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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 22 , 2021

You want your business to have the best possible reputation online — here’s how to make sure yours is in good standing.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What brand reputation management is
  • Why managing your online rep is important
  • How reputation management factors into SEO
  • Expert tips for managing your reputation online

What people say about your business directly affects its success. From online reviews and word of mouth to social media comments, having your business discussed in a positive light is key for maximum lead generation, conversions, and retention.

When people look into your company online for whatever reason, what they find can impact their perception of your business. But while it’s impossible to retain full control over your brand reputation, you can take a consistent approach to managing it.  

Let’s take a closer look at brand reputation management and its importance for search engine optimization (SEO).

businesswomen discussing reputation management

Managing the perception of your company as it appears on SERPs should be part of your overall SEO efforts. (Image via Unsplash)

What is brand reputation management?

Brand reputation management involves monitoring users’ reactions to your business activity online and taking action whenever your brand image needs improvement.

As mentioned above, it’s important to understand that brand reputation is never fully under your control. However, it’s possible to work out a maintenance strategy that keeps your reputation in the best shape possible.

In the digital realm, brand image maintenance revolves around your brand’s reputation on search engines, on social media, and in online reviews. After all, 89% percent of consumers worldwide make the effort to read reviews before buying products. Since online reputation is highly volatile, this strategy requires your consistent attention. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a huge undertaking or take up a significant amount of time.

Reputation management and SEO

Managing the perception of your company as it appears on search engine results pages (SERPs) should be part of your overall SEO efforts.

More than 50% of shoppers go online before making a purchase. The first thing they see when skimming search results can affect their decision. (As a side note, this also goes for potential hires.)

That’s why reviews, links, and content that appear on SERPs or on social media need regular maintenance. Otherwise, no matter how well you design and implement your SEO tactics, you may still get negative results, such as:  

  • Lost organic traffic – Negative reviews often have a direct effect on your organic search traffic. If a poor review comes up when someone searches for your brand or products, they’re bound to keep looking elsewhere.
  • Lost paid search traffic – Even if your ads appear on top of the SERPs, negative reviews can offset their effect. No matter how much time and money you spend on ad design, you won’t get the number of clicks you otherwise would.

Even the most excellent SEO strategy can falter if it constantly has to fight against poor online brand reputation. Focusing on reputation management first can allow you to maximize the efficiency of your SEO campaign.

Reputation management for SEO: Best practices

Here are a few practices you can include in your reputation management strategy for SEO purposes.

1. Respond to reviews and comments

Reputation management involves responding to both positive and negative reviews and comments.

For positive reviews, you thank the customer and express your desire to work with them again. Consider using data you’ve collected while interacting with the consumer to add something personal to the review.

Standard reply: “Thank you! We are so happy to hear from you. Can’t wait to see you again.”

Personalized reply: “Dear Leslie, we are so happy you found the time to leave a review. We hope your dog is enjoying her new leash. Thank you!”

Negative reviews are more complicated, but are just as deserving of a response, if not more so. The key is acknowledging the problem, apologizing professionally, and expressing your willingness to solve the issue.

Ideally, you continue the conversation offline. Once it’s successfully resolved, you can always ask the customer to change or update their review.

Pro tip: When responding to comments or reviews, try to use keywords in your replies when it makes sense.

2. Claim and maintain social media profiles

When a customer looks for a brand, social media profiles often show up in search results. Since social media pages have high domain authority, they’re likely to pop up in top 10 results.

If you still haven’t claimed your social media profiles, now’s the time to do it. Social media profile maintenance is the key to online reputation management. If you don’t monitor them regularly, you could miss the opportunity to address negative feedback. Not only that, but you could lose access to valuable information about your target audience.

pointing to a printed out marketing strategy

The more valuable content you post, the more likely you are to improve your brand reputation online while gaining benefits for your SEO strategy. (Image via Rawpixel)

3. Use Google Alerts

Knowing when your brand is discussed on the web can be highly useful for your reputation management efforts.

Google Alerts notify you every time your brand is mentioned somewhere online. You can also use this tool to track mentions of your competition for competitor analysis.

4. Audit your content

Content marketing stimulates consumer interest in your brand. You need to audit your content to see if any of it is generating negative discussions, comments, or reviews. By analyzing this information, you can make changes to your content marketing plan.

The more valuable content you post, the more likely you are to improve your brand reputation online while gaining benefits for your SEO strategy.

Client testimonials on the HawkSEM homepage

Client testimonials featured on the HawkSEM homepage.

5. Put reviews on your website

Once you’ve shared a glowing review with your team via email or Slack, don’t just let it languish. Use the review to your advantage by including it somewhere on your company website (with permission from the reviewer if you use their name or company). 

Consumers who interact with reviews are 115% more likely to convert, and the more reviews you have, the higher your conversion rates, according to Power Reviews.

The takeaway

Brand reputation management allows you to monitor your company’s online reputation regularly and make appropriate changes in a timely manner. As a result, you could see boosted sales, an improved brand image, client trust, and more.

Your SEO efforts are dependent on your online reputation. By implementing the right management tactics, you can know that your SEO strategy is well-rounded and thorough to boot.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Jul 16 , 2021

When paired with strong on-site SEO, off-site SEO can help strengthen your brand’s authority and credibility online. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to define off-site SEO
  • What elements fall under this SEO umbrella
  • Red flags to look out for
  • Expert tips on maintaining healthy off-site SEO

There are three main pieces that make up a complete search engine optimization (SEO) strategy: on-site, technical, and off-site. On-site SEO includes things like content. Technical SEO includes alt text, meta descriptions, and site architecture. Then there’s off-site SEO.

Below, HawkSEM Director of Marketing Strategy Maria Smart helps explain everything you need to know about this vital SEO pillar.

What off-site SEO is

Also called off-page SEO, off-site SEO covers all the SEO tactics that take place outside of your own website. (Tactics on your own site are considered on-site SEO, for obvious reasons.) 

As Moz explains, optimizing for off-site ranking factors involves improving search engine and user perception of a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority.

woman at computer with coffee

There are strategic steps you can take to maintain healthy off-site search engine optimization that shouldn’t consume too much of your time. (Image via Rawpixel)

What elements factor into off-site SEO

Some elements of off-site SEO are things you have a degree of control over. Others may be out of your hands, though you can attempt to influence them. 

As HubSpot explains, this includes but is not limited to things such as:

  • Backlinks
  • Brand building
  • Citation building
  • Content marketing
  • Video marketing (YouTube)
  • Forums
  • Local SEO
  • Review management

How can you help influence good off-site SEO? Maria says that optimizing your citations is a great start. You can’t exactly control reviews published about your company, other than trying to offer the best customer experience possible. But what you can do, particularly with negative reviews, is mitigate, respond, and try to take the conversation offline.

The same goes for social profiles like YouTube and Google My Business pages. It’ll benefit your off-site SEO to clean up any duplicate efforts and know how your profiles look on the search engine results page (SERP).

Pro tip: Consider creating a recurring reminder or calendar alert to stay on top of profiles and check in on them at regular intervals if possible. This way, you can be sure all of your pages have the most up-to-date images, contact info, operating hours, and more.

How off-site SEO benefits your brand

Off-site SEO is an important component of a well-rounded SEO plan. It addresses a host of important ranking factors that Google considers when evaluating your website’s trustworthiness beyond authoritative content and having a technically healthy site. 

Social media signals such as likes and followers can also be considered off-site SEO, as well as guest posting, link building, press releases and the like, Maria adds. Basically, all of these elements come together to help paint a picture of your business in online spaces outside of your website.

Effective ways to maintain good off-site SEO

Luckily, there are strategic steps you can take to maintain healthy off-site search engine optimization that shouldn’t consume too much of your time. 

Here are some ways to keep yours in good standing:

  • Monitor your social presence – Respond to reviews, update profiles, and add new photos when applicable.
  • Join and participate in forums and relevant communities – Find out where consumers in your field are gathering online and having discussions so you can add your own thoughts and connect with potential new customers.
  • Guest post on relevant websites and attempt to garner backlinks in the process – While some experts argue that simply guest-blogging to get a link isn’t efficient, we say it can be worth it in certain circumstances. Just make sure you’re creating highly relevant content that provides actual value for the reader.
  • Link building – Reach out as often as you can to relevant sources to get the placement you want in their articles or on their website.
  • Create and syndicate press releases – Press releases help you promote new solutions, business changes, and industry insights. (They also include a backlink when possible.)
  • Local presence – Be sure to maintain related citations in places like Google My Business and Bing Places.
  • Consider creating infographics – This type of content can be a source of engagement that can be easily shared on social media. To get good links, you need good engaging content, including graphics.

Pro tip: According to Ahrefs, “Google takes into account many off-page factors when deciding if and where to rank web pages. Links are one of those factors, but there are many others. For that reason, it’s challenging to rank on the merit of your content alone.”

woman searching with binoculars in the woods

Off-site SEO is just as important as its on-site and technical counterparts. (Image via Unsplash)

Red flags to keep an eye on

When you’re assessing the current health of your SEO, Maria says there are a few things in particular to look out for. 

