You’ve Optimized Your Website for SEO. What’s Next?
Added on: 09.10.13, by Jeremy Girard
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a topic that we are asked about quite frequently. The best website in the world is useless if your customers cannot find it, so it makes sense that businesses want to optimize their sites for search engine findability. The problem is that many business owners mistakenly believe that SEO is a magic cure to all of their website marketing needs, when, in fact, it is just one of the pieces that goes into driving qualified traffic to your website.
So what is SEO really and what will it do for your website? What about what comes after your site has been optimized for search engines? In the end, what your site may really need is not SEO, but overall content strategy.
The Job of a Search Engine
Think about the purpose of a search engine for a moment. Google’s primary job is not to accommodate you as a website owner or me as a website designer/developer. Their audience is searchers and their mission is to ensure that the best results are returned for any given search query performed on their site. They want the best results – aka, the best content, to rise to the top when an individual does a search.
So how does a search engine rank your website? A number of factors go into search engine rankings – some of which you have little to no control over and others which you can control, such as the way the website is built, file sizes to ensure quick downloads, the frequency with which the website is updated, the content contained on the website, etc. It is these controllable factors that are often addressed when someone says they are “optimizing your site for SEO”, but if you work with a knowledgeable company to design and develop your site from the get-go, much, if not all, of that SEO work should be done as part of a redesign process anyway. Envision ensures that all new sites we launch have search engine best practices as a core aspect of their development from the very start.
Whether you launch a new site that is optimized from the get-go or are adjusting an existing site to ensure search engine best practices are followed, once your site is optimized for SEO, you will undoubtedly ask yourself the question - “What comes next?”
Content, Content, Content
At the start of this year, Envision made a decision to focus on our blog and begin publishing unique, quality content on a regular basis (we try to publish at least 1 new article each week). Rather than assigning this responsibility to a marketing person, or even to a marketing team, we enlisted the subject matter experts at our company – our engineers, designers, and developers, to author articles for our blog. Those experts can speak about the technologies they use and the work that they do in a way that someone without that technical knowledge simply cannot do.
The articles that our team writes are not lengthy or in-depth, whitepaper-quality releases. On the contrary, our blog articles are typically short and to-the-point, covering very specific issues that our engineers or designers have encountered and the solutions they have developed to address those issues. Our belief is that if one of our team members has encountered a roadblock with a piece of software, hardware, or code that they are working with, then others likely have encountered that problem too and the solution we have developed is something that others could benefit from as well.
In short, the answers we have to give (which are contained in our articles) are answers that others are searching for online.
Relevant and Unique Content is Key
Before our bloggers author an article, we do a search of our own. We look for similar articles to see if others have already written about the topic or solution we have in mind. If we cannot find any similar articles, we know that our content will make an ideal blog entry on our site because it will be both relevant and unique.
Uniqueness is incredibly important when it comes to website content generating quality traffic. If numerous websites have published similar articles, then all of those sites are competing for the traffic from searchers looking for that content - but if an article is truly unique, then it has the best chance possible to be found by searchers looking for that solution. It also encourages readers to share that unique content with others via social media, links from other blogs or forums, etc. Those links can bring your website increased exposure and traffic – which we will cover next as we take a look at how Envision’s blog experiment has turned out since we began this push at the start of the year.
Better Content = More Traffic
At the time that we started our initiative to produce quality blog content on a regular basis, approximately 3% of our website’s traffic came in through the blog. This means that 3% of the visitors to our site discovered Envision through some kind of search that led them to an article we had written. By the end of July, just over 6 months after we began this quality content initiative, the number of visitors to our website that come in through the blog has jumped to close to 40%! That means 40% of the visitors to our site now find us because of the quality blog content that we are publishing.
In addition, our overall traffic numbers are way up – more than double what they were at this same time last year and our overall search engine rankings have climbed significantly too. Again, this is not because of some search engine trickery or any kind of "advanced optimziation" - it is thanks to the quality of our content and the links it has generated from site visitors who found value in it and shared it with others online.
Unique, quality content has helped us gain more exposure, generate better rankings, and drive more traffic to our site – but wait, there’s more!
Better Content = More Business
Increased traffic to a website is a great thing, but if that rise in traffic doesn’t also bring with it a rise in business, then the increase means little to your bottom line. In our case, the increased traffic to our website has, indeed, brought with it increased business. In fact, we have had multiple new clients tell us that they found our site after they conducted a search for a particular solution that we offer, read one or more of our articles, and then called us because the thought leadership we had presented in those articles, and throughout our entire website, showed them that we were a good fit to speak with them about their technology needs.
What Does This Mean For You?
Back to where we began this article – SEO alone is not the answer to your website marketing needs. In part, this is because so many sites are now optimized for search engines! The playing field has been leveled and the SEO basics that would’ve given you some good results a few years ago are now expected of a site.
On today’s web, the differentiator for your site needs to be content. This is why your site does not need just an SEO strategy, it needs ongoing content strategy if you want it to achieve the rankings and lead generation results needed to fuel a growing business.
Does This Mean SEO Is Pointless?
Absolutely not. SEO is still important. While best practices have become expected on new websites, you still need to make sure you have them – and with search engines changing how they rank websites all the time, SEO is still an important part of the equation. The point is that it is not the only part of the equation you need to concern yourself with and it is not a magic cure-all for your online marketing needs. What you do after your website is optimized for search engines is what will fuel that site's eventual success or failure as a tool for marketing your business.
Let’s Talk About Content Strategy
Envision’s focus is on helping our clients get the most out of technology – including their website. We understand the importance of SEO, but as we’ve covered in this article – SEO is just one of the elements that go into a successful website. A quality design and user experience, support for a wide variety of devices and screen sizes, a platform that allows for ease of updating and future growth plans, and a solid plan for content strategy over time are all factors that you need to consider when planning for a website redesign. Contact us and let us talk to you today about quality content and how you can make that content part of your overall website marketing strategy.