Building visibility in Google can be done in many ways. How to chose the optimal scenario for your website? It’s not as hard as it seems. Learn which SEO tactics will be best for you – depending on the state, resources and model of your company.
SEO in small and medium businesses
Everything starts with the resources you have (and it’s not only about money) and goals you want to achieve. First questions – does the company have goals? Can it name and substantiate them? I mean long term, strategic goals. Getting new customers or making more money are not satisfactory answers.
A company should have an action plan, that points in the direction of long term goals. It should also have tactics that help you reach those goals. Otherwise it will focus on working here and now, without perspective, expansion plans or risk analysis. This kind of companies can function for many years if there’s not much competition. More than 20 years ago that’s what it looked like. Today? It’s hard to find a business without competition.
Today you have to compete against many companies in your home market as well as companies that come in from outside – those on the global market. That’s why you need better management and ways to communicate your offer and its advantages. A while ago it was enough to be present on the local market and say “hi, I’m here”. Today it doesn’t work like that. Now consumers have tools that allow them to compare many offers and companies to chose the one they like the most. It has a big impact on advertising.
To understand how it works and build a long-term brand exposition, attract people and convert them to customers you need to take conditions into account as well as changes happening in Google algorithms all the time.
Why am I writing about small and medium businesses? Because that’s the main recipient of SEO services. They are the ones who look for SEO positioning services most often.
The role of resources in a business
Let’s get to the point – how to identify and choose the best SEO tactics for your company? As I mentioned everything depends on the resources and we can group them like this:
- time – the time we make for an SEO expert or for independent activities,
- knowledge – about SEO, but more importantly on the market the company works in,
- money – how much money are you able to spend on outside experts (website service, stock media etc)
- people – the most important resource that combines all three above
If you have an expert on some subject in your company and resources to pay him or to educate him further and that person has time to use it’s going to make things easier. Before I show you recommended concepts of SEO activities for different kinds of companies, let’s talk about the spectrum of possible solutions
SEO tactics division
One universal way to divide SEO tactics that would satisfy everyone doesn’t exist. The most popular one is the one based on attitude towards Google guidelines. It’s called White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO. Black focuses on spam tactics and intensive link building. White on optimization according to Google guidelines and creating attractive content that provokes users to create so called “natural links” on their own.
Natural links according to Google are those that got created without interference from the website they lead to. So the links cannot be bought in any way or exchanged (link for link). If a link gets created by an order form the owner of the website (for example as a sponsored post, a banner etc.) it should have a “nofollow” parameter in it’s HTML code. This parameter informs bots they shouldn’t take that link into account when they rank the page. Those are the rules WHS follows.
SEO can also be divided on on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
It means on website and outside of it. Both allow more or less spam tactics. On-site you can use cloaking and keyword stuffing. There’s also over-optimization, it happens when the title, URL, header and content of the page contains the same phrase (and it’s a commercial phrase like “quick loans”).
In case of off-page SEO there’s many techniques that use scripts to create presell pages and SEO catalogues and software that automatically adds comments on forums and blogs. At the same time you can use off-page tactics that aren’t based in spam but still brake Google guidelines – article auctions, creating sponsored publications without the nofollow parameter or creating guest posts with links containing keywords.
On-page SEO also allows us to increase the website visibility for many phrases tied to our business (and it doesn’t break Google guidelines). We can create valuable content – for example a forum or blog that will attract traffic from long tail phrases.
How to chose the right SEO tactics?
One thing is certain, all those tactics and techniques belong to SEO – you might like it or not. The truth is not every SEO tactics works with different kinds of businesses. It’s not only a question of choice, but also of constant development and specialization. I would like to emphasize that as with everything choosing one part of the solution and keeping to it is not healthy and can do more damage than good in the long run.
Some say – only While Hat and following Google guidelines (which means you can’t link your website on your own). In niche trades optimization for the right keywords alone might be enough. It can be a good solution if you only care about brand traffic. Or if you have a strong brand everyone has heard about. If you are easily recognizable people will talk about you and link you.
That’s when White Hat SEO alone is enough.
But is it a way for new companies who want to start being recognizable and don’t have a big budget? Not always. To get a small amount of niche or local exposition the website needs to have links. You can obtain them by creating social media profiles (links from those websites don’t influence positioning, but those present in profiles or bios are usually visible for robots) and by adding your website to moderated paid catalogues or through being active on themed forums.
You need to use those methods moderately, use various sources for your links (don’t create keyword based links, use the brand, product names and domain names). Doing this brakes Google guidelines, but in a small way. It’s a tactic somewhere between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO – depending on the company goals and knowledge of the person who takes care of positioning it can vary on different stages – lean a bit in either direction.