These include:

  • Not ranking well for branded terms 
  • A backlink profile that is small and not authoritative or relevant
  • No local presence online
  • Poor social engagement
  • A website with low domain authority
  • Online reviews that are poor, non-existent, or even just unanswered

Off-site SEO is affected by all of these things. Working to take care of these issues can make your business look more authoritative to search engines, since all of these “signals” get calculated into your overall domain authority, whether your company is new or established.

The takeaway

It’s clear that off-site SEO is just as important as its on-site and technical counterparts. The tricky thing is that off-site elements are a bit harder to control. 

However, when you know the best practices and what common missteps to look out for, you can include off-site SEO maintenance in your overall SEO plan and know that you’re being intentional about keeping yours in a good place.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on May 26 , 2021

Everything you need to know about search engine optimization (SEO)

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to define search engine optimization
  • Why SEO is an important part of digital marketing
  • What makes up a good SEO strategy
  • SEO trends worth keeping an eye on

It’s no secret that, in today’s digital marketing landscape, it’s all about the search engine. Whether you rely on organic reach or leverage paid ads, getting on page 1 of the search engine results page (SERP) is always the goal.

But it doesn’t come easy. The algorithm changes often, and new competitors can crop up anytime. Having a site that’s optimized for search engines can be the game-changing factor that helps your brand stand out.

For the full 411 on SEO, let’s dive in.

What is SEO?

The point of SEO is to rank organically for relevant searches to your website without having to pay for ads. As we’ve mentioned before, following SEO best practices helps ensure your site is set up for success. These strategies also add value to your overall brand while showing prospects and users that your company is one they can trust.

One of the most effective SEO methods is to publish well-written, original content that can inform people or answer their questions. Unfortunately, SEO isn’t quite as simple as that. And just having quality content is only scratching the surface. 

What is “the algorithm” and how does it affect SEO?

Google (along with all other search platforms such as Bing) has a search engine algorithm that takes hundreds to thousands of different aspects into consideration when a user enters keywords or a query. 

That’s why, when we say “search engine optimization,” we’re talking about setting up your site to show search engines that your brand is relevant, trustworthy, and legitimate in relation to your industry. 

Paid and organic search results on the SERP for a query about creating a gallery wall

Here’s a look at paid and organic search results on the SERP for a query about creating a gallery wall.

You can learn about the process and guidelines Google adheres to make sure their algorithm “meet high standards of relevance and quality” here. However, search engines keep marketers on their toes by regularly rolling out tweaks and updates without much (or any) advanced notice. 

Since it launched, Google has gone from making only a handful of algorithm updates every now and then to rolling out thousands of changes each year. These updates come with varying levels of impact on the search engine results page, or SERP, according to Search Engine Journal.

Because of this, it’s worth your time to focus on white-hat, long-game SEO techniques rather than trying to game the system through black-hat “quick wins.” The latter may get your site penalized down the line (more on that below). 

Key factors that help determine which results will appear for your query are:

  • Meaning of your query
  • Relevance of web pages
  • Content quality
  • Usability of web pages
  • Context and settings

How Core Web Vitals affect your SEO

In 2021, Google officially rolled out Core Web Vitals. Basically, this is a new set of ranking metrics that take things like speed, responsiveness and visual stability of pages on your site into account. 

As the search engine itself explains, “the Core Web Vitals report shows how your pages perform, based on real world usage data (sometimes called field data).” Core Web Vitals are made up of three specific measurements: Largest Contentful Paint (loading), First Input Delay (interactivity), and Cumulative Layout Shift (visual stability). 

Core Web Vitals are graded on a scale of pass, needs improvement, or fail. The way your site scores can impact how you’ll rank on the SERP.

Pro tip: As Google enhances its machine learning capabilities, Search Engine Journal advises marketers to keep “semantic SEO” in mind in 2021. Basically, this means choosing topics relevant to your audience, discerning searcher intent, and making your resource as rich and in-depth as possible.

How to start your SEO off on a clean slate

Whether your site is brand-now or has been around for a decade or more, it’s never too late to put good SEO practices in place. Even if everything looks fine and dandy, websites can have hidden technical SEO errors. These may not appear or be visible to the end user, but Google’s crawlers can detect it in the website’s code. Depending on the issue, this could cause your site to get penalized. 

Put simply: If too many “red flags” exist on a site, Google will value it less than a competitor’s site. Because of this, your site may not rank well despite having original, informative, and high-quality content.

Other issues Google dings your site for include:

  • 404 error pages (aka broken links)
  • Missing or duplicate meta tags
  • Pagination issues (such as too many indexable URLs)
  • Thin content
A 404 error page from Mailchimp

A 404 error page from Mailchimp.

To avoid Google undervaluing your site, making sure it’s “clean” is an important first step. Once you have a solid base to build off of, you can focus on content strategy and creation, links, schema markup, and other optimizations.

This stage can be time-consuming. You may want to look into having your developer crawl the site and conduct a wellness check or getting an SEO audit from a marketing agency.

Pro tip: Use this SEO-friendly website checklist for a quick-and-easy way to see how well your site is set up for organic search engine success.

Building an SEO-friendly website

A website with good SEO tactics in place often starts with proper site architecture. This refers to the way your site is structured, how users navigate it, and the ways pages are reached. The quicker and more straightforward your site navigation, the easier it’ll be for visitors to get the information they’re looking for. 

Whether you’re launching a new website or redesigning an existing one, here are some SEO best practices to keep in mind:

  • Test out new site elements on a staging site before pushing them live
  • Implement redirects along with meta tags to avoid losing any SEO rankings you’ve already built up
  • Update all buttons, logos, and forms 
  • Make sure there’s no duplicate content

SEO through quality content

Whether your business is e-commerce, financial services, or something in between, having well-written content on your site is beneficial for so many reasons. Not only does it strengthen your SEO, but it can educate your audience, show that you’re a thought leader in your industry, and help attract more visitors to your brand. 

When you’re crafting a quality content marketing strategy, key steps include:

  • Fleshing out your personas
  • Defining your voice and tone
  • Determining the keywords you want to cover through content
  • Deciding the best brainstorming, writing, and editing process
  • Prioritizing promotion
  • Regularly analyzing performance

If you want your content to help boost your SEO, it’s important to pay attention to grammar and spelling. One way to think of it is: If an English teacher were to grade your website like a paper, would they give you an A, C, or an F? Google’s algorithm will read your content like an English teacher, and will also grade it (to a degree).

Tips for creating quality content

Once you’ve determined your relevant keywords and search terms, it’s time to work on creating the content. At the beginning of the writing process, think about how your content can answer questions of:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
A content calendar example from a SaaS company

A content calendar example from a SaaS company.

Pro tip: When creating content, avoid keyword stuffing. This practice of over-inserting the keyword you’re trying to rank for is frowned upon. Plus, Google can recognize when someone is clearly mentioning a search term repeatedly and downgrade your ranking.  

Once you feel confident about your content output and strategy, it’s wise to plan on regular content audits. This will allow you to identify old posts, high-performing pieces, and other content-related factors that will impact SEO. 

Search engines favor new, robust content. By continuing to optimize pages, you can benefit from the long history attached to a URL while making sure the info on your site is timely, accurate, and up to date.

What are some stats on SEO?

  • More than 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product via a search on their smartphone.
  • 72% of consumers say search is their first choice to find information on local merchants.
  • Today, more people use search engines to find products or services than any other marketing channel.
  • On average, B2B buyers conduct up to 12 searches before engaging with a brand.
  • Google has more than 92% of the search engine market share worldwide. 
  • 61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.
  • 50% of search queries are four words or longer.

Metadata

As Moz explains, meta tags provide information about the webpage in its HTML. This info is dubbed “metadata.” While it’s not visible to your readers, it’s key nonetheless. Meta tags live in a page’s source code, and it’s used to tell search engines what a page is all about.

How meta titles and meta descriptions look when creating content in WordPress with the Yoast SEO plugin

Here’s how meta titles and meta descriptions look when creating content about performing a site migration in WordPress with the Yoast SEO plugin.

Having pages with proper meta tags (which includes a title and description that accurately represent the page’s content) can impact not only the ranking of your page, but your clickthrough rate (CTR) and bounce rates as well. 

When the preview for a page is accurate and lines up with the page’s content, those in search of what you’re offering already have a good idea of what they’re going to get from that particular page.

Pro tip: Make sure your site features an SEO-friendly blog by leveraging internal and external links, posting in an easily readable format, including a descriptive URL, and having designated keywords.

Header tags

No matter how high quality the content or well designed the page, if your site features large blocks of plain text, you’re in danger of having eyes glaze over and people bouncing from your page. Much like the metadata, header tags (the most common being H1, H2, and H3) serve as a kind of outline or table of contents for each page. See that “Header tags” line above? It’s an H3 header tag.

These tags also serve to emphasize what a paragraph or section will be about. This makes it easy for readers to scroll to the parts of your page that particularly interest them. Header tags are also tied to SEO. Search engines can weigh these headings and subheadings more than the paragraph copy in terms of importance. 

