At R2i, we believe in an omnichannel approach—where teams share and apply the same content and themes to all forms of communication with prospects and customers. Most importantly, they share their results with each other so that each channel benefits from what is learned through other channels as to what works well and what does not.
While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) primarily impacts website activity, it can also help drive prospects and customers to other marketing channels. In that sense, each channel supports other channels in moving prospects further down the sales funnel so they become customers.
In this blog, we present five key SEO factors for marketing teams to focus on today and into next year. We also demonstrate how SEO ties back to the omnichannel marketing approach.
1. Technical SEO
SEO is not just about using the right words and phrases on each web page; businesses first need to build a technically-sound foundation for SEO-optimized content to be placed. It’s just like building a nice house—if you don’t have a solid foundation, all the rooms will eventually collapse.
Technical SEO includes making sure you serve web content properly so that search engines can crawl your content effectively. Broken technical elements—such as internal links leading to 404 pages, images not displaying (broken images), and server errors—can impact a search engine’s ability to properly crawl and index your site, thus hindering the performance of your content. Other technical SEO issues to pay attention to are web pages that take too long to load and improperly-formatted structured data.
2. On-Page Optimization
It’s important to take advantage of the basic Google ranking SEO elements. For example, if you update the contents of a page, ensure that on-page elements such as titles and header tags are updated as well in order to provide the strongest ranking signals. Once implemented, monitor your changes so that you can report on your updated optimized landing pages.
It’s also vital to improve user experience, which has an impact on SEO. For instance, check your internal site searches to make sure they provide relevant results. Also, each page should provide a clear navigational path to all sections of the site—whether a user seeks more content, product info, contact info, or other information. The goal is to increase each user’s time on the site.
3. Featured Snippets/SERP Features
The first page that’s rendered by search engines when users search on a particular term is now much more crowded than it used to be. Paid ads and <People also ask> boxes appear above the actual search results. Winning the number-one spot in the actual search list may not suffice.
The key is to get your business into the <Position Zero> featured snippet section above the general URL listings. This can be done with on-page optimization and SEO best-practices as well as structuring your content in a way that gives you a better chance of appearing in those snippets. And don’t forget your schema mark-up! Ensuring your pages are marked up with structured data will assist in SERP visibility and increase your chance of being served up in that coveted “position zero.”
SERP (Search Engine Results Page) features include image carousels and knowledge graph boxes that appear in sidebars such as Wikipedia entries. The SERP aggregates what Google thinks searchers are looking for, but how you set up your website also influences if your business will appear in these sections.
People can often find what they need about a company in the featured snippet and SERP sections (such as phone numbers, email addresses, and hours of operation) without ever clicking through to the company’s website. But you can still generate brand awareness in these sections, and by giving prospects answers, they may still take the next step in the conversion funnel.
4. Voice Search
Voice search has been promoted as the next big thing for SEO the past few years. It’s taking a while to catch on, but 2020 should be the year voice requests start impacting how people conduct online searches
How well your business ranks in voice searches will be influenced mostly by your website content. It needs to be conversational and use natural language. The long-tail keyword phrases you use will need to be very specific to the products and services you sell.
Voice will not likely be used for detailed queries, but it will be used for questions like “how late is ABC company open” and “does ABC company sell software solutions.” It will work similar to digital home assistants, only with the answers (search results) presented in written form on-screen displays.
5. User Experience and Content Working Together
Users have high expectations for finding the information they need. They also know that there are likely other websites that will provide what they want if yours does not. Be sure to take them right where they want—whether it’s to buy a product, get information, or download content.
When your content and the user experience work well together, your SEO will also work better and you will drive more traffic to your website…users get what they need! Achieving this comes down to understanding what your audience is looking for and providing content that matches their intent.
As an example, R2i recently consulted with a client whose retail stores had a strong local presence, but their local pages weren’t converting well. We discovered they were not providing the right content such as localized directions, hours, and the products each location offered. Visitors were thus leaving the pages without converting to the next stage of the sales funnel. Once the information visitors wanted was added to the local pages, the conversions increased rapidly.
The SEO Impact On Omnichannel Marketing
All of these SEO focal points tie back to omnichannel marketing, which when done well, creates similar user experiences across all communication channels according to where prospects are in the sales funnel. Using the same framework and messaging across multiple platforms provides a seamless integrated experience to prospects. A common framework also and allows you to interact consistently across channels in order to drive customer journeys towards purchasing your products and services.
All the channels—email, search engine optimization, social media, paid media, and display—must sync and touch users in multiple places across the sales funnel in a consistent way. For products and services that require multiple touches to convert prospects to customers, omnichannel marketing is critical.
Within omnichannel marketing programs, SEO plays a key role. It may not generate direct customer conversions, but SEO drives brand awareness and nurturing so that prospects convert to customers at other touchpoints.
This is the first of a five-part series on Search Engine Optimization. In our next blog, we take a look at some of our favorite and less-used SEO tactics that every brand should leverage. If you need assistance in evaluating your SEO strategy, or to develop a new strategy to drive more prospects to your website, contact R2integrated at www.r2integrated.com/contact.