We often hear our clients tell us that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are the most puzzling aspects of digital marketing.
It’s not that difficult to launch a website but making it hum is challenging. That’s where SEO and SEM come in. At Koeppel Direct we take SEO and SEM seriously, because it’s the foundation of your owned-property marketing online. That’s why we’ve developed this guide for SEO and SEM.
10 best SEO marketing strategies
- SEO-Friendly Website
Does your website load quickly? Are your images optimized so they are available in thumbnail images and smaller file sizes? Does your site navigation make sense? Do you have a mobile version of your website?
- On-Page SEO
Do your page titles use H1 tags and sub tags for section headers? Does the content on your web pages match the title of the page? Are you sharing your name, address, and phone number so people can easily find you? Does your website adhere to Google’s SEO guidelines?
- Judicious Use of Keywords
Keywords are important so search engine’s can tell what your page is about. Are your keywords focused? Do you try to put too many keywords on one page? Are you building pages to hone in on the correct keywords? Does your copy make sense or are you just spitting out web pages and articles to satisfy a keyword?
- Content for People
A search engine is a robot using artificial intelligence to glean what your website and web pages are about. But don’t write content for robots. Google and the other search engines want content that helps people. Make sure your pages appeal to fletch-and-blood humans.
- Link Baking
You hear a lot about link building. But for years now, Google has demanded that webmasters not overtly build links. It’s better to earn links naturally than to actively ask for links. In fact, asking for links is a violation of Google policies.
What is link baking? It’s the art of creating content with partners who collaborate in that content. For example, if you’re designing a guide about autonomous cars, you can include an interview with an engineer from an automobile manufacturer, as well as a safety expert. Both of those entities will have websites and other properties (such as social media) where they will want to share the content they helped create. Why build when you can bake? It smells a lot better.
- Inbound Links
Links to your article are a good thing. In addition to the links you’ll earn by “baking them in” at the point of inception and creation, you can also get links via third parties that find your content useful. How do you do that without coming across as spammy or violating Google guidelines? Share your content with people who have a history of linking to content like yours.
- Webmaster Guidelines
Search Engine Optimization doesn’t have to be a mystery. Google is very open about how they want webmasters to perform SEO, and they outline it in their Google Webmaster Guidelines.
- Off-Page SEO
You want to improve your search engine positioning, don’t you? Everyone would like to be at the top of page one for their search phrase of choice. But it takes a mindful approach both on your website and when analyzing the factors of your site. Off-Page SEO is often referred to as Link Building. Nope, not true. As we’ve outlined above, overt link building is a poor use of your time, and it jeopardizes your standing on search engines because it rests on the margins of their guidelines. Instead of asking
- Social Media Presence
Are your social media accounts active? Do they attract an audience that engages with your brand and/or content? Do you use your social media accounts to help people and do your accounts enjoy a good reputation?
- Good Online Reputation
Speaking of reputation, how are your online reviews? Do you keep tabs on them? Do you quickly respond to poor reviews? Do you strive for excellent customer service? It only takes one terrible online common or review to damage a brand, so you must monitor your mentions and customer service channels.
SEO tactics to avoid
You don’t want to irritate the search engines, because they have one purpose: to serve the best content quickly and easily to end users. If you use tactics that are not recommended, you may disappear in search results. Ouch.
According to Google, here are some of the bad SEO tactics to avoid:
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware
- Abusing structured data markup
- Sending automated queries to Google
If you’re an enterprise that needs an SEO or SEM overhaul, or you desire a marketing agency to manage those tasks monthly, contact Koeppel Direct for a free consultation. We work with large companies that need a comprehensive, data-driven approach to digital marketing.
Frequently asked questions about SEO strategies
Should I Ask for Links to My Content?
The short answer is no. Google advises that asking for links is a violation of their terms of service. The more complicated answer is that you want to avoid the tactic of sending emails to other websites asking them to link to your content. This is spammy, it’s unprofessional, and it’s unwanted.
However, you should fold links into your content by including others in the creation of your content. This way, you’ve baked links into your content, and you have also strengthened a relationship with other people and organizations.
What is the Difference Between SEO and SEM?
Search Engine Optimization is using accepted methods to make your website more friendly to people, and thus to search engines, so it can be found in search. Typically, it’s designed to improve “organic” search ranking (that is search engine ranking that doesn’t cost anything, but comes abou organically).
