“The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results”
Terms like search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are often thrown around, especially in today’s web cluttered world. Companies are constantly searching for ways to promote their online presence in order to cut through the noise of over a billion websites and reach the highest number of relevant individuals as possible. One is often aware about the need for SEO/SEM, but how it is acquired and utilized is often a grey territory.
Before one can even begin to comprehend their revitalizing functions and abilities, the terms must first be accurately understood. SEO and SEM are digital marketing buzzwords often erroneously used interchangeably. In truth, search engine marketing is the umbrella under which search engine optimization lies. Both are aimed at employing a multitude of tactics to boost the number of visitors towards a certain site by increasing its placement on the search engine results page (SERP). While the top three ranked results tend to garner 58.4% of all clicks from users, the subsequent ones will decline in popularity quickly. Businesses need to think outside the text box on search engines and get serious about SEO if they want to boost their online presence and steer ahead of the competition.
SEO specifically pertains to methods used to influence “organic search results” or those naturally called up due to the relevance of the site’s contents in relation to the user’s search terms. SEM includes the previous but also paid results. It is easy to distinguish the two categories of search returns as paid ones are often accompanied by the indicator word “ad” and only appear at the top and the bottom of an SERP. Most small to medium firms with a limited advertising budget opt only for enhancing their organic searches, as paid ads can quickly add up.
In the interest of helping businesses to refine their websites, the following are some tried and true methods of optimization webmasters have perfected over the years, with all the results and none of the costs:
- Quality, quality, quality!
Let the quality of the site speak for itself. The first step is to have a unified theme as search engines will penalize pages with content that is disjointed from the rest of the site. After a concrete foundation has been set, focus on subjects that are most relevant and interesting to your current user base. Paragraphs broken up into digestible chunks alongside video, infographics and images ensure maximum user comprehension and readership enjoyment. Google’s web crawlers analyze all the words on a page in relation to the content around it to determine the quality of the site, so focus on value rather than amount of content.
- It’s a mobile world after all
With over 50% of Google searches emerging from mobile users and the number of mobile internet consumers finally surpassing desktop users, a smartphone incompatible site will prove detrimental to a company’s ability to extend their reach. Due to Google’s recent algorithm upgrade, mobile enabled sites are ranked higher while those without, demoted when users search through a mobile device.
Be wary that possessing an ineffective mobile friendly site is equally harmful. Take into consideration the loading time of a site. Abandonment nears 50% if a page takes longer than 10 seconds to load, so checking load speeds and mobile compatibility is imperative to a webpage’s success.
For individuals who can afford the extra lift on their search results, each search engine contains their own paid advertising options and costs. These usually utilize the pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) scheme whereby advertisers pay a certain bid amount each time a searcher clicks on their ad. With expenditure saving as a priority, there are certain techniques that firms practise to get the most bang out of their buck.
- Ride the long-tailed dragon
In the search for keywords to bid on, one may be interested in short and simple yet oft searched terms, but with this comes the fear of bidding for the limited ad spaces alongside conglomerates with cash to splash. The alternative is to elect long-tailed or more specific keywords. CPC for longer search terms is invariably lower, backed by less competition vying for the same precise string of words. This ensures the chosen keywords bid for are focused on niche users searching with a more readily committed state of mind.
Microsoft’s underdog search platform, Bing, attracts 20% of all desktop searches and make up 3% of all platforms’ aggregated search, but do not be fooled by the inferior numbers. Bing Ads is a diamond in the rough precisely due to the lack of competition. Advertising costs average out to be 22.5% cheaper than those on Google while, simultaneously, campaigns achieve better positions and higher visibility. In addition, Bing allows for more granular controls alongside the ability to streamline ad exposure based on target demographics, bestowing advertisers with more command over their own content and how it is shown.
The targeted nature of SEM traffic deems it invaluable to any business aspiring to appeal to a wider audience. Furthermore, as 70% of all incoming website traffic emerges from search engine results, it is no wonder search engine marketing and optimization are spotlighted when it comes to constructing the most attractive site.
Posted by Arwika Ussahatanon, Corporate Media
Search engine optimization (SEO) strategies have changed so much in the decade that the industry is starting to cross over into another popular industry – public relations (PR). Traditional PR agencies, on the other hand, are finding that they’ll have to adapt and work closely with social media to gain that competitive edge.
Historically, PR and SEO have worked in parallel as two separate practices. Now, the walls are coming down and each serves as one important piece of a larger digital marketing puzzle. With the common goal of reaching targeted audiences in a highly relevant way, SEO and PR professionals are learning the value of working together, implementing new tools and practices to exceed previous goals and expectations.
Content is the common denominator between SEO and PR, and the reality is that SEO is no longer a technical skill. In a world where dependence on technology is rapidly growing, PR and SEO can no longer exist on separate teams. Instead, it’s time for them to collaborate.
When PR practitioners use SEO appropriately, they’re more likely to draw their target audiences to their relevant and quality content. SEO is the most underutilized skill and strategy by the PR industry. This is actually a huge opportunity because PR pros aren’t using SEO the way they could be, so there’s really less competition out there, even from some Fortune 500 companies that have yet to jump on board. Small businesses tend to benefit from this merger as well.
What is becoming clearer is that SEO and PR need to work hand-in-hand to take on the largest search engine – Google. Google after all dictates SEO rules! A brand’s PR team should be aware of these trends and work with the media outlets they want coverage from so that they can help fill in the gaps and make reporters’ lives easier. The majority of, if not all journalists, start off a story by doing a Google search.
What approach can PR agencies take to ensure that they make the most of the modern digital marketing space? Well, for starters, throwing keywords at social media tactics isn’t quite the same thing as developing and implementing a plan to reach specific goals. Dropping links to news being promoted on social networks can have an impact but is difficult to sustain. You’ll need to consider the long-term value with SEO and social media to get the most of out of your public relations.
Here are ways you can integrate the two practices to create maximum boost for you/your client’s business:
- Identify your target audience. What are their behaviors and preferences for content, sharing, and media types? What keywords are used in a social and search context? Empathize with their content preferences and the context in which they consume and share. A blogger may have different preferences than say, a newspaper journalist.
- Set specific goals and measurable objectives. These include the number of mentions, comments, links, rankings, traffic, media coverage or other “engagement” metrics. Leverage tools from search engine optimization and social media marketing to track Web-based metrics.
- Determine your mix. For example, blogs, social networks, media sharing, and micro-blogging, to support and execute the strategy. Original content is great but often not practical or sustainable, so consider content curation mixed with original content for better results.
- Identify specific social tools to use. If social networks are the right channel, then determine which network works best – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram? If you add video to the mix, is distribution limited to YouTube or does it make sense to syndicate to Vimeo or other channels?
- Set measurement tools in place. Web analytics and social media monitoring services are essential for collecting useful and reportable outcomes from news SEO and social promotion.
- Identify key individuals and resources to implement. Forecast time, internal reporting, and feedback mechanisms. The most effective social media SEO efforts for PR involve the agency or PR professionals working together with content creators, SEOs, marketers and others in a position to publish and promote content online.
Final thought: The word “optimization” can be defined differently from the early days to now, but one thing remains constant: SEO is essential to any digital marketing plan, and therefore, to any PR strategy. Without optimization, a website would inevitably fall further down search engine results pages and ultimately be ignored.
Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia