Marketing and brand recognition used to require a sizable investment involving paid advertising and consistent (monetary) commitment. Print media has always been dominant and a relatively small number of businesses have traditionally had sole access to a captive audience.
And then the internet arrived. And now we are all competing on a broader platform and the playing field is far more level than before. But you need to know how to play.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is a big thing. You could compare it to the paid adverts or the classifieds section in the newspapers of old. Previously there was no other way to get some brand recognition short of a full-size billboard, a mention in the Yellow Pages or manually distributing a pamphlet in the local postbox. But times have changed.
Do you even consider any other option than getting online and doing a Google search these days? Or to reach your customer? Advertising is still crucial to your marketing but understanding SEO can help to optimize your investment.
SERP is the ‘Search Engine Results Page’. And Page One is where you want to be – the holy grail of search queries. I mean, how many times have you ever searched further than that?
So, how do these results get there? Sure, as alluded to above, you can pay for this service in the form of advertising and keep on doing so, with some success.
Or you can let Google do it for you. Anyone can now get their name out there with nothing more than Microsoft Word and some creative penmanship. And you could be left wondering where your SEM spend went and why you still aren’t on page one.
Keyword Research is square one in SEO-land and can be explained fairly simply (without getting too in-depth and technical).
Let’s tackle a quick example to find information on Indians. But specifically North American Indians. How would you search for this online?
Do we use the search term: American Indians? Or Native Americans? Indian American? Indians US? Indian Tribes? Or perhaps Arapaho, or Navajo? Or a dozen other variations. All of these deliver different results on Google, from a couple of hundred million to billions of hits. All are slightly different.
But, well done, you have now started a Keyword Search and are contributing to your very own SEO!
You are catering to the AI also
These keyword results now need to be integrated into your copy (text) on the page you are creating about American Indians, specifically the Arapaho tribe. If you use the keywords through a creative bit of writing your page stands a far better chance of appearing in the search results.
You could view SEO as a sales pitch. Firstly, you’re pitching to Google. And then to your prospective viewers, clients and customers by delivering an awesome quality product.
The key here is to try and craft your message in such a way as to be clear, concise and informative. At least enough for the search engines (Google) to classify it as an important source of information. But also to make it enjoyable to read and interesting for your viewers, beyond stating mere facts. Then you are starting to understand how SEO works.
Essentially you are not only catering for the reader but also to the AI (search engine) that needs to understand and categorize your content to put it in front of the right eyeballs in the search results. AI is clever (more and more) but it needs a bit of help.
Clearly, the goal here is to rank as high as possible on the SERP. These things are interconnected – without Google serving up your content in the search results or if you don’t have enough people sharing your content, your efforts may not provide the hoped-for results. And considering the amount of competitive content out there, good SEO is essential in combination with a solid SEM strategy to increase your results.
You are far from being the only one out there. Everybody is in on this. Every bit of content, whether it be an article, product page, video or introductory text has been written by someone (perhaps like you) who would like to get their idea, service, product or the omnipresent cat video to be noticed. So you need to keep (and catch) up here.
Do your homework
Sure, you can write a story or produce some copy, but spare a thought to how people are searching for their entertainment and information. Things like:
How are the search terms worded? Which topics are trending Which terms are most common? Try and search for your own topic and see what the results are.
Research the relevant keywords on the SERP and incorporate them into your article. I’m afraid you need to put in some effort here. The possibilities and the audience are there for you, but so is your competition, and they’re doing their homework too!
Keep it simple for now
We can go into Page Authority, Grammatical Accuracy, Back-links, Business Strategy etc. but let’s keep it simple to start with. Let’s start by writing your content, posting your copy, or publishing your product page. Let’s get real, something is better than nothing – if you don’t do anything at all then nobody will know about it, right?
Luckily quality still beats quantity which means that if your content is really good, really entertaining or really funny, people will find it and share it.
This will already help you because Google can tell when something is popular – and shared by a lot of people – so your ranking will increase (it all helps). However, while you’re writing your masterpiece, spare a thought for the unseen readers (the search engines) and help them to help you!
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