When people talk about “Search Engine Optimization” or “SEO”, what, exactly, they mean can be a little ambiguous. And especially if you haven’t been keeping up with what’s considered to be search engine algorithm updates (such as Google’s recent ‘Hummingbird’ update), the understanding of what actually is best practice can vary.
SEO efforts can be broken up into two major categories – your on-page and off-page efforts. On-page elements tend to be more technical, are usually set up at the time of your site build (assuming you’re using a digital partner that knows what they’re doing), and can generally be left alone for any content that was included at the time of site launch, unless a major change to the algorithm is released. Any new site content or images that are added after launch will need pieces like the meta description or alt tag added when the new asset is published.
Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is really more like your digital strategy efforts.
It’s important to understand that anything you do from an SEO perspective needs to directly relate to your business. The goal of a search engine is to give the searcher the content that is most applicable and appropriate for their query – NOT to show the results that companies have gamed the system the most to display. In that respect, search engines and SEO efforts will always be in conflict with one another, as search engines put more and more effort into rewarding legitimate content, even if it doesn’t use the exact same keywords as the original searcher (as an aside, the way that Google understands intent is truly terrifying).
To achieve that, one of the easiest ways to gain traction for your SERP’s (search engine results pages) is to blog about what your company does. For us, that’s designing and developing ecommerce platforms and complex websites, as well as executing digital strategy on behalf of our clients. For you, that might be estate planning, acting as a recruiter, or even selling trampolines (we know that is A Thing because that’s exactly what one of our clients does).
If blogging isn’t your jam, investing in activities like paid search, paid media management and video are areas that may also help your results.
With that being said, it’s important to remember that EVERYONE wants to be the first result for their products and service offerings. And since the digital space is more crowded than ever (since it has finally been universally acknowledged that to not have a website is business suicide), search terms have gotten really competitive. As such, to be effective, you need to have taken the time to identify exactly what your niche market is and whom that appeals to. Knowing and understanding your buyer personas intimately is essential for SERP success.