Early last month, my colleague Marina and I were invited by Marlene Vicaire to guest speak at a digital workshop held at the renowned General Assembly – a ‘global education provider’ offering a plethora of online and offline courses across Technology, Data, Design, Business and of course my forte – Digital Marketing.
The gig – providing an overview of search engine optimisation (SEO) – both from a technical and content perspective to a group of eager and knowledge hungry start-ups & entrepreneurs. The session itself formed part of a much larger digital marketing course where attendees would learn how best to utilise all of the different aspects of online marketing to aid them in creating, developing and promoting their own personal businesses to their target market.
The overarching course covered multiple marketing specialisms, from customer acquisition and retention to data analysis and reporting. Therefore, who better to speak to the assembly of trainees about a given topic than professionals within that given arena. For the subject matter of SEO, Marina and myself offered up our services after being approached and invited to attend.
Content and your SEO strategy
Marina – our Head of Content, tackled the benefits, nuances and pitfalls of executing a content marketing & outreach strategy, whilst I delved into the more technical aspects of SEO – site audits, index and crawlability impacts, redirects, keyword research and so on.
2 hours is never going to be enough to cover all of the intricacies of SEO for either discipline – content or technical. Sure, the attendees would walk away a whole lot savvier than when they arrived – but generally, the idea was to provide a top level overview. Give them enough to pique their interest to learn and research the topic in more detail (and factor the basics into their own projects), without overwhelming them or having them become too caught up in the subject matter in its entirety – a tall order.
So why is SEO important?
Just because you have a beautifully designed website full of ideas, products or services that you envision people will be falling over themselves to acquire, doesn’t automatically mean that your website will achieve the glory and accolade which it deserves.
Google and the other search engines live by their own rules. They have algorithms which determine where your website should rank in its index for a given search query and unfortunately – without a bit of know how, that expensive website which you’ve just invested all of your money into may actually be hindering your attempts to reach the masses.
Whether you’re a startup, seasoned company or looking to redesign your website, SEO should be considered as an integral part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Why?
– It’s cost effective
– Helps to build your brand and increase brand awareness
– It helps people to find your website (increases organic visibility)
– It is rooted against user intent/aligned with the intent of a searcher
– Attracts relevant traffic with high conversion potential
– Helps to drive offline sales (where applicable)
– Builds trust and credibility
– Your competitors are doing it! (enough said)
Ideally, SEO should be thought about from the off-set. How to structure a website, how to ensure site authority flows, how to become visible within the search engines, knowing what content to create as a landing page Vs a blog post and knowing the pitfalls (black hat seo techniques) to avoid are all important elements to consider. That doesn’t mean to say that once a website is up and running it’s game over. There are many things that can be done to improve a less than optimised site in increasing its performance, visibility and authority.
SEO; a marathon, not a sprint
SEO should not be considered as an afterthought or one off project initiated during website creation – it should be regarded as an intrinsic fragment, needed on an on-going, long term basis in order to deliver optimal results. SEO is not a sprint, it is a marathon and it can be months until the real gains are seen – but once they are, it’s difficult to consider ever going back to a strategy where it was never incorporated. These are all the things that were examined and explored in greater depth throughout the duration of the session.
So how did the workshop go? It was overall a great experience with many an inquisitive query, intrigued listeners and an engaged audience. So much so that we spent an extra hour or two after the session speaking to attendees individually to help them with their projects.
So what now?
Here at Reef, we know that SEO is just one aspect of a successful online marketing strategy. The key is integration. SEO should not just be looked at in silo – it’s important to consider an integrated approach and connect the dots between multiple digital channels in order to achieve a positive online influence.
Working alongside and understanding the impacts of contributing channels such as SEM, social and conversion optimisation, to name but a few, is paramount to achieving greater online performance – search visibility, brand awareness and ultimately conversions / sales. Workshops and training sessions such as those held by General Assembly are great to set you off on the right path – but if you want to explore how an expert SEO strategy can enhance your online business, get in touch with us today and we’ll work with you to help take your company to the next level, and make you a true contender within search.