87% of CMOs believe SEO is the most effective digital marketing tactic for driving website traffic. (Source: BrightEdge)
The average click-through rate for organic search results is 8.5%, compared to just 1.5% for paid search (PPC) results (Source: Moz)
Unquestionably, the internet is the modern battleground of marketing, and if you want your company to stand out above the crowd, an SEO plan is a must.
In this all-new CMO’s Guide to SEO, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about SEO from a CMO’s point of view. When it comes time to hire an SEO agency, you’ll be well-prepared to ask all the right questions.
What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search engine optimization is the art and science of making Google’s search engines place your website higher than your competitors.
Websites are constantly vying for the top spot of search result pages (or “SERPs”). Why? Websites that appear on the first page of search results on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines receive the most traffic from searchers.
Websites that show up on the first page of the SERPs also have the highest clickthrough rate (CTR), which is the measure of the number of clicks received divided by the number of impressions.
In fact, according to a 2020 study by Sistrix, while pages that rank first on Google have a clickthrough rate (CTR) of 28.5%, pages that rank 10th on Google have a CTR of only 2.5%.
This means that if you have a page that ranks first on Google, 28 out of every 100 people who see it will likely click on your search result, your ad, promotions, or offers. In contrast, if your page ranks 10th, less than 3 out of every 100 people are bound to make that click.
As you can see, if you want your company’s website to stand out, rankings matter… a lot. And Google’s algorithms can position your company as subject matter experts.
So, how exactly do you rank higher in this search-first age?
Essentially, it’s all about how much search engines, like Google, trust your website to provide the best answers vs. your competitors.
Luckily, there are multiple methods to make search engine algorithms trust your website more. This includes practices like:
- Including relevant keywords (really, “topics”) in your content
- Creating human-friendly content
- Linking to established and trustworthy websites
- Having trustworthy websites link to your site
- Optimizing the coding behind your web pages
It’s also important to note that there are several types of SEO practices suitable for different marketing strategies.
Types of SEO for Marketing Your Company
Technically, anything you purposefully do to make your site more accessible to searchers and the ranking algorithm is called SEO.
However, there are many different types of optimization practices, each with its own purpose. Here are a few examples:
- Technical SEO. This practice optimizes aspects of your website that make it easier for search engines to see and for humans to use. Technical SEO is often concerned with page speed, mobile optimization, page structure, and other related aspects.
- On-page SEO. On-page SEO is directly concerned with your content. This involves keyword research, using keywords, and ensuring topic relevance.
- Off-page SEO. A significant factor of Google’s ranking scheme is measuring your trustworthiness based on how many websites are linked to yours. Also known as backlinking, building those links up is the main priority of off-page SEO.
- White hat SEO. This group of SEO techniques faithfully follows the Google algorithm’s guidelines for creating a trustworthy and relevant website.
- Black hat SEO. Generally frowned upon by Google, this is the practice of exploiting certain aspects of the algorithm to build ranking.
There are more types of SEO, each with its advantages, disadvantages, and use cases for your type of marketing activity.
However, these five are the most commonly used and practiced. As your company’s CMO, you have to make sure that you’re familiar with these types of SEO, at the very least.
Why Is SEO Important for Companies?
Ever wonder why your website doesn’t attract new customers?
One reason for this is that they’re probably pushed by Google or Bing to your more optimized competitors. As mentioned above, websites that have better SEO tend to rank higher on search results.
If you’re still not using SEO for your website, you’re very likely already losing out to the competition. This is true not just for your more complex marketing efforts but also for something as simple as establishing an online presence and creating a reliable brand.
That said, what exactly are the tangible benefits of SEO to companies? We’ll discuss a few below:
Benefits of SEO for Your Company
1. Attracts new customers
Optimizing your content for search engines brings in more potential customers. Google handles billions of searches every day, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down.
According to Statista, as of January 2021, 4.66 billion people are active users of the internet. This is about 59.2% of the world population.
More than that, as the internet becomes more mainstream, the percentage of the population using search engines every day is also rising, from just 43% in 2015 to over 53.7% last 2021.
Obviously, there’s an unfathomably large number of people who use the internet daily. Your target audience and potential customers are included in that number – but only if you’re in the first page results and at the topmost positions.
2. Helps advertising efforts
In this increasingly modern world, it’s much easier to advertise your products or services online.
Even if you don’t have an online store, 76% of people who search for a local shop online are likely to visit within 24 hours. This is an exciting prospect for any business – but only if your website is fully optimized.
Utilizing SEO best practices will ensure that your site ranks high for the keywords relevant to you, increasing your brand visibility where it matters the most. In extension, it also allows you to market directly to potential customers who will click your website for information.
