How do you go from being basically invisible online to having an established presence capable of attracting significant site traffic?
This was one of the main the challenges I faced in 2017 when I joined Sterling Trading Tech as their Marketing Director. I had to start at “ground zero,” because while the company had a non-transactional website in place, there was no way for prospective clients to find it outside of third-party vendors unless they googled our company name or typed the URL directly into their browser.
As a professional trading technology firm, Sterling’s early growth didn’t need to rely on organic web traffic. However, with plans for a re-brand, the launch of new products and services and two acquisitions in the pipeline, I was brought on board to create and direct all marketing initiatives.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) acts as every company’s digital salesperson to search engines, with algorithms updated thousands of times annually to ensure the best possible results for search queries.
By focusing on the three SEO essentials outlined below, Sterling grew its web presence from near-invisible to 62,000+ (organic) hits in the first year. Even better, 80% of that was new traffic.
#1: Expand or enhance web content
The best way to start was with an assessment of our current website content. I expanded upon our current products and services in addition to creating content, web pages and graphics for the new products and services available. Due to the technical nature of our content, it was important to have high-level overviews available as well as detailed features and benefits.
Outside of the website, we also created content on the web with:
- A monthly digital newsletter created and sent through a mass email provider
- 2-3 press releases per quarter released on a newswire
- A company blog built on its own site
- How-to product video tutorials hosted on YouTube
These external digital touch points helped to drive engagement in addition to SEO, and we also made the content available on our website. For example, any press release sent out on a newswire is also available on the website. This gives search engines additional locations to recognize our content via external sites and provides backlinking or sending of traffic to our website.
Here’s what our video tutorials look like on YouTube:
#2: Optimize under the hood
Many of the digital components used to communicate with search engines are either not visible or barely noticeable to the average person. The important thing to be aware of is the impact of these tools because they communicate to search engines what visitors can find on your site. Search engines place tremendous value on these elements when determining your rank because they need to make sure the search results they display give people what they’re looking for. Some of these tactics include:
- Writing title tags and meta descriptions for every page on our site. These can be considered the labels or titles of each page that help visitors determine whether or not to click.
- Adding alt text—text descriptions of digital images—to all of the images on our website. This information tells search engines what each image is from a content perspective, plus adds value for image searches.
- Anchoring text—also called internal linking. These are on-page links that point to other pages on your site. For example, a blog post about portfolio margin might link the phrase “real-time risk” to the relevant Sterling product page. Using internal links communicates to search engines that you are a source of information on that particular keyword.
If you want to appear organically in web searches, it’s imperative to be able to clearly and thoroughly communicate digitally to search engines.
#3: Be smart about social
Many third-party websites from social networks to industry associations and directories can be great (and FREE) ways for businesses to engage customers and prospects.
Your company presence on sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube often help in positioning you higher in organic search results than you could ever achieve on your own. These sites are deemed credible and influential, plus they have fast indexing, meaning they are able to update search engine results in real time. Search engines utilize bots to scan each page of a website approximately every six-to-eight weeks to maintain the most up-to-date information available. Additionally, every credible website that your company appears on and that links back to your website is a valuable contributor to your ranking.
We use a company-branded channel on YouTube (which is owned by Google) to host all of our videos and then embed them on our website for maximum optimization and impressions. Videos are ranked by the search engines with the text from the video titles, keyword tags and video descriptions as well as any links included in a video’s description and user retention – the length and volume of views. You don’t need a professional videographer to create valuable 1-2-minute tutorial or product videos. They can easily be produced in-house on your own computer utilizing basic tools such as screen recording and by converting PowerPoint files to MP4s.
None may single-handedly make a huge impact, but together, these SEO essentials have the power to boost your credibility to search engines over time.
Additionally, we created a business profile on Google My Business. While it’s not quite a necessity for businesses without brick-and-mortar locations, it’s much more than just a pin on the Google Map. Google views Google My Business as its own version of today’s ‘yellow pages’ and uses it as a trusted data feed since it internally verifies every listing. Your Google My Business profile will appear on page one of any searches on your company name; you can include contact information, photos, and even articles.
Lastly, it’s important to take advantage of all in-person and on-site activities, such as industry conferences and thought leadership. Chances are your company is already active in your specific B2B community, and all of the community associations, directories, featured publications and events have a website where you are listed or featured online. These are excellent tools for generating backlinks to your site. Online product or company reviews can also be valuable, depending on your industry. Make sure to respond to all reviews, if possible, for engagement and, of course, optimization.
Here’s the bottom line.
Improving your organic visibility online requires a multifaceted SEO strategy. Focus on optimizing your content, properly communicating your message and areas of expertise to search engines and having a presence on powerful third-party platforms to increase the number of places your company is mentioned and backlinked. None of these SEO essentials may single-handedly make a huge impact, but together, they have the power to boost your credibility to search engines over time. This will prove that your website offers the best content possible for web searches related to your area of expertise, increasing your visibility and, ultimately, your company’s growth.