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< TSG Thinks

A Straightforward Approach to Search

There are so many gorgeous, functional websites and so few are optimized effectively for search engines. I think that creating a beautiful website should be the beginning of the journey, not the end. We’re in a time of “build it, and they won’t necessarily come.” For most sites, the vast majority of traffic comes from search. In an experiment run by Groupon, organic search accounted for approximately 64% of the total traffic to their site. That’s a ridiculous amount of traffic from one channel, especially for a site that big.

Search is unique in that it’s an intuitive and fast spot to convert a customer – they’re looking to fill a need or solve a problem in that very moment. It’s the digital equivalent of someone driving around looking for a store – the best way to get people to through the door is to have a convenient location.
Where the metaphor gets a bit foggy is when marketers need to attract searchers to their site with pages that deliver on the specific searcher’s need. Whether that’s the best recipe for Tabbouleh, a good brunch spot in Omaha, or an assortment of ceramic tie clips, the site needs to deliver after a searcher-site attraction is established.

There’s a lot of information on what you should and shouldn’t do with search, endless even. Whether you like it or not, search is continuously changing. And fast. Google updates its algorithm roughly 500-600 times each year and likely won’t slow down anytime soon. Most of these rapidly-occurring changes are minor, but typically there are a handful or two of major updates throughout the year. Knowing that, there are a few things to keep in mind when establishing a straightforward approach to search marketing.

1. Research (Your Own Brand)

It’s easy to get caught up in what you want your brand to be and how you want people to view it both now and in the future. Find out how people are getting to your site, what people are searching for, and what other sites searchers are getting to with those same terms. You might be surprised by how people are getting to your site or why they’re avoiding it.

2. Build a Roadmap

Once you figure out how people are getting to your site, come up with ideas on how you can attract more people through relevant searches. Figure out what your business is most knowledgeable about, what traits make it unique from a searchers perspective, and what terms would make the most sense to associate with. This can act as a guide for creating additional relevant content.
Keep in mind that it typically does not make sense to rank organically for your competitors’ branded terms, like the name of their business. Do that in paid search instead (more on that later).

3. Test, Hybridize, and Optimize

SEO is a long-term strategy. You should be looking 6 months to a year down the road, crafting engaging content to attract an increasingly higher volume of searchers to your site and keep them riveted. Wordier terms, like “tomato soup recipe for 20 tiny elves” are easier to rank for and help build a collection of short-term wins that can help with long-term wins for more competitive searches like “tomato soup.”

Typically, 75%+ of search traffic comes organically with less than 25% coming from ads. On the contrary, most marketers put 80%+ of their search budgets toward paid search. Paid search can be used for short term wins, on terms that are highly competitive/branded by a competitor, or are outside of your content plan.
Paid search offers speed and flexibility where SEO offers stability and reach. A great way to test keywords that could be used organically is to run a paid campaign. Like any marketing activity, SEO and PPC have to be optimized perpetually. Perhaps a better way to think about creating a site is “build it, optimize it, and they will come.”

Final Thought

When we push new site out into the world, there’s nothing more gratifying than knowing how many people will interact with it since it’s optimized for search. It’s both a bit of an art and a science to get it right, but that’s what we’re committed to: making gorgeous sites that can be found. If you want to learn more about what we can do, drop us a line! We’d love to chat.