Late last year and carrying on into this year, the phrase “content is king” started to appear everywhere. The phrase was on blogs, think pieces, and in nearly every article written related to online marketing. Whereas in the past few years SEO was focused on keyword density and more basic factors, we’ve seen search engines ramp up their algorithm and now it is more complex than ever, leaving the professionals to determine what factors are most important when working on SEO. (You can read more about changes in SEO here.)
Because experts are no longer able to depend on a set link-building strategy or number of keywords on a page, the focus has turned to improving the user experience, which Google deems very important. This starts with a smart website design and then focuses on content—that is, the words on the page of your site, the meta-information, the quality of the content, how much content you have, how many pages you have, uniqueness of content, and the list goes on.
Now, if you are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the industry, you might be thinking, “Why should I even bother with SEO anymore if I should be focused on content?” We’re here to tell you that SEO still matters, and here’s why.
The SEO Process Naturally Improves the Overall Experience for Your Customer
SEO cannot be completed overnight and is a long-term strategy to increase your visibility across the web on search engine results, directories, and other referral sources.
SEO is a valuable process because it allows you to optimize your website and other factors that lead potential customers to your online space and convert them:
- On-site relevance based on geo and industry
- Directory listings
- Content development and distribution
- Website structure/layout and coding
- And others
Search engines look at all of these factors and more when determining what the “best” results are for a specific query. From some observation, the “best” results often include websites that are easy to navigate and understand, websites that are professionally designed for modern browsers, and websites that have credible, high-quality content.
Concentrating on these areas can help you refine your brand messages and maybe notice areas on the web where you don’t have a presence (ahem, local directories). Look at it as killing two birds with one stone: you improve SEO value, as well as improve the experience for your customer.
SEO Builds Signals for Local Marketing
Search engines, Google in particular, use algorithms that are becoming more and more sophisticated in order to track specific signals that establish the relevance and authority of websites for each query. For most small businesses, a large part of marketing should be focused on searches with local intent because that accounts for the majority of online searches. In 2010, 1 out of 5 Google searches used a location qualifier, and based on trends, that number has surely increased.
A good SEO strategy works on building these signals over time, which are critical for solid local marketing. Signals focus on building authority and credibility for your business online. Some examples of these signals include:
- Local interconnectivity: This signal has gained more and more influence over local search results in recent months. Local businesses can build more relevance and authority within local results by acquiring links from other websites that do business in the same geographic region. Google recently released the “Pigeon” algorithm update, which adjusted these local results even further, and increased the importance of this signal.
- High-quality links: Despite recent changes in the industry, high-quality links still provide some of the most powerful ranking signals in search. Link acquisition can be a double-edged sword, as high-quality links can provide the most noticeable lift in rank, but low-quality or spammy links can have a dramatic effect in the opposite direction. Links are viewed as “votes” and spread authority from the source domain to wherever the link is pointing (ideally, your website).
- On-site relevancy: Search engines use on-site factors in order to determine what each specific website’s purpose is. These factors include on-site content, meta-information, and other technical SEO factors. It is hugely important that each page on your website has a unique purpose, adds value to the web, and is optimized in such a way that search engines view that specific page as valuable and authoritative for queries relevant to said page’s purpose.
Content plays an indirect role in all of these signals; however, you need a holistic SEO strategy to tackle all of these areas, and this is why SEO still matters for local marketing.
SEO Is a Never-Ending Process
Like we said before, you can’t “do SEO” overnight; similarly, it’s never complete. You’re never finished because it is an on-going process to increase your credibility, visibility, and traffic. It’s about finding new ways to build signals, optimizing content, and improving the user experience. As we’ve seen from the ‘90s up until this year, SEO mattered then and it still matters now—just in different ways than it used to.
Contrary to popular belief, your SEO efforts don’t go down the drain when the industry shifts or there’s an algorithm update. SEO is a fluid, evolving aspect of local online marketing that you can embrace to build your business. When something changes, you can make the necessary tweaks in your strategy and continue to build visibility.
SEO isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s time to start building a roadmap to success. Talk to one of our experts today about your business’ SEO needs.