Your website is a fine creation, after all that time and effort you and the designer dedicated to content, imagery and user experience. Grand! But you still need those ideal customers to find your business online. This is where SEO, or search engine optimization, can help you to achieve your business goals.
In the first of a regular series of interviews with other business owners, Josh Hamit, SEO and digital marketing specialist at Improve My Search Ranking, gives us his views on the benefits of creativity and collaboration. Including his take on that most slippery of customers — the eel.
You work with business owners in Kent. I know that you focus on processes around SEO that help them achieve their marketing objectives. What place does creativity play in that, for instance original content for blogs, as well as social media that links back to a website?
Processes play a major part in the success of our SEO campaigns.
We’ve developed a series of thorough systems and processes for different business types, for example B2C (business-to-consumer) service-type businesses – like a carpet cleaner of plumber, that we base the planning of a new campaign around.
From our pre-set process, including the use of bespoke software that we’ve created around keywords, we then seek to inject creativity.
Webpages that are engaging (proven by the average time someone spends on a page, and other factors) are vital for SEO. Creativity comes in to play in making sure this is achieved, whether it be through the creation of charming copy, intuitive user experience or beautiful imagery.
Website optimisation is part of what you do. What part does search play in that? And when marketers and business owners think about content that answers their ideal clients’ questions and “pain points”, how can search trends help?
Everything we do can be linked back to keywords. The queries Google users enter into the search box tell us a lot.
Through the use of tools like the Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest, we can access a goldmine of information. We can learn the exact phrases used to find any type of business. This takes the guess work of thinking what content customers want.
These same tools also tell us the exact number of times per month each keyword is searched for, how seasonality affects demand and what new phrases are trending.
We can find phrases linked to every stage in the buying cycle and use these words on our client’s site in the most effective way to drive conversions – and in most cases, that means enquiries by potential new customers.
Armed with this information we can make sure we use search trends to optimise a website in a manner that will drive the most traffic and enquiries.
>>A related blog: How to encourage reader comments on your blogs: seven ideas
I read in one of IMSR’s blogs that “How to cook eel?” was among the top Google searches last year. That’s intriguing! So could a chef, for example, who’s branching out to provide bespoke dining experiences use that to her advantage? She writes a great, imaginative blog inspired by that, using striking imagery… So could that popular search in the past boost her chances of SEO success in the present?
It certainly could. As long as the search demand for eels persists!
It is however, important to consider the viability of her website ranking in Google for this term. What is the competition like? Have others cottoned on to the same idea? If so it could prove difficult.
This is where creativity can come into play again.
Can we find low competition keywords, with decent search volume that we feel will improve in the future?
For instance, PropCert, a client of ours provides a range of property certificates – from EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) to Gas Safety certificates and everything in between. Instead of focusing solely on this highly competitive products, instead we looked to take advantage of the growing demand for EICRs (Electrical Installation Condition Reports) – and produced a campaign around the increasing demand for this service in England.
It’s hardly surprising that business owners, like the rest of us, can feel a little overwhelmed at times. What simple steps can they take today, for example, to start improving their SEO?
Here are a few basics that business owners need to consider for their own SEO:
- Make sure you have claimed your business on Google.com/business
- On your website, make sure you have an individual page for each product or service you sell
- If you are a local service business looking to sell to customers in and around your local area, make sure you have an individual page for each town you wish to target
- Likewise, make sure your website mentions your business name, address and phone number in the footer area of your website
Seth Godin, the marketing author, talks a lot about partnership and collaboration (thank you Shona Chambers Marketing for the reminder about that recently). How can teaming up with other businesses – guest blogs, interviews, cross-promotions – help achieve success, in your experience?
Seth Godin is a bit of a hero of mine. I was lucky enough to meet him at an event in London a few years ago. In fact while I was working in a marketing agency after I left university, I took out his book “Permission Marketing” from the library one lunchtime. That, among many other things, fuelled my interest in SEO.
Anyway, back to your question. Teaming up with other businesses can greatly benefit your SEO.
One of the most important factors that influences your position in Google is how authoritative Google deems your website to be. Google believes that the more links your website has from external websites, the more authoritative it is.
By collaborating with other business owners and acquiring backlinks from their website, in the form of guest blogs, interviews, sponsorships and other means, you’ll improve your ranking potential in Google.
Simply put, each link pointing to your website is like a vote. The more votes you have, the more popular your site is, and the more likely Google is going to showcase it towards the top of its results.
SEO of course, but what for? By that I mean: does a business want to get more enquiries locally? From businesses or consumers? Or is their objective to build a distribution list for email marketing? (The two objectives may, of course, overlap.) How does that clarity about what a business wants to achieve help when it comes to SEO? Again, any examples you can share?
As your question implies, the reason behind someone looking to run a SEO campaign is varied. Most commonly it is it to generate more enquiries. SEO as a lead generation tactic is extremely valuable – and I would go as far to say the most effective form of marketing.
I say this as SEO helps your business get in front of your ideal customer, the exact moment they are actively searching for it. With social media or cold calling you are looking to interrupt someone and convince them to buy. SEO is the opposite. Customers come to you.
What the business wants to achieve with their SEO campaign impacts how the SEO strategy is designed. For example, if a business aims to get more sign-ups to their newsletter, the SEO campaign would focus on developing in-demand, highly resourceful blog posts and guides.
Using ‘power pages’, ‘exit intent pop ups, ‘content upgrades’ and other tactics, the guide would capture the email address of a visitor.
If the business wanted to generate more sales via their SEO campaign, the campaign would be focused more on the development of product or service and location pages.
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There’s that news coverage a while back — fake, or at least fishy, news? — that we increasingly have the attention span of a distracted goldfish. And yet there’s an appetite too for mindfulness, of trying to be more present in the now, to focus on one thing at a time so we feel less frazzled – and can enjoy ourselves more.
It seems to me that striking imagery can be at the centre of that Venn diagram, if you see what I mean. How can high-quality photos feed into a winning SEO strategy? And does it matter if they’re stock photos from a site such as Pixabay or Unsplash, if they’re carefully chosen and complement the written content in smart and interesting ways?
Imagery can have a big impact on the success of a webpage’s SEO performance. As I alluded to earlier, the engagement rate of a webpage effects its standing in Google. Use of photographs and graphics can help hold the attention of visitors and in turn benefit the SEO potential of the page.
Using stock photos from websites like Pixabay and the like is completely fine from a SEO standpoint.
One quick technical SEO tip relating to images: make sure you rename the image file to reflect one of your keywords before you upload it to your website.
Last question. What have you read recently – a blog, a book, an article – that will help your business to develop in the next quarter? I say three months because I remember you mentioning that timeframe in an exchange of comments we had on LinkedIn recently.
I recently read “High Output Management” by Andrew Grove. As the name suggests, the book explains how to effectively manage and get the most out of those you work with.
The biggest lesson I took from the book is to make sure to hold team and individual meetings every week without fail – and within those catch-ups to make sure I make the most of my SEO expertise through my team. By keeping this practice up, as a team we’ll be able to provide the best possible results to our clients.
Images by padrinan on Pixabay, Dlanor S and Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash; many thanks to Josh for the headshot and Improve My Search Ranking logo.
>>Here’s the next guest interview in this series: Men’s stylist Sarah Gilfillan: how I plan, what to wear on Zoom, winning habits
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