Beyond Search Rankings: Using SEO to Improve Site Optimization
The evolution of search engine algorithms has added to the complexity of search engine optimization. More significantly, it has impacted the level of integration that is needed with other forms of Web optimization. SEOMoz has a great page that shows the updates year by year.
Search engine optimization is no longer strictly about publishing quality content and building the authority of the content. SEO now involves engaging consumers and building relationships.
The new paradigm of SEO is that it must be implemented in tandem with other website optimization efforts. These include user experience design and social media marketing.
Optimizing for the Desired User Action
Getting qualified traffic to a website is only half the battle; once visitors arrive, they need to perform an action. Whatever the desired action may be, whether it’s filling out a lead form, signing up for a newsletter or completing a purchase, the landing pages and the site in general must be optimized in such a way that makes the desired action clear and compelling to visitors. Otherwise, the SEO efforts and investment that drove people to the site will have been done in vain.
Given the importance of both driving traffic to a website and influencing that traffic to execute a conversion, it is important not to think of these as two mutually exclusive tasks. The ability to drive traffic is partially dependent on the actions completed once visitors land on a website.
The engagement value of a website is a ranking factor. If a website has low engagement, the site’s organic search rankings can be negatively affected. For example, search engines can easily determine that a website has a high bounce rate if users click on an organic listing then quickly return to the search engine results page. This is a strong signal to the search engines that the site has either poor-quality content or simply provides a bad user experience and, therefore, the search engine will no longer want to send its users to that site. This results in lowered rankings. For this reason, it is essential that SEO efforts are integrated with usability/user experience optimization.
Integrating Social Media and SEO
Another important area of necessary integration with SEO is social media marketing efforts. Social signals, such as Likes, Tweets, +1’s, etc. are strong authority signals in the eyes of search engines. Furthermore, it is important to build strong relationships with consumers via SEO and maintain those relationships through social media. By building strong social communities and engaging with those communities, search engines will view a brand as a positive destination for its users and those connected to the brand’s followers will be more likely to come across and engage with the brand.
The integration between SEO and social media marketing that should always happen includes facilitating website visitors to join a brand’s social communities by prominently placed social media buttons and links on the website. If performed correctly, visitors driven to the site by SEO efforts can be leveraged for building a stronger social presence for the brand. Alternatively, website content meant to generate organic traffic should be shared via the brand’s social media profiles/communities to build authority to that content, increasing the SEO value.
These are just a few examples of various Web optimization principles and channels that should be integrated with SEO.
SEO should not be viewed as a stand-alone channel for inbound marketing, but rather part of a larger digital strategy that is fully integrated. Allow SEO to help other channels succeed and allow other channels to benefit SEO.