If your blog title is H1, your headings are H2, and your subheadings are H3, they’ll be prioritized in that same order when it comes to the search engine. Also worth noting: While header tags extend to H6, most sites stick with H1-H3. 

Pro tip: Another way to get an edge over your competition? Conduct a competitor analysis for SEO. Identify their ranking keywords, analyze their content and website, and check out their Google My Business page. This can help you pinpoint areas of weakness you may be able to capitalize on and more. 

Backlinking

Linking is an incredibly important aspect to cultivating SEO that ranks you well. Having high-quality, highly relevant backlinks (links from another domain to yours) tells search engines that other sites trust yours, so end users probably can as well.

We’ve talked before about how more backlinks (also called inbound links) from credible sites help you rank higher on the SERP. Think of backlinks like endorsements. They’re used to let Google know your site is valuable and legitimate.

You can encourage backlinks to your site by: 

  • Publishing unique statistics, survey data, or other exclusive info
  • Writing guest blogs or being quoted on other credible websites
  • Partnering with influencers in your industry
  • Reaching out directly to sites you want backlinks on

When it comes to reaching out, there’s no magic formula. And, like SEO itself, it takes time. Your best bet, when cold-emailing another brand to request a backlink, is to keep the message short, make it personalized, and highlight the benefit for their site, not yours.

For example, if you find a well-known industry site is using outdated stats or content that you happen to have an up-to-date version of, send it to them and see if they’ll replace the older link.

Disavowing links

Not all backlinks are good, however. Spammy or “toxic” backlinks can lower your site’s domain authority and your rating. In turn, this lowers how trustworthy your site appears. If there are a bunch of spammy sites linking to yours, Google will treat your site as a terrible one as well. Consider it a “guilty by association” mindset.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent low-quality sites from tanking your SEO rep. Disavowing these toxic sites (which tells Google not to associate these links with your website) is key to maintaining a higher standing with Google.

While external linking is important, internal linking shouldn’t be overlooked. Linking from your own pages to other pages on your site is beneficial in Google’s eyes. It can also be helpful to the end user as well (which, really, is a big reason why search engines value internal links).

Pro tip: When it comes to disavowing backlinks, Google warns that this advanced feature should be used with caution. You only want to disavow links that are sure to reflect negatively on your site. “If used incorrectly,” Google explains, “this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results.”

Schema markup, structured data & rich snippets

Schema is a structured data vocabulary created by the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Yandex). Structured data is what helps these search engines better understand and define what a post or page is about. 

This special language can be added to an HTML markup as code to enhance the snippets that appear below your content on the SERP. With schema markup, you can add elements like a publish date, event schedule, or product rating. It can improve your SEO and CTR by adding context to your pages, thus helping you rank better.

Google’s structured data markup helper tool

Google’s structured data markup helper tool.

This additional content is referred to as “rich snippets.” If a normal snippet merely includes the URL, title tag, and meta description, any additional info is considered a rich snippet. 

You can add schema markup to your pages by visiting schema.org, selecting the type of markup that you want to use, and adding the code to your page. If you publish on a site like WordPress, you can add this data via plugins in a snap. Once added, you can test that the structured data was set up properly via Google’s structured data testing tool.

Pro tip: While adding structured data to your pages can boost SEO, adding it doesn’t guarantee that they will show up on the SERP, even if you’ve followed all of the steps correctly. 

What is local SEO?

Local SEO leverages content to answer locally relevant or location-based searches. HubSpot defines local SEO as a way to help businesses “promote their products and services to local prospects and customers. 

To gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user.” 

“Near me” searches, or searches based around a local city or region, are extremely popular these days. In fact, 80% of consumers use search for local information. However, location-based searches are treated slightly differently than a standard search. If you own a local business, have a local blog, et cetera, then you’ll want to keep local SEO in mind.

Optimize for Google My Business

One way to do this is by making sure your site is optimized for Google My Business (GMB). This search engine feature aims to show that a business is relevant and authentic. As a bonus, GMB-optimized businesses may show up as a pullout sidebar on the SERP, giving your biz that much more exposure.

How HawkSEM’s Google My Business page looks on the SERP

How HawkSEM’s Google My Business page looks on the SERP.

Optimizing for Google My Business entails:

  • Creating a verified GMB page for your company
  • Garnering authentic online reviews from customers
  • Responding to these reviews using location-based info
  • Using Google Posts in your account (which allow you to share news and messages on your GMB page)

Other ways to optimize for local SEO include publishing location-specific content, adding separate location pages to your site (if your brand has locations in multiple cities), and making sure your NAP (name, address, and phone number) info is consistent and accurate across the web.

Accelerated mobile pages

The majority of searches are now done on mobile devices. In fact, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing in the spring of 2018 to take precedence over its traditional desktop index. Because of this, it’s crucial for your SEO to make sure your entire site is mobile friendly

Created by Google and Twitter, accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are a critical part of Google’s mobile approach. AMPs feature a more minimalist, stripped-down HTML version of a webpage for quick loading and easy access on mobile devices. 

It’s up to you whether or not AMPs are worth it for your business. While they may receive a favorable ranking on the SERP, these pages often don’t have as many elements or designs as regular pages. 

AMPs don’t appear to be going away anytime soon. That’s why it’s worth it to explore your options when it comes to enhancing your AMP content for Google Search and customizing these pages to fit your needs.

Important metrics

We often get asked what types of metrics or KPIs are most important to keep track of when it comes to SEO. In terms of core KPIs, we generally look at:

  • Organic sessions
  • Organic bounce rate
  • Average page views per session
  • Domain authority/rating
  • The number of keywords or search terms ranking in the top 3 results (above the fold, first page)
  • Keywords or search terms ranking on page 1 (in spaces 1-10)
  • Keywords or search terms ranking in spaces 11-50

The metrics you look at and prioritize will depend on factors like your goals and how long you’ve been actively implementing your SEO strategy.

White hat vs. black hat SEO

“White hat” and “black hat” are SEO techniques marketers can leverage when optimizing a site. Basically, white hat SEO techniques are ethical, Google-approved methods that are looked favorably upon by search engines. White-hat techniques include publishing high-quality content that speaks to a human audience, implementing a long-term SEO strategy, and including alt tags with your images.

Black hat, on the other hand, refers to methods that attempt to trick search engines by making a site appear more legitimate than it is. These common SEO mistakes include keyword stuffing, creating blogs for the sole purpose of generating links to other sites, and hiding “invisible text” in the code of your website in an attempt to game the algorithm.

Black hat methods are frowned upon by search engines. While it’s not against the law to use them, they can get your site flagged for violating guidelines or prevented from appearing in search results entirely. Plus, black hat techniques often result in a poor user experience with your website.

Then there’s “grey hat” SEO. These are SEO methods that, while not currently against search engine guidelines, could become viewed as black hat in the future. This includes posting fake reviews, offering incentives for online reviews, and purchasing expired domains for the sole purpose of linking or redirecting to your site.

Pro tip: Looking for strategies to grow your organic traffic? We’ve got 14 right here. 

How visuals enhance SEO

Speaking of alt tags, visuals are another important part of good site SEO. According to TechCrunch, 82% of all consumer IP traffic will be video in 2021. Not only that, but Search Engine Watch reports that video content has a 41% higher click-through rate than plain text.

If you have the bandwidth and budget, experimenting with video content could end up being what sets you apart from your competition on the SERP. Pages with videos are often visited for longer periods of time, and a longer visiting period can only mean good things when it comes to SEO.

In terms of photos, graphics, and other static imagery, Yoast explains that well-chosen images can complement your content and get you a good ranking in image search results.

“Alt tags” are alternative attributes on an image’s img tag. The purpose of this tag is to describe what the image is portraying, which not only helps the search engine understand the image, but it’s used as context for the visually impaired.

Depending on your website platform, it should be easy to add SEO-enhancing alt tags to your images as well as a title and meta description for your videos.

Pro tip: Videos can also be optimized by choosing an eye-catching thumbnail image, investing in paid ads for promotion, and adding captions.

HawkSEM: Why SEO Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Speed doesn’t just matter to users — it also matters to search engines.

Leverage SEO tools

Your search engine optimization maintenance doesn’t have to be a totally do-it-yourself process. Tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools help easily monitor how your site is currently performing on the respective search engines. 

Once you set your site up on these platforms, you can view reports that’ll show you how your search performance is trending and more. They can also illuminate any issues that need fixing, like technical errors on your site that you may not be aware of. 

Why is site speed important for SEO?

Site speed, especially on mobile, is another highly important aspect with regards to SEO. That’s partially because a site that takes even a few seconds to load can cause a significant number of visitors to immediately bounce.

But speed doesn’t just matter to users — it also matters to search engines. Google has been upfront for years about how page speed is a ranking factor for them (though, admittedly, not a hugely significant one). You can test out how speedy your pages are with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. 

The takeaway

Search engine optimization is important when it comes to ranking on the SERP and growing your reach. But, at the end of the day, the goal of a search engine is to connect users with the answers they seek.

