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SEO (search engine optimization) helps drive organic traffic to your website. If you attract the right people, you can convert that traffic into paying customers without shelling out a fortune on ads. If you’ve recently acquired a business that has never taken SEO seriously, you’re potentially sitting on a gold mine.
However, rising to the top of SERPs (search engine results pages) is a challenge when you have thousands of other businesses competing for the same spot. To beat them and stand a chance of reducing your acquisition costs, you need to understand your target market and the search engines themselves. Only then can you devise a strategy that turns you into a customer magnet.
But first, what is SEO, really?
SEO is ostensibly about optimizing your digital presence so it appears at or near the top of SERPs. In reality, it’s about understanding your customers’ problems and then presenting yourself as the best possible solution to those problems. It’s not about wildly stuffing keywords on your website or blog, but becoming an authority on the topics your customers care about.
How Google Search algorithms work
Google handles over 75 percent of Web traffic, and its search algorithm is designed to give users the best possible experience. If SEO were just about publication volume or keyword density, the Internet’s biggest search engine would fail — the algorithm would be too easy to game, leaving users exposed to unscrupulous businesses, scammers and worse.
So, how do you do SEO well?
An SEO strategy that reduces CAC
A good SEO strategy is one that attracts traffic that converts, reducing your customer acquisition costs (CACs) and boosting revenue. The good news is that SEO is cheap. You don’t need an expert and you don’t need expensive software, just a clear strategy that you can track and refine as time goes on. Everything else — keyword tools and the like — are mostly free.
It would be beyond the scope of this article to list all the things you might do to optimize your digital presence for Google Search. Google has already done this for you and better than I ever could. Instead, let’s think about your SEO strategy a little more broadly. If you’ve never undertaken SEO, it might all seem a bit overwhelming, so let’s think of SEO in two ways: passive and active.
Passive SEO is following Google’s instructions above. This mainly involves creating a site map, writing meta descriptions, page titles, and so on, and ensuring that Google can compile data from your website. Think of it as creating the conditions for customers to find you.
Active SEO is ongoing work that you do to stay relevant, meaningful and helpful to your customers. The better you fulfill the need behind customers’ search queries, the better you’ll rank. As a result, active SEO changes with news, buyer behavior, competitor activity and market trends. Let’s take a close look at how active SEO works.
Three ways to active SEO
1. Learn what your customers care about
To increase your chances of ranking highly on Google, you must understand what your target customers care about. In my previous business, we interviewed our customers, surveyed them, researched the market, read reviews and testimonials until we could think and talk like our customers. With that inside knowledge, we knew how to present ourselves as the best solution to our customers’ problems and in their language too.
This also helps color keyword research. You can match certain keywords to common frustrations, pain points or problems and then rewrite your existing copy to springboard to the top of search results.
2. Become an authority
It’s not enough to simply write about what you do. Think of all the tangential and associated issues your customers face. My company at the time created mobile apps for small businesses and we produced content on every conceivable topic related to mobile marketing. You could say we wrote the book on it. The result was that we were consistently in the top five results on Google whenever anyone asked a question related to mobile marketing.
When you add value by solving problems or giving advice in your field, your prospects come to respect you as an authority. So, too, will press and other entities that might link back to your site and increase its authority, which in turn, will drive more traffic to you. And the more you help people, the likelier they are to buy from you.
3. Create, share, distribute
Active SEO is playing the long game. It can take four to six months before Google recognizes your work and you start clawing your way to the top. The trick here is to keep the momentum going. Create content to a strict schedule that spans different mediums and channels; contact press, partners and other people who have a publishing platform; and pitch guest blog posts. Appear on podcasts or start your own. Network and grow, harness social media to push your SEO agenda, and never pass up an opportunity to talk, write or stream about your business.
SEO and content marketing are two sides of the same coin. SEO helps get you in front of your customers, but then you need to deliver on your promises. The Internet is saturated with dull, repackaged dross that no one wants — don’t add to that pile. Instead, think of SEO as part of a customer-centric business model where you help customers be more successful. The greater your digital presence, the higher its authority. And the more valuable you are, the less you need to spend on acquisition. Customers will come to you.