Tactics combining SEO with other marketing branches
If the company has aforementioned resources – time, finances, knowledge and people it’s easier. A company like that can allow itself to do more. The perfect solution is to have your own marketing department or at least one person who as marketing knowledge and information about the company itself. This kind of company can be a great support for SEO activities.
An outside SEO expert (or agency) who doesn’t have access to the website has his hands tied – he can’t optimize it or develop it. The possibilities get very limited – for example in the context of building visibility for long tail phrases. It also applies to links. Creating linkable content on the website is not only a way to obtain traffic from Google. It’s also a way to distribute content and interact with others on-line (users, administrators, bloggers, publishers etc.) and get valuable links. Those kinds of links can increase traffic on their own (if someone gets interested n the linked content), they can improve the link profile in Google and in effect website’s positioning.
It doesn’t matter if you work with an outside company or if you have an in-house expert. A tactic that combines on-page and off-page SEO doesn’t brake Google guidelines too much, supplies users with valuable content and influences search engine algorithms. It is the best solution in the long run. What’s more all of that should be done with other marketing activities like content marketing, e-PR, social media monitoring, cooperation with bloggers, video marketing, and offline activities (presence on events, sponsoring events) etc.
Who can use all aspects of SEO tactics
This kind of strategy is impossible for companies that:
- don’t have a strategy,
- don’t have their own marketing department,
- are bereft of resources to engage an agency/expert,
- don’t want to use a wide-spread marketing strategy.
So what about all those companies? They are left with building a local offer and cheap positioning based on business cards and catalogues. There are no rules, no law that says all companies should have the possibility to position themselves well. Marketing is more than ads. An ad is the last part of communication. Marketing understood as getting to know the market, target groups and contacting them in a conscious, purposeful way is an integral part of business. If you don’t want marketing, but want ads you’ll have a problem since the market is getting more and more competitive.
How to combine SEO with other channels and marketing tactics?
As I mentioned a complex SEO tactics combine Content marketing and building relations with users in a natural way.
However you dan’t stop with creating content and linking it on forums and other places where our potential customers are active. If you want to use the potential of being present on-line to the fullest you have to use analytics and UX. Because it’s not about technical tricks that will allow a user to see your offer. It used to be enough, but the situation is changing and in the long run it’s not a good solution.
If you want to develop an on-line business and you make SEO the foundation of your activities you can’t allow yourself to ignore related fields. SEO specialists are usually accustomed to taking only those actions that have a direct effect on positioning.
In practice, it lies in the company’s best interest not only to obtain high positions for certain phrases. You also have to look for new keywords, add ads (for example when we identify cheap phrases connected to our business) and build recognition on-line which allows you to create an increasing valuable brand traffic.
Thanks to analytics, SXO and UX we can get interested in what happens with incoming traffic from Google and verify the SEO tactics we use. According to the old SEO concept, if you managed to get high positions and traffic from Google grows the tactic is effective.
According to the new SEO concept you have to ask yourself:
- do we position for the right phrases and are the target sites good (a good way to find that out is bounce rate analysis and time spent on site),
- does the way our links look like in the search results attract users (CTR analysis and tests using rich snippets and alternative meta descriptions),
- do Google users convert effectively (in reference to SEO tactics costs and compared to other channels),
- are users coming back (in connection with good UX) and is the number of queries and direct entries growing.
If SEO activities take those aspects into account it not only has a positive effect on business but also the effectiveness of a channel will keep growing. Along with the increase of direct queries, returning users and increasing CLV (customer lifetime value) makes the company somewhat resistant to competition activities and changes in Google algorithms.
Which SEO tactic is the best
I think that combining content marketing, US, analytics, social media and building brand recognition with SEO is better than classic link building. It’s not better from a moral point of view (as some try to say) but from a pragmatic perspective. You just have to assume that SEO is a long-term investment. It allows you to achieve many company goals, build market shares and obtain new customers. If you want effects here and now, you risk your marketing and business activities to always be operative. And that usually means lack of development.
Conservative SEO tactics – reasons for popularity
The reason why the old concept is popular in many environments is simple. Many small businesses are underinvested and don’t have much in way of income. They mistrust new things and want to work in certain conditions because of bad experiences. Big businesses have other reasons for being conservative – ignorance. They never needed this whole internet thing, why should they need it now?
It’s gonna be hard to stay on top of things for those companies without a good marketing strategy. Fortunately you can decide for yourself if and what direction should your company take.