Acquiring organic search traffic is one of the hardest things to do in marketing today. Search engines are more complex than they were five years ago, and with the social web maturing, and Bing developing relationships with the big social websites, social signals are impacting organic search results. Gone are the days of buying links and engaging in low quality link acquisition. SEO now takes real skill, real testing, more time and quality work than it ever has before.
The constant movement in the industry can make developing a reliable strategy a real challenge. With the help of some industry experts, and rigorous testing day in and day out, it’s time to reveal a good, solid, and timeless SEO model.
If you’re looking for the silver bullet, though, you’re probably in the wrong place. Successful organic search campaigns are more like marathon running. The silver bullets are a thing of the past. Strategic thinking and hard work is the only model that works these days.
Understanding Search Engines
Search engines are two sided. You have the organic and the paid side, but the focus of this marketing model is designed for the organic side of Google.
Google’s results are based on an algorithm that has over 200 different ranking factors. These factors determine three things that Google believes will produce the best search results:
- Relevance – The search engine might determine this by the words on the web page (title, headline, description, body, etc.), the company’s location (local SEO), the anchor text in the links, or the words surrounding the anchor text. Relevance is also huge with long tail search queries as Google tries to match up the most relevant content with the searchers specific request.
Relevance can also change based on the current trends in the industry. You might write something that is only generally important to your readers. Then, when something changes, so can the relevance of your blog. When that happens, you need to be ready to push your content that is suddenly very useful to a lot more people.
- Credibility – Relevance plays a big role, but credibility can get you to the top of the search engines. Thousands of web pages on a thousand different websites can be relevant for the same query, but credibility is power, and it’s how websites distinguish themselves.
Credibility can be in the quality of the content, layout of the page, the vocabulary used, and the quality of the links pointing to the page or root domain. You might also be judged by the quality of the references you are linking out too.
Low-quality, spammy marketing tactics will kill credibility. Google wants to make the web a better place and this is how they’re going to do it.
- Popularity – Popularity can be just as powerful as credibility, and at the very least complements it very well. The amount of quality natural links and social signals going to a page will increase the viral love of the page and tell Google that people want to see this page more.
Google knows people want the most popular and relevant articles, which is why big brands usually win this contest. Small businesses need to really develop their brand among their target audience to compete. A brand’s social presence will dramatically help with popularity, but so can the amount of high quality links pointing to your page. Never stop digitally building your brand presence online. Ever. Make it pop.
These three main points will help you understand what search engines are optimizing and updating their algorithm around. Once you come to terms with these points, it will be much easier to build your strategy.
A Sustainable Marketing Model
Keeping up with the trends in the search engine marketing industry often feels like watching children play soccer. You have all these kids running around in packs, kicking each other and falling down just trying to kick the ball. No one plays their position and there’s little to no strategy. Google then throws the ball in a new direction and the kids, or in this case the marketers, run to the new area of the field. Everyone basically ends up running in circles.
Once you hear someone big in the industry yell “microdata,” all the SEO firms start consulting their clients on microdata, microdata, microdata. Then “guest blogging” gets turned into a spammy word because someone said a negative comment about it at Google’s headquarters. All the marketers turn and run away from guest blogging while quoting their source. This vicious cycle continues on and on until people just leave the industry and give up, which is quite common these days.
There is a better way than children’s soccer. Small businesses and marketers no longer have to run for the next best tactic. It’s now time marketers, businesses, webmasters, organizations, take on an aggressive strategy that consistently works. This way, what appeared to be a soccer game will become a marathon that produces results.
As marketers, I know we love those giant overnight bursts of traffic, but the slow and steady growth is beautiful music to the ears of a marathon marketer.
With this marathon mentality in mind, a mature marketer knows that cheating or cutting corners to get ahead will disqualify you from the race. Sadly, many marketers over the years believed they could cheat Google, and their websites have paid a price for it. It’s easy to get into cheating, so stay away from it.
The 4 Point Perfect Digital Marketing Model
I want to be personal now and share some strategic insights. Despite what you may have heard, investors don’t want to see a startup’s business plan, they want to see a business model. Models offer more flexibility and creativity, whereas a plan can paralyze it. Strategic models help establish patterns that lead to the desired goal. Patterns help develop consistency. Consistency leads to success. The perfect digital marketing strategy needs a consistent pattern mingled with creativity.
