Nital is a strategic and composed Entrepreneur. His confident marketing approach and excellent management skills have helped him make his dreams come true as a smart business leader.
SEO and content are like Batman and Robin.
They can work on their own and are pretty good at fighting crime…
But when they work together, their actions become legendary.
In combination, SEO and content are the perfect partners if you are looking to drive long-term, sustainable online sales for your business.
The key point in the above sentence is “long-term”. If you’re uncertain about how SEO works and looking for overnight results, short-term sales and quick turnover – then your money is better invested elsewhere.
In this article, I will break down why I believe a strong SEO strategy has a direct correlation to online sales growth, and how content can play a significant role in that strategy.
But before we get to that, let’s eliminate the bystanders. Here is why SEO isn’t the right investment for you…
Why you shouldn’t invest in SEO
If you’ve ever managed an SEO strategy, you probably know how SEO works and how quickly things can take a turn for the worse.
The search landscape is constantly evolving, and Google seems to update its algorithm every other fortnight. Just when you think everything is working smoothly, something inevitably changes.
Just like their continuous rollout of the Panda update.
So if you don’t have someone with experience who can monitor your SEO optimisation and how it ties in with your overall digital strategy – don’t invest in it at all.
One of the main reasons small businesses are reluctant to focus on SEO is because benefits of SEO is not something you can expect to enjoy overnight. It takes time to show results.
The early stages of an SEO strategy usually require a significant investment and little payoff with regards to traffic or rankings.
For example, if you’ve jumped from position 67 to position 13, that’s an impressive gain, but it’s still too far down the rankings to deliver any significant traffic increase.
To put it in perspective, if you are patient and continue to increase your ranking from position 13 to 5, which is now on the first page of most search results, you can expect to see a 5% increase in your traffic.
A study by ahrefs found that only 0.3% of new pages rank in the top 10 of a Google search for high-volume keywords within a year:
Are you willing to wait 6 to 12 months to see a noticeable shift in your organic traffic? If not, then invest in something else.
Big brands have some huge advantages when it comes to SEO:
However, just like in the story of David and Goliath, it’s entirely possible for a small business to compete with and even overtake a big brand in search engine performance.
But you need to think about things a little different…
Forget about broad industry search terms that everyone is trying to rank for, and instead, focus on an SEO strategy built on the back of LSI (long-tail) keywords and content production. (More about that later)
If you only want to jump the queue and rank for broad industry terms, then SEO might not be the right investment for you.
Advancements in technology, such as mobile, virtual reality, voice search, and machine learning have turned SEO into a complex discipline that is hard to implement.
Simply optimising your content for a specific keyword and focusing on building your domain authority is not enough anymore. SEO is constantly changing and becoming driven by natural language search. You need to adapt and regularly tweak your strategy if you want to keep pace.
Again, if this isn’t your area of expertise then consider hiring someone or working with an agency. Or, simply don’t focus on SEO for now, until you can give it the focus (and investment) it needs to work.
Are you still with me?
SEO obviously comes with its challenges, as listed out above, and it is hard to see short-term results. But it is still the most sustainable driver of high-quality website traffic available to any business looking to drive sales online.
So let’s look at the flip side of the equation, and consider why SEO would make for an appropriate investment for your business:
What’s the first thing you do when you need to research information about something? Most likely, you open Google, type your keywords into the search bar, and browse through the first few results.
Always on the go and surrounded by countless digital distractions, users get frustrated if they can’t find what they need as quickly as possible.
Almost anything that falls onto page two of a search is as good as lost, and if your competitors are crafty about their search and PPC strategy, they will be trying to compete for rankings that relate to your name too.
For example, HubSpot looks to rank for comparison terms with other marketing automation platforms like Marketo:
And a lot of businesses run AdWords campaigns that target their competitors’ names. Look at the top two ads in this search for CoSchedule:
In this example, CoSchedule rank at number one in the organic results right below the ads, because they have a strong focus on SEO backed by content marketing.
