How Can SEO Increase Web Traffic?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is among the most important tools for any digital marketing campaign. It’s one of the essential techniques to achieve a better Google search ranking, which results in improved traffic to your website, and increased sales and conversions.
There are many elements to SEO, including keyword ranking and website optimisation, so you may need the help of an SEO marketing company to keep up with the latest trends and techniques.
For instance, in the early days of SEO digital marketing, a site owner could rank high in search engines simply by adding lots of search terms to their web page. Sometimes even irrelevant terms would be included, just to improve the Google search ranking.
This is no longer best practice. The search engines are now trained to favour high-quality sites and content, so there’s now a lot more to SEO than simply scattering your site with particular key words or phrases.
Certainly the basic strategy of SEO marketing is to make sure that relevant keywords are included in your page titles, header tags, meta descriptions and body copy. This is how the search engines know what your website is about, and shows that your page is relevant to searches for these keywords. But an SEO marketing company will tell you that there’s more to improving keyword ranking than these simple techniques.
SEO can increase your web traffic by making sure that your website features in relevant searches, and so draws in visitors.
So-called Organic SEO is the process of obtaining a natural placement on search engine results pages (SERPs). Techniques used for organic SEO include using keywords analysis, backlinking (featuring links to other websites), link building (adding links to sites with similar content, or reaching out to bloggers or list sites to link back to you), and finally, writing quality content relevant to human readers.
One of the main ways in which SEO digital marketing can be used to build your web traffic is by using keyword research and long-tail keywords.
The keyword planner tool on Google AdWords (now Google Ads) is the place to find the frequency of searches for words and phrases related to your products, services, and industry. Using these results you can update your site to match the most popular search terms.
A long tail keyword is a phrase rather than a single word, which provides a better description of a site’s contents. For instance, if you are a used car dealer, you might think it’s worth trying to rank for the keyword ‘car’ – but of course, there will be competition from thousands of other sites using the same keyword, many of them not even in your market – for instance they may offer car hire, or sell toy cars.
A long-tail keyword such as “used car dealer” is a much more exact description of your business, so it improves your chance of ranking well and is more likely to attract qualifying traffic. Hubspot says that half of all searches use four words or more and that they lead to more conversions.
SEO marketing can also improve search rankings by using location-based keywords. If you run a business that is likely to attract only local customers – such as a restaurant – why attract searches from outside your geographical area? So a long tail keyword with a location, such as ‘pizza restaurant Birmingham’ would attract more potential customers than just ‘pizza’.
An SEO services agency will advise you on this and many other techniques, but your first step into SEO should be to audit your website.
How SEO Works
SEO marketing is often said to be a balance of technical and human techniques. Certainly, search engines look both for basics such as keywords, and for indicators that the site is being maintained and updated regularly.
Because Google and other search engines look for more than just keywords on your website, the first essential part of your SEO process is to optimise your pages. Auditing tools such as Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are valuable aids to this process.
Your first step to improve your Google search ranking is website optimisation. Check your web pages for obvious errors such as broken pages or images, broken links, and instances of poor grammar or out-of-date information.
Google Analytics will help you to identify your most popular pages, which have high organic traffic, low bounce rates, and longer average dwell time. Try to establish what visitors like about those pages – better images, more information, clearer calls to action, or whatever – and replicate those aspects on your other pages.
This basic organic SEO technique should give some immediate results, but the next step is to use Google Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console), which will tell you what search queries are bringing people to your site. This can be very revealing – perhaps people are searching for a product or service you no longer offer or might consider offering in the future. In conjunction with Google Analytics, this should help you to optimise your content strategy.
You could then create individual pages dedicated to specific products or services, featuring strong calls-to-action, opportunities to buy online, e-mail, telephone contact details, and information on your stores.
Ask an SEO marketing company about other strategies you could use to enhance your organic SEO; for instance a presence on social media and in online local business directories will bring in visiting customers as well as locals.
Because search engines look for links on web pages, it’s essential that you have a linking strategy, both for internal links to other relevant pages on your site and to external sites. Make sure your links are maintained, but don’t overuse them – search engines will be aware of excessive linking.
Building links to and from other web sites is valuable; look for related websites willing to swap links, offer to contribute to other sites if they carry a link to yours, or seek out opportunities to build relationships which could lead to links. All this adds to the reputation and improves the Google search ranking of your website.
A final essential for SEO digital marketing is content quality. It’s not enough to offer a subject line and some short paragraphs; search engines look for substantial, comprehensive content. At the same time, you don’t need to supply epics. A good average read should take 4-5 minutes.
Once you are happy with your content, don’t make the mistake of leaving it unchanged for months on end. Search engines look for ‘fresh’ or regularly updated sites. Rather than change content you are happy with, try adding a weekly blog post to your site – that way the search engines see that your pages are being maintained and updated regularly.
How Can SEO Improve Sales?
Big brands may spend thousands or millions of pounds on SEO, and will naturally dominate search engine results pages (SERPs). But this doesn’t mean that a smaller business can’t compete, particularly with the help of an SEO services agency.
