SEO is not an add-on product by Chris Pruitt
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. I say this because I get asked often.
SEO is used as a verb, a noun and even an adjective. But it’s not an add-on product. A shopping cart is an add-on. An email newsletter that automates your client communications could be an add-on. An app for mobile that gets your fans interacting with your brand is an add-on. SEO, however, is not an add-on.
When SEO is part of the engagement from the beginning, from goal setting through goal achievement, you have the ability to make appropriate strategic decisions based on the traceable actions of your audience within your site, cross referencing the behavior and engagement through every online channel for success. Examples of traceable actions could include clicks on your local listing for driving directions or purchases made.
Consistency is critical
If you have one company in charge of your local listings, another building your website, your administrative assistant writing the site’s content, and a third company managing the company reputation on social channels, it’s possible that you may be missing out on creating the kind of trust a singular message across all channels can bring. The brands we value most tend to be models of consistency.
Why SEO should determine site architecture
SEO can help capitalize on that information by building recognition and trust with your online identity. It goes hand in hand with the basic development of your site and needs to happen before you build out your first page. SEO determines the architecture of your site based on your goals and the needs of your audience. It takes into consideration the life cycle and online habits of your customers in determining your content and how to present it best to meet your ongoing goals and those of your users.
SEO can inform the diagrammatic organization of your site so that the search robots can most efficiently do what they are designed to do and your site works effectively. Keyword research is crucial for creation of correct URLs that will best convey to the search engines the message of each page. Page headlines should back that up through descriptive wording that hooks the reader and notifies the search bots of your intent.
The integration of SEO and content
SEO done well directs the placement of content in the site in conjunction with UX (user experience) to guide the user to complete goals (form submission, calls, purchases, etc.). Additionally, SEO determines the headlines and quotes which speak to your audience by utilization of analytic data. Analytics reveals data about the visitors to your website. Correct analysis can uncover user needs bringing them to your site and staying for quality content and experiences. An example is to analyze research around what links your visitors click on, what pages do or don’t get visited and make content changes accordingly.
Calls to action
SEO has a role in creating useful calls to action in keyword rich language that appropriately speaks to users and search engines on each site page, outlining what is expected of the user. Is the page educational, informational, or targeting behavior?
The importance of integration
In best practices, SEO includes such basics as integration of your message across all online media channels – mobile, paid search, local listings, and your website.
Don’t leave leads on the table
You can build a site, maybe create or accept that there is a map listing for your brand or even post updates to a Facebook page but if you are not integrating SEO with your site development, creation of your local pages and directional goals for the social media outlets then you are likely leaving leads on the table by not gathering the right data to inform these actions. Unless you are using an evidence-based approach, you are guessing. If you are guessing, it’s hard to repeat or explain success.
An integrated SEO approach is critical
Our goal is to drive the audience looking for your products and services to your online spokes/sales people (i.e. website, Facebook pages, twitter conversations, maps listings, etc.) and have those online voices maintain consistency as the voice of your company. To do the aforementioned, an integrated, research-based model is critical. SEO is not an add-on.