Search Engine Optimization and It’s Direct Impact on Traffic, Lead Generation and Sales
Did you know that about half of the traffic arriving on a majority of websites today comes from organic search? Well, this means that your rank on search engines plays a bigger role in your site’s growth than email, paid search, social media, and direct visitors combined. So, how can you ensure that your website stands out especially with so much content being released to the web every day? SEO is definitely your answer.
For this post, we look at the four key pillars of SEO management that will help you target and reach the appropriate audience for your business.
1. Understand Your Demand
Want to create an effective SEO management plan? Begin by identifying the topics that interest your targeted audience the most. You can start by looking at the existing content on your website to determine the type or topics that drive the most success. Besides, you may also want to take a closer look at your target buyer personas as well as their buying behavior. At the end of your study, you should be able to have a clear understanding of the market you’re targeting including its motivations, pain points, and even budgets.
At this point, consider using keyword research to determine the top topics that generate buzz within your industry. You can then examine these keywords before settling for a few prospective ones that, if fully developed, can get you on top of search engines.
2. Identify Your Competition
As mentioned earlier, the web continues to become more competitive by the day. As such, do not be deluded into thinking that you’re the only one competing to occupy the top position for your preferred keyword. If anything, you’ll most likely be working to outrank a competitor when starting out in your SEO campaign.
To begin, you need to examine the top brands that are presently occupying higher positions on SERPs and get to know their strengths as well as weaknesses. Here, you can choose to focus on various aspects such as the social strategies they’ve employed, types of content adopted, topics covered, etc. If feasible, feel free to incorporate your competitors’ strategies into your SEO campaign.
3. Create and Optimize your Website’s Content and Design
At this point, you should be having sufficient knowledge to help you create content that converts. For example, you already know the appropriate keywords to target, your audience and its preferences, and your competition. Using this information, you can comfortably create valuable content that reflects the work put into it. This should be the type of content that readers find easy to share and which can also prompt them to return to your website at a future date. To achieve such a feat, be sure to position your brand as a leader by providing deep, insightful content and not just sharing other people’s content.
Once you have created your content, consider optimizing it for search.
Below are a few important rules you need to observe:
- Use your target keywords naturally in your content.
- Place relevant keywords in the right areas such as the title tag, headings, URL slug, image tags, and alt tags.
- Focus on link building- both inbound and outbound.
- Create a site map.
- Enhance the speed of your website.
- Incorporate local keywords where needed.
- Optimize your website for mobile use; responsive web design.
Besides these aspects onsite, focus on creating your social media profiles, create a schedule for posting content that brings people back to your site and incorporate lead generation tools (like a simple e-mail sign-up or landing page).
4. Quantify Your Results
This is perhaps the most commonly skipped step by a majority of webmasters conducting SEO campaigns. Yet, the analytics which you collect in this step will possibly have the most impact on your present and future SEO programs. For example, it is here that you get to know what works for your business and that which doesn’t as far as SEO is concerned. Needless to say, the information you get here will assist you in making more informed decisions in any future SEO programs. Besides, you can also have concrete evidence to present to the senior management when showing the ROI of your activities.
Some of the common metrics you can use to determine the success or failure of your SEO campaign include organic search numbers, revenue amassed, bounce rates, and opt-ins. Using these pointers, you’ll likely be in a better position to make informed decisions on the appropriate steps to take moving forward.
If you’re looking to enjoy massive results with your SEO management activities, ensure to have in place a firm strategy that follows the four steps outlined in this post. This way, you can boost your brand reach, engage your audience in a better manner, and ultimately drive your business results forward.
Need Help with SEO? You Have Come to the Right Place!
At 92 West, we not only train clients on how to implement their own strategies, but can handle the implementation of onsite and offsite search engine optimization. Please contact us at 402.620.2633 or fill out a request for proposal and we can craft a custom campaign for you.
Branding is more than your logo; it’s at every point of contact.