The digital marketing model for organic search should be built around four points of focus. Over time, each section of this model will build the brand name of the website or organization, which in turn will produce trust, popularity, and, ultimately, conversions.
Focal Point One
High Sustainable Link Building – “Link building” is a phrase some people hate and some people love. In truth, it should be considered more like ‘link earning’ these days. The old traditional way of gaining links was a manual process, accomplished by placing simple links that are not valued by Google anymore. Your link building efforts should be focused building content that people want to link to because of its value.
Promoting that valuable content is the next step to sustainable link building. One effective way to do so is to communicate with webmasters and show them why they should reference your content on their site. They should not be paid for it at all, and the link to your valuable resource should be relevant and not on a spammy website.
Link building is not dead. It just requires real promoting and marketing of content that represents your brand.
The focus should be on higher quality sites that don’t just give links to everyone. They link to the best resources, post new content frequently, and have a modern, clean design.
Great content promoted through the right channels will naturally build links and social shares to the website while you sleep. The best content on the web will have the best and most natural links pointing to it. Stay away from what you can manually create and focus on communicating with others that can create links for you.
Links should compliment your branding efforts. They should send high-quality referral visitors to your site with an understanding that over time it will complement your organic search marketing efforts along with your direct traffic.
Focal Point Two
On-Page Optimization – Every page on your website represents your brand. Your on-page optimization efforts shouldn’t just be focused on quality but on clarity as well. Images should have an impressive resolution and a description as an alt attribute. Text that is unclear should be linked to a page that can offer a better description (even if it’s not linking to your website). Meta descriptions, headers, titles and, yes, even micro data should be present on each page too.
The on-page efforts of a campaign should be the foundation of all your other marketing efforts. Meaning, you can get all the traffic coming to your site, but if your page doesn’t offer value or clarity in one way or the other, visitors will leave without converting.
There’s always something to do with on-page optimization, even if it’s just refreshing or lengthening content to build more value. Every page should offer some kind of value, and these efforts will help you communicate that value to the search engines and visitors.
Focal Point Three
Strategic Content Marketing – Content that’s not strategically placed will often never be seen. Every brand has a target audience, which may be as big as the entire population or just a small group of people. Strategic content marketing is all about getting your content in the right place at that right time. Your target are the ones who will be the most engaged with your content, so they will naturally share and promote it if they’re impressed.
The strategic side of marketing consists of promoting through the right channels. For larger brands the best channel may be their website and social networks. For smaller brands, pushing content out through emails, social media, and even paid advertising can help make a big splash.
Consider this 6-point model to help you in your content marketing efforts:
- Research – High-quality content should be researched thoroughly so you can offer a great resource to the world.
- Creation – Bring all of the thoughts, opinions, research, and conclusions together to make one great, valuable resource.
- Placement – Placing the content on the right marketing channel at the right time. It will most likely be your website or wherever you can easily communicate with your audience.
- Promotion – The best content should be promoted through social media marketing, email marketing, newsletter marketing, or any area you use to communicate with the public.
- Relationship Management – Content can create and develop relationships. When users comment on, or share, your content, it’s important to engage with them and establish a relationship and connection. The cycle doesn’t stop after you promote the content. Engagement is where brand loyalty starts to happen, which leads to lifetime conversions.
- Repurposing – This complements placement and promotion, and gets your content seen on sites like PowerPoint, SlideShare, YouTube or any other outlet. Creating new content based on your old stuff makes it easier to keep generating fresh opportunities to interact with your audience.
Focal Point Four – Social Media Development
People are so hooked into social media that a majority of their time is often spent browsing their friends instead of browsing websites. Google + and YouTube are the main social platforms that can really influence search engine rankings on Google, while Facebook and Twitter will impact rankings on Bing. YouTube is right behind Google for search queries, and since Google delivers video results with the searches, this is an important platform to be on.
Social media development should mainly be used to launch content and the brand. Brands that have larger audiences following them on social channels have the SEO advantage because they have better odds for making content go viral. For this reason alone, it’s worth spending time and money on building out and developing the social profiles for a brand.
You can look at social media sites like internets within the internet. The big social websites all have search bars and people are searching on them millions of times a day.
Developing a marketing strategy in an industry that’s constantly changing can be difficult, but if you follow certain brand marketing principles your campaign will be successful. Marketing online to gain search traffic really is running a marathon. Be patient, work hard, think even harder, and it will be a successful campaign.