How can small businesses improve brand recognition? What actions grow an audience or foster customer loyalty?
Accomplishing these goals requires having visibility online, or showing up high on a search engine page in response to a query.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a requisite digital marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes. SEO not only allows businesses to take control of how search engines, potential customers, and existing customers perceive their brand but also improves their authority online.
SEO comprises multiple components, including on-page website structure and usability, off-page link building, and keyword research. Itâ€™s no surprise that many small businesses may be scared of SEO. In fact, of the small businesses that maintain a company website, only half do SEO, according to a survey on digital marketing trends in the small business market.
For small businesses looking to launch an SEO strategy, what tactics should they prioritize? Currently, small businesses look to onsite optimization and local search optimization the most. While only 25 percent focus on creating quality content that earns links, according to the same survey.
Although it is heartening that more thanÂ half of the respondents optimize for onsite SEO and local search, many small businesses fail to take advantage of a powerful tactic that can improve their brand awareness, drive traffic to their website, improve their Page Rank, and boost their position in search engine results.
Related Article: How Content Marketing Campaigns Can Drive Huge SEO Impact
So, whatâ€™s the key to an effective SEO strategy?
Content creation, which includes crafting unique content for your site, guest blogging on other sites, and maintaining a company blog, is something small businesses cannot afford to ignore.
The Search Engine Shift
Traditional SEO focused largely on keywords and links. However, Google’s Panda and Penguin updates changed this approach forever.Â The shift emphasizes that content is king. In other words, content plays a large role in determining a companyâ€™s position on the search engine page and its websiteâ€™s Domain Authority.
Industry Leaders Support the Shift Toward Content Creation
Content creation grants a business authority in its industry. Although having a functioning website thatâ€™s optimized for easy usability is important, having high-quality content establishes a business as a resource.Â Through the unique content itself or links to other relevant sources, a business secures the reputation as a reliable asset that can anticipate customersâ€™ needs and questions.
â€œContent is a means of educating customers so that they feel something for the company. Then, later on, if the potential customer needs something, they will go to the company that built their trust in the first place by providing useful resources.â€ â€“ Garrett Mehrguth, CEO, Directive Consulting
In fact, a June 2015 report from Ascend2 revealed that 72 percent of international marketers surveyed indicated that relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic at their disposal, a full 24 percentage points higher than the next most effective tactic, keyword research.
SEO Demands a Multi-Channel Approach
An effective SEO strategy entails more than just ranking high on a page for particular keywords. Building your brandâ€™s presence online is just as important.Â Because of this, SEO requires a comprehensive approach that includes not only on-site but also off-site strategies.Â Some industry leaders believe off-site SEO tactics are the most important.
â€œThe majority of a businessâ€™ efforts should be allocated to off-page SEO tactics, like guest posting and creating quality content to get links. Off-page SEO is where a business builds authority.â€ â€“ Matthew Goulart, Founder, Ignite Digital
Building up a content portfolio is the main off-site SEO tactic. And, small businesses can use three different strategies to accomplish this task.
Three Strategies to Build a Content Portfolio for SEO
- Create unique, long form content for your companyâ€™s website on a regular basis.Â In fact, since discovering that readers want in-depth, long form content, Google began prioritizing these pages in search results.
- Maintain an on-site blog.Â The more content you produce, the more pages Google indexes for your company.Â For example, companies that blog have 434 percent more indexed pages, which translates into more leads, according to Search Engine Journal.Â Additionally, Google evaluates websites based on freshness, or the amount of new content posted. Freshness is important because it attracts return visitors to your businessâ€™ site.Â Having regular visitors facilitates relationship building between a brand and its audience.
- Guest blog on reputable websites
Related Article: Keeping Up With Content: How SEO is Changing in 2016
Not enough small businesses use content creation to improve SEO. The trend is unfortunate, since content creation is a powerful tool that provides exceptional results.Â Search engine algorithms prioritize authoritative content, and traditional SEO tactics simply are not as effective as they once were.
In place of keywords and random links, search engines now look for long-form, high quality, and engaging, content because that’s what most people seek.Â Overall, content creation boosts a businessâ€™ ability to rank for search terms, improve its freshness score, and attract return visitors to its website.