You probably know that search engine optimization (or SEO) can help more people find your company's website when they search for businesses like yours online. But when’s the last time you ensured your SEO strategy is following best practices -- and getting the results your business really needs?
Here’s why you need a modern SEO strategy, along with tips on how to build a program that helps you gain tangible results (customers) not just a high ranking, from organic search.
You can use SEO to drive traffic to your business website. But if your visitors can’t find your site or contact you, then you haven’t added much value to your business. First make sure that your website is optimized to convince interested visitors to contact you. That means you need an updated, responsive website design.
If your site isn’t built for today’s best practices, it may not even show up in search results. And outdated sites that don’t provide a great user experience raise a red flag to potential customers. This is amplified if your business doesn’t have a mobile site now that Google warns users when a site is not optimized for mobile viewing. And with scores of consumers searching for local information via mobile, having a mobile site is simply not optional any longer.
The next step is to drive more conversions of site visitors to customers. A great, mobile-optimized design will help with that, but your site also needs to feature multiple contact methods like a phone number, email address, web form and chat so that visitors can reach out to you when they are ready -- and through the method they prefer.
When you have this trifecta of a modern, mobile, and conversion-optimized website, you’re on your way to converting more of the website traffic you get from SEO.
Creating content for search engine optimization.
Search engines love content that’s recent, relevant and authoritative. One of the most challenging aspects of modern SEO is creating content that’s relevant to your business.
Both foundational website content and fresh, timely content (like blog posts) focused around the main topics and keywords of your business can help searchers find your website. To create compelling, search-friendly content, start off with a topic or keyword list that’s relevant to your business, products or services and target location.
Then create relevant, ongoing content about those topics to so that search engines will continually index your site in the search results. The most effective way to do this is to set up a blog and regularly post unique, informative posts that your audience will enjoy.
But, customer-facing content isn’t the only material to focus on. Populate your pages’ metadata fields with important keywords and accurate descriptions of its content. In addition, including on your site semantic markup code (like that found at Schema.org) will emphasize specific information about your business, like the name, business type and location. These back-end tactics can improve how quickly and easily search engines can match your site to specific, localized searches, helping it show up in organic search results.
Using social media and local sites to drive traffic.
Modern SEO doesn’t end with attending to your website. You also need to develop your offsite presence on social media sites, local listings and directories that can help amplify your site's SEO. A presence on social media sites and local directories increases the amount of information that consumers can find about your business when they search.
That’s because social signals and properly configured listings (or “citations”) might influence how search engines surface your website in organic results. Making sure these pages are active and optimized for search can also help them appear in organic-search results for your company's branded or key terms.
Set up your company's profiles on top social media sites (like Facebook, Twitter and Google+) and within important local listings (like those appearing on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yelp and CitySearch), populate them with optimized, accurate content and link them back to your business website.
Not only are these third-party sites a key destination for local searchers, but these sources can also signal to search engines that your business website is authoritative and relevant, helping boost its visibility in the search results.
Getting a return on the investment.
Here’s your final test for a truly modern approach to SEO: Once you’re getting site visitors, converting them into customers is the next step involved with gaining a return on the SEO investment. This first means responding to and following up with your site's visitors regularly (via phone and or email) so that they actually become customers.
But also track them back to the marketing source and figure out whether they came to the site from your SEO efforts so you can know if your marketing is working. This can be done through a manual or automated process, but it does require ongoing measurement and monitoring so you can see trends, view results and make adjustments to your program.
See an infographic created by my company, ReachLocal, below.