We don’t have to tell you – having a first page search result is a powerful asset for any business. And that’s no surprise. According to a study by New Media Campaigns, a top organic search ranking is so trusted by users, it results in almost 6 times as many clicks as a paid ad.
But what you probably don’t know is that Google’s underlying algorithm incentivizes marketing behaviors that will benefit your entire business. While you might start an organic SEO strategy for the clicks, these new habits will have ripple effects across your entire business. The 5 pillars that boost your organic search results will also strengthen your overall marketing strategy and implementation.
The Five Organic Search Pillars, and Their Parallel Best Practices
1. A Focus on Keywords = Customer Alignment
To attract users to your website, you need to know what they are searching for. While many people will use their intuition to guess what terms are entered into the search engines, it’s much better to use a keyword planning tool. With a keyword planner, you can find out precisely what users are typing in, and how that compares to your competition.
To boost your organic search rankings, you need to have a regularly scheduled keyword research program. With that regular program, you will also be tapping into what your customers are most interested in. 50% of searches are 4 works or longer – what better way to become aligned with what you customers want than to understand exact what they are searching for? It’s a powerful – and free! – marketing research tool. (We get into this in detail in a past blog post).
2. Improving Web Page Load Times = Web Hosting Audits
An important part of how Google ranks websites is how quickly they load for a user. Google added this requirement as mobile phones became more and more prevalent, and bloated pages made it difficult for users to find the information they were looking for.
There are several resources online to test page load times (GTMetrix is our favorite). Keeping an eye on how your website loads is a great way to keep an eye on how your web hosting company is performing. If you have been with the same web host company for several years, you can’t be sure that they are maintaining your website files on updated servers. We recently moved a customer onto a new web hosting platform in order to improve page load speeds. Low and behold, sales went up as soon as we moved them.
3. Developing Rich Content = Thinking Outside Your Bubble
Search engines know that their job is to answer a question for a user. What restaurants are open near me? Which doctors accept my insurance? What’s the best way to file my taxes? In order to help the user, a search engine needs to know where to find the answers. That’s where rich content comes in. By adding lots and lots of information to your website, you are providing the resources the search engines need and boosting your SEO results.
Developing content means thinking about what might be interesting to a reader. By taking another perspective and employing divergent thinking (we have a blog post for that!), you start to think more like your target customer. And it means you provide the information in a variety of formats. Including your content in blog posts, case studies, graphics, videos, and podcasts will reach a broader audience.
4. Link Building = Community Building
Very early on, Google, Bing and Yahoo decided that websites with many inbound links had a little something special. While it can be simple to put up a website, not everyone can build a website with information that is valuable. Having other websites link to your own is a way to show your expertise and authority to the search engines. The search engines quickly began to boost the results of websites with many inbound links.
However, as is often the case throughout the history of the internet, some web developers and agencies started gaming the system. They created misleading websites that could create links for a fee, or would create spambots that would post links in the comment sections of blogs. These “black hat” strategies often catch Google’s ire, and result in penalties. We’ve had clients sign up for what they thought was a legitimate online directory, without researching the website ahead of time. They ended up getting blacklisted from Google for unsanctioned link building.
Today, link building remains important, but it needs to be implemented with care. The result: the best web designers and business owners take the time to link with legitimate sources. As a result, it’s now best practice to build links through building relationships. By participating in industry groups, chambers of commerce, and regional directories, companies are creating inbound links by finding organizations that have a similar mission and region. This means the inbound link is just the start: the relationship can foster collaboration, connection and other business opportunities.
5. Competitive Bench-marking = Regular Competitive Analysis
As in most of life, search engine rankings are all relative. You want to be at the top of the list, so you need to know where you stand in comparison to others. There are industries which have become very savvy with SEO, and this can take our clients by surprise. The simple SEO strategy they implemented when they launched their business doesn’t get them the same page ranking it used to.
But what we’ve seen is that by bench-marking themselves against their competition’s search engine rankings, they get to know their competitors better. With online tools like SEMRush, they can see which competitors are targeting customer segments or new markets. They can see who is investing in SEO, and therefore who is investing in marketing overall. It’s made them a savvier player in their industry.
Sharpening your SEO strategy will not only improve your website traffic, it will sharpen your entire marketing strategy. Being that 90% of searchers haven’t made up their mind before they start clicking away, it’s important to leverage the 5 Organic SEO pillars as soon as possible. You’ll be amazed by the results.