In contrast, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the practice of marketing your brand or product via paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (or SERPs). Usually SEM campaigns are driven by a bid-based auction style platform, such as Google Ads (formerly known as Google Adwords).
What is Off-Page SEO?
According to Moz, Off-Page SEO “refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages….” OffPage SEO is any action taken away from your website to improve your ranking. Other factors involved in Off-Page SEO include:
- Social media marketing
- Guest blogging
- Linked and unlinked brand mentions
- Influencer marketing
The best way to approach Off-Page SEO is to think of it as earning a “vote of confidence” from others about your content and website.
Top SEO and SEM marketing strategies for your business
What is SEM? It’s Search Engine Marketing, and it’s a highly effective method for getting traffic to your website. Suppose you’re selling enterprise software for an accounting firm. You have a web page titled “Accounting Enterprise Software Solutions.” Can people find it? The correct people? The people who will make a purchase decision for their organization? What phrases or keywords may those people use in a search engine to find their next accounting software? If they type that phrase into Google, does your page show up on the first page? The answer to that question is why you need Search Engine Marketing.
SEM can place your content or your web page at the top of the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) for your targeted keywords and phrases. When you combine an effective SEM strategy with great SEO, your digital marketing will churn and deliver qualified leads to your products and services.
You want new customers, don’t you?
8 best SEM marketing strategies
What is your end goal? Who is your ideal customer? Which products and services (or content) do you want to feature and why? What is your advertising budget? What type of return on investment are you seeking? How long will you run your SEM campaign? Where will your campaign run?
- Keyword Research
What keywords and search phrases are you targeting? What type of customers do you want? Do you have effective content on your website to support these keywords?
- Ad Copy and Design
Who is writing your search engine ads? Who is designing your banner ads? Do the ads support your other marketing efforts? Do they adhere to your brand style guide, and do they satisfy Google and Bing requirements?
- Google’s Quality Score
Quality Score is a Google metric that measures the quality of a website in conjunction with an SEM ad. A search engine will determine the placement of your ad based on how well your website matches the intent of the user who clicked on the advertisement. Clicks are not enough: you must make people happy after they click through to your landing page.
- Focused Landing Pages
The landing page is the page of your website a user lands on when they click on your advertisement. Your landing page needs to match the intent of the key phrase, which is why you should create at least one unique landing page for each keyword and/or SEM campaign. A good landing page is focused. It aims to explain one product or service and it’s never misleading. An effective landing page supplies a clear call-to-action to the user.
- Integrate your SEM campaign for Retargeting
After a user visits your website, can you reach them again? Through retargeting you can deliver ads to only those people who already visited your website, social media accounts, or placed an item in a shopping cart. You can even target people in an email list with a specific ad. Remember to build a special landing page for these folks.
- Coordination Across Multiple Channels
We’ve written elsewhere about omnichannel marketing [link to article from July], which calls for a cohesive approach to your online and offline marketing. It’s not enough to have a marketing strategy for every channel, you need to devise a strategy that puts the customer first and creates a shopping experience that is the same on social, mobile, website, in-person, and so on. At Koeppel Direct we specialize in developing omnichannel marketing that relies on real-time data analysis.
- Monitor, measure, modify
The great (and fun) thing about SEM is that you can get real-time data that shows how each prospective customer is interacting with your ads and landing pages. As a result, you can quickly pivot when an ad is working or not working, to maximize your return.
Frequently asked questions about SEM strategies
How do I structure an SEM campaign?
Think of your SEM campaign in a nested structure, as such:
- Ad campaigns
- Ad groups
- Ad text
- Landing pages
The ad campaign is broken into groups with a specific purpose, such as “Cyber Monday” or “Grand Opening.” These groups are segmented by keywords, and further by the ac copy and lastly through the specific landing pages. You may have multiple landing pages that serve one ad group, for example.
How Does Google Determine Where to Show an Advertisement?
Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) uses a metric called Ad Rank (clever, huh?). Ad Rank is simply the relationship between your CPC and your Quality Score (see above for an explanation). Your CPC is what you’ve pledged to spend for a click on your ad.
It’s important to create a good ad, support it with great content on your website, and also use the best bid strategy to acquire clicks. Otherwise, your competitors will get the clicks (and customers) you should be getting.