Search rankings effect traffic. Visitor engagement influence search rankings. Social media traffic signals search engines. Content influences search and visitor engagement. Reviews effect conversions. Your website architecture effects your sites “stickiness”. And your calls-to-action affects your enrollment pipeline.
Online marketing is no longer about picking services like an entrée from a Chinese menu. Everything is now so codependent and interrelated, that with few exceptions, individual strategies won’t stand on their own.
Many of our clients initially approach us about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) thinking it’s a specific thing, and a singular goal. The reality is, SEO is just one important piece among many important pieces.
How Do the Pieces fit Together?
Search Engine Optimization: Google try’s to emulate human behavior, and if human beings appear to be interested in your website, so will Google. SEO is the culmination of many things… large and small. In fact, Google has over 200 different ranking factors in their ranking algorithms. You can’t just “do” SEO without doing many different things. Driving traffic to your website is extremely important, but then what?
User-Centric Website: All roads lead to your website. Search, social, online and offline activities will typically funnel everyone to your website. Sending perfectly good traffic to a perfectly mediocre website will be disappointing to you and your audience. Your website is a destination, and the most likely place where your next best customer will act on your call-to-action.
Your website doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be built with purpose, and with your audience in mind. You can do so much better than an information dump on a series of brochure pages.
Content: Google looks at your content to see if you match each search query. Google is smart, but if you don’t write extensively about what you offer, how will they know what you do, and why should they present you in their search results?
Time on Site: Are visitors staying on your website long enough to show interest? Just writing content based on keywords to attract search engines isn't sustainable. If human beings don’t find your content interesting, neither will Google.
Page Depth: Are visitors visiting multiple pages on your site? When someone goes to one page on your website and quickly leaves, that’s called a “bounce”. That’s a negative signal that you probably don’t have much to offer. When you lead a visitor down a path (presumably towards a specific call-to-action) Search engines view that as engagement, and you get credit for being interesting…or at least relevant.
Customer Reviews: Getting visitors to your website is half the battle, but converting them into customers, patients, or enrollments is where the money is. Everyone wants to know that you’ve made other people happy. Whomever has the best reputation wins. Period.
Lead Nurturing: Not everyone is ready the first time they visit your website. Big decisions and big ticket items take patience and persistence. Lead Nurturing is an advanced strategy, but one that pays dividends if done professionally.
Off-site Traffic: Are visitors coming from other sources? One of the more misunderstood factors is how Social Media plays into your search rankings. Google doesn’t give you credit for “Likes” and “Shares”, however they do give you credit for engagement on your website that stems from Social Sources. This is called “Social Signals”.
Social Signals, an Example: Suppose that you’re responsible for enrollments at a Charter School. You write a blog post about “The 10 Signs Your Child is Being Bullied at School”. You’re not currently recognized by Google as an authoritative website, so your blog post doesn’t show up in the search results.
Suppose now, you write a “snippet” or “teaser” promoting the post, and syndicate it out through various social media (multiple times). You do a good job, and entice parents of school aged children (presumably your target market in this scenario) to click on the link and go to your website to read the full blog posts.
The blog post is well written, and the reader stays on that page for several minutes as they read through the article. Then, perhaps they click on another link on the page and investigate more of your website.
What just happened? Well you just brought someone from the comfort of their Facebook or Twitter or (insert social media here) page, and they spent time on your site and found it intriguing enough to view multiple pages. You just “signaled” Google that you have something interesting to offer. These are called “Social Signals”.
Here’s what Doesn’t Work
Driving good traffic to a poor website doesn’t work. Having a great website that gets no traffic doesn’t work. Being a social media superstar with no plan to harvest the attention doesn’t work. Getting everything else right, but having no reviews, or poor reviews doesn’t work. What works is a full 360◦ strategy that that takes control of your consumer’s entire experience.
Would you like me to personally take a look at your marketing strategy and make recommendations? I do a limited number of free evaluations each month. Just type the code: xep76r into the message field on the Contact Us page, and it will be sent directly to me.