The most vital thing to remember is that you can’t create a demand where there isn’t one. It’s up to you to come up with a product or service people want to buy. All SEO marketing can do is to bring new visitors to your business. But because it can do this at reasonable cost and around the clock, SEO digital marketing is one of the most effective sales tools of the smaller business.
With over five billion searches a day conducted using Google alone, clearly your potential customers are looking for the products and services you sell – but when they search for them, will they find your company at the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), or will they find your competitors?
High SEO rankings put you at the top wherever your product or service appears, and 60 percent of all organic clicks go to the top three search engine results. A top listing leads to more traffic to your website, more leads, and more sales.
A study by Search Engine Watch found that mobile searches for local products and services resulted in purchases 61 percent of the time, and another study compared the “close” rates of leads from search engines to direct mail and print advertising, showing that SEO leads were closed at a rate nine times higher than print.
SEO services, though they are a long-term investment, aren’t an expensive way to market your company’s products and services compared to traditional methods, and an SEO marketing agency can give you advice on essential elements such as keyword ranking. In fact effective SEO digital marketing is what enables smaller companies to compete against larger competitors, so it has become essential in any effort to improve sales.
Why SEO Is So Important For Your Business
The main reason why SEO is so important for your business is that if you aren’t using it, you can be sure your competitors are.
Gabe Arnold of entrepreneur services website Business Marketing Engine gives the following five reasons why SEO is so important, particularly for SMEs:
- SEO services give the user the friendliest, fastest, best experience possible. Search engines want to direct the user to the results they are looking for, and when they find the right site, they will return to it again and again.
- People trust search engine results. SEO marketing can put your business at the top of search rankings, and that implies to customers that the position has been earned by your company’s reputation. If that recommendation is shared via social media, you get the resulting customers, and your SEO digital marketing has done its job.
- Using SEO services such as keyword ranking brings customers who are already looking for your product or service – you don’t have to do anything else to attract them, and you have the optimal potential for converting their visit into a sale. Yes, you still have to close the sale, but half the battle is won.
- Even if you don’t get a sales conversion from a first visit, an SEO services agency can show you how website optimisation will help you to show up again and again in online searches. If you appear in the top ranking in several searches, you are almost certain to gain a customer.
- Marketing SEO services can increase your visibility, usability, and credibility, all resulting in increased traffic to your site. An SEO marketing agency can help you gain customer insight using tools such as Google Analytics, and help you to develop a knowledge of your target market, refine your strategies and develop products and services they want.
Can SEO Be Guaranteed?
Nothing in life is guaranteed, not even SEO. Certainly improving your Google search ranking using SEO can drive visits to your website, but it’s up to you to clinch the sale using other techniques.
One reason why SEO will not guarantee an instant increase in sales is that it can take weeks or months for search engines to scour the Web, assessing the content of websites, checking their relevance and ranking them. But if you give up your SEO campaign after a short time with no evident results, your effort will have been wasted. An SEO marketing agency will be able to give you a better idea of how long it might take to see some return from your SEO campaign.
In fact, SEO is a long-term investment, not a magic wand promising instant results. Lisa Handson of SEO services agency Notion Technologies suggests that four to 12 months is a sensible timescale to expect to see results, “depending upon a host of other factors that come into play while experimenting with SEO.”
Handson suggests that factors driving faster outcomes after initiation of an SEO strategy include:
- Keyword stuffing – which can actually lower your website’s ranking, if it leads to search engines identifying it as a spam site.
- Voice search phrases – as voice search becomes more popular, expressive natural language search phrases become more relevant than traditional generic keywords.
- Maturity – a relatively new website full of fresh content may take six to nine months before search engines trust it. Purchasing an established domain name may help, but has its own risks.
- Content quality – probably the most important aspect of SEO marketing, as your website stands little chance of making it to the top of search pages without quality content.
- Content marketing – promoting your content, and leveraging action-oriented call-outs to convert casual interest into serious business, is the key to making your SEO strategy turn into sales conversions.
Are SEO Services Worth It?
SEO is no longer optional for businesses that want to be competitive, grow, and see returns on investment, but any SEO marketing company will tell you that it is only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to what you spend on SEO services, you also need quality content for your website, and a mastery of other marketing tools. Again, an SEO services specialist will be able to help you with other ways you can use SEO to provide visibility, traffic, credibility, brand value, and valuable insight into customer behaviour.
The likely cost of an SEO campaign has to be measured against the likely returns. There are different ways to pay for marketing SEO services; you can hire someone to do it in-house and pay by the hour, pay for SEO services per project, or pay an SEO marketing company on a contract basis.
The cost can depend on factors such as how quickly you want to improve rankings, how much territory you want to cover, how much you need to spend to keep up with your competitors, and whether your contract specifies that you pay by results.
It can be a mistake to go for cheap, ‘quick-fix’ offers, where ‘black hat’ methods might be used to improve your search ranking, to the eventual detriment of your reputation.
A good SEO marketing company will understand the market they are promoting, explain exactly what work and costs are involved in a project, and will have a reputation and experience good enough that you can trust their methods. Then you can be confident that your investment in SEO will pay off, and in transparent and measurable ways.
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