Over the years, SEO agencies have evolved their practices in accordance with the continual changes implemented in the search engine space. To understand SEO, one must first understand the primary aim of any search engine – but as Google dominates the South African digital environment, we’ll refer to them from now on.
Google attracts users by providing an interface between ordinary Internet users and the unbelievably vast swathes of information available on servers across the world. They aim to retrieve from the hundreds of billions of pages they’ve indexed (the Google database exceeds 100 million gigabytes) the most appropriate match for just a few words typed into a search bar.
The better service Google provides, the greater the size of its user base; the greater the size of its user base, the more advertisers are willing to pay to employ Google Ads as part of their marketing strategies. The job of an SEO agency is to help clients become as visible as possible in Google results pages by assuring Google that the content on a targeted webpage is a strong match to a corresponding search term. This, in turn, aids Google in its own objectives.
Keywords and Content Strategy – Two Sides of the Same Coin
As with many things in life, ranking is easier said than done, and there are no magical SEO silver bullets. The only way to do it is the hard way: by employing best practices at every turn, and by being smart about keyword strategy. A competent SEO agency will of course work in concert with you to research the keywords your business should target, but a good SEO agency will do more: they will assist you in developing a content strategy that works hand-in-glove with carefully chosen keywords to capture customers and clients at the various stages of the conversion journey.
Search Volume vs. Click-Through-Rates
Your SEO agency won’t necessarily suggest targeting keywords that simply have high search volumes. The reasons are two-fold: firstly, in most industries, the most popular search terms will also be the most hotly contested (and as consequence, the most difficult to get positive results for); secondly, highly competitive keywords don’t necessarily produce the best click-through-rates (CTRs). A keen SEO specialist will look for a solid ratio between search volume and CTRs – that is, once you rank, you want a large group of the searchers to actually click through to your webpage.
Depending on the research, in fact, the best SEO strategy may be to target lower volume, high CTR longtail keywords. Longer tail keywords are often used by searchers looking for something quite specific, and this group is also often further down the marketing funnel than searchers using short, highly generic terms. Capturing the attention of a search engine user closer to conversion is, by definition, a higher quality lead (more likely to generate revenue) than potential customers/clients at the top of the funnel.
Defining Client/Customer Groups
If you don’t have a well-defined funnel, many SEO agencies will group search engine users into one of three general categories:
Informational users are looking for a high-level overview of your products or services. At this stage, brand awareness is a primary objective for a business. To do this, an SEO agency would either produce or at least help direct a business in producing content aimed at resolving important and fundamental queries, in an easily accessible manner. The central aim of providing a potential customer/client with correct, accurate and succinct information is to create a positive impression. Put another way, this category is about investing in brand equity.
Investigative users are further down the channel, but aren’t quite yet ready to make a purchase. Your SEO strategy with this group should be targeted at both providing information at the appropriate depth of detail (i.e. information that corresponds to the level of enquiry that they’re making), but also at creating a clear path to the transactional stage – either by providing additional information or linking to relevant content that has been designed to meet the needs of those in the transactional group.
The eventual aim of any SEO agency is to direct as much traffic from the other two groups to this stage, and then as many members of this group to a client’s webpage. However, SEO can only get traffic – converting is a subtle art and science all on its own. Any neglect of user experience on a website regarding the transactional group could prove catastrophic to online success.
iLEAD et al
To learn more about how to design a well-researched and well-considered SEO strategy for your business, get in touch with an SEO agency that has the distinction of being a Google Premier Partner – iLEAD et al. We look forward to hearing from you!