As long as you (or your chosen SEO agency) follow the above tips — and have a fast website with high-quality content that’s engaging, unique, current, and helpful — you’ll be well on your way to boasting successful, strong SEO. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in January 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Peanut butter and jelly. Rhythm and blues. Paid search and SEO.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Reasons to have paid search and SEO in your marketing plan
  • Ways SEO and paid search complement each other
  • Tips for leveraging both to increase ROI
  • How these strategies can be integral to overall campaign success

Paid search and SEO (short for search engine optimization) are two sides of the same coin. Paid search targets those searching for keywords related to your business through ads on the search engine results page (SERP). SEO, on the other hand, ensures your website, content, and social profiles are poised to rank well in organic search results.

While each strategy can be effective on its own, we’ve seen that pairing them together is one of the most effective ways to build a strong digital marketing foundation. 

So, how can paid search (also known as pay-per-click or PPC) and SEO work together? 

For starters, each initiative should be deployed consistently and with cohesive messaging. After all, creating ads that look and sound nothing like your website may confuse visitors and cause them to bounce. It’s up to you to make sure they fit together smoothly instead of working in silos.  

The good news? By proactively making sure the paid and organic components of your search engine marketing work together, you can speed up your campaign optimization and boost ROI as a result.

Here are 8 ways to pair paid search and SEO together successfully. 

1. Test new keywords

Keywords are the pillars of both SEO and paid search marketing strategies. You can use the same keywords for both. However, when the time comes to add new search terms to your campaign, testing them with SEO tactics can be time-consuming and labor-intensive (like writing new content and regularly updating existing posts).

On the flip side, testing new keywords with PPC ads is quicker and, often, easier. Creating an ad with a new keyword and monitoring results can take less than a week. With SEO, it could take months to have enough data to glean real results.

As soon as you see how well a keyword is doing with paid search, you can decide whether it could work for your SEO campaigns and projects.

Pro tip: When selecting keywords for paid search and SEO efforts, it’s key to keep intent in mind. As HubSpot explains, you want to avoid keyword traps, or “words and phrases that sound good, but have dual meanings or a mismatched intent.”

2. Retarget visitors

After a decent amount of time and effort put towards SEO, you could see this work paying off handsomely by attracting more visitors to your website. However, data show that only about 2% of them will convert after the first visit. 

The last thing you want is to provide valuable content only to have potential clients use this knowledge for buying products elsewhere. To avoid this problem, you can take advantage of retargeting

When a user leaves the website, you can inconspicuously attach a piece of code to anonymously track them. As these visitors go to other websites, your ads appear to guide them back to your landing pages, which ups your chances of converting the lead. 

paid search and seo together

Paid search marketing can give an SEO campaign the push it needs, since the latter can take several months to show significant results. (Image via Unsplash)

3. Cross-analyze data

Both SEO and paid search tactics give you a variety of data to work with. This data is crucial because it can illuminate what’s working and what’s not, so you can iterate and make updates accordingly. 

You can analyze the same metrics from both campaign types, including but not limited to:

  • Time spent on website
  • Conversion rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Local conversions

By using this information and conducting A/B tests, you can figure out which keywords work best and how effectively you’re targeting your buyer persona. And, while it’s possible to analyze metrics for each campaign separately, doing it together can give you more valuable and detailed insights.

4. Dominate the SERPs

Some companies feel tempted to stop their paid search marketing campaigns once they manage to rank high in organic search results. But even if your website is proudly sitting on page 1 of the SERP, paid ads will always be higher up on the page, increasing your chances of visibility.

You can dominate the first page of Google in more than one way by:

  • Implementing regular content updates
  • A/B testing your PPC ads
  • Taking advantage of retargeting 
  • Optimizing content for the SERP features

When consumers see the same website on top of the SERP and in the ad, they tend to consider it credible. In this case, SEO and PPC complement each other perfectly, with SEO picking up where paid search left off.  

5. See faster results

Paid search marketing can give an SEO campaign the push it needs, since the latter can take several months to show significant results. You may already have a high-quality, well-structured website filled with valuable content. But things like domain authority, high-traffic blogs, and strong social followings usually take a while to gain momentum. 

PPC ads can bring more visitors to your website in less time than with SEO alone. This information allows you to tweak your SEO campaigns while improving the bounce rate and dwelling time to rank higher on Google.  

6. Enhance SEO content through PPC ad copy

The tactics that work for your paid search marketing campaign can often work for SEO as well. The best part about PPC ads is that you can get first results (even if it’s just analysis) quickly.

Once you see which PPC ads bring the most conversions, you can get valuable information about what type of content, title tags, and meta descriptions to use for your website.

And with PPC ads, it’s easy to split-test your work. By testing several types of ad copy, you can determine what works for both the ad and what could work on your website.  

rowing teamwork

Paid search and SEO complement one another, improve your bottom line, and help your overall program succeed. (Image via Unsplash)

7. Learn more about your target audience

Paid social media ads are another effective way to gain insight into the way your target audience feels, thinks, and acts. One great thing about social media advertising is the target options available on the various main platforms.

You can get hyper-specific about who you want seeing your ads (like middle-aged luxury car owners who live in Chicago and love fishing, for example). When you analyze data from these campaigns, you can discover new information about the target audience and use it for both your future PPC and SEO programs.

8. Optimize your budget

Using PPC and SEO together doesn’t just enhance your overall marketing efforts. It can also help you cut costs, generate additional revenue, and save time. 

Leverage both of these in tandem by:

  • Cutting content creation costs by testing keywords with PPC ads
  • Generating revenue with PPC conversions while an SEO campaign gains momentum
  • Saving time on keyword search by using the same keywords for both campaigns
  • Speeding up your SEO campaign with PPC retargeting and lead generation efforts
  • Optimizing your landing pages with both SEO and paid search in mind

The takeaway

Paid search and SEO don’t only coexist well, but they can enhance one another with results greater than the sums of their parts. In this way, they complement one another, improve your bottom line, and help your overall program succeed. 

By learning how to make these two strategies work together, you are giving your marketing campaign a powerful boost. Want more PPC or SEO expert insights? Get in touch.

This article has been updated and was originally published in September 2020.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Don’t fall for these common misunderstandings surrounding SEO.

Here you’ll find:

  • The most common SEO myths
  • The truth behind these myths
  • How to avoid falling for these misconceptions
  • Expert tips for boosting your SEO

A digital marketing strategy without search engine optimization (SEO) is like trying to kayak with a paddle that only has one fin.

Sure, you may be moving — but you’re probably not going to get where you’re going in a timely, efficient manner.

Experienced marketers know it takes both paid search and strong SEO for your digital marketing plan to function at full capacity. And while there’s plenty of information to be learned about both, there are also plenty of myths, particularly when it comes to SEO. 

Let’s debunk a few of them to get a good idea of what SEO is — and what it isn’t.  

HawkSEM: seo myths blog

The moment you stop implementing SEO tactics, everything you’ve achieved so far starts evaporating. (Image via Unsplash)

Myth #1: SEO guarantees top search engine rankings

Truth: While SEO tactics can help you get to the top of organic search engine page results, guarantees simply don’t exist. SEO is only one part of an overall search engine marketing strategy. Without other components like pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, it can be difficult to beat out the competition for the top spots — and even harder to stay there.

On top of that, we know that SEO is an ongoing process. This means it often takes months to show any significant results. Even then, you may not get to the top of the first search engine results page (SERP). However, with the right approach and a well-thought-out strategy, it is certainly possible to achieve high rankings and increase traffic as a result.

Myth #2: Once you achieve desired results, SEO is complete

Truth: The SEO process is a project with no end in sight. What’s more, the moment you stop implementing SEO tactics, everything you’ve achieved so far starts evaporating.

Think of your SEO practice like a muscle you’re exercising. As long as you keep working at it consistently, it stays strong. But once you stop, the muscle mass begins losing strength — often faster than it was gained.

New SEO trends and search engine algorithm updates crop up all the time. Without following them and adjusting your efforts accordingly, it’s nearly impossible to maintain high rankings.

Myth #3: SEO is a “cheating” tactic

Truth: One of the most pervasive SEO myths is that search engine optimization is just a way to cheat Google and get your website on the first page of Google results.

While the practice of SEO is by no means unethical, there are certain “quick-win” tactics people will use to try to leapfrog into higher results. These methods are referred to as black hat SEO, and their efficiency is quickly approaching zero.

Search algorithms are becoming increasingly better at identifying black-hat techniques like keyword stuffing, low-quality content, shady link-building practices, and much more. What’s worse, employing these tricks may get your site penalized or have your pages disappear from results altogether. Basically, it’s not worth the risk. 

Remember, search engine optimization isn’t just about rising through the ranks. It’s more important to make your website a highly valuable resource for your audience through ethical, white hat tactics. These include:

  • Targeting a human audience with content, not search bots
  • Publishing images with alt tags
  • Creating easy navigation through site architecture
  • Following all other suggested search engine guidelines

Myth #4: SEO is cheap

Truth: Scoring big returns with little investment of budget or time is no easy feat in most niches. SEO is no exception. 