3. Builds credibility and authority
The further down the list you go, the less relevant, useful, or credible the results will be – at least, this is what most people believe about search engines.
It’s also why most people don’t bother checking results past the first, second, or third pages of results.
Over time, a website that consistently ranks first will command respect and authority. Constantly seeing your site on the front page of search results will automatically place you as an industry expert in the minds of many.
4. Improves your brand’s reputation
There’s an infinite number of ways your positive branding can be reinforced by your dedicated and trusting patrons.
If the content you’re putting out is worth it, consumers are more likely to reference your published works in their interactions. They will share your website to Facebook groups, link to you in their blog posts, or upload posts crediting you on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
Not only does this help your social media marketing, but it also boosts your site thanks to Google’s algorithms.
5. Results in more conversions
Running a successful SEO campaign is more profitable and leads to bigger growth in the long term compared to running paid ads online.
Paid ads may help in boosting short-term visibility, but, unfortunately, research reveals that 80% of internet users tend to ignore them, opting instead to look at organic search results.
Current industry views reflect this finding. 70% of surveyed business owners believe that SEO generates more sales compared to pay-per-click advertisements.
Good, consistent SEO drives organic search, naturally increasing your leads and conversion rates over time.
6. Leads to an improved user experience
One of the main goals of search engine optimization is to make your content more relevant and valuable to your audience.
This is a symbiotic relationship: by providing your readers with high-quality, readable, and relevant content, you can get their continuous support and attention, which, in turn, will boost your search engine rankings.
In general, the more you pay attention to your website’s SEO, the better your content tends to be for your audience. Just be careful not to over-optimize.
7. Allows you to understand customers better
Data-centricity is a big part of what makes SEO work. Optimizing your website and content for more traffic inevitably leads to understanding more about your customers – who they are, what they’re looking for, how they’re getting it, and what they’re planning to do next.
As a CMO, you know precisely how vital data analysis is for your company. After all, not only can you use this wealth of information to make your website more trustworthy and drive more people to look at your page, but you can also use it to supplement other marketing efforts.
4 Common SEO Mistakes
Before we dive into the best practices for SEO, it’s essential to know first where most people go wrong when it comes to search engine optimization.
Here are four of the most common mistakes that people make when optimizing their content. Worse, these mistakes can sometimes lead you into thinking that your SEO is working even if it’s not.
- Making short-term plans. Make no mistake: SEO is a long game. The foundations that govern search engine algorithms want websites to build trust and value and for your audience to reward that value in turn. Therefore, don’t expect short-term gains when optimizing your website for SEO. Instead, gear your SEO efforts towards the future and wait for the right time to reap your rewards.
- Taking the easy route. Exploitative black hat tactics can help you easily raise your ranking in a short time. However, all it takes is one update, patch, or improvement in the algorithm to topple that house of cards. On the other hand, playing things by the book is a safe and guaranteed way to achieve results.
- Forgetting technical SEO. Optimizing the backend of your website is, more often than not, tedious work. However, it’s absolutely critical to maintain a healthy site. Creating optimized content or building backlinks for your site may be more exciting, but slow loading times and unresponsive pages can easily turn your audience away, so don’t let it get to that point.
- Over-optimizing your site. There is such a thing as too much SEO. For instance, keyword stuffing is a strategy that makes use of the same keywords over and over again to let search engines pick up on the article better.
However, it looks very unnatural to human readers, which can hurt your SEO in the long run. Remember, never sacrifice the experience of your human users just to satisfy an algorithm.
CMO’s Guide to SEO: 10 Best Practices
Now you know what SEO is, its benefits, which types are most relevant to you as a CMO, and even the most common mistakes during optimization.
In the next section, we’ll discuss some of the SEO best practices that you can start implementing today.
1. Implement SEO Best Practices from Day One
If your company doesn’t have a website yet, you can hit the ground running by implementing SEO best practices from the start. Going back later to optimize everything may be costly or inconvenient, especially when it comes to the technical aspects of your site.
That said, if you already have a site and it’s not yet optimized, then you don’t really have a choice but to start where you are right now. Make sure you use a combination of the five main types of SEO to have better chances at making it into the top search engine results pages.
2. Create a Detailed Marketing Plan
One of the challenges that marketing departments face is that search engine optimization has many moving parts.
For instance, B2B companies who want to improve their rankings to get better business results–such as shorter B2B purchase cycles–shouldn’t focus on just one aspect of SEO alone. They have to take in the full picture and consider all the creative and technical elements that make up effective B2B SEO.
However, this is obviously easier said than done. Managing the various aspects of SEO can be difficult for any organization, especially for beginners.
