What's the Point of Search Engine Optimization?
You’ve probably been told that you need to get your SEO in order. There’s an equally likely chance that when you were first told this you were not sure what SEO even was.
Perhaps you did some research and figured out that, at its core, search engine optimization has to do with how you’re indexed and ranked in places like Google and Bing. Great! To most people what translates “successful” SEO means “you’re ranking first in Google” for the specific terms that you choose.
Well, that’s only partially correct and here’s why:
Ranking first in SEO for key terms that you’ve selected is fine, but it Is a narrow view of the power of organic search and how it can help your business. And it should not be all that you are paying for, trying to do yourself, or a solitary goal unto itself.
Okay then, what is the true purpose of good SEO?
It’s the same as any other marketing initiatives you take; get qualified eyeballs and potential customers to your website.
Sure, and won’t ranking first in the terms I use to describe my business do that?
The answer is… maybe.
Here’s the thing, most small businesses have a sense of how they like to talk about their product. For example, perhaps you call a class that you teach the Underwater Picnic Container Construction Seminar. And you’ve hired an SEO firm to ensure that you rank first for that term in your locality.
But what if nobody is searching for that term? What if your customers are typing “Underwater Basket Weaving” into Google? If that’s the case, then you’re essentially paying for a vanity project.
This doesn’t mean you should necessarily change your branding or how you like to talk about your product; it’s your product after all and you almost certainly have good reasons you talk about it that way. What it does mean is that you should be supplementing the way you talk about your product with content that reflects how people search for your product.
The real goal of good SEO is to raise organic search traffic to your site that converts into sales. That means that when you reach out to an SEO firm, you should be asking for reporting that shows upticks not just in position across keywords but in organic search traffic.
Fine, but how do I figure out what people are searching for?
Usually, when we start working with a client one of the first things we do (and this is true for paid search too) is build a keyword universe list. There are a number of good tools to do this with, but one of our favorites is SpyFu.
A great starting point is to figure out what keywords your competitors are concentrating on, and a tool like SpyFu or similar will allow you to plug their sites in and spit back their keyword universe as well as estimates of how popular those terms are in search.
Another good approach is to use Google Trends, type in keywords you’d like to use and see how many people are searching for those terms over time on Google. You can even filter down by locality.
If you’re trying to brainstorm keywords to plug into tools like the above, keyword.io is a good resource as well.
Once you’ve got a really great set of keywords together it’s time to work with your SEO folks on building out a strong content and meta data strategy.
What’s the best way to measure SEO success?
Beyond average rankings, you should measure SEO success the way you would any other marketing channel:
· Estimated Impressions