form of Google examining user search behavior, the site’s engagement metrics, and whether or not the site should be awarded with improvements in ranking and domain authority. The best SEO agencies collect data throughout this process and, using an agile approach, make the necessary changes to appease Google while creating content that ranks well for audiences that will find it of value.
1. SEO Requires You to Know Your Audience
Before you can begin writing content that will rank well and convert readers to buyers (or leads) you must first have a clear understanding of you your audience is. More often than not, your buyers will make up a number of segments, and these segments will range based on specific needs and pain points your buyers have, and how your products and services stand as a solution to meet those needs.
In order to create content that ranks well, you need to get clicks that turn into lengthy engagements. This means ranking the right content, for the right search terms, that targets a specific cross-section of your buyers is crucial.
You may think you know your customers better than anyone else, but be aware of the inherent bias businesses often have, despite having the best intentions. Also, there is much to learn from market research and social listening. Understanding your buyers extends well beyond “reading the numbers”. There is value in creating buyer personas on every segment of your customer audience. Be sure to do a little research and learn how to create buyer personas to empower your SEO strategy, and you will find that the quality of your organic traffic will go up, significantly. And remember, when you write for people with solutions to their needs, your SEO results will improve resulting in higher quality traffic than convert.
2. How to Use Keywords for SEO and Sales
Keywords are still an integral part of all savvy SEO strategies, but using them in a manner that will help you achieve your goals will require a greater depth of thought.
First, recognize that your goal is not to rank on page one of Google. While ranking well is important, it is just a necessary step to your ultimate goal, and that’s increasing sales. Therefore, SEO keywords should be designed to achieve both of these,
There are several types of keywords you will want to use in your content. But here are the two primary ones:
Short-tail Keywords – Also known as head keywords, these types of keywords are made up of three words or less, tend to be broad, and are very competitive. They also have a ton of search volume. Searchers don’t tend to convert welL from these keywords because the nature of their generalization reflect the fact that the searcher is not educated as to their own needs and really don’t know what to look for. Therefore, matching searcher intent to these is extremely difficult.
Long-Tail Keywords – These consist of more than three words and are more specific than their short-tail cousins. They have a lower search volume, but are less competitive and convert better because you can discover the searcher’s intent. For example, “Men’s large size Dodgers t-shirts” makes it clear that people are looking for a site that sells Dodgers t-shirts to men who require a large size. Searchers who use these terms are almost ready to make a purchase, so it is important to know how to use these types of keywords that will rank content for the right searchers AND convert them to paying customers.
3. Tag, You’re It! Using Titles, Tags and Descriptions on Web Pages Improves SEO
Part of ranking content that will reach target buyers resides in the technical depths of SEO. When Google crawls a page in its attempt to understand what the content is about, who its for, and what its level of quality is, it begins by crawling the URL, then the H1, then it looks at page content, image ALT tags, rich snippets, and links. Though the meta description has no direct impact on SEO, it still plays a role because if plays heavily into your CTR (click-through rate) and with each click, Google is watching to see how people engage your content.
Your URL should be short, avoid any language that has incoherent symbols, accurately reflect the page’s content, and contain a main keyword.
The H1 (head tag) will be the page’s main title and should contain a prime keyword, provide context for the buyer, and avoid being lengthy. H2 and H3 tags should follow the same guidelines, while avoiding repetition.
Rich Snippets, also known as structured data markup and Schema, is code added to the page (backend) that helps Google better understand the page’s content. WordPress and other platforms have plugins that allow people to add Schema with few inconveniences.
Once all of these pieces are synchronized on a well-written page of content, you will be in a prime position to rank for your ideal buyers.
4. Today’s Modern SEO Requires Content with Context
Google’s algorithm is a hybrid of machine learning and AI technology. This means it has the ability to understand search intent and see how your content measures up to providing people with content they value.
Providing content with context not only delights readers and makes then feel that your company is speaking directly to them, but it helps Google better understand who to rank your content for.
Again, keep in mind you have multiple buyer personas with different needs. For example, if you are a scuba diving company, you may have customers looking for cave diving gear, scuba gear that’s designed for lots of flight traveling, ice divers, and safety diver equipment for film crews. Therefore, rather than trying to rank content for general subjects, add context that speaks to individual needs.
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