As a search engine optimization firm that’s been around for a while, we’re finding it interesting how the Internet marketing discipline of SEO – once considered a narrow speciality itself – has become increasingly specialized.
When we updated our website in June, 2011, one of our main priorities was updating our SEO section to include three advanced, specialized services our clients are utilizing more and more every day:
Ranking for local searches is more important than ever. First, the formula of Service + Location continues to be one of the most popular ways to search. Second, Google and other engines are becoming more adept at customizing SERPs (search engine results pages) to feature links that are geographically nearby the IP address of the searcher. Third, mobile search has taken off in a big way, and mobile searches often involve looking for nearby businesses.
Who can benefit from local search? Firms that rely on local customers, obviously. But firms that operate regionally, nationally and internationally can also benefit by establishing a strong search presence in local markets. There are many strategies our Chicago SEO company uses to help clients accomplish this – and all of them start with extensive keyword research to understand the critical search term differences between one market and another.
We always hear about how the Internet has made us a global village, but paradoxically, SEO doesn’t always work smoothly for firms managing a global web presence. Essentially, a firm’s global digital assets can work against each other rather than support each other, undermining the SEO performance of a site in one country at the expense of a site in another. Underlying our approach to global SEO are two basic principles: harmonize and amplify.
- Harmonize:A firm’s UK site should not compete against its U.S. site for searches. Instead, the sites should work together to attract qualified visitors to the appropriate destination.
- Amplify: If a firm has multiple sites or subdomains dedicated to specific countries or languages, they should create a whole web presence that is greater than the sum of its parts.
For an organization to have a powerful global SEO program, it must first develop and obtain internal buy-in on the right marketing plan. For instance, eliminating duplicate content across local sites (a typical and big negative for firms with a global footprint) requires new content to be developed at the local level that speaks uniquely to its market while staying true to the corporate-wide branding and positioning framework. This is not always a simple task.
Enterprise SEO is a specialized service that fits organizations with a well recognized brand that attracts a lot of branded search. Because of this huge volume of branded searches, these organizations frequently become complacent and fail to keep their sites optimized. Eventually, however, they begin to ask themselves:
- Why do we rank on page 3 for our most important search terms?
- Why do smaller competitors outrank us on every relevant search term under the sun?
- How much more business could we gain by capturing more of this immense volume of unbranded search traffic?
As we work with organizations in this situation, we are finding that even small SEO tweaks can have a near immediate and massive impact on results. In one case, for instance, simply by optimizing title tags, we obtained a triple-digit increase in traffic for a professional sports team’s e-commerce store. In another case, we increased traffic by several thousand pageviews by applying SEO best practices to an international sport organization’s online video.
Although SEO best practices apply more or less universally, the type of SEO work we do – the mix of activities – vary quite dramatically depending on the nature of a client’s web presence and marketing objectives. While we miss the days when we could offer more of a one-size-fits-all SEO program, we’re pretty confident those days are over.
Even when a firm doesn’t have the need for a formalized local, global or enterprise SEO program, activities need to be customized. We see a lot of companies spending an inordinate amount of time on activities with a small payoff, and ignoring other things that would make all the difference in the world. Usually, the reason this happens is because the firm bought into a cookie-cutter program, or they are using SEO techniques that are completely out of date.
If you are interested in discussing your SEO strategy, please contact us. Maybe we can lend a hand – and we can definitely lend an ear!