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Know this before you SEO.

It’s never been easy to fight your way to the top of the search engine results pages, and there are a lot of ways to tackle search engine marketing. So much so that one could suggest a number of possible solutions to the acronym “SEO”. Officially, of course, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. But for a few people it could stand for Significant Expenditure Outlay more than it stands for anything else. For content-marketers, it might even stand for Systematic, Engaging and Organic.

Depending on your perspective, budget, ambitions and personal experience with SEO, any one of these may resonate more than the others. As with any marketing activity, SEO can be expensive, so it’s important to do it the right way. The lack of understanding about what SEO is and can achieve, together with a lack of an integrated strategy, mean that SEO investment is sometimes wasted.

Large companies, particularly in the consumer space, will face intense competition in the race to the top of the search rankings. In such cases, the work of an SEO specialist or pure SEO agency is undoubtedly invaluable. For SMEs in local and specialist markets, SEO may be better achieved by embedding SEO principles into all marketing activities. This allows companies to deliver against SEO goals and stretch the marketing budget as far as possible. In addition, it demands the highest standards across all marketing communications.

The marketing-first approach

One of the best ways to keep your website in the search engine rankings is to regularly update your site with fresh content. Updating your website regularly signals to search engines that you have an up-to-date site with relevant content on certain topics and keywords. Improved search-engine listings aren’t the only benefit, however. A strong content strategy can ensure that once you’ve got people on the site, they remain for longer because there is interesting, up-to-date content in the form of blogs, advice, product or service details. Updating the content can help not only with SEO, but also improve website ‘stickiness’ which means that you make the most of the opportunity of having people visit your site by showcasing your expertise.

Social media can also help improve search rankings by providing regular links to your site. In addition, social media has a role in sharing your brand voice, raising awareness of news and interacting with customers online. Social media is also a great way to share all the content you’re creating to keep your site relevant – and helps to ensure you remain on-brand and focussed in social communications. The two elements – content and social – feed into each other and work together to support SEO goals.

PR can also help push your site up the rankings, particularly if you’re launching something new or providing a valuable fresh perspective to a particular issue or topic. As with social channels, PR can provide additional links to your site, increased discussion of your brand online and a reminder for stakeholders to visit the site. All this activity helps to demonstrate that your website is relevant which in turn helps with search engine rankings.

We’re certainly not knocking SEO, but we are going to stick our necks out and suggest that for SMEs, starting with SEO might not be the way to go. You can only game search engines for so long. If you’ve achieved the top ranking on Google but people don’t click through or leave your site immediately after, then not only was it a wasted investment but you’ll soon see that coveted top spot slipping. By implementing systematic improvement across all your online communications, you can embed elements of SEO into everything you do.

That’s what we do here at In The Box – we build engaging websites, write and publish fresh content, add new pages and rich media, run social media channels and PR campaigns. We’re not SEO specialists but we know that if you keep it current, interesting and relevant, then you’ll also be search-engine friendly and you’ll deliver against multiple goals at once. Systematic improvement may not be as cool a buzzword as SEO, but it could give a better return on your marketing investment and we think that’s pretty cool.

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