Note: Published originally at SEMRush blog on August 13, 2014.
Search is still the main driver of relevant traffic to websites more than any other digital marketing channel. In fact, it drives up to 300% more traffic than social media marketing, and much more than other internet marketing channels. So, as a business owner, you should expect to get better results in terms of attracting highly targeted traffic of potential buyers and customers – if people can find your business or your website in front of search results.
This is where the rubber meets the road, where myriad business owners and entrepreneurs find doubly hard to achieve. They end up using a wide and wild variety of Internet marketing tactics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gimmicks, and a host of other digital marketing strategies – either performed in-house or through a highly-priced-tagged service provider – with little or no positive results to show for all the effort.
Search is evolving anew and the old tactics for SEO will not be as effective as they once were in the world of the Semantic web. Search engines aim for providing users with relevant results that give them exactly what they need, not vague approximations that literally lead them to nowhere. How effective or relevant search results are will play a critical role in completing the circle or flow of search as described in the Searcher Persona Workflow shown below.
Searcher Persona Workflow
As shown in this workflow, people search for relevant pages and content, which in turn will play a significant role in leading search users to conversion – the ultimate path business owners would want their visitors to take. Working towards this end, digital marketers need to implement a holistic and semantic approach to their Search Engine Optimization activities. This rely on several factors that have evolved far beyond what traditional SEO used to operate on in the pre-semantic era of the search engine.
The following tries to delve more closely into these important factors in an attempt to teach digital marketers and business owners these effective strategies that they can perform to achieve a successful holistic SEO campaign.
Website Designed for Holistic SEO
There are several critical factors in website design that digital marketers who trying to perform an effective holistic SEO campaign should consider more closely if they want to achieve positive results. It has gone beyond the old concept of “build it and they will come” approach to web design and development, which definitely will not work anymore in an era where it takes only 50 milliseconds to get the attention of a site visitor.
A web design catering to a successful holistic SEO campaign approach takes into consideration critical points and areas that will spell success in generating favorable action from site visitors. It begins with how effective the header and the first levels or upper half of a page, particularly on how effective they are in creating first impressions and let visitors stay for more. Proper and effective navigation and link labels also play important roles in holistic design, particularly in how effective they are in enticing further action from visitors as pointed out in the Psychology of Content.
Other web design factors like loading speed, site speed, and compatibility to mobile Internet browsing also play critical roles that digital marketers should well consider as part of their holistic SEO campaign. But on top of all that, one of the most important aspect in the success of web design is how a site can bring a truly memorable and remarkable user experience for visitors. If they feel dissatisfied with their visit or think the site is practically not usable for them, chances are 64% will never go back.
Engagement and Holistic SEO
The website visitor behavior flow described in the diagram below shows the path a satisfied visitor will most likely take if they find the site relevant or useful to what they need or are searching for. A major component here is engagement for this is where calls to action and the eventual conversion can take place.
Web Visitor Behavior Flow
However, the success of engagement with targeted customers will also rely on how effective your digital marketing campaign can attract relevant leads that convert. Historically, SEO is found more effective in attracting leads that convert, registering a 14.6% closure rate which is far better than the 1.7% rate print advertising or even direct mail can generate. These figures are expected to go higher in the brave new world of the semantic web that requires a holistic approach to SEO in order to achieve greater success.
On-Page Activities for Holistic SEO
On-page SEO activities still have big impacts in semantic search, but these should be done from a holistic and semantic perspective. Although the technical side still matter, like title tag, sitemap, meta description, navigation, coding, and usability among others with the new ones coming like the Schema Mark-up tags, Open Graph Tags and Twitter Cards. The holistic approach will focus more on search intent, on what targeted customers will be looking for, expecting, or prefer to see once they visit a site. This is a continuous process that digital marketers should process in a continuous basis as part of a holistic SEO approach if they want to achieve success in their overall digital marketing campaign.
Link Building for Holistic SEO
Search user finding what they need click on links they believe will take them to what they are looking for, and 70% of the time these links are organic. If they use Google, 18% of these organic clicks are generated by sites ranked at the top position in search results, 10% goes to the second site on the list and 7% lands on the third spot. Organic search results rely on several factors and among the most important of these factors is the site’s link popularity.
However, link building and backlinks should be generated using a holistic approach, focusing more on attracting and getting links from very good websites with high quality content that are relevant to your niche, product or service. Simply generating backlinks from whatever source available (just like in the old days) will put your site on the risk of being penalized by the search engines by hooking up with link farms and spammy sites – big, big no-no’s in the world of semantic web.
Social Credentials for Holistic SEO
Social media has penetrated a significantly wide aspect on modern people’s lives, so it is just natural that it will play a significant role in influencing the way search results are worked out and delivered. Social media is not only a very good and very relevant source of traffic, it will also increase your site and your brand’s authority, credibility and social relevance in the semantic web.
This weighs even more if your site generates content that goes viral in social networks, generating tons of social signal: likes, shares, comments, etc – all important factors that may influence search ranking in semantic search results. So, this goes beyond merely propagating your site content on major social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. It tends to favor how your site is generating relevant, high-quality, and engaging content that people in social media will “talk” and buzz about in an overwhelmingly global basis.
Paid Advertising for Holistic SEO
When performing a holistic SEO campaign, your success depends on how effective you are in using various digital marketing tools and channels, not only the free and organic ones, but the paid channels as well. Various articles before have talked about how effective mixing organic SEO techniques with paid advertising channels like PPC advertising in your digital marketing mix. This will allow you to generate both organic traffic through SEO as well as highly targeted traffic with greater probabilities for conversion – the kind of traffic PPC paid advertising are designed to generate.
Content Marketing for Holistic SEO
Just like any other digital marketing campaign, content marketing will play a major and very significant role in the success of a holistic SEO campaign. Good and high quality content is your window for engaging with targeted audiences and potential customers. Without good content, all your SEO efforts will simply fall on deaf and indifferent ears, and will generate very little if not zero engagement and positive results from targeted customers.
In a holistic SEO approach, your targeted audiences and potential customers are central and should be at the core, so it would only but logical that your content are geared towards the needs, wants, and preference of your targeted audiences. It’s always about them and not about you, so choose or create content not only because you like a particular theme or topic, but because you’re targeted customers find interesting or important particularly if it caters to answering a particular need. On top of that, content should be fresh and regularly updated if you want to generate the kind of engagement and positive results from your targeted audiences.
As a final word, success in your holistic SEO campaign will rely heavily on delivering a good, memorable and engaging user experience with targeted customers. All the steps discussed here are geared towards this end. Whether you’re a startup business or an established enterprises trying to gain greater mileage in the world of the semantic web, you will need a perfect SEO strategy to generate the kind of results you want and need – and you can do so through the holistic SEO approach.