It’s no secret that having a dominant online presence is one of the most effective ways to attract potential customers. Depending on the resource, you’ll find that between 66% and 81% of customers are going to conduct some form of online research before making a purchase. No matter what, it’s safe to say that most potential customers are going to look for information online to make an educated decision.
This is where the effective use of SEO and subsequent digital marketing channels becomes incredibly important. SEO is made up of multiple elements including technical, on-page, off-page, and local SEO. Not only do you need to know what the elements are, but how they work to really understand why SEO is important. SEO is the most crucial piece of any digital marketing plan as its sole job is to provide visibility into the digital world. What does that mean? It means more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospective customers. SEO is also valuable when you’re building brand awareness, building relationships, and working to position yourself as an authoritative and trustworthy expert in your field.
So, the million-dollar question is, how can you “hack” Google’s algorithm to ensure your digital presence is optimized to drive traffic and improve rankings? Here’s everything you need to know about SEO and why it’s vital to succeed in today’s digital world.
The Crucial Elements of Search Engine Optimization
1. Creating a Better User Experience
Did you know that Google makes minor changes to its algorithm daily? These updates tend to be so small you may not notice the effects on your page ranking. However, the same can’t be said for “core” updates. Larger, more sweeping changes that directly impact your website performance. These core updates happen once or twice a year and are typically announced ahead of time.
In the summer of 2021 Google rolled out what they are calling the Core Web Vitals update. These data points are aimed to improve the overall user experience on your website. Google is focusing on three key metrics – load time, interactive and stability.
Going forward Core Web Vitals will be among Google’s main ranking factors. Meaning that now Google not only cares about the words written on the pages of your website but will also be tracking how people interact with your website. So, if you don’t pay close attention to these metrics, your SEO rankings will likely suffer. For example, if there are two pages with equally relevant content, the user experience metrics will help search engine bots decide which should rank higher.
What are the exact metrics to focus on?
Large Content-full Paint (load time): this measures the load speed for the largest piece of content on your page. This does not just mean an image; it could also be a block of text. It’s the largest piece of content regardless of content type. According to Google you need to aim for 2.5 seconds and anything over 4 seconds is performing poorly.
First Input Delay (Interactivity): Interactivity measures responsiveness and quantifies the experience users feel when they try to interact with an element on your page. So simply, how quickly does a button or link respond to a click. Slower equals more frustration for the user.
Cumulative Layout Shift (stability): This measures visual stability. Are there unexpected layout shifts of content on your page? Nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a button when a slow-moving pop-up appears. So, websites with significant animation that cause usability delays could be penalized for delayed reactions.
You’re probably wondering how you can measure your website’s performance. The quickest test is to use Google’s developer tool, PageSpeed Insights. You can simply enter your URL and Google will provide you with a performance report. The second would be if you can get access to Google Search Console for visibility into how Google sees Core Web Vitals for your whole site.
2. Understanding Keywords and User Searches
The best way to find out what others are searching for is to do keyword research. The best place to start is to search a keyword on Google yourself. This strategy will help you understand the intent of a keyword so you can be sure it will succeed before you spend time creating content.
There are two Chrome extensions worth installing – Keywords Everywhere and Ubersuggest. Both extensions will give you a list of searches related to your keyword as well as some general SEO metrics like search volume, cost per click and competition to rank. Now you can make more educated decisions on what keywords to build into your content to drive more traffic.
Here are some additional tips.
- Find long tail and targeted keywords like portable storage containers near Austin
- Understand user intent by first doing your own Google search using the above long-tail keyword.
- Check to see what other potential related search terms could be included.
- Select the keywords you want to try and rank for a build these into your content.
It’s critical that you analyze the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for keywords before writing content. Also, keep in mind searches change over time, so this is not a one-time set and forget. This is something you need to monitor at least annually, but quarterly would be best.
3. Publishing Original, Relevant Content
Now it’s time to take those relevant keywords and create some really great content! The biggest takeaway here is that the content you create needs to be unique content that has not already been published elsewhere.
Think about storage, there are hundreds if not thousands of websites providing the same information over and over. You need to produce content that Google is going to find relevant when there are already several related pieces available. Your content must be authentic, useful and add value. All while written in your own brand voice and language.
Here are some ideas of good material you can use to produce unique content:
- Case studies specifically related to your self-storage facility
- Customer testimonials
- Unique qualities or features of your property
- Company milestones or events
- Features about other companies your partner with or how other businesses use storage
Not only will this make for authentic, unique content, but the content will also establish you as a trusted brand in the eyes of Google and your target customer.
4. Building Local SEO and Reputation
For those that conduct business within a local state, city or region, local SEO is becoming one of the most important tactics in your arsenal. When we talk about local SEO and your online reputation, we’re talking about both local content on your website and getting your business listed on citation sites including Google My Business, Bing Maps and Apple Maps. Claiming and optimizing your business listing could likely be the most important and effective SEO element you should implement.
As we continually watch desktop and mobile search trends, we are seeing that more than 50% of all searches are being performed on a mobile device. With nearly half of those searches having local intent. What is local intent? Let’s say you own a restaurant, local SEO would ensure that when people in your area are looking for the best restaurants in town, they’ll come around your website.
If you don’t do anything else after reading this article, go claim and optimize your GMB listing! But be sure to claim a listing for each of our physical locations and markets you serve. Distance is one of the most relevant factors when considering local intent, so make sure you’re showing up when and where your customers are shopping and build a successful online presence.
5. Adding Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing refers to paid marketing efforts including Google Ads, social media ads, pay-per-click, display ads and more. Although SEM isn’t always a component of a SEO strategy, it does have its place as it can help you reach new and highly targeted audiences. You can also make your SEO and SEM work together.
Examples of SEM advertising activities include:
- Paid and targeted campaigns
- Keyword based copy that specifically related to your business or product
- Performance indicators such as click through rates and cost per click