Welcome, marketing manager! We’re glad you stopped by.
With this guide, we aim to fill you in on everything you need to know about SEO so that you can make the best possible marketing decisions for your company.
We’ll preface our guide with this sentiment: SEO is one of the most effective marketing strategies out there, and it’s the foundation of a great marketing plan. But what is SEO, and how can you get started?
In Chapter 1 of our SEO Guide for Marketing Managers, we’ll cover the following topics:
- What is SEO?
- Why is SEO important?
- Search engines and SEO
- Organic results in search
- White-hat vs. black-hat SEO
- Search engines and SEOs
- SEO and user intent
- SEO strategies
- Types of SEO
- SEO goals
- How to succeed at SEO
- Why invest in SEO?
- [Tool] How to audit your SEO
We’ll cover SEO basics, technical SEO, and everything in between to help you maximize leads and revenue.
Let’s get started!
What is SEO?
The golden question — what is search engine optimization (SEO)?
SEO is the process of optimizing your site pages, so they satisfy both user intent and Google algorithms to show up at the top of search results.
The main goal of SEO is to boost your rankings for relevant keywords, so you can earn more site traffic, leads, and revenue.
Watch our short video below (click the thumbnail) to learn more about the SEO basics, and then keep reading this guide!
Why is SEO important?
Showing up at the top of Google results may sound trivial, but consider that 93% of all online experiences start with a search engine. That means, when people want to find products and services you offer, they’ll likely begin their search online — and you want to show up where they’re looking.
Since 95% of search traffic goes to the first page of results, it’s crucial that you rank at the top of search results for your target keywords. With SEO, you can reach that goal!
Search engines and SEO
Search engines are the reason SEO exists, so it’s important to know how search engines work.
From Google to DuckDuckGo, your favorite search engines work by crawling and indexing the World Wide Web’s content. When someone searches on a search engine, like Google, the search engine references its index and uses its algorithm to “rank” or organize the search results.
Whether a piece of content appears on pages one, two, three, or even further back depends on the search engine’s algorithm. Google’s ranking algorithm, for example, uses more than 200 ranking factors to organize its search results, including ones personalized to the user, like their location.
For more information about how search engines work, check out the next chapter!
Where are the organic results in search results?
At the most basic level, organic search results are results without an “Ad” tag.
Over time, search results have evolved to include a variety of features, like:
- People Also Ask
- Image carousels
- Local 3-pack
- Featured snippets
- And more
Which features appear in a search result depends on several factors, including:
- User location
- Type of search
- Previous search history
- And more
For a quick example of these features, search for something in your area like “sushi near me.”
What is the difference between white-hat SEO and black-hat SEO?
The difference between white-hat SEO and black-hat SEO is simple:
- White-hat SEO: White-hat SEO refers to accepted (and recommended) SEO practices, strategies, and tactics, like writing user-focused content. You want to practice white-hat SEO because search engines endorse these strategies.
- Black-hat SEO: Black-hat SEO refers to unaccepted (and not recommended) SEO practices, strategies, and tactics. Typically, black-hat SEO aims to deceive search engines and users, by hiding text on a page, generating fake backlinks, and more.
It’s important to recognize the difference between white-hat SEO and black-hat SEO because they have real-world consequences. Practicing white-hat SEO, for example, can help your business attract more leads and sales, while black-hat SEO can result in your website getting banned from search results.
Are search engines involved in SEO?
Besides making SEO possible, search engines also take an active role in educating SEOs (and marketing managers) and how to optimize their websites. Google, for example, hosts regular office hours where SEOs can ask questions and maintains SEO documentation.
Free tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools also help your business track, monitor, and analyze its visibility in Google and Bing search results, respectively. You can use these tools to troubleshoot and receive alerts for issues, too.
SEO and user intent
Search engines and seasoned SEOs will tell you the same thing: Search intent is everything.
If your website doesn’t match a user’s search intent, it will struggle to rank well in search results. That’s why it’s critical to understand the types of search intent and how to craft content (and design a site) that helps a user and matches their expectations.