The best way to counter these challenges is to have a detailed marketing strategy that includes your SEO needs right from the start.
Having a plan saves you a tremendous amount of time down the line. More importantly, it will provide a way for you to organize all the different aspects of creating optimized content.
3. Invest in High-Quality Content Development
In this tough battleground of talented marketers, content is king.
According to a study by Databox, almost 75% of experts believe that content is the most important part of creating an SEO-friendly website.
This means that you shouldn’t scrimp on content development or content marketing.
Instead, invest in developing high-quality content that will add value to the lives of your audience and market your business at the same time. You can even hire content creators to focus on SEO content creation and create different types of content.
Some content heuristics to guide you.
Based on first-page results, optimal content for SEO purposes is 2,300-2,500 words long, uses the correct headings and subheadings (“h-tags”), and has both external and internal links.
Naturally, shorter articles are certainly okay too and may be better as many writers will have enough in the tank to write a 500-word article, but perhaps not enough to write an enterprise SEO length article each time.
4. Use SEO Tools
SEO tools include software, plugins, browser extensions, and platforms that can help you improve your SEO strategy.
They can make or break your SEO campaign, so don’t just buy the most expensive options out there. In fact, many of the best tools, like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools, don’t cost anything to use.
Even Chrome plugins like Detailed extension or the SEO Minion extension can give you some quick insights such as “Did my writers use the proper title and heading tags for this article?”
Be sure to pick the ones that are most applicable to your specific marketing strategy, situation, and budget.
5. Maintain a Dedicated SEO Team
Your overall SEO strategy may be a CMO-level decision, but the nitty-gritty details of your plan should be a team effort.
SEO is a complex task that involves various departments of your organization – not just your marketing team. Consider creating a well-tuned team of industry experts to manage all of these in one place.
The specific composition of your team will depend on the subjective need of your organization, but ideally, it should contain the following essential positions:
- SEO expert
- Project head
- Content manager
- Technical lead
- Public relations
- Conversion rate optimizer
To get better results, make sure that all team members know the most effective ways to use SEO for marketing.
6. Keep Your Website Updated at All Times
Imagine yourself in this scenario. You look up a local business online, say, a real estate agency, only to see their official website last updated five years ago. You check their Facebook page: last updated three years ago. Their Twitter? Four years ago.
Few things can turn away an interested audience faster than outdated online accounts. Your company may be thriving, but if your online accounts are gathering dust in the corner, you can easily lose hundreds or even thousands of potential customers.
To combat this, make sure that you keep your website and social media accounts updated at all times. You don’t have to be active 24/7 – just enough to let customers know that you’re still in business.
7. Conduct Regular Technical Checks
Problems and inefficiencies on the backend of your website will affect critical aspects of the user experience, as well as potentially drive your audience away.
Let’s say you’re dealing with bad traffic on your website. If you don’t do a technical check, you wouldn’t know that you have to implement CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA on your site to prevent bots from visiting it.
Regular technical tune-ups are critical for maintaining your overall SEO strategy and keeping your website running smoothly. It’s best to include the results in your SEO reports so that you’ll be able to look back at this information at a later date.
8. Collect and Analyze Relevant Data
You can think of data as the lifeblood of SEO. Information, from the most basic to the most advanced, will be what decides your website’s next moves in your SEO strategy.
9. Track Relevant Metrics
Just like any project, key metrics will let you know which aspects of your campaign are working and which are not.
Keep a close eye on how your campaign is doing on various metrics, most notably the following:
- Page sessions
- Organic traffic
- Conversion rates
Make sure to include these metrics in your SEO reports so that you’ll have data to compare over time.
10. Do SEO Audits Regularly
Google regularly updates its search engine algorithms. Sometimes, even a minor update can have wide-ranging impacts. It can devalue or penalize some of your web pages. It can also render your tried-and-tested methods ineffective.
This can happen over weeks, or it can happen suddenly. To keep your website healthy and your SEO performance on point, conduct regular SEO audits that check your performance to current policies and trends.
Understanding SEO as a CMO: Final Thoughts
Search engine optimization is vital for websites to thrive in the information age. It’s also critical for any forward-minded CMO that would like to leverage the internet to increase business revenues.
In this full guide, we laid a foundation for understanding SEO for your digital marketing needs. However, one of the best and easiest ways to utilize SEO for your company is working with Boomcycle as your partner in success.
Boomcycle is a digital marketing service. We utilize all the cutting-edge SEO techniques discussed to rank businesses on the first page of Google.
Let us help your company be visible to your best prospects the moment they search for what you offer. Schedule a consultation now to find out more!