Attn SMEs: 5 Misconceptions About SEO That May Lead You Awry

You as an astute marketer, drive the success of your brick-and-mortar businesses as you live and breathe. But even if you are a well-known brand on the streets, that does not guarantee that you will be king in the digital atmosphere.
Even if digital marketing is something that could be unventured territory for you, the good news is that you have identified SEO as an opportunity and you are open to trying it out.

The facts are:

  • At least 50% of your customers would search for you on their mobile before they walk through your door
  • 75% will only click on Organic Listings.

Enter: SEO specialists who will assist you in getting those customers from their phone screens to your doorstep.
Now comes the problem. All the major search engines, especially Google, have significantly altered their algorithms in the past couple of years. Meaning, SEO has become somewhat of a mystery. The harsh reality is that most “SEO specialists” out there either have outdated SEO strategies or falsely advertise their services to have you believe that they can lasso the moon for you.

Having been in the market for over 10 years, PurpleClick has helped hundreds of SMEs realise their business goals through performance marketing–SEO being one of our effective solutions offered.

Through this post, we would like to crackdown on the prevailing misconceptions which are influencing the decisions of SMEs. So as you crack down on your digital marketing KPIs, we hope that this guide can help you sniff out BS, and better identify which solution is the most suited for your business.

 

Content Marketing Is The New SEO
SEO and content marketing are two different techniques altogether even though they go hand in hand. Let us explain.

Users on search engines are self-directed. They could be anywhere in their journey to purchase:

  1. Awareness: “I want to know”
  2. Consideration: “I want to evaluate”
  3. Intention: “I know what I want/need”
  4. Action: “I want to buy”
  5. Loyalty: “I want to buy again”

And so they go on social media, look at ads, visit review websites, click on emails and so on, even before they purchase.

A well-implemented content strategy establishes trust and authority every step of the 5-step journey, which helps you to build a relationship with your customers. The purpose of content marketing is to reach out to a self-directed buyer, with an awareness of where they are in their journey. That is, to hit the mark in delivering the right message to the prospect at the right time.
Hansel and Gretel
This is slightly different from SEO because our role is primarily focused on the ‘Awareness’ and ‘Consideration’ steps. We build the environment for a self-directed user to DISCOVER your content. That way they feel empowered that the decision is not forced.
Using Hansel and Gretel as a reference, our expertise is in leaving breadcrumbs, not building the candy house.

 

We Have To Be In The Top Rankings
In the past, SEO was largely focused on ranking for popular keywords. These rankings were then closely monitored to maintain high rankings and improve lower ranking ones. This is still in line with the key objective of SEO: get visibility in Search Engines.

However, you don’t always have to be on top in order to meet other objectives of SEO i.e. getting people to click through to your website, which actually may be more important to you as a marketer. User behaviour has shifted so much so that there is less emphasis on rankings for even popular keywords since more users are looking for things beyond Page 1.

Even though keyword tracking is still relevant, the focus is more on long-form content that ranks naturally in search queries.

Below is a case study of a Singapore-based events company that sought PurpleClick’s SEO services.
While the company had established a brand for itself in the real world, it needed a little more help to educate their potential clients about its value propositions online.

As one of our strategies, we created a new page with the URL “event-organiser/” and weaved the keyword “event management singapore” into long form content.

The goal of this was to engage the users to spend more time on the website to learn more about the principles of the company.

Keywords Performance Tracking Example
At the end of a 6-month campaign, we were able to push that particular keyword to page 2.
Nevertheless, we also found that we actually got a significant number of page views–a third of them unique–clicking through to the website and spending a long time in the website.

This in part boosted the performance of all the other keywords because the rate of people leaving (bounce & exit rates) for the pages of the website were low. This means that Google will recognise and reward the website with better ranking eventually.

Google Analytics Example

 

Getting many backlinks help you rank
A few years ago, PageRank was all the rage. This was the matrix Google used to determine the quality of your page and it was based on the number of inbound links to your site. It was pretty much the one and only way of getting Google to notice your site and to deem it as authoritative and reliable.

However, recently we are seeing a move towards brand mentions and nofollowed links as potentially important factors in determining a site’s authority. According to a patent filed by Google, both “express” and “implied” links may be used as part of their algorithm.

This means that, rather than focusing exclusively on getting thousand to ten thousand links to your site, it’s more important than ever to create a ‘buzz’ around the brand. If your brand is cited or mentioned on other websites (not linked to yours), Google stores this information and will make a connection once somebody types it in a search query.

This is a case study of one of our clients, where our SEO efforts made our client outrank Hewlett-Packard. This is despite having only a quarter of links quantity compared to theirs.
Ranking Example

 

Technical SEO is just makeup
Technical SEO is a fundamental requirement for websites of any size to rank in organic search, so to describe it as superficial is simply ridiculous. You can publish all the best content in the world, but if Google can’t crawl and index it, you are never going to show up in many of the user queries.

Technical SEO is applying strategies based on the understanding how search engines access and interpret the content on a website—where they crawl, how they read the content, the conditions that will make them index your page, etc.

If the search engines have trouble with any of these aspects, you could be placing underlying restrictions on your ability to maximise traffic from the biggest “free” source available. As Google’s algorithm gets smarter, the only way to counteract is by human intervention that ties up all the loose ends.

In this case study, we helped a client (name concealed for confidentiality) reach staggering levels of Organic Traffic with technical SEO.

Before SEO:

Example Traffic Before SEO

After SEO:

Example Traffic After SEO
The problem with the client’s website was that the title tags were either too short or too long, with no consistency. Our solution was to simplify the category title tags into a templated format and added purchase intent keywords (buy/online).
Title Tag Example
Adding the purchase intent keywords brought in long-tail traffic from searchers who are likely to be in ‘action step’ of their purchase journey. Cha-ching!

 

Social Media is the IN thing now
Social signals are links shared on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and so on. Many SEOs believe that social signals greatly affect how high a site ranks. Some SEOs have even foregone regular content creation to invest more in social media marketing.

However, as Matt Cutts from Google made it clear in a video, Google treats Facebook and Twitter signals like any other web pages for search but NOT as a ranking factor of their algorithm. Social signals are not considered inbound links, so social media should not be replacing SEO as an alternative form of link building.

However, do not be mistaken, it is still very relevant to build social media pages for business in order to create a ‘buzz’ around your brand.
Working In SEO Cartoon
As a marketer, you are arguably the most vested in keeping abreast to the latest strategies, best practices, and trends when it comes to digital marketing and SEO. Hopefully, this list has provided you with a few insights that will help you as you think about how to incorporate SEO into your company-wide goals. There’s a lot of people throwing a lot of BS out, so be wary.

Inspired by: http://www.inc.com/john-rampton/top-misconceptions-ceos-have-about-seo.html 

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