Effective search engine optimization requires dedicated, continuous investment. Any solutions offering a high-impact return at a low price point (whether that means dollars or effort) are likely short-lived, ineffective, and often against guidelines.

As mentioned above, it often takes time to see the true effects of your SEO efforts. But by investing the time and money to ensure your site is optimized, your content is high-quality, and your website can be viewed as trustworthy, you’ll be poised to see results that will be worth it.

HawkSEM: seo myths article

Remember the muscle comparison: It’s impossible to get a huge bicep after two workouts — time and consistency are key. (Image via Unsplash)

Myth #5: It takes forever to see SEO results

Truth: The time it takes for SEO to start working depends on how you begin. If you already have a well-designed website, a top-notch content plan, and a smart backlink strategy, the effects may become visible in as little as a few weeks.

If you’re starting from scratch, that’s fine! Just manage expectations and understand results won’t be immediate. Remember the muscle comparison: It’s impossible to get a huge bicep after two workouts. Time and consistency are key.

Pro tip: Leveraging low-competition keywords and optimizing your site’s metadata are just a few tactics that can help you see relatively swift SEO results.

Myth #6: SEO is all about keyword search  

Truth: Some people believe SEO boils down to doing a high-quality keyword search and sticking these keywords into the content on their websites.

While keywords and content are important pillars of SEO, they’re hardly the only components of the strategy. Search engine optimization also factors in things like website speed and design, backlinks, mobile-first indexing, social media, security, and much more.

Myth #7: Link schemes boost your ranking

Truth: Engaging in link schemes is another black hat SEO technique. It’s also a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The search engine defines this practice as excessive cross-linking or “requiring a link as part of a Terms of Service, contract, or similar arrangement without allowing a third-party content owner the choice of qualifying the outbound link, should they wish.”

Sure, this tactic may boost your rankings for a while. But eventually, the search engine will catch on and slap your website with a penalty. Recovering from such a punishment may take months and can negatively impact other parts of your marketing strategy.

It’s worth noting that several legal ways to “buy” links exist. For example, paying a website for posting your content (guest post) with a link inside is perfectly within regulations. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a respectable website that will post poor content, so focus on keeping the quality high, whether the content is published on your site or elsewhere.

Need help creating a myth-free SEO strategy? Let’s chat.

Myth #8: The more backlinks you have, the better

Truth: With backlinks, ignore SEO myths that say that quantity matters more than quality. Google focuses on the authority of the page that links to your website. Links from well-respected websites are much more powerful than links from no-name or spammy sources. The backlink should, of course, also be relevant to the content you’re posting.

SEO experts can devise strategies for garnering high-quality backlinks. While getting them might take time, one high-quality backlink can be more powerful than its 50 low-quality counterparts. 

Myth #9: High-volume keywords are all you need to achieve high rankings

Truth: Of course, you want to snag rankings for those high-volume keywords… and so does everyone else in your industry or niche. That’s why the competition for them is fierce.

If you focus solely on these keywords, you’re more likely to get frustrated and have difficulty rising through the ranks.

Using high-volume keywords is an essential part of a solid SEO strategy, but it’s hardly the only one. Low competition and long-tail keywords could bring you impressive results as well, so try focusing on those. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

hawksem blog: seo myths

Know how to spot SEO myths and misinformation so you know you’re on the right track. (Image via Unsplash)

Myth #10: Long content ranks better

Truth: Long content ranks better if it’s valuable. Google doesn’t draw a hard line when it comes to the length of your content — the algorithm cares more about providing search results that are relevant and valuable to searchers.

Aiming for a higher word count just for the sake of it could lead to adding fluff and making your articles downright boring, which may result in a higher bounce rate. 

Pro tip: Though there’s no magic SEO word count you want to hit, it’s wise to avoid publishing thin content. This is defined as “content that has little or no value to the user,” according to Yoast. Google also considers low-quality affiliate pages and those very little or no content as thin content pages.

The takeaway

The practice of search engine optimization is as crucial as it is complex. To understand how it works, you need to be able to see through the common myths.

If you’re trying to implement SEO tactics on your own, you want to be careful with the information you use as guidelines so you know you’re on the right track.

Many SEO myths stem from the lack of knowledge about the latest updates. Staying on top of the current trends and algorithm news can help put you on the path to achieving the results you seek.

This article has been updated and was originally published in May 2020.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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These tactics can help get your philanthropic organization in front of the right people at the right time.

Here you’ll learn:

  • Why nonprofits should prioritize SEO
  • Which tools to use for content ideas
  • How to adjust on-page SEO
  • Which website elements nonprofits should pay attention to

Strong marketing tactics have always been a key part of any nonprofit organization’s success. And now, with online and mobile giving becoming the preferred method for donors, nonprofit organizations are digging deeper into digital marketing. 

With smaller budgets and more modest team sizes, nonprofits often have to get creative and remain agile to stay afloat. Luckily, a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can help bring awareness and site traffic to these orgs without breaking the bank. 

Nonprofit SEO isn’t drastically different from for-profit SEO. Often, the goal is to attract website visitors with high conversion potential. The only difference is that the nature of conversion involves donating and volunteering rather than buying.

Why do nonprofits need SEO?

SEO involves following a set of tactics to get your website rising to the top organic spots on search engine result pages (SERPs). For nonprofits, this strategy comes with a variety of benefits:

  • Competitive edge – SEO can be a low-budget marketing strategy that helps you compete against bigger organizations.
  • Visibility – These efforts help donors and volunteers find your organization on the internet.
  • Local attentionLocal SEO tactics allow you to reach local audiences that show interest and engagement through search behavior.

Besides attracting donors, high visibility can raise awareness about an issue, thus serving one of your nonprofit’s core goals: promoting social causes or advocating a certain standpoint.

Keeping the objectives in mind, let’s go over key SEO tips for nonprofits.

nonprofit team

The content you create can be repurposed and made into different types of media, thus keeping your marketing costs low. (Image via Rawpixel)

1. Make sure your website is user-friendly

Search engines pay special attention to the user-friendliness of your website. Besides creating an intuitive interface and using a thoughtful, easy-to-navigate design, don’t neglect these technical issues:

  • Page loading speed – Must be under 2.5 seconds.
  • Text readability – A top-notch content structure (smaller paragraphs, headings, sub-headers) can help you win the fight for competitive keywords.
  • Interactivity – Your website should respond to the user’s input in less than 100 milliseconds (according to Google’s Core Web Vitals ranking factors).
  • Mobile optimization – With 25% of donors using smartphones to make donations, mobile optimization is key. And since more than half of all searches are done on mobile these days, Google has adopted a mobile-first indexing strategy.

Pro tip: If your website is user-friendly, visitors tend to stay on it longer. This increases the “session duration,” which, according to some evidence, is a Google ranking factor.

2. Focus on your content

Content is king when it comes to nonprofit SEO efforts. But sharing valuable information doesn’t just bring donors to your website. It also raises awareness for your cause. Here are a few things to consider when writing content for your nonprofit’s website:

  • Check your previously written articles (if you have any) and make sure they include enough organic mentions of your keyword. (By the same token, don’t overdo the keyword inclusion — this is a blackhat SEO technique called keyword stuffing.)
  • Keep readers engaged by pairing your text with visual content, such as graphics, images, or videos. (In 2020, video was the #1 form of media used in content strategies.)
  • Diversify your content — common types include blogs, whitepapers, lists, and case studies. Don’t forget images and infographics for easier sharing on social.
  • Source content ideas from volunteers, donors, and competitors.
  • Aim to provide value and educate your audience with guides, how-tos, and downloadable templates if applicable.

Pro tip: The content you create can be repurposed and made into different types of media, thus keeping your marketing costs low.

3. Take advantage of free tools

An important advantage of nonprofit SEO is its reasonable budget. It’s possible to achieve many initial SEO content-related goals by using free or low-cost tools that are readily available online.

AnswerThePublic can help you learn what your target audience is interested in, with the aim to create high-quality blogs. You can also use BuzzSumo to discover what type of content is currently popular to find potential outreach opportunities.

Even if you have many content ideas for your website, SEO tools can help you figure out what will resonate most with your target audience.

Have more SEO questions? Connect with an expert

4. Work on your backlinks

If content is king when it comes to nonprofit SEO, link building is the queen. That’s because search engines pay special attention to websites that link back to your site. If credible, high-authority websites do this, your site is more likely to end up on the top of the SERPs.

There’s no “one weird trick” to getting quality backlinks, unfortunately. In our experience, the key to getting other websites to link to yours is creating highly valuable in-depth content. You can, however, speed up the process by using the following tactics:

  • Write guest posts for trustworthy, high-authority websites that allow adding a link to the writer’s bio or your website.
  • Share annual reports, hard data, and statistics collected by your organization.
  • Create highly shareable content like infographics.
  • Add social sharing buttons to each content piece.
  • If applicable, ask corporate partners, sponsors, and even other nonprofits to link to your website.

