Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the most critical part of your online marketing, yet it is often the most ignored.
We will easily spend time agonizing over the “look and feel” of our online presence before we consider the impact that useful information has on potential customers.
The fault lies in the stubborn belief that we should view our Web site as a designer or developer — and we shouldn’t.
Site automation drastically simplifies the design process. We can easily purchase an attractive site template that is responsive to mobile devices.
Instead, let’s restart the design process with keywords — the terms that define our business in the minds of our customers.
What is a keyword?
A keyword is a term people enter into a search engine like Google or Bing.
The search engine then analyzes keywords and responds with a search engine results page (SERP).
Finally, the SERP lists all the Web sites that best match the information required by the searcher.
Discovering those important keywords has a two-fold benefit:
- Better search engine exposure for your current Web pages.
- Better ideas for future Web pages that will attract new visitors.
(For a deeper dive, read Google’s elegantly simple “How Search Works”.)
What is SEO?
When you use keywords in your Web site’s content, you are performing search engine optimization (SEO).
The term optimization implies there are best practices for this process — and there are.
Best practices for SEO are suggested by the search engine companies acting in the best interests of everyone who uses their search engine. It is up to the Web site owner to implement those SEO best practices in order to enjoy the financial benefits of being found online.
That’s why keywords and SEO are so important to your business.
Web site content = Search Engine Optimization
There are two types of Web page content: front-end content and back-end content.
Front-end content refers to what is seen on the Web page. Front-end content includes:
- Navigation labels
- Headings and body text
- Pictures and charts
- Web site links
Back-end content refers to how the Web page is coded. Back-end content includes:
- File names
- Meta data
- HTML tags
- Scripts and style sheets
This is how marketing companies and savvy businesses create a search optimization plan. They research the best keywords and code them into the content of a Web page.
Unfortunately, that is when the process often stops.
Gaining a competitive advantage
For keyword targeting to work, you need to perform it on an on-going basis. A ‘one-and-done’ approach guarantees you are bound to lose any competitive advantage won with even the best keyword analysis.
The aim of keyword research is to provide on-going ideas for Web page content that will attract the largest number of prospects to your Web site.
You gain and retain competitive advantage by:
- Benchmarking keywords against your own site so you’ll know what your prospects are searching for.
- Benchmarking keywords against your competitor’s site so you’ll have a window into their online marketing plans.
Why is this important to you?
Your competitors are as eager to succeed as you. They use the same techniques outlined here (though maybe not as consistently as they should).
Your competitive advantage lies in a persistent approach that looks for changes in what your prospects are searching for, and match you keywords to their needs. This may only require a few hours of work every month, yet the return on investment will be many times greater.
Up next: What Inbound Marketing is all about»