Every digital marketer and their clients know what they want from SEO: to rank for a core set of keywords and watch the leads and customers pour in. The problem is most either don’t know or aren’t willing to do the things they need to do to get there. Moreover, everyone wants to treat SEO like PPC and only target keywords they think will directly result in a new lead or sale. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be targeting those terms, but that’s only a fraction of the myriad of benefits a comprehensive SEO strategy can have.
The Types of Searches
Before I dive too deep into what an effective SEO strategy looks like, let me explain the different types of searches that people use on search engines:
- Transactional searches: A transactional search is when the searcher is specifically looking for a product or service. I often call these a client’s core keywords.
- Informational searches: An informational search is any search where the searcher is looking for information.
- Navigational searches: These are the searches people use to get to a website. Brand searches typically fall under this category.
Google refers to these as Do, Know, and Go searches.
Too Much Focus on Transactional Searches
Now, everyone wants to rank for the Do (transactional) searches, and for good reason: the value of a brand showing in search at the exact moment a potential prospect is looking for what they provide can’t be overstated. However, it is extremely difficult to dominate the search results for an industry’s Do terms, especially if we ignore the Know (informational) and, to a lesser extent, the Go (navigational) keywords. Let me explain.
There are countless factors that go into where a website ranks for any given search term, but I find it useful and simple to group these factors into four main groups:
How authoritative is the brand online? How big is its footprint? Do other websites link to it and/or talk about it? Do people engage with the brand and its content on social media?
Is the content on the website relevant to the search? Is it more relevant than the competition’s?
Does the website load quickly? Under 4-5 seconds is the target to reach for. Is the site free of technical errors?
When people visit the website, do they look at multiple pages and stay for a while or do they bounce back to the search results after viewing one page? Do they find what they’re looking for?
Now, 3 of the 4 factors above, while certainly not easy to get correct, have a pretty straightforward process for improving. Any digital marketer worth his or her salt can make a website’s content relevant to transactional searches and improve a website’s performance and user experience. This is what’s referred to as onsite or technical SEO. But the factor that most miss the mark on is how to increase the authority of a business’ brand online, and in many industries, authority is the most important ranking factor.
How is Authority Gained
On the web, authority is gained via links from other websites, brand mentions throughout the web, and social media engagement. However, you can’t expect to get any of this solely because you have a nice website that functions well, is technically flawless, and has content that matches your core search terms. Chances are, much of your competition has an equally-stellar website.
Focus on Know Searches to Establish Authority
To create truly great SEO campaigns, you must establish authority, and the key to this is in the Know searches. By creating content that targets people looking for information within your industry, you position your business as a trustworthy source of information and get your brand more visibility in an area that most of your competition is likely ignoring. This leads to more online authority to help your website rank higher for your core search terms. More importantly, stellar content that aims to help, not sell, will attract the links, brand mentions, and social engagement that leads to you dominating the search results.
Quick note: for some reason, people often think content means blog posts. Blog posts definitely have their place and are a very popular medium for creating content. However, to be clear, helpful content that targets informational searches doesn’t have to be blog posts. Good, helpful content comes in many shapes and forms:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- How-to videos
- Product reviews
And that’s just naming a few. The key is to discover how your audience wants to consume content and focus efforts there.
But we shouldn’t look at content only as a way of increasing authority and thus rankings. Targeting Know searches with helpful content is also a way of reaching prospects before they’re ready to buy or hire. Before people decide they need to hire a lawyer or buy a widget, they research their particular pain point.
For example, someone who just got slapped with a DUI usually won’t go directly to Google and search “DUI lawyer.” They start with searches for information like “DUI penalties” and “how to keep your license after a DUI.” Creating content that answers these Know searches allows you to introduce your brand to potential clients and customers before they even start looking for a lawyer to hire.
What About the Go Searches?
It’s obvious why a business should care about the Do searches, and we’ve covered why the Know searches are extremely important for both ranking and brand visibility. That leaves the Go searches. The Go terms you should care about are the searches for your brand. The brand’s website should be the first result, but there are 10 results on a search results page. Those other 9 results are typically social media profiles, profiles on review sites like Yelp, or a profile on an industry-specific site like lawyers.com.
Looking authoritative and reputable for Go searches is very important. Potential clients and customers will look to see what others are saying about your brand and what you’re saying on your social media platforms – they’ll use that information to decide whether to hire you or buy your product. Moreover, the number and quality of online reviews a business gets is also a factor in how high they rank for their core Do terms (see: it’s all connected).
The Foundation of Our SEO Strategy
Knowing how this is all connected, we achieve SEO success for clients through a comprehensive, custom strategy that includes:
- Onsite & technical SEO
- Content creation
- Social media
- Review solicitation and reputation management
Onsite and Technical SEO
- Ensures core pages (homepage, service pages, product pages, etc.) contain relevant content, meta data, and page semantics to core search terms (the Do searches)
- Ensures that the website remains free of any technical errors that may cause frustration for visitors or errors for search engine crawlers
- Ensures the website loads quickly
- Ensures visitors are navigating throughout the site the way we expect or want them to
Content Creation and Promotion
Targets informational searches (Know) with high-quality, helpful content that answers searchers’ queries, which:
- enhances your online visibility and reputation within your industry
- introduces your brand to potential prospects before they reach the transactional (Do) phase of search
- improves your online authority by attracting links, brand mentions, and social engagement
- adds more relevant content to the website which is a ranking factor for Do terms
- increases website traffic
- Increases brand recognition and reputation
- Higher online brand authority
- Used as an outlet for promoting content
- Increases website traffic
Review solicitation and Reputation Management
- Solicits online reviews from your satisfied customers and alerts you to disgruntled customers before they leave a negative review
- Monitors new online reviews and brand mentions
- Monitors brand search (Go terms) results to ensure a good online brand image
- Boosts your brand’s online authority and popularity through new reviews and brand mentions
- Monitor campaign performance
- We don’t just look at the data, we learn from it and use it to make small tweaks and implement new strategies to an always-evolving SEO strategy
The difference in ordinary SEO and extraordinary SEO is focusing on all the ways potential prospects search in any given industry and developing strategies to target them at every phase. If they’re looking for information, help them. If they’re looking for someone to do business with, be there. If they’re looking for you, show them your best side. Our strategy includes methods to achieve success in all 3 phases of search while still being flexible enough to implement new strategies according to the data. In short, ours is not an ordinary SEO strategy with a singular-minded goal of increased visibility for core keywords – it’s an extraordinary SEO strategy with a goal of domination across every phase of organic search.
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