Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a suite of tactics brands use to boost their ranking on search engine results pages, also known as SERPs. Put simply, the higher the search engine ranking a web page achieves, the more exposure—and, potentially, conversions—brands can realize from their online efforts.
It’s important to note that placement on SERPs isn’t entirely dependent upon the SEO practices of businesses. Rather, Google and other search engines have many factors and algorithms that go into determining placement or ranking. That said, there are still many SEO initiatives for brands that contribute to the cause—so many, in fact, that engaging in SEO techniques has become table stakes for modern brands.
To rank well on a search engine, a business needs three primary things: a website that is search engine friendly, optimized content and links pointing to its website, also known as backlinks. Specifically, from a marketing standpoint, SEO describes the practice of creating optimized content and generating those backlinks. For the sake of this post, we are going to assume you have a search engine friendly website but we should point out that having a poorly coded website can hamper the search engines bots from crawling all your content having a negative impact on your rankings.
There are a number of strategies brands use in their SEO initiatives, including the following:
- Having a site optimized for mobile as well as desktop. Google launched an update in April 2015 and it did more than encourage businesses to have mobile functionality to their sites—it required it. In fact, websites not optimized for mobile lost substantial power in Google’s ranking system. The update, referred to by web developers as “mobilegeddon,” continues to affect businesses today. Mobile sites that rank well on Google have responsive designs and use SEO at every juncture, even within their apps.GSMA intelligence reports there are over 7.8 billion mobile devices and over 4.7 billion mobile subscribers as of November 2016. With these adoption rates, marketers and search engines alike must adopt a mobile first strategy.
- Having a keywordstrategy. Keywords drive SEO and the entire premise of search. It’s vital that companies do keyword research, applying those terms to their content when relevant. At first it might make sense to go after more commonly used or entered keywords but many marketers might find it more effective to go after less commonly used terms referred to as long tail keywords or phrases with less competition. Albeit you’ll get less traffic for these keywords but your chances of ranking higher is more likely. Keywords should also be used on web page’s meta tags. These meta tags help tell search engines what this particular web page and its content are about. We call this on-page optimization.
- Having a robust content strategy with regular updates and fresh content tell search engines your site is activehelping you rank better than inactivewebsites.Participate in activities that generate backlinks. Brands can gain backlinks and mentions by employing influencer marketing techniques, being interviewed by publications, and curating (and encouraging the curation of) relevant content. When a search engine identifies links from other websites pointing to or referring to content on your website, your site will rank higher in search engine results. Especially if the site linking to your site has a high page rank or authority.
IMA has assembled a list of search engine optimization tools designed to help you rank better. You can also reach out to the dedicated IMA thought leader for SEO support.