Shayna Explains it All…
Where it All Began
I was a mild mannered environmental scientist before joining the Kahena Digital team this past summer. Like most people, I never really gave much thought to SEO and naively assumed that search engines returned results that were best for me. However, since joining the digital marketing field I’ve realized the folly of my Pollyannaish ways and now scrutinize the sites I visit to see if they are optimized, both for search engines and for general user experience.
It reminds me of the brutal reality check I received after taking an environmental filmmaking class in grad school (SPOILER ALERT: skip to next paragraph if you don’t want every cute animal documentary or nature special ruined for you forever). I had always assumed that those awesome and dramatic scenes of animals eating each other or otherwise doing something really cool in their natural habitat was, you know, natural. On the first day of class our professor dropped the bomb – virtually all of these scenes are staged.
While this instance simply contributed to my premature jading (like premature aging, but with your emotions), the wake-up call I received in regards to search engine results at least has a redeemable factor. Once you realize the situation you can level the playing field, or dramatically increase traffic to your site, with the help of your local SEO practitioner.
I say this as the daughter of a high school math teacher: search engines are really glorified mathematical equations. Would you leave the success of your business to the whims of a calculator?
I thought not. The solution is to be your website’s advocate: taking an active role to not only craft its content so that search engines are most likely to display your site on the coveted first page of search engine results when a potential customer is searching for your company’s product or service. Your job doesn’t end there, once people reach your site you want to ensure that their visits translate into the conversions you are looking for – be it lead generation, form completion, demo downloads, or an e-commerce product purchase. The following are I think the top three overlooked inbound marketing best practices:
1. The internet is a popularity contest
I thought I clocked out of popularity contests when I graduated high school, but having your internet peers think you are cool and want to be associated with you is crucial. Just like being picked first for teams in gym class, the more people like you (i.e. sites link to you) the more likely you are to be ranked higher on the search results page. Therefore, it’s valuable to get as many links pointing to your site as possible, just make sure they aren’t spammy.
2. Communication is key
Search engines can only know what your site is about to the extent you use important keywords in your site content. If there are certain phrases used in your industry, make sure they exist on your site.
And it can’t be behind a log-in wall! You know how you always have to type in a captcha to submit info or access a part of a site – if you can’t get there just by clicking on a link, then search engines can’t either. And, if they can’t access a page, they won’t be able to catalogue its content. If a search engine can’t read and catalogue the content of your site, your efforts to appear on the highly coveted front page of search engine results are going to prove very difficult. There are always good reason to keep content behind a wall – such as it has private information, or you are hoping people will pay for access to this info, you should at least have a teaser of the content available to everyone. For example, you are trying to sell paid subscriptions to your recipe blog. Even though you don’t want to give away the ingredients or ratios, make sure that the titles of the recipes are available for search engines to read.
3. Have a mobile site
How did the world function before smart phones? Even when sitting in front of the computer, people are on their phones. Not all websites are optimized to easily be read on mobile or tablet devices.
The less user-friendly your site is on a smartphone, the more likely you are to have your visitor bounce from your site before they had a chance to find what they were looking for. This means, for example, if a hungry potential customer came across your site you want to make your menu easy to find and scroll through. Many restaurants have a PDF of their menu, which can be cumbersome to navigate, if they list their fare at all. Or, if you are a pet supply store, even if you aren’t an e-commerce site and exist to drive traffic to your brick and mortar store, make sure that your site is set up so that visitors can easily scroll through your inventory to see that it’s worth the trip to your store to get that organic, high-fiber, vitamin enriched bird food they are looking to buy.
So there you have it – not only did I ruin nature documentaries for you, but I hope I also gave you some food for thought as to why inbound marketing is an essential tool for your website. Marketing is a natural part of any business strategy, but the digital aspect is often undervalued. I hope you will now agree that you ignore inbound marketing at your peril! Websites need to be built not only for search engines to navigate, but people as well. You can see for yourself – search for a product and compare how a site found on page 1 compares to one selling the same product but is found on page 20. I bet even after this most basic tutorial you will be able to see the difference, and utility of inbound markeing. If you want to learn more, check out our other posts about SEO strategy and how to audit your site to ensure you optimize all the things.