I happened to bump into a longtime friend at a networking event just the other day where we had a quick chat on how our respective businesses were faring. He informed me that his was doing fine, its operations were running smoothly, he had a great team to work with, he sort of had everything you possibly could wish for in a successful business. However, he still had a major concern to address: his employees, despite doing their jobs well, were not showing the desired level of commitment to uphold the values and mission of his business. Put simply, they seemed not to understand the importance of his company culture. His is not an isolated case.
Let’s face it. Implementing a business culture is without doubt one of the most difficult tasks any business owner can complete. The process entails getting people to believe in what you do (or say) and having them change their behaviors to align themselves to that. Thankfully, once you have your culture in place, maintaining it is quite easy.
Below are Four Proven Tips That I Have Found Useful When Trying to Enhance / Ingrain Your Company Culture.
1) Always… and I mean Always Instill Your Firm’s Culture in Your Employees
(It’s not my way, it’s the 92 West way; we all benefit from believing in the core mission and practices of the company.)
Just like any other form of learning, repetition matters when it comes to teaching your employees about that which your company stands for and the behaviors you’d like them to adopt. So, keep emphasizing these values all the time you’re with them even when you think they’re already conversant with them.
2) Never Bend Your Rules
More often than not, you’ll get into situations whereby you’re left considering whether to make cultural exceptions for the “convenience” of your business. However, here is the caveat: once you compromise some of your beliefs, reverting to the norm becomes quite difficult for you. In fact, it becomes harder to reinforce any of the lost value and behavior when there’s a contradictory precedent that others can reference to in future. For this reason, try to stick to your outlined business guidelines at all time.
3) Mind Your Workforce
This is probably a no-brainer but the team you choose to work with will in most cases determine how effectively your company culture is implemented. As such, it’s important for you to hire people that show a commitment to promote and uphold your set guidelines. So, no matter how talented or hardworking an employee is, if he/she is not ready to follow these guidelines, then they are better off gone.
4) Pick Your Brand Stewards
Choose a few of your employees who you think do command respect from others and who also respect your company culture. Leverage their positions and influence to help infuse your company values to the rest in your company. This method works best in smaller businesses where communication is more direct and bureaucratic layers are fewer.
Business Culture and Branding
In another life I was an Advertising Coordinator for AAA. We had an amazing team and I learned a great deal from my peers, but I think the largest impact that was made was that your brand is made or broken at every point of contact. Certainly going beyond the logo and into how people dress… answer the phone… e-mail’s…. document creation…. customer interaction… the list is endless, but it all goes into the perception of the brand. If you build a culture that your employee’s love and follow it will show in their work and in their day-to-day interactions with other decision makers. If your employee’s love you. Your client’s / customers will have a much easier job doing so.
That’s a Wrap!
If you are keen on running a successful business, you will agree with me that some of the soft aspects discussed in this post are just as critical as the hard aspects. This is why you need to give them the level of attention they deserve. Of course, building a company culture won’t come easy, but the effort placed towards the cause will be well worth it in the end.
2626 Harney Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68131
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In today’s digital age, it is the customers who call the shots in determining how user-experiences are driven. This is one of the reasons brands have been forced to expand their customer touch points from email and social media platforms to now include micro-moments which offer more relevant and real-time experiences.
At 92 West, we understand better than anyone else how different people communicate and operate in an evolving digital world. Our digital strategy service involves aligning customer engagement with culture-driven behavioral changes which play a huge role in the way people interact with any business today. We then make use of various technologies such as CRMs to deliver experiences that build customer loyalty.
Let’s cover some of the basics in building consumer loyalty.
How Important is Engagement?
In today’s highly competitive world, engagement is a critical aspect of any business’s success. Indeed, a business will hardly achieve anything or complete any action without it. And now with the growing prominence of the digital world, engagement is quickly becoming more and more sophisticated. For example, brands now have to employ various strategies to connect and market their offerings to their consumers and prospects. A while back, mass reach and exposure were considered to be excellent strategies for businesses seeking to build brands and make sales. However, this method no longer guarantees great results which is why more marketers are turning to engagement to connect with their consumers.
