Written by: Caroline Thompson
At its core, search engine optimization (SEO) is simply a way to get more people to see the content on a website. Yet the process and strategy of SEO can be complicated and confusing for marketers who kicked off their careers before the age of Google, and as a result, many marketing teams make the mistake of ignoring SEO entirely.
Unfortunately, having no SEO strategy can seriously hinder a company’s ability to find new clients and customers, get its name in the news, and build brand awareness without spending a boatload on paid advertising.
“People use search to learn more about a topic, research products, and find businesses that are selling what they want to buy,” said Chicago-based SEO consultant Kate Neuens. “If you’re not showing up on Google, you’re missing out on that opportunity!”
As an SEO industry veteran, Neuens understands that behind every effective modern marketing department is an equally effective SEO strategy. If your marketing team is still on the fence about hiring an SEO consultant or team member to help boost your website’s overall profile, here are some compelling reasons to reconsider:
SEO is cheaper (and more effective) than paid traffic
When a person uses a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo to look something up, that’s called an organic search. If your website shows up in the first few organic search listings related to your business, this can help connect you with potential customers more effectively than paid advertising can.
In fact, Neuens points to data from BrightEdge that shows that 51 percent of all web traffic comes through organic search. In contrast, paid search accounts for 10 percent of web traffic, and social for just 5 percent. Additionally, organic search accounts for a whopping 73 percent of traffic to all business service sites, meaning the vast majority of traffic to business sites comes directly from an organic search and NOT from paid advertising.
Having an SEO on staff is likely cheaper than shelling out for monthly paid search and social ads, and can get you more business to boot.
SEO helps you control your brand narrative
“If you don’t have a voice for yourself in the Google search engine results, something negative could still show up,” cautioned Neuens.
For example, let’s say you own a bakery, but your website barely scratches the top 10 search results. If someone writes a bad review about your shop on Yelp, Google or Facebook, that could be the first thing potential customers see when they search your name. Not a good look!
SEO can help you take back your story and control your brand perception.
Content is not enough
Many marketing departments falsely assume that having a content manager, strategist or writer on the team is the same thing as having an SEO specialist, but this is rarely true. While a comprehensive SEO strategy will indeed include a LOT of content, content alone is not a substitute for SEO. A writer may be able to push out 12 articles a week, but if they’re poor quality, or optimized incorrectly, they will do nothing to help raise your site’s SEO profile.
A good SEO will work alongside your content team, giving them strategies, keywords and topics to work on, and helping to produce quality content that works.
What should you look for in an SEO specialist?
Adding an SEO specialist to your team is important, but you need to make sure you hire the right person. Because SEO is often seen as technical magic by those who don’t understand how it works, many companies end up paying too much money for someone who’s just not that good at their job. In order to vet an SEO expert during the hiring process, Neuens suggests doing the following:
- Check out their digital footprint and make sure they are practicing what they preach. For example, if they don’t have a website, or if their website is poorly optimized and doesn’t appear on the first page when you Google their name, walk away.
- Make sure they don’t promise crazy good results. If they say they can get you ranking number one in a month they are either lying or planning to use “black hat” SEO tactics that don’t conform to search engine guidelines. These tactics may get you results in the short term but will lead to a penalty in the long run.
- Make sure they agree to giving timely reports and ask them to explain to you exactly what they’re doing and why. If they’re reluctant or evasive about this, it’s likely that they’re either employing some shady tactics, or doing a lot less work than they’ve promised.
- Ask to see some work they did in the past and reach out to old clients to see whether they were happy with the services provided.
SEO is an important part of your marketing strategy. Download our free ebook for more key ingredients that go into a robust digital marketing mix.
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