Search engine optimization, or SEO, can serve an invaluable function for improving your business outcomes. Unless your online marketing and optimization efforts are designed to serve a specific purpose, however, your success may not as robust as it could be.
To improve the effectiveness of your search engine optimization — and to stretch your online marketing budget — it’s important to identify your SEO purpose. To reliably track the success of those efforts, we must also align that purpose with your SEO goals.
Ask this question of a dozen online marketing experts and you’ll likely get 12 different answers. That’s because we can become bogged down in the details of how many click-throughs we need or how many minutes we want visitors to stay on a website.
But let’s put ourselves in the potential customer’s shoes to find the real answer.
When your prospects perform a Google search, they’re trying to solve a problem. Maybe the problem is a leaky faucet, and they need a good local plumber to make the necessary repairs. Perhaps their running shoes are on their last legs and they need to locate an athletic shoe store nearby. Or maybe they’re really craving a slice of New York-style pizza within 2 miles of their home.
Now, let’s say you’re the owner of a great local plumbing business. When a prospect from your geographic target area has a leak, we want to be sure that it’s your company who solves their problem. That prospect with the leaky faucet is ready to make a purchasing decision — right now.
SEO is what we use to put your plumbing company directly into their path. It’s also how we convince that prospect with the leaky faucet to dial your phone number. And that means improving your website’s rankings on the search engine results page (SERP).
For many business owners and marketing managers, the purpose of SEO is to increase sales through their company’s website. If you don’t operate an online shop or ecommerce site, however, the objective is a bit different.
If your customers don’t purchase your products and services directly through your website, the purpose of SEO becomes to attract, engage and influence your audience toward some desired behavior. In other words, we must find the customers wherever they spend time online and draw them into the site. Once there, we seek to catch — and hold — their interest long enough so that they do that thing we want them to do.
For your business, that thing may be picking up the phone to schedule a consultation with you, or getting into their car and driving to your pizza parlor. For the plumber in our example above, SEO’s purpose is to make sure the leaky faucet prospect finds his website and makes the phone call.
But what if the prospect isn’t ready to take the final step? In those instances, we aim for an interim step. Perhaps we want qualified prospects to provide their contact information in exchange for a free ebook or exclusive report. We may want them to sign up for your company’s newsletter or email drip. Or maybe we want them to share one of your blog posts on social media.
Whatever the desired action or behavior may be, SEO’s purpose is to make that a reality for as many qualified prospects as possible. And none of it can happen if your site’s ranking doesn’t put you ahead of your competitors.
Now, let’s consider what you want your customers to do. It may be one of the actions listed above, or it may be something else. Whatever outcome you hope to achieve, you won’t succeed if the customers can’t find you, or if they find your competitors first.
That means that the purpose for all of your SEO efforts must begin with maximum visibility and exposure. And that means improving your search engine rankings.
It’s important to remember that your website and internet marketing efforts don’t exist in a vacuum. We must look more globally at your company’s overall marketing program and how your online efforts fit into that structure. We must also identify where your customers come from and what their path to a purchasing decision looks like. Then we target them and their search habits with carefully chosen SEO keywords and key phrases.
If you work in a highly competitive industry, or if your product or service requires a significant investment, you may need to break your purpose into interim steps or segments. For example, if you are a solar installer, you may have to court your prospects over time to help them along the path to purchase. If you rely on a local audience, incorporating local SEO strategies is also critical.
Now that we’ve established our purpose, how do we determine whether our SEO is doing the job? That’s where goals come in.
If you run a marathon, you would have little chance of winning or even completing the race if you don’t know where the race ends. Think of SEO goals as the finish line for a marathon; they are measurable because you know where the finish line is.
If SEO’s purpose is to prompt an action, its goals must track and measure that behavior. And that’s why alignment is critical to success. Don’t forget, though, that no prospects — no matter how qualified — can do anything unless they find you first.
Unless your SEO’s purposes and goals are aligned, you’ll be comparing apples to oranges when you try to track your progress.
If one of your purposes is to prompt prospective customers to schedule a free consultation, track your number of consultations. If you track sales volume as a goal instead, the results will be irrelevant.
If another of your purposes is to build your email list, track how many ebooks or free reports are sent out each week, not your email open rate. If you meet your goals for ebooks, your SEO is doing its job. If you’re not meeting your goal for email open rate, your problem likely has more to do with your e-newsletter than your SEO.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to measure the results of your SEO is to track how your site ranks for your keywords and key phrases. When your keywords are aligned with your business objectives and purpose, you will reach qualified prospects. When your search engine ranking places you above your competitors, you will reach them first.
When you clearly — and accurately — identify the purpose of your search engine optimization efforts, you significantly increase its effectiveness. When you align your SEO goals with your purposes, you have a truly reliable way to track your success. Tracking impressions, time on page and conversions are all potentially effective ways to measure your success. But first and foremost, tracking your page rankings is the key to growing your business and increasing the bottom line.
At Be Locally SEO, we know that SEO is important for your business. But we also understand that it must be the right type of SEO, if you are to achieve your goals. Contact us today to learn more about our powerful and highly effective methods of improving your success with Utah SEO.
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