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SEO Tips: Where To Start With Paid and Social Ads

Search.

The golden process in which customers magically arrive to your business after making a wonderful discovery of your website in Bing, Google , and Yahoo!

Yeah, right.

Many businesses rightly invest in their search optimization. Search traffic is a very cost effective way of gaining traffic.  But the optimization is approached with a narrow scope on top SERP as the only measure of success.  In the last two years, the inclusion of social media in search results, combined with search engine refinements means that customer can discover your business in more than one way.  In fact the latest studies reveal nuanced search results that yield more conversions in a number of instances. Overlooking these researched efforts results in an overlook of more effective marketing.

Here’s how you can take advantage of these changes to better plan SEO and paid search.

Don’t fret excessively about the #1 spot in search – it’s important to improve exposure online to a search engine, but other avenues for awareness exist online.

Not being at the top of a search result is not the death of your search exposure, let alone digital exposure, to customers. The push to be #1 or #2 is valuable, but that message has been lost in context to the search query. In the 2000s keyword was paramount, and it is to degree now.  If you were a shoe maker you would like to be on top for “shoe repair” as much as you would for your store name.

But other networked devices and platforms have sprung up, to allow your business a new way to be exposed.  Some demographics rely on search more heavily than others – B2B is good example.  But many people discover new ways to engage your site and thus, your business.

Be leery of being ranked for your brand name as an end-all for search strategy

Keep in mind – being first in SERP for your personal name or business name is sometimes not a meaningful optimization. Many black hat consultants present being number one for a store name as a value, when that rank really should come natural based on page title, URL, and page description in the HTML.

Today search that brings visits is taking the form of a question happening as frequently in an Amazon Alexa as it can on a laptop.  Google noted that smartphones are the lead in a multidevice usage. And mobile users are more than likely to take action on a query – meaning call a store or make a purchase.

Review search visits and time on site improvements   

If you have launched a site, you should review search visits and time-on-site data of your web analytics solution to gain a sense for what keywords have worked. Make a list based on the trends you find.

Compare your observations against results from a site scan in Google Adwords Manager or Microsoft Adcenter Manager.  Both can scan a site your site and return a query list of words based on the site content.

Next compare this PPC-generated list to the keyword report you have examined – you are now looking for words that are on the site but really did not generate search traffic.  These identified words are now the keywords you can focus on for paid search to bolster traffic and interest. You can also:

  • Create a paid search campaign (or PPC: Pay Per Click) that includes your target words.  You can review competitiveness and plan a trial budget in your ad manager.   Using paid campaigns can increase click through in many cases when a word appears on a search result in the organic and paid search results.
  • For words beyond your paid search budget, investigate words that are used  as a Twitter hashtag for a target audience. You can then use these words in a Twitter strategy.  You can try a specialty search engine such as 48ers to see Twitter-related query results.  Set up a column in Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or another application that monitors word usage.  Monitoring helps you understand how it is used, and make adjustments for your strategy.
  • Make sure your blog is hosted at the same service as your website.  Doing so ensures that frequent posting signals to search engines that content is being updated, strengthening how a site appears against a query. Hosting a blog elsewhere is not necessarily an SEO killer, but it does create two separate mediums that must be optimize (and can be more work for some businesses to keep up).
  • Ensure the title, meta description, H1 tags, and anchor text in your webpage code contains the selected keywords.  Moreover titles and descriptions appear in Facebook postings, so make sure these descriptions make sense and are not just a series of “keyword stuffing” lines.
  • Make sure keywords appear in the image descriptions in your website code.  Make sure the file names include those words as well.
  • Link building is valuable, but you want to focus on sites that are actively maintained and relevant to your site content. instead of requesting links, develop a contribution plan – find sites to contribute posts or to maintain profiles in which your site URL can be included.
  • Insert keywords into video titles and submit to YouTube.  Many people forget that Youtube in its self is the second largest search engine.

Discipline in implementing SEO is key to making Do-It-Yourself efforts effective.  Doing so also makes you smarter as a business owner. SEO requires an appreciation of website code and structure, but not so much as to turn you into a full-fledged developer. This knowledge can help you frame the questions you have when you later need to ask for digital marketing help.

Social ads raise awareness of posts

Social ads are important, because they allow a targeted message for people who spend a lot of time on social media.  They can be set for specific interests rather than keywords.  So a Facebook ad campaign for a ski trip would be aimed at profiles which indicate skiing as an interest.

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter all have social ads.  Other variations  are being developed – Facebook just announced ads for Facebook Messenger, while Amazon has been quietly introducing ads as part of its platform.   Marketers are discovering that consumers are actually starting their product searches at Amazon, with many being done via Amazon Echo.

This means to plan a solid social ad strategy, you must think of interest that your followers are generally interest in.

SEO Tips: Beware of SEO Firm Cold-Calls

Let me set the scene for when you receive pitches for SEO.

It’s late at your office or maybe an early morning quick check of things to do.  You fire up the tableland take a last minute review of email.  An unsolicited note catches your eye, with a message like this:

Hi, my name is Terrance and I am the sales manager at Such-n-such SEO and Extraordinary Marketing services. I was just looking at your site and see that your site has the potential to get even more visitors. I just want to take the time to tell you how.  Now, let me ask you…

Ok, stop.  It is at this point you should put the note aside, and start onto other pressing business.

Because accepting to do business from a SEO firm that starts with one blind suggestion is a waste of time. Here’s why….

Results from one specific SEO suggestion cannot guarantee traffic or a significant improvement in performance.  The most complete SEO involves a combination of steps addressing page text, links, social sharing, and supporting code in a site layout will ultimately attract the right search engine queries  from the right customers.  To make such a combination valuable to the client, a SEO firm needs to review objectives with the website owner.  That means understanding the business as much as understanding the website.

Thus when approached with a cold call about SEO, you may be receiving word on a needed task such as revising metadata or updating links. But most times cold calling SEO firms approach potential customers with an obvious site tasks so that the salesperson can just get a foot in the door.  And many times, that foot is an unwelcomed one, selling unnecessary services or consuming precious time with poor follow up.

Most sites require an update over time. To ensure that the  it’s up to YOU, THE CUSTOMER to determine what and when that update is put into place.

Now, here’s what your business can do to manage cold calls.

  • Investigate the firm online before speaking with anyone. Are there customer reviews from legitimate sources.  Who is affiliated with the firm?  Gaining a sense of what they have done for past firms or customers is a big help, as well as giving your team a feel for how the SEO firm will operate.  A member of your business can then speak with the firm about capabilities, and then decide if doing business makes sense.
  • Speaking of capabilities, having ideas on what to expect from an SEO audit can help frame the questions to be asked. Learn what typically goes into an SEO audit here in this Zimana post.
  • Moreover, maintenance of a SEO strategy needs to be conducted periodically – check out this Zimana post about why SEO maintenance is essential.

Overall, remember that a SEO firm can gain some information from your site code to ask a seemingly relevant question, but don’t work with firms that have not proven their value to other businesses and people.