Engagement vs. Exposure – Why Engagement Wins This Battle
As mentioned earlier, most organizations and businesses historically focused on reaching as large an audience as they could. After accomplishing this, they could then hope to get a portion of that market become loyal to their brand. However, things have changed significantly over the past few years with most of the organizations now making use of new media to connect directly with people. Thankfully, a majority of the new communication platforms available today offer more effective ways to measure engagement which is unlike their older counterparts. For example, it is now easier to tell if consumers are engaged by measuring their level of interaction, sharing of your content, response to your messages, or actual conversion.
Today’s Consumer Behavior
You possibly by now have come across the term “Gen C”, a popular term used to describe the current generation of consumers.
So, Who Comprise Gen C?
Gen C entails a crop of consumers who were brought up living digital lives and who thrive mainly on creation, community, curation, and connection. It is the most expressive of all generations and uses social networks and content platforms to do express themselves. As such, they are almost always looking for content to devour and are equally keen on sharing what they know with others. From this brief description, it’s easy to tell that conversation is an essential part of their lives. Considering that this group makes up quite a considerable share of consumer market today, your ability to connect with it can make or break your brand growth and market reach.
What You Need to Know About Gen C
– They lead artists’ lifestyles
A few years ago, photos and videos were a preserve of professional photographers and were mainly meant for special occasions. Not anymore. Today, Gen C carry a camera everywhere they go and love capturing every moment they deem appropriate however ordinary or pointless they may be. To them, being in possession of pictures of their everyday activities helps them see a newness in every day they live.
– They fancy curating their lives in real-time
In addition to recording their lives visually using cameras and video recorders, Gen C also love curating and sharing whatever they do with their communities. Indeed, research shows that one out of every four upload their video online every week, and nearly half upload their photos every week. To them, this is a way of reinforcing their sense of self and image.
– Sharing energizes them
To Gen C, sharing is much more than just clicking that button on their smartphone or PC. Indeed, emotional response elicited by the objects shared (comments, likes, tweets, retweets, etc.) is what matters the most to them. So, whenever you’re creating content that targets Gen C, ensure that it’s something they can relate and which can provoke their emotions.
– They are extremely keen on authenticity
Gen C want to create their own experiences, are real, and very thoughtful. This is why you’ll find them preferring to create their own arts instead of attending to invitations to experience someone else’s masterpiece. To satisfy this market segment, therefore, you need to provide authentic content that matches their quality standards.
Creating an Engagement Pyramid and Why it Works
As mentioned earlier, there are two main ways through which you can connect with your audience; first, you could opt to reach or broadcast to as many people as you can; alternatively, you could prioritize a particular (often small) group of people and perfect your art of engaging them which you can learn from the way they interact.
Based on our earlier discussion, the former strategy hardly works today which is why you’ll need to adopt the latter especially if you’re eyeing Gen C. So, instead of advertising to 100 percent of the market and hoping for some to drop to the bottom of your funnel, you’re better off concentrating on, say 5 percent, that show interest in what you say and offer. In most cases, this group includes your current customers as well as those that are likely to influence others towards your brand. This way, you tend to create an “engagement pyramid” since it entails turning your reach-driven funnel upside down.
Engagement pyramids are not new phenomena. Indeed, they have been credited for the success of some of the top brands today such as GoPro, Warby Parker, Amazon, and Starbucks. These are companies that have come up in the last 10-15 years and thus understands how important it is to build engagement with consumers. As such, most (if not all) follow a rather similar strategy to connect with their users; they begin by creating something consumers love. They then invest in higher engagement media which they use to connect with the small group of people showing the most interest in their products/services. Ultimately, they use insights provided by these people to build further scale.
In a Nutshell, Here’s how to build and implement an engagement-centric approach:
– Be available to your audience at all times
Let’s face it. Today’s audiences are quite demanding yet extremely impatient. This therefore means that you need to always be on your toes lest your competition snatches them away from you for failing to meet their needs promptly. So, what does this mean? You need to always be available whenever your audience asks for something from you.
