You've probably been asking yourself this question: what the heck is SEO? Well, it's a lot. Many things are involved with search engine optimization or SEO. But before we dive into all the things that SEO is, there are a few things you need to know first, like what a search engine is.
A search engine, by definition, is “a computer program that searches documents, especially on the World Wide Web, for a specified word or words and provides a list of documents in which they are found.” Basically, it's a website that collects and organizes content from all over the internet. And yes, you probably are saying, “Duh, everyone knows that,” but you would be surprised at what platforms are considered search engines, and which ones aren't. For example, we all know that Google is a search engine, but so are Bing and Yahoo.
What's not a search engine, you might ask—social media. While you can find things on Facebook or Instagram, they aren't considered search engines. This is because they don't crawl and pick up information from the internet—just on their platforms. So remember that when you want to find out information on something, look it up on Google, not Facebook.
Sure. SEO, or search engine optimization, is “the methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a website in results returned by a search engine, in an effort to maximize user traffic to the site.” It's a combination of strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase visibility and traffic for a website.
Without SEO, your customers can have a hard time finding you.
The main goal of SEO is to allow people to find your business online. It's a roadmap your customers can use to find your business. Without SEO, your customers can have a hard time finding you.
Not so fast. I hate to break it to you, but the industry as a whole is actually moving towards SEM.
Search engine marketing, SEM, is “a type of online marketing in which a company, organization, or website owner drives traffic to a website by optimizing its ranking or by paying for the website to appear in search engine results pages.” It combines everything in digital marketing to create a total online presence for your business. This can include SEO, social media, your website, and basically anything you can think of for a marketing strategy.
All of the components of SEM are interconnected and work together for your business.
Like I said above, SEM includes A LOT of things. It's tying in all the ways you market your business to create a total online presence. It starts with your brand story that you publish on your website with the content you wrote, which affects how you brand your business, and so on and so forth. All of the components of SEM are interconnected and work together for your business. You can't have one without the other.
Well, mainly because we're looking at the user experience more than ever, and the user wants to know who you are. SEM is all about telling your brand story in multiple places and allowing your audience to get to know your business.
Your brand story. It's the story of your business—who you are, what you stand for, what you do. It allows you to share your story with your audience. And that's important.
Well, let's put it into perspective. If you were looking for a business to provide a service to you, who would you choose? Would you choose the company that provided all of the information about their services on their website or the company that didn't even have a website?
You're more than likely going to go to the one you know more about because they explained what they do and who they are. They started a conversation with you and allowed you to trust that they know what they're doing—all without talking or seeing you in person.
A brand story offers credibility to your business and gives your consumers the ability to trust that you are experts at what you do.
That's why a brand story is essential. It offers credibility to your business and gives your consumers the ability to trust that you are experts at what you do. They can relate to you and your business, which is going to help you stand out from the competition and drive more potential sales.
That's a great question because, as we've discussed, telling your brand story is important, and there's a lot involved. Let's break down some of the things you need to do to tell your brand story the right way.
So the first thing you need to do is look at your N.A.P. This acronym stands for Name, Address, Website Address, and Phone. Make sure that it's correct and consistent across all platforms, including your social media channels, Google listing, and website. This ensures that your customers are getting the right contact information and can reach you regardless of the platform they find it on.
Next, you want to make sure your information is listed on relevant directories and listings, like Google. For example, if you're a tow company, you might list your information with the Better Business Bureau and join the local Chamber of Commerce. This puts your information in multiple places and allows customers to find you more easily.
To tell people your story, you need to write it, and while that might sound easy, there's a lot that goes into writing content. You need to write your story in a relatable way that your audience can understand who you are and what exactly you do. This can be difficult, especially since you're an expert at what you do, but remember that your audience won't understand industry-related jargon.
Quality and comprehensive content takes time.
Take your time and ask a friend outside of your industry to read over what you wrote. This will ensure that the average person can understand what you are attempting to convey.
Be sure your content is comprehensive. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer—what would you search for if you were looking for your business? This will help you direct your content and ensure that you are answering the questions your consumers have. Remember: quality and comprehensive content takes time.
As you saw in the graphic above, SEO is a big part of SEM, but how do you use it to tell your brand story? Well, in some ways, you'll be utilizing the same foundational tools used for SEO, like meta information, image information, and schema. This should be stuff that you're already doing. Think of it like breathing—it's not something we think of doing, it's just something we do, and meta should be the same.
The significant thing to remember with your brand story and SEO is that it revolves around the user-experience now. (Psst..you can learn more about user-experience here.) This mainly deals with the way your website is set up and organized. Here are a few things to ask yourself:
How is your navigation? Is it easy to use? Can people find things quickly? Do your links work? Are there calls-to-action on your pages? Do they go to the right places?
Ask yourself these things and try going through your website from the perspective of the user. This will help you see what improvements you might need to make to create a better user experience on your website.
Obviously, a marketing plan is critical when it comes to search engine marketing and ties together all of the components. It establishes a clear break down of your business and how you communicate with your audience. Here's what's involved:
As I said, it's a lot. While SEO is important, you need to be paying more attention to SEM and telling your brand story. Allow your audience to relate and understand who your business is. Look at what kind of user-experience your website has and see where you can improve. Start small, and take your time. Write a few bullet points that say who your business is and then go from there in telling your story.
Dani James is a Marketing Specialist and writer for Atwill Media. She has a bachelor's degree in Strategic Communications from Arkansas State University with focuses in Public Relations, Advertising, and Social Media Management.
When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading a good book, and watching The Office.