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A Smart SEO Start

Written by Guest Blogger September 18, 2012

A Smart SEO Start

"How do I show up on the first page of the Google search results?" This is one of the most common questions that I get asked and there is never an easy answer. With the recent changes from Google, the answer has become even more complicated. It's like asking someone how to win at poker. While search engine optimization requires a certain level of skill, there will always be some luck of the draw, too. To minimize your reliance on luck and focus on skill, here are a few universal things to get you started off in the right direction.

1. Know Who You Want to Reach

While doing marketing strategy meetings with our customers, we sometimes discover that they have been reaching the right markets, but the wrong people. They spend their time communicating with people who do not have the authority or enough influence to make purchasing decisions. The same thing can happen to your website if you don't understand not only who you want to reach, but who you should reach.

Knowing your audience is a crucial step. Start by looking at your existing customers. Who makes the decisions in the companies you work with? How did they find you and what influenced them to become a customer?

Then start comparing that with what you know about your potential customers. Will you reach these new customers in the same way? Perhaps most importantly, are your potential customers using search engines to find similar companies or do they do only referral-based business? There is no sense spending money on a paid online advertising campaign if you should really be spending that marketing dollars on networking or other referral-based marketing activities.

Once you understand who you're reaching, you'll be able to start understanding what information they are looking for; where they are looking for it; and the best ways of reaching them. This will define everything you do in your search engine marketing campaign.

2. Define Your Goals

It is very dangerous to start a search engine marketing campaign without some predefined goals. What will most likely happen is that you'll spend a year of time and money running a scattered campaign and not have a clue whether it was successful. You need to know what you want to gain so you'll be able to determine whether the results of your campaign were indeed worth the time and money you've spent.

Some goals to consider:

  • % increase in online sales
  • A certain number of qualified sales leads per month
  • % increase in overall web traffic

Before you start your campaign, be sure you capture a baseline metric to be able to compare against later.

3. Decide How You Will Reach Your Audience?

A lot of people think that a search engine optimized website is all they need to reach their audience. For some, this may be true, but for the vast majority of people, it will never be enough. In competitive markets, the really great search phrases are incredibly hard to optimize for. These customers have to consider pay-per-click-advertising, content marketing (blogs, white papers, etc.), social media, and even traditional advertising methods.

As you start deciding where to spend time and money, there are several things that you should consider. You want the content on your website to be written and organized for that audience, including making sure that the content is tightly focused on certain key search phrases and your page titles reflect those phrases. Then, you'll want to make sure that you are marketing it in ways that will reach your audience. This may include a pay-per-click advertising if the majority of your customers come from search engines, or it could mean that you spend more time writing a blog and participating on other blogs. It all goes back to knowing your desired audience really well.

While this is just skimming the surface when it comes to search engine optimization and marketing, it will help you get started the right way. By being thoughtful on the front end, you'll make fewer mistakes and waste less time.

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