– Create deep, authentic content that your audiences can relate to
With the rate at which the visual and social webs are growing, there’s a need to rethink the way you approach your advertising. While you may still need to post those glossy photos from your photo shoot or release a TV commercial via your social platforms, that shouldn’t be the end of your approach. Remember that your competition could also be using that same approach. So, what’s left for you to offer and stand out from the rest? Well, there are a few options available for you including giving an authentic story of yourself (or your brand), holding expert interviews or just making live announcements. And for the part of creating stories, you don’t even have to do it by yourself- you could leverage the power of your fans to help generate content that broader audiences can relate to.
– Encourage participation
As mentioned earlier, Gen C thrive best on participation. And so for you to connect with them better, there’s a need to have them talking about your brand. So strive to create exciting experiences that add value to your community and motivate people to talk about you. While at it, jump into the middle of their conversations and to steer them in the direction you deem appropriate.
– Use better signals
Today, there’s no shortage of high-signal platforms to help you gather insights on what works best for your brand when seeking to engage your most valuable customers or prospects. For example, you may want to look at the rate in which your content is shared or endorsed on social media, how much time your visitors are willing to spend on your business, etc. You can then determine the correlations between the different metrics tested and their economic outcomes for your business. Using this information, it’s easier to optimize your engagement strategy and the entire marketing at large.
That’s a Wrap!
How can 92 West Help?
Truly, we exceed customer expectations and consequently enhance user engagement with our client’s brands. This strategy has seen us successfully help hundreds of companies define and achieve success.
Define Your Website’s Purpose from the Word Go!
Website design and development, when you look at it from a whole, can be overwhelming; it doesn’t matter if it’s your first site or if your redeveloping your 5th. At 92 West, we start with defining your website’s core purpose which fall into 1 of 3 categories:
- Marketing: Every page, graphic and piece of content is crafted to increase traffic and convert visitors. This style of website is developed with the specific purpose of supporting your business and marketing goals. At 92 West we incorporate a CMS (ExpressionEngine or WordPress) with the core functions devoted to easy content management, client acquisition and search engine optimization. We also integrate your e-mail marketing and connect the your social media accounts for direct posting.
- E-Commerce: 92 West has built hundreds of e-commerce websites for companies in the Omaha Metro area and beyond. E-commerce efforts address specific business goals with the primary focus being on maximizing conversion rates. If you have a need for either a custom solution or something out-of-the-box, we can help with the product catalog, shopping cart and checkout process, search engine optimization, seo semantic code, customer account creation, content management and of course security.
- Establish Credentials: New businesses especially need to create a web presence that establishes them as the experts that they are while also focusing on converting visitors to customers. This includes focusing on user-centered design, integration with existing sales tools (like Sales Force, Constant Contact etc.) and creating a site that puts our client in the driver seat for the next curve in the road.
Once you have established the purpose of the site you need to hammer down your pages, what you expect them to do, how you want them to do it and when you want this to happen.
Next step is the site-map; truly the foundation of the site.
Phase 1: Site-Map
A site-map is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a hierarchy of pages that give you the base of the site. From this base you built the structure.
Think of it like this… the site-map is like pouring the foundation of your building or home. Once you have it set-up and begin the process of setting up the walls it’ll be harder to add in or subtract out information. So, do your site justice and spend time figuring out what you want the site to say, how it relates to your goals and how this is the best experience for your customer.
Once you have that finalized the foundation we move onto design and function.
Phase 2: Responsive Web Design & Business Goals
More often than not, people start with the desktop experience first and then worry about mobile second. This is a fail… Start with the mobile layouts first and then expand them to what the desktop version will look like. It’ll save you time and certainly “development dollars”.
Form and Function + Creative & Marketing
Each section of the site can have a different look or elements / functions integrated to make that web page a positive experience for the end user (potential client). Keep this in mind when selecting which design elements to implement on your home, about us, informational pages, services pages, gallery / portfolio pages, search / search results, blog, testimonials, contact us and landing pages.
