Owning a website without implementing SEO marketing is a lot like opening a storefront without a sign or windows.
It's there, but no one will know it exists.
Today's consumers are using the web to find products and services. Roughly 15% (out of millions of American web browsers) are conducting one or more searches daily. And another 45% conduct searches at least once per week.
This gives your website plenty of opportunities to be found by its intended audience. But that's only if you're using SEO to get to the first page.
If you're new to search engine optimization, then this guide is for you.
Let's take a look at what SEO marketing is all about.
An Overview of SEO Marketing
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process that search engines (like Google) use to rank web pages. The better your optimization, the higher your ranking will be (depending on your competition, of course).
The way you optimize your web pages is by inserting keywords or key phrases into the content. Ideally, you want the keywords in the heading/title, first paragraph, at least one subheading/H2, and in the conclusion.
Now, you don't want to over-stuff your content with a keyword because (as you'd imagine) it'd read horribly. Search engines look at the readability of your content when deciding on your ranking.
So the better your content reads, the more people will like it. And if people like your content, then it's worthy of getting a top spot in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Now, what are keywords?
Keywords are terms that people use to search for whatever it is they're looking for—products, services, information, etc.
For example, a car dealer may use the keyword "used cars for sale in Austin" to rank in the SERPs for users in their area looking for used vehicles.
It's a good idea to use other relevant keywords or different variations of the same keyword. This will help with readability (so you're not restating the same terms over and over). Plus, it'll improve your optimization.
For example, the Austin car dealer could use keywords, such as:
- Austin, TX used cars
- used trucks in Austin
- Texas used car dealer
- Used car dealers in Austin
It's worth mentioning that it takes more than keywords and readability to improve your SEO. Google and other search engines use a variety of factors (which sometimes change on the whim) to rank your web pages.
- Content length
- Exact-match keyword domain searches
- Social metrics
- Page rank
- Website load speed
Fortunately, there are tools and SEO marketing services you can use to streamline the optimization of your site to ensure it gets excellent results.
What's the Role of SEO in Marketing?
Now that you have a better idea of what SEO is, you may be wondering how it affects your marketing—and whether it truly matters to your strategy.
The purpose of SEO is the same as any marketing strategy: to help attract relevant audiences to your business. When you build a website, there are several ways you can drive traffic to it.
- Create a pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign and hope your traffic builds before your budget runs out.
- Share it on social media and hope it gains buzz and word-of-mouth traction.
- Take the time to properly optimize your site and drive organic traffic for years.
Savvy businesses are beginning to take SEO more seriously because of the results it can yield. For instance, if your website is on the second page of Google, then you're missing out on 75% of internet traffic.
Not to mention, a whopping 40+% of revenue is captured by organic traffic.
So, by adding SEO to your marketing strategy, you can get more traffic to your website and potentially boost your sales. The key now is identifying your target audience and finding the right keywords to attract them.
There are four main components of SEO:
- Metadata: Includes additional info like an SEO title, meta description, and keywords (meta tags) to help search engine robots index your pages.
- Inbound links: This requires link building on 3rd party sites. The higher the authority of the site linking to you, the bigger the boost for your SEO.
- Keyword density: Can't have too little or too many keywords. It has to be just right.
- Content marketing: Fresh, consistent content is key to SEO digital marketing. It keeps your visitors coming back for more (and search engines indexing your pages).
With the right SEO plan, you can build traffic, increase ROI, and grow your brand's visibility (all in a cost-effective manner).
Traditional SEO vs. Local SEO Marketing
We can't discuss SEO digital marketing without breaking down the two main methods used by marketers: traditional and local SEO marketing.
Let's take a look at how the two compare.
Traditional SEO (or organic search) consists of content that isn't optimized for geographic locations. For example:
- "Tax accounting for freelancers" is a traditional form of SEO
- "Tax accounting in Atlanta, GA" is a local SEO
And it's as simple as that. Keywords without a city, community, or state attached is traditional SEO.
So why would you choose organic search over local search? If you're a business that caters to customers all over the U.S. or globe, then you wouldn't want to limit yourself to a specific area.
On the other hand, trying to rank for every city, state, and country in the world would deplete your time and budget.
How Does Local SEO Benefit Small Businesses?
