SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of getting your website to rank higher in search engine results pages. Unlike Google Ads (or other type of ads), SEO is free.
Well, technically free.
SEO is free in the sense that you don’t have to pay another company directly to have certain pages of your website rank on the first position, like you have to with Google Ads, for instance.
However, SEO is not free per se. SEO content costs time and money and so does having a website that’s technically up to par with SEO guidelines.
The good part about this is that SEO is an investment that keeps on giving. If you invest in PPC ads, as soon as your budget is depleted, your results stop. When you invest in SEO, on the other hand, you reap the benefits even when you stop pouring money into it – sometimes for years to come.
Still, this doesn’t mean you should be throwing money blindly.
Most of my agency’s clients tell us the same thing: they invested in SEO, but they never got their money back.
Here’s what they were doing wrong. And what you might be doing wrong, too.
1. You don’t have a clear purpose
Why do you want to invest in SEO? Is it because it’s cool? Because everyone in your industry does it?
Your purpose shouldn’t be defined by outside “forces”. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to marketing.
Think about what SEO can bring to YOUR table. Which areas of your business can it help boost? What are the key outcomes you are expecting?
In other words: define precisely how SEO can help you with sales. If ROI isn’t your purpose, then it may never happen, no matter how much you invest in optimization.
2. You focus on the wrong metrics
I can’t stress this enough: SEO for the sake of SEO or traffic is pointless. Traffic doesn’t pay the bills. Sales do.
So, when you start investing in SEO, don’t do it just to get more visitors.
This is something I discuss with almost all our clients. They want bigger numbers. Ironically enough, not in the bank. In their web traffic.
You may think that getting more visitors is the key to getting more sales. After all, if 1% of your visitors convert into leads, then another 1% of the leads into customers, it’s better to have a bigger number to calculate that 1%, right?
Sure, but if your SEO copywriters focus on keywords that bring traffic instead of those that bring clients, you may never get your 1%.
Which brings us to my next point.
3. You focus on the wrong keywords
Short keywords are hard to rank for. And, consequently, they are also very expensive.
More importantly, they are less relevant to your ROI.
Let’s say you’re a plumber in Toronto. The first keyword that comes to mind is ‘plumber’. Or maybe it’s ‘Toronto plumber’.
But here’s the catch: whoever is searching for either of those two keywords may be looking for plumbing jobs or for a job description or for the paperwork one needs to become a plumber in Toronto.
When you do SEO for the right metrics (aka ROI), you have to get a bit more specific and consider user intent for the keywords you choose. Here are some examples:
- Toronto plumber price (when someone adds ‘price’ to their query, they’re looking to buy, not look around)
- Toronto emergency plumbers (now this is a client who’s willing to pay quickly!)
- Toilet installation price Toronto (specific content for specific needs)
- Leaky faucet solution (same as above, with a small caveat: you may get traffic from people who are looking to DIY their problem. But offering step by step instructions and then recommending the professional solution – that’s your plumbing company! – is the way to go here.)
4. You don’t know what your customers need or want
Ironically enough, SEO isn’t really about your position in SERPs. It’s about delivering real value to real people.
The Google Search Quality Guidelines specifically say that when you create content that your peeps love, it will rank higher. That’s because:
- People spend more time on pages with great quality
- People don’t go back to SERPs after clicking on a page with great content (and this means a lower bounce rate for you). Why would they? They already found everything they needed.
These are both things that Google interprets as markers of great content. And when they see great content, they rank it higher.
Because Google wants people to find amazing content. So this should be on your content goal list, too.
Before you search for keywords and content topics that help your business rank higher, take a moment to think about what would help your potential customers. How could your expertise make their day better? When you answer this, you’ll know what to write about.
5. You invest in the wrong kind of content
What makes quality content?
Sure, content that answers questions your customers ask.
But how does it have to be?
If you think about it, it makes sense: the longer a piece, the better it can explain a certain topic and answer all the questions a visitor may have. Hence, they spend more time on your page and go back to SERPs less often.
Typically, a long-form piece of content has more than 2,000 words. But you shouldn’t really be thinking about the numbers.
Just think about exhaustively (but without fluff!) explaining today’s topic. Analyze every angle, support your claims with studies and research reports and add relevant graphics to it.
Write like you would explain things to a friend and your audience will thank you.
I know, we are all busy and long-form content takes time to produce. But you can always outsource writing instead of putting it on the back burner for lack of time.
SEO is a balancing act. If you try to rig the game and spam search engine bots with irrelevant links, you’ll end up ranking lower than before. This is why black hat SEO should never cross your mind.
Instead, you should focus on delivering value. Value for your customers and value for the internet in general. There are enough click bait and garbage content online. Don’t add to this pile.
Focus on writing something relevant and well-documented that people actually want to read.
Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the CEO of Idunn, a digital marketing agency that helps clients all over the world with copywriting, social media marketing and marketing strategy. Follow her blog here: http://idunn.pro/blog.