High-quality backlinks can be hard to acquire. But through consistency, they often yield excellent SEO results.

nonprofit volunteering

Besides helping volunteers find you, staying on top of local SEO can lead to additional partnerships and opportunities. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Implement local SEO

Potential volunteers are likely to turn to the web to find nearby nonprofit organizations to work with that align with their values. Your goal is to make sure your website is one of the first that they see on the SERPs.

Ways to increase your local visibility include:

  • Create a Google My Business listing so your website shows up in response to “near me” searches.
  • Register your nonprofit on Google Maps to make it easier for volunteers to discover your local offices.
  • List your organization in local directories to help your target audience find you.
  • Take advantage of local keywords when creating content for your website.
  • Create location-specific pages for each office, if applicable.
  • Try to get backlinks from local businesses, charities, and other nonprofits.

Besides helping volunteers find you, staying on top of local SEO can help you generate awareness in your community, which can lead to additional partnerships and opportunities.

6. Adjust your on-page elements

There are varying types of SEO: on-page, off-page, and technical. On-page mainly deals with the elements of your website. To make your site more appealing and optimized for search engines, make sure to keep these on-page elements in order:

  • Create a unique and relevant title tag for each page.
  • Create a well-written meta description (while it’s not a ranking signal, this description can impact click-through rates).
  • Include keywords in titles and meta descriptions.
  • Add alt text to images.
  • Make sure anchor text is accurate and descriptive.

The takeaway

Search engine optimization is one of the most efficient (and cost-effective) ways to generate traffic to their websites. By practicing top-notch nonprofit SEO, it’s possible to attract donors, find volunteers, and increase awareness for your cause.

Focus on high-quality content, backlinking strategies, and technical page excellence to start seeing the results you want. 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Think traditional SEO is all you need? Keep reading.

Here you’ll find:

  • What defines local SEO
  • Which businesses benefit from local SEO
  • Positive impacts of this SEO type
  • Steps to implement local SEO properly

Trying to increase traffic and conversion rates without local SEO is like trying to sell parkas during the summer in Florida. Not only is it very unlikely to be effective, but it displays a deep misunderstanding about the audience involved.

Local SEO is often undervalued. People frequently believe that it serves the same purpose as traditional SEO, or they mistakenly believe that it’s irrelevant for their business.  

The truth is that local SEO can do wonders for your brand’s overall SEO health. Let’s discuss basics, debunk some common myths, and determine how to make it work for you.  

Google Maps on iPhone

While many businesses may benefit from global traffic, they’re almost always more relevant in specific areas. (Image via Unsplash)

What is local SEO?

Basically, local SEO optimizes content to accurately answer locally relevant or location-based searches. For example, a California-based store appearing in results for someone searching “groceries” in Europe isn’t very helpful. This type of SEO uses area factors to rank higher in search results to target local audiences.

Which businesses should use local SEO?

All of them! While many businesses may benefit from global traffic, they’re almost always more relevant in specific areas. Many stores mistakenly try to reach the largest audiences instead of those most likely to convert. You could have a million website visitors in a single day, but if they’re overseas and you don’t process international payments, they’re not the right fit.

While service providers like plumbers and painters often don’t have physical locations, they typically operate within a set service area. Their potential customers will likely use local keywords when searching for them. Other service providers, like accountants and writers, may have virtual businesses. However, they may not be looking to take on international clients due to things like time zones, language barriers, and currency differences.

Pro tip: Despite the widespread belief that only physical businesses profit from local SEO, there are usually areas and local keywords that apply for all company types. Think about things like what you sell, where or to whom it’s most useful, who your ideal audience is, and what location has the most of that demographic. 

Local SEO facts and benefits

Many businesses ignore localized SEO because they’re unaware of its advantages. Let’s break down some key stats, findings, and benefits.

Statistics:

Top benefits:

  • Improved overall SEO
  • Higher Google’s results rankings
  • Increased traffic
  • Targets bottom-of-funnel consumers
  • Can result in more in-store sales
local business sign

Optimize your local SEO by maintaining exact address consistency across the web. (Image via Unsplash)

How to implement a successful local SEO strategy

A winning organic localized SEO strategy has two important components: Google My Business and organic search results. Let’s examine both and cover the best practices for each.

Google My Business listing

Google My Business (GMB) is a free service that allows you to create and manage a profile that Google displays in search results. This powerful tool provides detailed, easily accessible information, and conveniently facilitates contact right from Google.

When building your profile, use accurate and detailed information to create a comprehensive listing without information gaps. Proofread carefully and confirm that all info is error-free and displaying properly on Google. Don’t forget to update as needed if things like your hours or location change.

Pro tip: Virtual businesses don’t qualify for a Google My Business listing at this time.

Organic search results

Local SEO is just like traditional SEO with the addition of local keywords. Examples include things like:

  • City/state/country
  • Local landmarks
  • Local lexicon (pop vs. soda or inspector vs. detective)
  • “Near me”
  • “Closest”

While website content is obviously important, blogs aren’t your only option. Use whatever format feels most relevant to your business, website, and SEO goals. Content marketing alternatives include:

  • Local news and updates
  • Case studies
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • How-to guides

Advanced local SEO insights

Some of our most advanced insights for using localized SEO include:  

  • Reinforce with repetition: Include your location and keywords metadata and geotag local images
  • Use citations to improve rank, visibility, trust, and prominence
  • Include content targeting rich snippet placement 
  • Leverage Google tools like Analytics, Search Console, and Keyword Planner to evaluate effectiveness, understand audience behavior, and identify high-traffic keywords  
  • Create detailed listings similar to GMB on directory sites like Angie’s List and Thumbtack
  • Get relevant local sites, area blogs, and news outlets to link to your site
  • Have an FAQ section on your site with info about your address, locations, or service areas, and include your full address in your site-wide footer

Pro tip: Optimize your localized SEO by maintaining exact address consistency across the web.

The takeaway

Google has made local SEO a powerful tool. Particularly if you have a physical business location, this can be an essential component of your well-rounded search optimization strategy overall.

Not only will leveraging these tips and tactics help improve your SEO profile, but it can do wonders when it comes to beating your local competition as well.

Need more SEO help or insights? We’d love to help.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jan 25 , 2021

Ensure your SaaS SEO strategy is on par for long-term success with these expert tips and insights.

Here you’ll find: 

  • What defines SaaS SEO 
  • The importance of SEO for these companies
  • Overcoming common SEO challenges
  • Ways SaaS brands can improve their SEO

Are you familiar with companies like Google, Slack, Shopify, Zoom, and Square?

Then you’re familiar with the software-as-a-service industry, or SaaS. 

With an annual growth rate of 18%, SaaS brands have become one of the fastest-growing business models in recent years. In fact, experts project the global SaaS workload will reach 380 million in 2021. 

Because of how quickly technology changes, goals and strategies often evolve quickly in the SaaS world. That’s why having a strong SEO strategy as part of your digital marketing plan is essential to stand out from the competition. 

SaaS SEO strategies

With SaaS being the competitive space that it is, an effective SEO strategy is imperative if you want to stand out. (Image via Unsplash)

What is SaaS SEO?

Of course, SEO is important for all businesses with an online presence. It helps your website and content have the best chance of ranking in a potential consumer’s organic search results. It’s also a cost-effective way to position your brand as a thought leader and grow your reach. 

The main goal of SaaS SEO is to increase your organic website traffic by securing high rankings for a list of relevant keywords people might use when searching for something that matches or is similar to what you offer. With SaaS being the competitive space that it is, an effective SEO strategy is imperative if you want to stand out. 

PPC, social ads, and affiliate marketing are often used by SaaS companies to rapidly grow their customer base, but it can sometimes result in higher acquisition costs. This is due to more competitors entering the market and targeting the same audience as your brand. A strong SaaS SEO strategy is a proven way to drive consistent traffic, which results in organic growth and lower cost-per-acquisitions (CPAs). 

The importance of SEO for SaaS companies

SaaS companies have seen a whopping 5,000% growth from 2011 to 2020, according to Scott Brinker’s Annual Martech 5000 analysis. With so many players vying for leads and attention across a variety of markets, it’s more important than ever to be sure that your SEO is where it needs to be. 

More than just helping your organic rankings, a strong SEO strategy can help you:

  • Scale your growth: When you focus on producing helpful evergreen content, you can reap exponential growth that will benefit your brand for years to come.
  • Reduce CPA: With paid media, such as all types of advertising or sponsorships, your CPA usually increases over time as most-likely to convert audiences are exhausted. While SEO requires ongoing investment, the costs rarely increase with each click. This results in reduced CPA over time.
  • Bring customers from other marketing channels: The SaaS content created for SEO purposes can also be used as part of other marketing strategies such as social media and email campaigns. Work smarter, not harder, by repurposing this content for a multi-channel approach that helps drive and convert consumers. 

Overcoming a common SaaS SEO challenge

To paraphrase Spider-Man, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. Most SaaS companies have robust tools at their disposal (not to mention unparalleled access to their customers). But working so closely with a tech product isn’t without its challenges, from outages to data breaches and plenty of unexpected setbacks in between. 

The same goes for SEO. One common SEO challenge SaaS companies face is consistently creating and optimizing high-quality content. Creating better content that provides consumers with more benefits is key to outranking competitors in the SaaS world. 