Common Design Elements to Incorporate:
- Meta Data (Unique Title, Description and Social Images for Each Page)
- Primary Navigation
- Mobile Navigation
- Background Images / Video
- Icon Fonts (Font Awesome for Instance)
- Accordion (Used for FAQ or Q&A)
- Image / Video Slider (We like the JQuery / WordPress version of Revolution Slider)
- Animations (Dictated by JQuery or CSS)
- Gallery (Grid or Masonry) or Portfolio
- Online Chat (Helps with Sales)
- Testimonials (Use them as a design element throughout the site rather than a page. No one visits the testimonial / review section… build trust by making them an integral part of the site.
For the best results, look at your industry leaders and what they incorporate. It doesn’t mean that what they have is the right decision for you, but it certainly gives you a place to start from. Early in the process, speak with your developer and your designer to make sure that your business goals for the site are known. They’ll be able to lead you in a direction that perhaps you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Be Bold, But Focused
Above all else… Each page should have 1 focus and 1 focus only. Everyone is clamoring for attention. Ensure that every element is deliberate and enhances the website as it relates to your business goals. The site is a tool that can wield wonderful results if implemented correctly.
Phase 3: Software & Hosting
Prior to developing the site you’ll want to have a home to build your code. If you have hosting… Great! Call them and talk about their platform and the pros and cons of what you are trying to do with them. Perhaps everything is awesome and you’ll be fine. However, some providers may have issues with what you are trying to accomplish. It’s best to vet them before setting up shop. Problems with the server can delay the project and increase costs.
At 92 West we have our own dedicated servers and set them up with our development in mind. For $20.00 a month it’s a great piece of mind to be able to call when trouble arises. It’s our equipment… we want it them performing at their best as well as we have our own sites on them.
Phase 4: Web Development: Creating Function to Match the Purpose
Concept to Functional Code
Taking a concept from PSD to a working model of HTML / PHP / JQuery / CSS… well you get the picture… takes an experienced web developer or a team of developers. Be sure to vet the people you are hiring. Ask for prior work. Testimonials and points of contact to verify.
Code to Working within the CMS
We love integrating into content management systems. Particularly, we love ExpressionEngine, WordPress and Magento. Each have their purpose and different approaches (details for another post I think). If you have a preference, make sure your developer knows this in advance. Again, you should see the inner workings of their examples as well. A CMS should be easy to update. If it’s not… then the developer hasn’t done their job.
So where to start? At 92 West we’ll create all the common elements first (Header, Footer…. Anything that will make it’s way across the entire site). Then we move onto individual sections. If a section has multiple dependencies (Like your blog or home page for instance), we build those parts first as the site will be pulling content from those sections and it’ll make it easier for our team to test.
Once all your sections have been built. Test. Test. Test. Test on multiple platforms with multiple browsers. Devils in the details and sometimes your design doesn’t play well with others. Review. Update. Move Forward.
Phase 5: Website Content
So now that the site is built, we need the content. For this we’ll rely on the site-map and build a folder structure that we will put the .doc, .jpg, .png, .gif, and .pdf files. Each page has a folder. Make it tidy and check off each page as the content has been completed. If you stay organized while putting the content together your design / development team will be able to delivery the working site faster.
Phase 6: Testing
Test. Test. Test. Test everything you can. We love using BrowserStack for our testing purposes, but if you have a few Windows machines, a Mac, Windows Phone, Android Phones, iPhone, iPad and a Tablet handy…. just use a paid service. For $50.00 or less you’ll save yourself hours of time and it’s automated.
Phase 7: Training
At 92 West, we offer 2 to 3 hours of in person training and also do video tutorials for each website we have completed. If your developer hasn’t included this into their proposal… make them. No one wants to have to make a phone call at 2AM because frank forgot how to login. Plus, we believe that you should be able to control your content. If you need help. We will certainly lend a hand.
Phase 8: Recap & Continued Growth
Once it’s done it’s time to rejoice, have a drink and look at the process as a whole. What could you do better. What could your developer and design team to differently. Take notes. Improve for next time.
Recap: Well, I hope this helps you along your way as this has been our process for many years. Each time we learn something new and adapt it to our process, but the framework has stayed the same; trustworthy and proven.
If you need help with your next web project please contact us at https://www.92west.com/contact or give us a call at 402.620.2633 anytime!