NOTE: This is the fourth segment in our “How to Sell Series.” You can read other segments here.
So you’ve built your client a whiz-bang website. It looks great, captures visitor contact information to add to email lists, moves potential customers along the sales funnel and drives branding. But how are you driving traffic to it?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), of course. SEO is the process by which a website is optimized for certain keywords so that they appear higher in the search engine results.
Theoretically, agencies should be selling SEO services with every single website they build (unless, of course, the client doesn’t want their site to be found by search engines–and there are some out there). Yet, budgets being what they are, some clients choose to forgo SEO. Here are some tips to help agencies convince clients it’s worth the extra expense.
Basic beginnings of an SEO program
Oftentimes, when a client doesn’ t have budget to support a true SEO initiative, the agency will assure them that the site is built with “best practices,” in mind, meaning that the site architecture is built with searches in mind, that the copy is readable by both humans and search engines, etc. While that is sometimes the case (and sometimes not), the only true way to take advantage of SEO is to start with keyword research and analysis. By researching relevant keywords (in addition to those the client supplies), an agency will have a solid foundation to create the AI and start creating content.
For written content, the copy must be written in a way that balances what the search engines want and what visitors need. Fortunately, with the ever-increasingly sophistication of search engines, these are quickly becoming one and the same. It’s worthwhile to invest time and energy into copywriting that serves all those purposes simultaneously. And not all copywriters do this. For non-text content (images, video, etc.), it’s essential to properly tag them, as they are virtually invisible to search engines.
Taking these first steps are the basic steps that should be taken for all sites, and should be required. However, additional steps are needed for an SEO program to truly have an impact on the bottom line.
Kick SEO up a notch
One thing that all search engines love is fresh content. Once the SEO basics have been implemented, it’s essential to continue to keep site content new, relevant and interesting, and the easiest way to achieve this is blogging. The more you blog, the fresher the content, the bigger the impact on the site’s traffic.
But posting new content doesn’t always have to blogging. It could be video. It could be a podcast. It could be images that are regularly updated (just make sure any non-text content is properly tagged, so the search engines can find it).
The SEO Coup de Grace
If on-page optimization efforts are like a target for search engines to send traffic to, then inbound links are like arrows pointing the way. Inbound links back to a site tell search engines that what the information on the site is valuable, and this is particularly true when an inbound link contains relevant keywords.
There are many ways to obtain inbound links. Website and business directories are a great place to start, as search engines sometimes use these to help their indexing. Directory listings are also a more affordable way to garner inbound links.
More time-intensive methods can include blogger outreach and online community engagement (i.e. social networking), and social bookmarking. In each of these instances, it’s important to understand that the company is participating in a community with the goal of generating links back to its site. The key, of course, is participation, and not spamming. That means posting relevant information, and not just the client’s latest blog post. It also often can lead to relationship development, which in our opinion, is a key goal of participating in social media.
The bottom line is this: Building things is nice. Building things that people find useful is better. And building things that can be found (and then used) is best.