Amid all of the lip service and bloated marketing budgets associated with modern paid advertising campaigns, what usually gets lost is that small and mid-sized businesses often have better and more affordable products and services than their larger competitors.
The problem is that their target audiences might not even know they exist because they don’t rank well on organic search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s nearly impossible for these companies to gain ground when they’re unable to generate the kind of widespread awareness and meaningful engagement they need to promote their offerings.
Thankfully, in the digital marketing age, there’s always a road toward sustainable growth — even if that’s the road less taken. And in this case, that overgrown path is paved with (among other things) little-known SEO secrets. Once you establish your SEO fundamentals, mastering the SEO tips and tricks below will help you extend your brand’s reach on organic search while increasing traffic, conversion, and sales.
Why Is SEO So Important?
Before we share some of our SEO secrets, we’d like to establish a clear definition of SEO and why this digital marketing tactic is so pivotal to your overall business success.
SEO is short for “search engine optimization,” which is a teamwide marketing effort to improve digital organic traffic and volume quality. Unlike search engine marketing (SEM), which deals almost entirely with paid search advertising techniques, SEO relates specifically to organic search results. (Yet, as you’ll see below, SEO can impact elements of PPC and vice versa.)
As for why SEO is important, there are no shortage of benefits to building and executing a well-coordinated SEO strategy.
- Drive better traffic by making it easy to find the useful content your target audiences are actually looking for.
- Establishing and executing an excellent SEO strategy will help you outpace and outrank your competitors.
- While requiring an upfront investment in skilled content creators and strategists, organic efforts end up far less expensive than paid ads.
- Despite the fact that paid ads occupy the top 3-4 positions on all SERPs, over 70% of searches result in an organic click.
- Increase relevant traffic by coordinating SEO with PR strategies to create backlinking opportunities that improve overall site authority.
Ready to lay the groundwork? Let’s set our foundation!
You can’t successfully execute on the secrets below if your SEO fundamentals aren’t ship-shape. So here are a few SEO pillars that will help you establish a baseline for consistent success.
Proper Site Navigation
Making your site easily navigable for your users is absolutely essential to achieving better traffic, increased conversions, and more revenue. Common sense navigation structures with clear verbiage and intuitive drop-down menus that link to relevant pages is the simplest way for your current and potential customers to get the information they need.
Because proper site navigation leads to more clicks, page-specific traffic increases will raise the authority of each page — as well as its likelihood of moving into prime position on a SERP.
Regular Content Creation and Distribution
Even if you can’t afford a full-time content creator, you need to regularly produce new content in the form of blogs, eBooks, case studies, videos, and datasheets. Writing and launching new content on your website clearly indicates to search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) that you are working hard to provide current and useful content to your users — a major feather in your cap for SEO purposes.
Publishing just one new blog post once every two weeks or so is a great start that will put you in a position to scale your marketing efforts as your business grows and your SEO needs expand.
4 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Plan
Ensuring that your website is set up to accommodate the content creation side of your SEO efforts is extremely important. Slow sites with technical errors will not rank well with search engines, all but eliminating your chances of success.
Begin by crawling your site to find basic errors (broken links, slow-rendering images, header issues, etc.). You’ll also want to make sure you have an up-to-date sitemap that is registered with all relevant search engines. In addition, you should measure site speed and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that your pages and images render quickly for every user. Finally, check that all pages use HTTPS content to ensure a safe browsing experience.
Continue performing regular site crawls (once monthly is optimal) and optimize the site for the best possible user experience.
Now that you’ve set the foundation for successful SEO and content marketing strategies, it’s time to go above and beyond to achieve lasting SEO excellence. Here are a few SEO secrets we like to share with our customers to improve their site traffic, conversions, and overall performance.
Off-site SEO is all about improving users’ and search engines’ perception of your website. The best way to accomplish this is by having other reputable websites and industry leaders link to important pages on your website. These links signal to search engines that your site has relevant content and is trustworthy for users, which will increase these pages’ rankings on SERPs for which they’ve been optimized. In fact, according to Moz, off-page SEO factors likely carry more than 50% of Google’s ranking factor weight.
Many sites have such spectacular content resources and research that they naturally receive a ton of backlinks. But this requires a dedicated content marketing team with a robust budget to build and deploy industry-leading assets. And since most small and mid-sized businesses have limited teams with limited budgets, achieving off-site SEO requires serious planning. This is usually a two-part process.