As you optimize your site, you’ll discover three types of search intent:
- Navigational: Looking for a company’s website, like “Apple” or “eBay.”
- Transactional: Looking to purchase a product, like “iPhone SE”
- Informational: Looking for information, like “iPhone SE vs Samsung Galaxy”
Based on the search term, like “iPhone SE,” and the search results, you can determine the search intent. Besides search intent, you’ll also want to consider user expectations. For example, is your website fast, easy to use, and accessible?
Top SEO strategies for marketing managers
SEO is made up of various strategies that boost your rankings, help visitors find your site, and increase conversions and revenue.
Here are just a few of the top SEO strategies marketing managers can use to improve their SEO:
- Keyword research and implementation: Researching the keywords your target audience searches for is key to your SEO strategy. Just as important — you’ll want to be sure to integrate those target keywords in your site content.
- Content creation: Without content, your website won’t rank in search results because Google will have nothing to rank. That said, content creation is a crucial part of SEO.
- Search intent optimization: Google’s got a lot of brainpower, and it wants to provide users with content they’re interested in (and it has the capabilities to do so). Writing for your audience is also known as writing with search intent — the information searchers want to find — in mind. Considering the search intent of your audience is a staple of your SEO strategy.
- Page speed optimization: Google’s goal is to provide users with the best possible content, and Google considers user experience (UX) when determining rankings. Page speed is a huge part of UX, so making sure your pages load quickly is crucial.
- User experience optimization: Google won’t rank pages that don’t keep users interested or pages that make it difficult for them to find what they’re looking for. That said, a big part of SEO is your navigation, page design, and inclusion of graphics and videos.
- Internal linking: Internal linking is an SEO strategy that has many benefits. Not only does linking to other pages on your site keep users on your pages longer, it also helps Google crawl and index every page on your site.
In the next section of our SEO 101 chapter, we’ll talk about the types of SEO you should implement to see the best results.
5 types of SEO your business should leverage
SEO is broken into five main categories, each with its own benefits! Check out the tables below to learn more about each area of SEO.
1. On-page SEO
On-page SEO refers to optimizations you can make on your website to improve your rankings in search results.
Some on-page SEO strategies include:
|Strategy||Overview & Benefits|
|URL optimization||Try to optimize your URLs so they’re simple, easy to remember, and include your target keywords.|
|Title tag optimization||Your title tag is the first thing users see in search results, so it should include your keywords at the front and not exceed 60 characters.|
|Meta tag optimization||Your meta description gives users (and Google) an idea of what your content will be about. Include your keywords and don’t exceed 160 characters.|
|Heading tag optimization||Your headers tell users (and Google) what your content is about. Optimize them by featuring keywords!|
|Keyword implementation||Implementing your target keywords in content is an easy way to help pages rank for target terms.|
|Content creation||Creating content is the most crucial on-page SEO strategy since Google won’t be able to rank your site if you don’t post it.|
|Internal linking||Internal linking keeps users on your website and helps Google crawl and index all your site pages.|
|Multimedia implementation||Multimedia keeps users on your pages and improves overall UX.|
|Mobile optimization||Mobile-friendliness allows users on any device to experience your website in the same way. This is more important now than ever with Google’s mobile-first index.|
2. Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO refers to actions that take place off your website that can impact your search rankings.
Some off-page SEO strategies include:
|Strategy||Overview & Benefits|
|Link building||If you want to improve your domain authority (a search engine ranking score that predicts how likely a site is to rank), you’ll need to earn links from other authoritative sites. This is called link building, and you can do so with outreach, local citations, guest blogging, and social media sharing.|
|Update local directories||Local directory sites like Google Business Profile, Yext, and Manta help searchers find your brick-and-mortar business.|
|Post on social media||Posting on social media is another great way to get users back to your website. By linking to blog posts or service pages, you’ll improve website traffic by way of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.|
3. Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to backend optimizations you can make to your site to help it rank higher in search results.