Business owners with brick-and-mortar companies will want to get to know local SEO. And the same goes for business owners who offer local services (without a physical location).
With local SEO, it's easier to rank for the keywords you want to target.
Because you're only competing with other businesses in your locale. Let's say you're in a small town with seven other companies like yours. The chance of everyone making it to the first page of Google is possible.
Imagine trying to make it to the first page of Google for a keyword thousands of others are competing for. Small businesses don't have big budgets to compete head-to-head with corporations with seemingly never-ending funds.
So instead, they can hunker down their strategy and focus on just their immediate areas. In turn, small business owners can reap rewards like:
- Increased traffic from target customers
- Increased ROI
- Enhanced brand awareness
- Faster business growth
- Improved reputation and trust
This is what makes local SEO a lucrative opportunity for small businesses.
Now, this isn't to say that you shouldn't use local SEO if you're in a larger city with more competition. It just takes a strategic approach to get to the top spot.
For example, you can use Google My Business to amplify your local SEO marketing.
Let's see how this works.
The Connection Between Local SEO & Google My Business
When you look up a business or service on Google, chances are you see a window pop up with listings of local businesses. These are "Google My Business" listings, which are displayed when you search for related keywords.
It's a free tool businesses can use to help gain higher visibility for their brand.
Google detects their location based on their IP address and will display relevant listings to their search.
By creating or claiming your Google My Business listing, you can enhance the chances of your business showing up in the top spots (a.k.a., the three-pack).
The user has the option to see more listings, which displays all the relevant businesses in the area.
The key is to ensure your GMB listing is optimized completely so you can appear as close to the top as possible.
We'll discuss more about that below.
Google My Business: The Key to SEO Marketing Success
It doesn't matter whether you're a local or national (or even global) business. If you're not claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing, then you're missing out on a ton of traffic.
Google made it so that the 3-pack listing for local businesses trumps the #1 spot on Google. So, if your GMB listing is ranked in the top 3, you're in the best seat in the house.
Then when you tie in the fact that only 44% of local retailers are claiming their GMB listing, you have an even better chance of getting ranked higher.
And let's not forget other search engines. A whopping 82% of businesses haven't claimed their Bing business listing.
Ignoring your GMB listing is the worst thing you could do for your SEO digital marketing. It's the ultimate hack to getting to the top of the SERPs as quickly as possible (for free!).
Google My Business Insights
Besides giving your SEO campaign a boost, Google My Business comes with other perks. For instance, you can use the insights in the dashboard to learn more about your audience.
It tells you how prospects find your listings and how they interact with it once they do.
Some of the insights gathered include:
- Number of views your listings receive
- How and where users find your listings
- Which actions users take on your listing (click to call, website visits, direction requests, etc.)
- Photo views
- And more
Now, how do you go about helping users find your GMB listing? Well, there are several ways you can optimize. If you have more than one (maybe you have multiple locations), make sure to do the following for each of them:
- Claim the listing as your own
- Update your NAP (name, address, phone number) details
- Add your website link
- Include your business hours (for holidays as well)
- Upload photos of your business
- Select the most relevant category
- Create citations/listings on other directories with same details
- Ensure all the information matches your website
- Update your listings as needed
Your Google My Business listing is a tool for gaining visibility and traffic without spending thousands on PPC ads. But it's not a crockpot: if you set it and forget it, you risk losing your spot in the ranks.
Keep an eye on your listings and ensure it's always up-to-date. And also watch for reviews—these can make or break your business.
If you see high ratings and positive feedback, this will help to boost your listing. Plus, it'll help build trust and revenue.
If you see negative reviews, you'll need to mitigate the problem. Respond to the customers and see if you can rectify the issue. This can work out in one of two ways:
- The user will be happy with the outcome and remove their negative review.
- The user won't be satisfied, but others will see you at least attempted to help (making your business look good).
The only missing link now is your website—make sure it's impressive, informative, and engaging. Otherwise, you'll see your bounce rates soar!
Get Started with Local Search
There's no denying the benefits of local search. If you're serious about putting your business on the map (literally), then you need a local SEO strategy.
Fortunately, you don't have to wait months or years to see results. By implementing Google My Business into your strategy, you can hasten the process.
But you have to take the right steps.
Download this quick guide on getting started with local search, while it's still available!