Originally published in America Retail

Where you land in web search results can impact whether a potential customer heads to your site or clicks on the competition instead. In fact, the top two search results get 50 percent of the clicks—so if you’re not there, you’re losing over half of your potential customers.

Marketing leaders expect their teams to be able to maintain the brand’s website as well as drive traffic to it. However, bringing new and returning customers to your website you requires both art and science. If you’re able to provide your customers with a remarkable experience, that’s an art; however, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an indispensable part of the science. SEO is a strategy devoted to helping your brand achieve a high search ranking in popular engines such as Google or Bing—we call these “organic” searches.

Improving your SEO ranking may seem like an overwhelming or expensive task, but if your teams focus on the following five key strategies, they will consistently drive more value:

1 Invest in content. An investment in building content will help your business both gain authority and deliver a better experience. Content comes in many forms, but even experienced marketers can lapse into a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to the content on your site. You need to keep it fresh. With the help of web analytics and an understanding of your customer, you can determine what content will best engage your audience. Additionally, other outlets may see enough value in your content to syndicate it—a double win. By embracing good content and refreshing it regularly, you’ll build a long-term foundation in owning your rankings.

2 Integrate paid search. It is important to manage paid and organic search as part of an integrated strategy rather than keeping them in silos. Paid search (also known as PPC)—which includes the text, display, video, or in-app mobile ads you see when you search for something on Google—can provide valuable insights to inform your SEO strategy. For example, by using the right keywords, you can either “rent” with PPC, “own” with SEO, or dominate by using them with both. This will be a function of cost, volume, and likelihood of ranking success. When integrated, organic and paid search campaigns receive 25 percent more clicks and 27 percent more profits than using one or the other individually.

3 Focus on technical SEO. Search engines use a web crawler—an automated script that browses the internet methodically—to capture up-to-date data on your website and your competitors’. To lock in the value of your investment in content, you will need to make sure search engines can crawl your site as optimally as possible. Setting up your site for success can include a variety of techniques such as defining a URL structure, building internal linking, fixing site errors and redirects, improving page speed, and much more. Also, if you make any changes to your site or URL, it is absolutely critical to have a technical migration strategy to make sure the transfer is smooth. Without it, you risk losing hard-earned status.

4 Focus on seasonality. Many industries have a predictable seasonality to the ebbs and flows of web traffic. Marketers should focus on the keywords and pages that meet at the intersection of high traffic and value (revenue, margin, conversion, etc.) for their business. Once your team identifies these opportunities, they can prioritize optimization strategies that will meet these criteria and execute the right tactics leading up to seasonal events. Anything that does not add value during peak times is not worth doing.

5 Ask the right questions. Analyzing the performance of your SEO at regular intervals is key. Understanding which keywords drive the most traffic, which pages provide the most valuable, and how your rankings change week-over-week or month-over-month should be at the core of your SEO analytics approach.

Keep in mind that SEO is not a one-time project. You must continually monitor performance and make improvements or you’ll lose rankings, clicks, and sales to your competitors. However, if you begin by executing on these five strategies and optimize with consistency, you’re sure to drive traffic and create top-line growth.

Patrick Kuehn

Patrick Kuehn

SVP Sales and Marketing

Patrick Kuehn is Senior VP, Sales and Marketing at ObjectWave. He launched his first web start-up in Italy in 1996 and has held leadership positions in online sales and marketing ever since. Speaking 5 languages, he specializes in international business in the digital age.

Howard Diamond

Howard Diamond

Chief Strategy Officer, Rise Interactive

Howard Diamond is the Chief Strategy Officer at Rise Interactive. He helps leading brands develop digital marketing strategies that drive efficiency and scale.

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