Unfortunately, a website is no longer enough for a significant or successful digital presence. Essentially, a presence is non-existent without some consideration of search engine optimisation (SEO).
But this too has become one of the basics of ‘going digital’ – a must, rather than a ‘nice to have’. Which begs the question – has the playing field been levelled? And if so, how can your business possibly get ahead when it seems everyone is in on the so-called secret for success?
Well, Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a digital marketing and ecommerce specialist firm, explains the SEO sweet spots that remain unexplored, or at least under-utilised, in order to help businesses really get the most from their digital activity.
It goes without saying that the online marketplace is saturated, and is only going to become ever more so as an increasing number of businesses undergo digital transformation. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent impact on physical business practices, this transition has been accelerated much faster than anticipated.
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Consequently, there hasn’t been a gradual switch where businesses have been allowed time to learn and adjust to the new and unfamiliar ways of conducting sales and interactions. Instead, many have found themselves thrust into a marketplace that already feels exhausted. Everyone seems to be doing the same thing and any guides or ‘how tos’ they may have read, are fast becoming outdated and no longer provide a way to get an edge on the competition.
But digital is here to stay, right? We can’t possibly have exhausted its possibilities yet. And we haven’t. Fortunately, this is one of the many benefits of the digital landscape – it is constantly evolving as new advancements and innovations are developed.
In terms of SEO, it once really was an activity that not many were focusing on and for the few that were, there was great success to be found. However, we have long passed such a time and SEO elements form the foundations of just about every professional website development project. Therefore, it can be incredibly difficult to get ahead of competitors with such tactics.
However, it should be noted that although you might not be able to use basic URL mapping, page speed optimisation and content structuring techniques, for example, to gain an edge, you can quite quickly find yourself falling behind if such foundations are skipped.
And this ties in quite nicely with one of the first and most important ways to continue seeing SEO success. Remembering that the digital landscape is forever evolving, one should commit time and resource to ensuring these foundations remain relevant, updated and able to support any additions or developments to the website.
When these elements have been built into the early stages of the website development, it can be easy to forget about them. But as core parts of the platform, it is not difficult to see why it is so essential that they remain functional and effective over time.
Think Bing and beyond
Another trap that many businesses can find themselves falling into is believing all effort and focus must be placed on Google. While Google does hold significant market share and influence in search engine optimisation trends, it is by no means the only platform that exists.
In fact, Bing holds more than 10% market share in the UK, and this is steadily increasing month by month. Therefore, consideration should also be given to how online presence can be optimised for the Microsoft owned platform too.
And when you begin to monitor your performance on the search engine, you may even find you are yielding better results, including greater impressions and consequently click through rates, and higher rankings due to less competition.
Similarly, YouTube and Amazon are rising in popularity and prominence when it comes to consumers searching for products and services. And what may come as a surprise to some, Amazon has actually overtaken Google as the first point of call when searching for a product to purchase.
In many ways the marketplace offers consumers with a greater intent to purchase, thanks to convenience, choice and better usability in terms of completing a transaction. They no longer have to scroll through pages and pages of text to then click through to various websites in order to get information regarding price, features and availability, as Amazon offers it all in a single view.
Therefore, businesses utilising the marketplace should place greater focus on optimising their product listings in order for them show higher in results pages. Just like SEO for Google, Amazon has its own best practices that leverage its ranking algorithm. These include elements such as product titles, brand or seller names, bullet point features, images, reviews, and so on.
While Amazon is great for high intent transactions, optimising YouTube content is a vital way to ensure you are capturing those customers still in the research or discovery phases too.
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Similarly for YouTube, businesses should look to ensure video titles and descriptions are targeting the right keywords and phrases. And as the platform now transcribes content, it is also crucial that these keywords are mentioned in the video. But most importantly, content needs to be engaging.
Again, there are a number of best practices for each of these platforms, but essentially, what’s key here is that you remember to focus on them as well as any efforts on Google, as this will help you establish a strong overall online presence.
No matter the platforms you are choosing to optimise your performance on, it will always require a long-term commitment. And although the commitment will pay off in time, businesses looking for shorter term results should consider using PPC tactics to supplement their SEO efforts.
The two activities can run hand in hand. If equal amount of focus and attention is given to both, there is opportunity for one to help the other, too. For instance, if your ads are ranking well and raising awareness of your brand and traffic to your website, there is then a greater chance for this is impact people’s organic perceptions and recollection of your company. They may even search for your product or service by name, or look for your listing in organic results, which could certainly help improve a search engine’s interpretation of your authority and relevance – both of which are key factors for SEO.
Similarly, there really is no harm in taking up additional space on a search engine results page, which is only possible through a ranking ad and organic listing.
And while it might seem running both activities will create extra workload and strain on your resources, there are ways to minimise the burden. For example, keyword research can be conducted and applied to both initially, and then micromanaged using an integrated software solution in order to inform and streamline any areas for improvement.
Ultimately, there is still a lot to be discovered and implemented when it comes to optimising your online presence. There really is no one way to go about it, either. Businesses need to look at what is and isn’t working for them and those they are competing against, and identify the untapped opportunities that will help them get ahead. SEO isn’t a game of following suit, and that is the real secret.
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