SEO & Digital Marketing Basics

With more than 15 years of experience counseling corporations and business on SEO, I am amazed at how many organizations still miss the basics. Here are three areas of focus and a “first step” for each to start improving your SEO and digital marketing today.

Stay Visible

Before the internet, many businesses relied on appearing in the front of Yellow Page listings. (That’s why you’d find companies with odd names like AAAA Plumbing.) But in today’s Google era, alpha order names don’t matter. Showing up in online search results is the #1 way for potential customers to find your business.Managing your website so it that ranks highly in Google or Bing (which also powers Yahoo search) for terms relevant to your products or services is critical. Some businesses have seen their sales almost double solely because of improved search engine rankings. And, for local businesses that have a specific location or serve a particular geographic area, having map listings in Google and Bing is equally impactful.

First Step: Claim and populate your organization’s map listings with hours of operation, contact information and images. Download this handy guide to walk you through the process.

Be Social & Responsive

Customers expect businesses to interact with them on social media. Although reviews don’t directly optimize your search engine rankings, responsiveness greatly improves your credibility. Make sure you respond to all comments.But not all social channels are created equal. While Facebook and Twitter are the OGs of the bunch, Instagram is great for connecting with consumers under 30 and LinkedIn is ideal for B2B audiences. Also, don’t forget to monitor and respond to reviews directly on Google.

First Step: Always say “thank you” when someone leaves a positive comment. For complaints or less than stellar reviews, offer to resolve their issue quickly and in a sincere and friendly way. Try to take the conversation to a private channel like email to work out the details.

Measure Everything

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Setting measurable goals for online success, checking the data on a regular basis and periodically shifting your approach are all critical to maintaining your online marketing program.Start by tracking total visitors to your website, new visitors and conversions (e.g. how many visitors completed a specific task on your site such as filling out a contact form).But data without insights is useless, so it’s equally important to assign someone on your team to interpret the data and provide actionable insights. You’ll need to monitor constantly and shift your program as-needed (12 or 6-month check-ins aren’t going to cut it.

First Step: Start with a basic, free web analytics tool like Google Analytics. Other tools with specific purposes can be added as your business grows for small monthly or annual fees.

Guest post by David Culbertson, SEO expert and CEO of Lightbulb Interactive