- Create your own backlinks by leveraging review sites, online directories, industry forums, and blog comment sites. Be careful with this last one, however, as blog comment links often come off as spammy and totally irrelevant to the user. Adding backlinks that aren’t related to the content you’re linking to will actually damage your SEO efforts, so look for areas where you can provide genuine value to your consumers. You should also look for backlinking opportunities within your public relations strategies. Whenever you publish a press release, you should include relevant links to key areas of your site. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience, though, so keep press release links to roughly 1 link for every 250 words to avoid spamming your readers.
- Develop a third-party backlink strategy through deliberate outreach activities. Specifically, work with your customer marketing and/or account management teams to identify your most loyal customers and enthusiastic partners. Then, work with any content creators on your staff to draft friendly emails asking for backlinks on specific pages with specific anchor text. Each of these emails should be unique to the recipient and offer something in return — such as a backlink of their own, social media promotion, or even a small gift. Third-party backlinking strategies require a substantial lift at the outset but can have a major impact on your site traffic and authority. And once you’ve established quality site authority, you can gain a sustainable foothold in your industry and give your competitors (even the larger ones) a real run for their money. Finally, take advantage of backlink opportunities (per the publication’s guidelines) when you submit contributing articles in the media. Not only does this point a wider audience to more of your brand’s expertise directly on your website, but it also garners you higher SEO credibility.
Aligning PPC With SEO
Here’s a surprisingly little-known fact:
Paid strategies impact SEO, and SEO impacts paid strategies — in several ways.
- Increased Traffic: When a user clicks on a PPC ad, they’re usually directed to one of your landing pages or webpages. And since we know that more clicks lead to improved rankings, properly optimizing PPC-related pages is paramount in achieving SEO success.
- Keyword Targeting: Great SEO is based on targeting keywords that your audience is searching for and that are highly relevant to your business and offerings. The problem is that SEO is a long-term strategy that rarely shows rapid results. But paying close attention to PPC keyword performance allows you to transfer those findings to your SEO tactics.
- Double Exposure: By having paid and organic listings on a search engine results page, you increase your presence for given keywords (which implies to users that you’re a real authority on the subject) and also maximize the likelihood of an interested user clicking on your result.
- Local Reach: For most small and medium-sized businesses, maintaining a strong foothold in your own backyard is absolutely critical. Geo-targeting your PPC ads toward specific local and regional audiences (especially on social, due to the limited real estate) will increase this vital traffic to paid pages, organic pages, and even your “Google My Business” listing.
Implementing Long-Tail Keyword Strategies
If you’re trying to outpace your larger competitors in regards to SEO, you’re likely going to have a hard time fighting fire with fire. Instead of trying to beat them with common, high-traffic root keywords, you should strongly consider implementing long-tail keyword strategies.
A long-tail keyword is a longer and more specific phrase that builds off a root keyword. For example, “marketing automation” is a hugely popular keyword within our industry, but because of this massive amount of broad traffic, it’s also extremely difficult to rank for.
So rather than focus too heavily on that specific term, we’ve created content assets focused on keyphrases like “best marketing automation platforms,” “marketing automation use cases,” and “top marketing automation platforms for growth.” Since these terms are longer and more specific, they generate less than the root keyword — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Less traffic, at least in this case, translates to an easier path to high SERP rankings and visitors who are more intentional in the research, which indicates that they’re serious buyers who are further along in their purchasing journey.
Accelerate Your Company’s Website SEO With Act-On!
We hope you can incorporate these SEO secrets into your content marketing tactics and holistic digital marketing strategies. Even if you already have great site traffic and are generating a lot of organic conversions and sales, there’s always room for improvement. In fact, some of our most successful customers regularly use the techniques above and are seeing phenomenal results since dedicating themselves to SEO excellence.
These clients also use the Act-On SEO Audit Tool to get the most out of their content marketing initiatives. If you’d like to learn more about our SEO Audit Tool or any other feature of the Act-On growth marketing automation platform, please click here to schedule a 20-minute demo with one of our marketing automation experts.
If you’d rather do your own independent research, you can click here to take an interactive product demo. Or, you can click on the link below to download your free eBook, “How to Attract More Prospects.” This asset is full of simple tips and tricks to help you drive awareness around your products and services and generate actionable engagement at every stage of the customer lifecycle.