Taking the time to create engaging blog posts and product content that positions you as the expert will differentiate your SaaS brand from others. Tips for creating strong SEO content include:

  • Leveraging the right keywords
  • Ensuring your pieces are formatted thoroughly and consistently
  • Only publishing accurate, up-to-date content
  • Including engaging images or videos with your posts
  • Styling content in an easy-to-read way (with section headers, bulleted lists, and concise copy)
  • Including internal links along with external links to relevant, credible sites

Need more assistance with a digital marketing strategy for your SaaS company? We can help.

Tips for better SaaS SEO

The more time you spend on digital marketing for your SaaS brand, the more you realize things never stay stagnant for long. (Image via Unsplash)

5 SEO strategies for SaaS companies

1. Leverage knowledge centers

Along with an active blog schedule, it’s wise to consider having a knowledge center on your website. Similar to blogs, these centers often feature granular, in-depth content about your SaaS platforms functions and features. It’s a great place for tutorials, how-to videos, and screenshot-heavy walkthrough posts.

2. Promote your content

While creating engaging content is crucial, your posts shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Prioritize backlinking, which helps improve search rankings through other websites and online sources. This tactic illustrates that others trust your brand. You should also have a consistent practice of content promotion, whether thorough paid channels, on social media, via your newsletter or all of the above.

3. Include tools on your website

Having linkable assets and helpful tools on your SaaS website is another proven way to build your linking strategy and improve SEO. Tools can include calculators, downloadable checklists, product comparisons, or other items that provide value to visitors and make sense for your niche. This is a tangible way to provide value to visitors while they actionably engage with your site.

4. Ensure mobile optimization

Mobile-friendly websites are no longer a “nice to have.” They’re a must. Having a responsive web design ensures your website will render and work properly, regardless of the device your customers use to view it. Not only that, but Google’s mobile-first indexing has made a mobile-optimized website a top factor for ranking in search results. 

The takeaway 

The more time you spend on digital marketing for your SaaS brand, the more you realize things never stay stagnant for long. Goals evolve, rules change, and new competitors crop up all the time.

Luckily, building a strong SEO foundation can set your brand up for long-term success, without the fear of having to scrap everything and start from scratch because of a new, unexpected industry development. 

The idea behind SaaS is to make it easier for people to solve problems. By maintaining your SaaS brand’s SEO, you can be sure that the solution you’re providing connects with as many members of your audience as possible.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Caroline Cox on Dec 8 , 2020

Make sure your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is primed for success in 2021 and beyond.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Quick wins for optimizing your website
  • The must-have elements of quality content
  • The latest Google developments to leverage
  • SEO best practices & trends to keep an eye on

It’s like the age-old saying goes: An SEO pro’s work is never done. 

…OK, so maybe I made that up, but the sentiment holds true. With the ever-changing algorithm and constant advances in technology, optimizing your website for search engine results is (and should be) an ongoing process.

The good news? Putting these SEO best practices into place now can set you up for success months and years down the road. 

These tactics will ensure you’ve got top-notch SEO and add value to your overall brand while showing prospects and users that your company is one they can trust.

SEO includes both on-page (elements on your own website) and off-page (things like backlinks and social media) optimization. While you have more control over your on-page SEO, there are things you can do for both categories to get your site as much exposure as possible.

Let’s dive in.

HawkSEM: Best Practices to Boost Your SEO

Think of an SEO audit like a wellness check for your website. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Plan regular SEO audits

Multiple factors go into making sure your site is optimized for the search engine results page (SERP). That’s why it’s a good idea to conduct an SEO audit at least once a year. This process will give you a holistic view of where your SEO currently stands. 

The steps to conducting a thorough SEO audit are:

  • Perform a technical audit using a site-crawler tool
  • See what pages are indexed in search engines
  • Review mobile friendliness
  • Test page speed
  • Analyze on-site user behavior
  • Revisit your personas and audience
  • Conduct keyword research
  • Audit your content strategy
  • Analyze your link profile
  • Review backlink and internal linking strategies

There are other elements of your site that can affect SEO. Things like your domain’s security (especially if people log in or are asked to submit their info on places like landing pages), long-tail keywords, and compressed media files all go into creating top-notch SEO.

A content audit can also help identify topic gaps to fill via new content. Which themes related to your business have you not covered? Which related topics are your competitors outranking you for? 

Often, these chosen topics relate to the products or services your business offers. Narrow them down, then use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to determine the popularity and competition for these keywords.

Pro tip: Want an idea of where you stand before conducting a full SEO audit? You can leverage a website grader tool that’ll instantly tell you how your site’s SEO stacks up.

2. Create (or update) your content strategy

Speaking of content: The best content strategy is one that’s not set in stone. That’s because the more you create content, the more data you can gather, the more topics you can cover, and the more opportunity you have to optimize your site for search engines.

Your content strategy serves as a high-level look at your content goals and how you plan to achieve them. Plus, it’s one of the most effective SEO best practices you can adopt.

Whether you create a doc, a slideshow, or go old-school with pen and paper, your content strategy should include:

  • Goals
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Target personas
  • Tactics
  • Creation process
  • Projects

Your strategy should also include how often you plan to publish content. It’s also wise to have a content creation checklist to ensure each published piece is optimized and consistent before it goes live. 

Optimized content generally features elements like:

  • Subheadings
  • Title tags
  • Internal and external links
  • Meta descriptions
  • Sentences and paragraphs that are easy to digest
  • Images with alt text

3. Embrace video marketing

There are multiple reasons why video marketing belongs in your 2021 strategy. It’s fast becoming a highly effective content too, while serving as a great way to increase page time and boost engagement. HubSpot reports that 88% of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI.

Once you’ve mapped out a strategy and created your first video, don’t forget to optimize it. You can optimize your videos by following SEO best practices such as:

  • Choosing an engaging thumbnail image
  • Creating a thoughtful title and meta description
  • Optimizing the page itself that the video is hosted on
  • Investing in paid ads for promotion
  • Including captions or subtitles within your video

4. Prioritize mobile-first indexing

The masterminds at Google rolled out mobile-first indexing in the spring of 2018. Before this, Google was crawling and ranking the desktop version of a website.

Then, in the summer of 2020, Google announced it would enable mobile-first indexing for all sites in search by April 2021. 

So, what does this mean for you? Your site has to look sharp on mobile to rank well. That means no wonky formatting, no slow page loads, and no weird margins that make reading or scrolling nearly impossible.

Use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool or do a spot check on your pages by pulling them up on your mobile device to see how they’re responding and rendering. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, it will continue to pull your desktop version, but this leaves you more prone to a sub-par user experience and search engine results page (SERP) ranking.

HawkSEM: Best Practices to Boost Your SEO

Data also shows that images with descriptive captions perform even better — like, ahem, this one. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Get your site up to speed

Speed remains a vital part of following SEO best practices. Not only is it a factor in Google’s slated 2021 Core Web Vitals ranking rollout, but “a slow-to-load page can be a huge problem for bounce rate,” according to Search Engine Journal.

Images and video are two features that can affect page speed since these tend to be larger files. More — and larger — files mean more HTTP requests, which means more load time. 

Make sure the files you’re uploading aren’t bigger than necessary (they don’t need to be magazine-quality high-res photos to look good on your site). And consider enabling compression, so your files are compressed (aka smaller) and take less time to load.

Enabling browser caching can also help, as this means the page isn’t loading completely from scratch each time it’s visited.

6. Don’t underestimate good visuals

Visuals don’t just catch the reader’s eye — they help bring your content to life. Our in-house experts recommend using at least two images per blog post, whether that means photographs, well-designed graphics, or something else.

But don’t just slap a couple of photos into your copy and call it a day. The images you choose should make sense for the topic you’re covering, and the look should feel in line with your brand, even if you’re using stock imagery.

By now, you probably know what’s coming next: optimizing!

Once you’ve found some high-quality photos and compressed them to the proper size to keep your page speed and formatting on point, make sure to include proper alt text that corresponds to the image. This is what will show up if someone has images disabled on their device, or potentially if they hover their mouse over the image. Data also shows that images with descriptive captions perform even better.

7. Monitor your reviews

Brand sentiment is part of what the algorithm takes into consideration. Because of this, it’s important to keep a close eye on your reviews across your Google My Business profile, Facebook page, and other various sites. 

Negative reviews should be publicly addressed, if possible, as long as the comment seems authentic and not like spam (you should be able to tell the difference). Do what you can to turn this disgruntled customer’s opinion around — it could be as easy as:

  • Offering a refund
  • Getting them on the phone with a customer service rep to sort out an issue
  • Appealing to their emotions and making them feel heard
  • Apologizing for a miscommunication, misunderstanding or mixup (which could result in the person deleting their negative review entirely)

But don’t just respond to the negative reviews — SEO best practices suggest acknowledging and thanking someone for a positive review makes your happy client feel seen and valued. And, as we know, word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing tools around.

8. Keep featured snippets in mind

Featured snippets are a SERP feature that often show up when someone asks a question in the search box. The snippet result usually includes what the algorithm deems the most relevant answer.