Do you want your competitors to outrank you for your own name?
One of the things that makes SEO such an important driver of online sales is its direct response nature. In other words, a well-planned SEO strategy can generate an immediate response from your target audience.
Someone who searches for a term, they get what they are looking for straight away. Be that piece of content that guides them further down the buying process, or be it a direct product-related search referral.
More than that, each action that is taken by your prospects, such as clicks from organic search, average time-on-page, pages per visitor, etc. can be measured and attributed to a specific element of your SEO strategy.
This makes SEO measurable and directly attributable to sales over time.
You might think that SEO is obsolete and instead of investing in SEO, you should shift all of your focus to social media now. But in fact, one study found that search sends far more qualified traffic to your site than social media. Search engines actually beat social media by more than 300%.
And when it comes to SEO Vs. Pay-Per-Click (PPC), it’s a no-contest. Only a fraction of people ever click on ads in comparison to organic search results. Some reports suggest that paid search contributes less than 10% of all search engine traffic to websites:
Even if your sole focus is on search engines, it is tempting to put all of your budget into PPC advertising, because the results are much more obvious and short-term.
PPC is an excellent way to generate new leads fast. However, costs can add up quickly, and you can end up paying tens of thousands of dollars per month on PPC alone.
When it comes to SEO, on the other hand, whilst you may incur some costs up front in terms of on-page optimisation. As well as ongoing costs for content production and technical link audits. Your long-term ROI is significantly better.
Because you are building assets on your website. Once you have a page with a strong search authority, that is getting a lot of traffic, you are essentially getting traffic and leads for free.
So then, how does content fit into your SEO strategy?
A lot of small business owners use SEO as a way to drive traffic to their website. However, they ignore the power that SEO has at influencing the buying process and driving revenue.
Nowadays, customers aren’t only using search engines for the sole purpose of finding the right product for their needs. They have questions and subsequently search for information throughout the entire buying journey. From before they have any idea about who you are, all the way through to the final purchase decision.
This is where content plays a huge part in your SEO strategy.
This article has an interesting look at a few different buyer’s journey models, but when it comes to SEO you are looking to be guided by your keyword research.
What questions are people typing into that search bar before they are even aware of their problem? What about once they know about their problem but are seeking more information? Then when they are comparing you to other options?
If you conduct keyword research, with a strong emphasis on “long-tail” or LSI keywords, in regards to these key questions that your customers are searching for at each stage of the buyer’s journey… it will create a nice structure for your future content production.
This simple buyer’s journey visual from HubSpot sums up this concept nicely:
Note: LSI keywords are longer more specific phrases that typically have lower search volume, but are less competitive to rank for. The intent of a searcher is also extremely obvious when you get to this level of specificity.
Now, you can capture the attention and interest of prospective buyers WAY before they even make a purchase decision. You can build trust and credibility that will inevitably make you stand out the way and above any of your competitors.
Of course, just by creating this content you are unlikely to see significant benefits of SEO. But if prospects land on your page and you successfully deliver on your promise, in other words, the information is relevant, helpful, valuable, and meaningful. Not only will it progress them further down the buyer’s journey, but it will encourage them to share your content, link back to it, and begin to influence the overall search profile of your website.
When it comes to SEO and content, you need to think long-term.
Don’t expect to see an increase in traffic and sales overnight. That’s never going to happen (at least, not through the use of SEO best practices.)
But, keep in mind that all of your efforts and investment is going to be well worth it once you start to see an improvement in rankings. Once the traffic starts rolling in, it often picks up momentum across your whole website. Soon it becomes easier to rank your pages because your site is credible.
So focus on quality content and long-tail keyword optimisation. Show patience. Invest in the future of your business. Rather than looking to tomorrow, look ahead 6 or 12 months from now and appreciate the asset you have built.
There is no doubt that SEO is getting harder given the enormous amount of content being produced these days. But that’s what makes it so powerful.