If you are new to the digital world, watch Mike McDougall, Head of Experience at Reprise Digital, give an overview of search engines, websites, and social media. Mike has over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and has worked with businesses of all sizes to help them develop strategies and deliver new leads.
Search engine optimization is when technical elements of a web page and the content on that page are authoritative and relevant for that web page’s intended searcher. These optimizations can allow a page to rank for frequently searched keywords by users, This allows websites to be visible on search engine results pages, which can grow a website’s organic search presence .
When you type something into Google, there are different elements that display on the results page. At the top are pay-per-click advertisements. As the name suggests, anytime someone clicks on your brand there, it's going to cost you money. It's essentially an auction that takes place for that spot. Below that are the organic listings.
We can think about these spots like this, “paid” is like renting the space, whereas “organic” is more like owning the space. It's a little bit more long term. It's also going to take you longer to get there, but the idea is that it's more permanent and the return on investment could be better for you and your business.
Search engines are also really good at passing information with what we call a “knowledge graph”. (You will find that on the right- hand side of a search results page.)This is how search engines work, they have these little programs that will run through your website and all across the web, reading billions of bits of information every second of every day. How relevant is the information on your website? How well-presented is that information to search engines? The knowledge graph catalogs and indexes that information to determine where your brand ranks.
Brands who have the (have the most relevant, well-presented information) are the ones that are going to perform better in SEO (search engine optimization).
Previously, SEO strategies would've been focused on, "How do I make my website friendly to search engines?" Now that thinking has shifted. Search engines, like Google, are going to reward business owners that can provide a really good digital experience for prospective new customers or people visiting your website with better results SEO. So, it's really about putting the customer experience at the center of your digital business.
The website is very much the front door for your business. Sometimes it's going to be the first interaction people have with your business as well. So, it's really important that we make a great impression. You want that site to look good. You want it to have the right kind of authority, and that's going to be tough to do as well because it's a noisy space. You have to figure out how to make your business stand out from the competition and you have to know your key differentiators. Think about those things when developing your website.
When you're building a house, you want to make sure you have a really strong foundation. The website is really similar to that as well. Your website is the foundation for all of your digital activity. Make sure you build a strong foundation that provides a good experience and gives prospective customers the right information in the right place. Website visitors should be able to take the actions they want as easily as possible.
Think of your website in three key ways:
All of those things are going to be really important for driving your digital strategy forwards.
What are some of the benefits of an SEO strategy? Discoverability is at the top of the list. Search engines are a great way for your business to stay visible, put products and services in front of prospects at the right time, and providing that really good experience as well.
When visitors land on your website, make sure to give them the right information in a way that's intuitive and easy to use. This will help to help to build your brand as well create word of mouth and build brand recognition, which will in turn get people to come back to your website.
Additionally, a successful SEO strategy will have more longevity than a paid strategy, which will provide you with great value as a marketing channel.
How do search engines assess whether a website is trustworthy? One factor is if other websites and brands are mentioning your site and linking to it. These are known as external links or backlinks. This ties into your marketing strategy; if you’re talking about your website on social media, make sure that you link back to it. If you're doing traditional print advertising, make sure you create a connection to your digital property. Try to create crossover between all of your different marketing and advertising efforts. An additional factor is how well your website links internally to other sections of the website, which is known as internal linking . Including internal links from one page to another page of a website will allow users to navigate between different parts a website with ease.
It’s hugely important that your website is as accessible as possible. Searchers are impatient. Whether they're commuting and scrolling on a smartphone or looking for a pizza shop nearby, whatever it might be, they want that information quickly. And when they find what they’re looking for, it’s important that all the relevant information they might need is there. So, providing that really great experience is going to be really important.
Think about your website from a mobile-first perspective. That’s a great place to start. That's how search engines will look at your website and that's how they'll measure it. So, think about how your website is going to perform on a mobile device. And if you get the mobile experience right, you're going to be well on the way to success. We like to think of this principle as well, when creating content.
If you're writing content for a particular website or product, really focus on that expertise that you have. As brand owners and experts in your field, any time you’re building content, convey expertise, authority, and trust. We like to think of expertise, authority, and trust, any time we're building content. If your content conveys those three things, it will likely rank higher in search engines, which means there will also be more opportunity for your message to resonate with potential customers and the chances for it to perform better in search engines are going to be higher
Pay-Per-Click advertising, also known as PPC, is when you create online ads based on search keywords that are relevant to your service or brand. You pay money each time someone clicks through that ad to your site. Understand how people are searching in search engines can help you to build those campaigns. You can set up your own PPC campaigns through platforms such as Google AdWords.
One advantage over SEO is that it’s more immediate. You can set up a PPC campaign in a matter of minutes or hours and launch it to customers. PPC is easily measurable as well. The reporting available within the PPC platform that you use will be able to give you your return on investment. So, you're going to be able to clearly see whether you're getting value for money from the investment that you're making in that channel as well.
Another area where PPC has greater flexibility is in geo-targeting your ads. If your business is location-driven, you're going to be able to target key areas for your business whether that's a particular zip code or a city. You can even set up a customized area. It’s really important to have the customer at the heart of your business and to understand who your key customers are and who they are digitally.
Social media can be a fantastic way to grow a business and create brand affinity. But billions of pieces of content are shared on social channels each day, and everyone is competing for attention. So, it’s important to know your audience when creating your social media strategy and before you invest your time and money.
You need to know the makeup of your typical customer. Do they skew younger or older? Female or male?
The answers to these questions should factor into which social media platforms you use. For example, if they skew younger, you may want to focus more on the Instagram and TikTok. For an older audience, Facebook might be a better fit. Try to understand who your audience is and get in front of them at the right time and on the right channel.
Here are some questions to ask before you invest in social media:
It’s important to make sure that your content will resonate with your potential customers, create brand affinity, and create positive brand conversations.
We can see from the huge growth of social media platforms such as TikTok that we are seeing a change in the way that people are interacting with content. People are interacting with more visual content, especially videos.
Small businesses are also engaging with “micro-influencers”. People will listen to other people (their peers) about their purchases and experiences. Things like reviews and endorsements on social media are going be really important for your business to drive those trust signals.
As a business, you should always test and measure. If you are trying PPC, for example, you should understand the effectiveness of that channel. As small business owners, you have the benefit of being more agile with your testing strategy. You can use that agility to try something new before your competitors do.
Keep the customer at the heart of everything you do. Always be thinking about what your customer's thinking. And if you do that, you're going to be able to have a really good track to an effective digital strategy. And last but not least, make sure that you find that brand voice as well. Think about how can you resonate. What are the unique things that you can say as a business that's going to be able to help you to find that voice and vocalize that online in a really effective way.
Disclaimer: Amazon Business does not endorse or approve any products or opinions shared by content contributors. The content is for information purposes only and Amazon Business does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published or that it is suitable in dealing with a particular situation.
Mike McDougall has 20 years of experience helping businesses grow their online presence and attract new customers through digital channels. An expert on the inner workings of search engines and social platforms, he loves to help and educate companies to develop winning strategies through search, social and content.
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