Algorithm updates. Semantic markup. Search intent.
One thing’s for sure: search marketing ain’t what it used to be!
Luckily, all these changes are good news for digital marketers like us. Because we’re not trying to game the system…
And when you’re an honest marketer trying to deliver real value, you’re building a solid foundation for search marketing success.
That being the case, search marketing can help you boost your website’s traffic and visitors’ trust while supporting your other digital marketing disciplines too.
In this chapter, you’ll get an overview of the methods that are working now, including the lingo you’ll use to talk about it, the metrics that will measure your success, and the business roles that should own your search marketing strategy.
Before we dig into the details, though, let’s cover a few foundational principles.
The Big Picture
First, SEO is a broad field divided into 2 big camps.
- The structural, or technical, side. People in this camp focus on the technical details of your website rather than the quality of your content.
- The content side of things. People in this camp know how to create well-optimized content, build links, and boost social shares.
Which camp is best?
There’s no contest. To succeed at search marketing, you need both. When you need to create link assets or get more backlinks, you need an SEO content specialist. But if Google doesn’t seem to see those assets, and you’re not ranking, you’ve likely got structural issues. You need an SEO technician.
Another thing to keep in mind is that SEO isn’t a once-and-done task.
Hundreds and thousands of websites are constantly battling for the #1 spot in search engines for their target keywords—and securing that spot is kind of like playing the kid’s game, “king of the mountain.”
SEO is a bit like the kid’s game, King of the Mountain.
You may knock off the guy who’s sitting there now, but someone is coming behind you, trying to knock you off as soon as you get there.
Which means your content needs to be finessed, updated, and promoted to rise in the search engine result pages (SERPs) and secure your top-ranking spot. Meanwhile, everything needs to be working right from a technical perspective.
Finally, search constantly changes. Google’s algorithm isn’t static. It’s based on artificial intelligence, and it’s learning more every day.
As a result, the rules change too. The tactics you use today won’t be the ones you use next month or next year. And that’s okay.
Expect to continue learning and adjusting the tactics you use. Don’t resist; just accept it as part of the process—because the only way to win at this game is by following the rules.
The Methods of Well-Executed Search
Search has evolved more than any other marketing discipline. Today, you must know the rules of search. Otherwise, you can hurt rather than help your brand.
So let’s start by reviewing the methods that are working well today.
Search Marketing Today
Today, Search Is Mobile
People are conducting searches from their mobile devices. That means your pages must be easily accessible from phones and tablets as well as computers.
It’s important to adopt a “mobile first” mindset.
Today, Search Is Structural and Technical
As mentioned above, if your site isn’t set up right, Google won’t even see you. But once your structural issues are resolved, you’ll focus mostly on content and basic on-page optimization.
The key to SEO is simply to build a better page than anyone else on the web.
For each search query, Google wants to put the absolute best page at the top of the SERPs. So your page needs to be the most relevant and the closest match for searchers’ intent.
How do you do that?
You research what’s already ranking for your target keyword and build something 10x better than those pages.
There’s no hack and no easy button. Just a lot of hard work.
But on a positive note, if your content is 10x better than anything else on the web, your pages will rank.
Today, Search Is White Hat
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing. You must do what Google wants—and what they want is to provide a superior experience for their users.
Old-style gray-hat and black-hat SEO tactics were borderline illegal, and they’re definitely unethical. So that’s NOT the approach we’re going to take.
The tactics we cover will give you a sustainable business that’s reputable and trustworthy. And honestly, it’s the only way to grow your business long-term.
Today, Search Is Everywhere It Matters
What comes to mind when the topic of search marketing comes up?
They’re the premiere search engine, but be aware, they aren’t the only search engine in town.
Google is just one of many search engines you can optimize for.
Today, every channel that uses search has an algorithm that you can learn and leverage for success.
That means you aren’t limited to optimizing for Google. It may be more lucrative for your business to focus on Google Maps or iTunes.
Let me explain…
Google’s search bots are incredibly smart, which makes it hard to rise to the top of their SERPs. But most other search bots—think Amazon, Yelp, or Pinterest—are less complex and easier to understand. Not only that, there are likely fewer people competing for their top spots, so it’s an easier game to win.
We tend to equate search marketing with Google. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Search marketing is about producing the right content and publishing it on the right channels to attract the right customers, then doing what it takes to make your content rise to the top—whether that’s for Google or any other channel.
Approaching it this way, you’re taking the search game to a smaller playing field. While there may be fewer people searching those other channels, you’ll create content that’s optimized specifically for them.
Today, Search Is About More Than Traffic
When it comes to SEO, we talk about winning, ranking, and beating out the competition. You’d think that ranking at the top of Google (or whatever channel you’re using) is your top goal for search marketing.
But it’s not.
You can’t pay your bills with rank. And you can’t take traffic to the bank. In reality, those metrics are fluff. The real question is this: Are you making money from search?
The reason we do search marketing is to get more leads and sales, right? So in the next section, we’ll talk about a simple 6-part model for doing just that.