Search engine optimization is one way for online marketers to boost their traffic and develop leads for their sales funnels. Arguably, on a superficial level most marketers and website owners have a basic understanding of SEO: they know that it is important to develop high quality content and they know a little about keyword placement. But if you can’t put it all into the bigger picture, it is likely your SEO will only give you an ordinary return.
It’s worth a mention because a lot of businesses that have invested in SEO are either under-impressed with their results, or reeling from the penalties they might have received after Google’s last updates. If you remember nothing else, possibly the best piece of advice you can get about SEO is, it’s not about tricking the search engines or over-doing one particular technique to manipulate your results. It’s about applying the best practices in moderation and to play nice with the search engines so they’ll look favorably on your website.
Let’s have a look at the major factors that influence a website’s visibility on search engines and how they can be optimized even further to take a search query to lead stage.
Understanding The Search Engine And Its Algorithm
To get to grips with SEO you have to know how the search engine works and what affects it. The algorithm is the ranking recipe for the search engine. It is a mathematical formula that “scores” which website is the best match for a particular search query.
Of course, no one actually knows exactly how the algorithms work but Google’s is said to rely on 30% on-page factors (like great content and keyword placement) and 70% off-page factors, like social signals and backlinks.
Developing A Website’s Authority
A website’s authority is the credibility perception it is given. The authority is based on factors such as inbound link quality, social signals and shares, the site’s traffic, the number of subscribers, and the quality of the website’s content.
A Website’s Architecture Is Important For Search Engines And Humans
A website’s architecture is how well it has been put together from an information, technical and functional point of view. The website should be structured in such a way that it is easy for search engines to index. It also needs to be easy to navigate for a user and provide a good user experience. If a search engines deems the site difficult to crawl or index for a spider, it’s going to be difficult for a user to navigate it too. And, search engines like to look after their customers, in much the same way that you like to look after yours. If the experience is poor, you will not rank as well.
Optimized URLs for SEO
URLs are essential to good SEO ranking because they classify a page’s content for a search engine (and for the site’s visitors). Accurate, relevant URLs are required for a site to rank well. They should always be written in lower case, using dashes or hyphens instead of spaces between words. They should also be easy for humans to read and understand, and you should always restrict the use of URL parameters.
On-Page Optimization Techniques
On-page optimization may account for the smaller share of your page rankings, but it is the one element that you have control over. HubSpot defines on-page optimization as:
Focused on making the structure and content of a website both user- and search engine-friendly. It describes the practices used to optimize the factors that can impact the performance of web pages in organic search results – title tags, web copy, Calls-to-Action (CTAs), keyword placement and density, and so on.
Making The Leap From SEO To Hot Lead
Just because a user landed on your site in response to a search query does not necessarily make him or her a hot lead. The user could be doing some preliminary research or price shopping, using you so to speak. If you want to hook the user and convert him or her, you’ll need to tap into their buying process and understand their needs.
That makes your landing page an essential component within your marketing strategy. Writing for Entrepreneur, Eric Siu recommends:
These customers are intrigued by your products and are actively engaged in learning more about your specific offerings or about your market in general. Visitors at this stage are likely to be most interested in the high-level benefits of your product, rather than its exact specifications.
So, rather than inundate the user with all the technical benefits of the product, take a higher level approach and give them a gentle introduction to what you’re offering.
Once you have dished out the first level of product or service information and you feel your user is a little more educated, you can ask them for something back.
Effective Call To Action
So by now, you’ve given a lot to your users. You’ve put thought and work into the process they will follow to find your site and you’ve given them some of the information they need to solve the problem they are looking into. Now you get to ask for something back. It could be to request a call back, to fill out a subscription form or to send an inquiry. It might surprise you to know that more often than not, you actually need to make your call to action prominent in order for it to be noticed. HubSpot is known for its theories on using colors that contrast a website’s design palette or a corporate identity simply because they are more likely to be seen like this. Would you like to get more from your landing pages? Michael Aagaard says landing pages should incorporate the word “get” in order to boost conversions:
It’s not that get has some sort of hypnotic super power. It’s simply the fact that get focuses 100% on what the prospect is going to obtain – in other words, it clearly answers the question ‘What’s in it for me?’ Now try and compare get to a verb like order. See the difference?
“Order” denotes a process that still has to be followed, while get reflects something that is instant. Start testing your pages and making subtle changes to your copy to see which words your target audience responds best to.