13 Things You Need to Know When Using Online Search Marketing

You’ve heard the expression “It’s what is not said that matters.” In the same way, online search marketing is largely about what is not said—at least, not said out loud. In order to craft effective search marketing campaigns, you need to understand the unspoken language that web search engine users and digital marketers use. Otherwise, you run the risk of crafting ineffective campaigns that perform worse than those of your competitors. To that end, here are 13 things you need to know when using online search marketing.

1. Create content for users, not search engines

It used to be “Create content to attract visitors,” but in today’s world, that’s not good enough. In an effort to attract as many people as possible to their site, content marketers and businesses of all sizes are creating content that is extremely relevant and useful to their target audience. This type of content is often times difficult for search engines to gauge, making it a form of “stealth marketing” (MarketingCharts). Essentially, you are trying to create content that users will want to consume—regardless of whether or not they’re searching for your products or services. When doing my own SEO research, I’ve found that this type of content often performs the best.

2. Keyword research and analysis is essential to making your marketing effort effective

You can’t effectively craft an online marketing campaign if you do not know the right keywords or search terms to use. Without knowing what keywords are most effective, you’ll be stuck in the same position as everyone else—creating content that only a small audience cares about and performing poorly in the process. In order to craft better content, you need to do some keyword research and analysis in advance.

3. Never underestimate the power of social media

Whether you are familiar with the expression ‘word of mouth marketing’ or not, you need to understand the power of social media in today’s digital world. If you’re running an eCommerce store, you can’t afford to ignore the influence that social media has on your bottom line. The key takeaway from this point is that you should not only utilize social media to get the word out about your product, but you should also be incorporating it into your content marketing strategy. When done right, social media can significantly boost your SEO efforts and attract new customers to your site. The key is to always be relevant, interesting, and engaging—the same rules applied to any other type of content marketing.

4. Keywords aren’t just for keywords, they’re for usability too

When you’re performing keyword research for SEO purposes, you are looking for words and phrases that can be used as easily and accurately as possible by users when they are searching for content relevant to your product or service. While this may seem obvious, a lot of businesses get stuck in the weeds of keyword research and forget about the users’ experience—a key tenet of information design.

5. Mobile search is becoming more important every day

With the explosive growth of mobile phones and tablets, it’s vital that your website is mobile-friendly. While desktop searches still have a considerable amount of weight, people are now more likely to seek out products or services on their phones rather than computers. With that in mind, it’s essential that your site can be accessed easily on small screens, such as mobile phones and tablets. Designing an accessible website is something that should be at the forefront of your mind whenever you consider doing any type of SEO.

6. Location and geo-targeting are becoming more relevant

Location-based services, such as Google Maps and Apple Maps, are becoming an important part of the digital marketing landscape. Not only do users tend to search for locations rather than generic terms, such as ‘SEO,’ they also increasingly expect to see local businesses when they search for items in their area.

If you own a clothing store and you want to do some SEO to attract potential customers to your website from Boston, Massachusetts, you would want your website to appear in the search results when someone searches for ‘clothes’ in Boston, Massachusetts.

7. Video content is on the rise, so make sure you’re incorporating it into your strategy

While text content still rules the web, video content is on the rise. If your business is interested in attracting new customers and gaining traction with existing customers, videos can be a powerful tool. In order to leverage video content for SEO purposes, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Create compelling content that is interesting and useful to your target audience
  • Produce video content that is short and concise
  • Incorporate keywords and tags as you would with any other type of content
  • Create a call to action at the end of each video—such as ‘read more’ or ‘watch the full video’

8. Consider the ‘long-tail’ keywords and phrases

When performing keyword research for SEO purposes, you need to look for terms that are relatively less competitive and more easily acquired. Instead of searching for ‘airline tickets’ or ‘real estate brokerage,’ you should be searching for ‘flights from SFO to Las Vegas’ or ‘buy a home in La Jolla.’ When performing SEO, you should try to avoid using phrases, such as ‘airline tickets,’ that are too generic and easily associated with other businesses. By performing a long-tail keyword search, you can more easily identify the search results you want to target.

9. Link building is still extremely important

Even though you may have heard about ‘link building’ in the past, you may not have fully understood its purpose. Essentially, link building is the process of acquiring external links (links that point to your site) that are relevant and useful to a potential customer. In the grand scheme of SEO, link building is still considered one of the most important factors of SEO performance—and for good reason.

By acquiring links to your website from other reputable sources, you are effectively building an interconnected web of associations that can enhance your SEO efforts and bring in more organic traffic to your site.

10. User-generated content is on the rise

If you’re running an eCommerce store, you know that user-generated content, such as reviews and comments, can be extremely effective at drawing in and engaging new customers. In addition to reviews and comments, businesses can integrate social media platforms, such as Twitter, into their user-generated content strategy—using keywords and hashtags as described above. By incorporating user-generated content into your strategy, you can significantly boost your SEO, attract new customers, and gain credibility on social media platforms.

11. Branded content

Branded content, such as opinion articles and product reviews, can be extremely powerful when done right. Instead of just creating random blog posts, why not take the time to write a compelling piece on a subject that is of interest to your target audience? More and more businesses are learning the power of branded content and using it to effectively drive SEO, attract customers, and build credibility.

12. Local search is becoming more relevant

With the explosion of mobile phones and tablets, it’s important that your website can be accessed easily from anywhere. In the same way, someone searching for a local business will often type in their city or ZIP code to find what they’re looking for.

If you run a La Jolla, California business and you want to do some SEO to attract potential customers from the San Francisco Bay Area, your website should be accessible from La Jolla as well as from San Francisco —regardless of whether or not you have an address in the city.

To do this, you’ll want to create a separate page on your website for each location—so that when a user searches for ‘La Jolla,’ your website can appear in the search results.

13. Always be testing and evolving your strategy

The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing, and in order to effectively market your product or service, you’ll need to change with it. While it is imperative that you have a strategy and know what is going on, it is also essential that you test, measure, and adapt your strategy as you go along. When someone decides to give your business a try, you don’t want them to get the impression that the only way to reach your website is by performing a poorly optimized search. With all the moving parts and constantly changing variables, staying ahead of the game is nearly impossible—but that’s what makes it so worth it.