Featured snippets are usually found in the space between paid search ads and ranked results, sometimes accompanied by an image or video. In 2020, Google made a few tweaks to featured snippets. These included testing multiple contextual links (which they later said was unintentional) and, in some cases, taking users straight to the blurb being referenced in the snippet when they click the link (sometimes with the featured text highlighted).  

While there’s no “one weird trick” to snagging a featured snippet, there are a few ways to prime your content for this spot on the SERP, such as:

  • Dating your content
  • Avoiding first-person language
  • Thoroughly answering a “why”-based query
  • Following the format of existing featured snippets
voice search - seo 2021

More than 4 billion voice search devices were used in 2020, and the figure is slated to double by 2024. (Image via Unsplash)

9. Examine your structured data

Structured data, also called Schema markup, is one way search engine bots crawling your site can understand your website content. This is an important part of healthy technical SEO: the better bots understand your content, the better your chances are of ranking in search results.

Schema is a type of vocabulary with tags you can add to the HTML markup of your web pages and emails. One of the biggest benefits to Schema is that it can enhance the snippets that appear below your page title on the SERP. It allows you to add enriching content like a publish date or rating, rather than simply the meta description.

In August 2020, Google announced that its rich results test tool would now support article structured data. According to Search Engine Land, this can help you better pinpoint structured data issues and potentially drive more traffic to your pages.

Pro tip: There are hundreds of Schema types. Those unfamiliar can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to add structured data to their sites.

10. Own and manage your backlinks

Oh, backlinks — one of those SEO best practices that’s as valuable as it is elusive. While there’s no real shortcut to getting quality backlinks, by putting in the work, it’s still possible to begin seeing SEO-boosting results. The first step is to measure up your site’s current backlinks, then compare the results with those of your competitors. 

Sites that will link to your competitors are likely to link to you as well — if your content is optimized, high-quality, and relevant (it’s also a good idea to link to relevant, high-authority sites). When reaching out about backlink opportunities, it’s key to prioritize personalization, show the value you’re offering, and focus on building a relationship with this business vs. asking for a favor out of the blue.

Some ways you can encourage backlinks to your site include:

  • Publishing unique stats, research, or findings
  • Guest blogging on other sites
  • Leveraging industry influencers
  • Reaching out to sites with directories (like a site’s resources page)

While backlinks are important, it’s worth noting that — as SEO experts point out — it’s not necessarily a numbers game. Quality will win over quantity, and backlinks are just one of many ranking factors that search engines take into account.

Pro tip: A study from fall 2020 found that shorter content earns the most backlinks, so keep that in mind when crafting your link-building strategy. 

11. Keep an eye on voice search

The appeal of being able to search without using a screen is understandable — you can get answers and find information while doing other activities like cooking or driving.

The concept isn’t new, but smart-home technology devices have taken the trend to a new level. More than 4 billion voice search devices were used in 2020, and the figure is slated to double by 2024.

Optimizing your site for voice search is a whole ‘nother ball game — but it can be done. Along with ensuring it loads quickly, you can optimize for voice search by:

  • Making sure your site is mobile responsive
  • Including long-tail, natural-sounding keywords
  • Prioritizing featured snippets
  • Keeping copy concise and digestible
  • Having strong local SEO (like a thorough and accurate Google My Business Page)

The takeaway

The algorithm’s goal is to help people find answers and resources they need. By implementing the above SEO best practices, not only will your site become easier to find, but you’ll be able to better connect with users and customers who can benefit from what you have to offer. 

Whether you’re fine-tuning your current strategy or starting from scratch, now is a great time to assess your goals, evaluate your current practices, and implement a stellar SEO plan.

Want even more expert tips to up your SEO game? Let’s chat.

This article has been updated and was originally published in September 2019.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 30 , 2020

Once you know these common search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes, you can take the proper steps to avoid them.

Here you’ll learn:

  • Some of the top SEO mistakes to avoid
  • Why you shouldn’t ignore technical SEO
  • A solid approach to SEO budget planning
  • Why SMART and OKR goal setting is great for SEO

The power of SEO is undeniable — data shows more than half of all website traffic comes from organic search. That’s why marketers work hard to implement all the available tactics at their disposal. 

But proper, well-rounded SEO is also highly intricate, involving on-page, off-page, and technical aspects. A more generic approach can lead to a variety of SEO mistakes that slow down the optimization process.

Once you know some of the most common SEO mistakes out there, you can be sure not to fall for them.

8 seo mistakes

Simply copying the competition’s strategy, especially with SEO, can be dangerous. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Expecting quick results

One of the most common SEO mistakes we see is the “need for speed.” Focusing on fast results usually undermines the entire SEO strategy, which leads to disappointment and mismanaged expectations. 

Depending on the condition of your website, the quality of content you publish, and the number of backlinks you garner, SEO can take at least four months to produce significant results. 

Pro tip: If you want quick output in the meantime, pay close attention to your paid search ads. They can help with lead generation while improving your SEO efforts.

2. Underestimating the cost

Don’t fall into the “too good to be true” SEO trap. Low-cost, high-quality, and fast-results SEO is the stuff fairy tales are made of. Anything from well-written blog articles and stellar SEO-friendly website design to proper competitor analysis calls for time and money investments. 

While it may not be as straightforward as your paid search budget, it’s worth factoring in funds for things like website updates, longform content designs, a social media manager, and a content agency partnership or content manager. As in most facets of your business, you get out what you put in.

3. Copying the competition

We’ve talked before about the importance of staying on top of what your competition is doing. Knowing which keywords they rank for, which backlinks they use, and which content they favor is the key to staying ahead. 

However, simply copying the competition’s strategy, especially with SEO, can be dangerous. Let’s break down a few reasons why.

Not seeing the full picture

When you’re simply copying what your competitors are doing, you could be missing the bigger picture. For example, some websites block SEO crawlers, so backlink reports you get are incomplete. If some backlinks are invisible to the tool you’re using, you could be copying an incomplete strategy, thus achieving worse results.

Google penalties

The other danger of copying the competition is not knowing how sustainable its strategy is. Your main competitor could have been achieving excellent results for a short time, only to be slapped with a Google penalty next month. The copycat will go down together with the culprit.

4. Using black and gray hat SEO tactics

Speaking of penalties, your competitors may or may not know the basic black-hat SEO techniques to avoid. Black-hat SEO tactics, which can be done purposefully or by accident, include publishing duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and using private link networks.

The thing about these risky SEO techniques is that Google knows all about them, and may ding your site if they catch you using them. After all, even if your intentions are good, search engines have no way of knowing it.

8 seo mistakes - team meeting

While you may be used to optimizing written content, don’t forget about photos, videos, and graphics too. (Image via Unsplash)

Pro tip: Search Engine Journal recently highlighted 8 on-page SEO techniques that Google hates. These include only optimizing for desktop, unnatural internal linking, and spammy website footers. 

5. Neglecting your technical SEO

We’re evangelists of technical SEO around here. That’s because we know it often gets ignored by marketers since it can be tricky to understand. But it’s too important to let fall by the wayside.

Technical SEO generally refers to things on your website like: 

  • URL structures
  • Page speed
  • Internal links
  • Site security
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Your site’s architecture and navigation
  • Meta data

Conducting an SEO audit can give you a good idea of where your technical SEO stands. From there, you can pinpoint areas of weakness and take the necessary steps to address any issues. 

Check out our webinar recording, The Importance of Technical SEO, for even more insight.

6. Focusing on search engines over customers

Even though SEO appears to be all about optimizing for search engines, that doesn’t mean they should be the only focus of your strategy. Google’s goal is to make search results as valuable to the user as possible. To make Google happy, it makes sense to adopt the same goal.

Writing for search engines may help you rise through the ranks temporarily, but it’s not the way to build solid SEO in the long-term. Instead, keep focused on educating your audience, providing a streamlined user experience, and publishing accurate content. 

7. Failing to set clear SEO goals

Aiming to nab the top organic spot on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) sounds like a good goal. But what good is a goal without a clear path to achieving it?

Before you hit the ground running on your SEO strategy, make sure to map out clear goals. Consider using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed) goals to ensure the proper structure of your campaign. 

You can also take advantage of the OKR (objectives and key results) approach to break down big goals into smaller components.

8. Ignoring video SEO practices

This SEO mistake is common because SEO tactics for things like video are relatively new to the landscape. While you may be used to optimizing written content, don’t forget about photos, videos, and graphics too. (Especially since Google reportedly prioritizes websites with video content.) Videos can increase your clickthrough rate (CTR), reduce bounce rate, and create quality backlinks. 

Here are some ways you can make sure your videos are set up for SEO success:

  • Include an easy way for viewers to share the video
  • Include a target keyword in your video’s file name
  • Add closed captions or subtitles to videos with dialog
  • Choose an eye-catching thumbnail image 

The takeaway

Even the most experienced SEO specialists make mistakes here and there. Learning from them can help you streamline your SEO campaign and remind you to stay in the loop on the latest developments.

Need more assistance with your SEO (or PPC) efforts? We’re here to help.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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