Some technical SEO strategies include:
|Use Google Search Console||Google Search Console is a great tool for technical SEO. You’ll be able to track key metrics that can make or break your SEO campaign. It can also help you submit pages to Google, fix crawl issues, and more.|
|Create a robots.txt file||A robots.txt file is essentially an instruction manual for web crawlers. The main goal of this file is to prevent crawlers from overwhelming your server by viewing and indexing unimportant pages.|
|Build XML and HTML sitemaps||XML and HTML sitemaps act as maps to your website and help crawlers find the most important pages.|
|Secure your site with HTTPS||To ensure that users feel safe providing sensitive information on your site (like addresses and credit card numbers), you’ll want to opt for a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, which changes your HTTP domain to HTTPS.|
|Add structured data to pages||Structured data is markup that gives search crawlers more info about your pages, like the format. In some cases, this can help improve the look of your content in search results for things like recipes or how-tos.|
|Page speed optimization||Optimizing your site for page speed keeps users satisfied, which is a great signal to Google.|
4. Local SEO
Local SEO refers to optimizations designed to boost your rankings in local or “near me” search results.
Some local SEO strategies include:
|Claim and optimize Google Business Profile (GBP) listing||Your GBP listing is what shows up in local searches when users search for the products or services you offer. Claiming and optimizing this profile is one of the most crucial pieces of local SEO.|
|Create localized site content||To optimize for your area, use location lingo (where appropriate), talk about local events, and create site pages for each of your locations.|
|Optimize for local keywords||Optimize your content by adding location-based keywords like the cities where you operate.|
|Optimize for voice search||55% of consumers use voice search to find local businesses, so optimizing for voice search is a great local SEO strategy. Optimize your site for phrases that users might speak (“pizza places near me”) as opposed to what they might type (“where can I find a pizza place near me?”)|
5. Ecommerce SEO
Ecommerce SEO refers to ecommerce site optimizations to help more people find and buy products online.
Some ecommerce SEO strategies include:
|Product markup||Improve your product visibility in search results with SEO-friendly product markups.|
|Product image optimization||Make sure your images are high-quality and sized correctly. You should also be sure to add alt text — unique image descriptions that help search engines “read” images — to your product images.|
|Product content||If you want products to rank in search results, you must create high-quality product content that targets key terms users search.|
Now that we’ve covered SEO basics for marketing managers, let’s chat more about how SEO can help marketing managers reach business goals.
What marketing goals can SEO help you achieve?
There are a variety of marketing goals that SEO can help you achieve. Most of the goals of SEO create a domino effect where reaching one goal will help you accomplish others.
SEO can help marketing managers improve and increase:
- Rankings in search results
- Website traffic
- Brand awareness
- Sales and conversions
1. Improved rankings in search results
One of the primary goals SEO can help you achieve is improved search rankings for your most important keywords.
When you optimize your site pages in all the right ways — like writing for search intent and optimizing the UX of your pages, you’ll see your site pages climb in the rankings.
2. Increased website traffic
As a result of ranking higher in search results for key terms, you’ll see an uptick in website traffic.
Increased website traffic means that more users will visit your website, learn about your business, and become interested in your products and services.
3. Improved brand awareness
Since your improved search rankings lead to an uptick in website traffic, you’ll also experience increased brand awareness as well. When more users visit your website, more users will become familiar with your brand.
Not only that, but the more you appear in search results, the more users will get to know you — even if it’s just subconsciously.
4. Increased sales and conversions
When you combine high search engine rankings with increased website traffic and brand awareness, you’re bound to hit another coveted marketing goal — increased conversions.
The more attention your site gets in the search results, the more products and services you’ll sell.
5. Increased revenue year-over-year (YoY)
It’s a no-brainer that your increased site traffic and conversions will ultimately lead to more money for your business.
SEO is the ultimate long-term strategy that can help you boost your revenue year-over-year (YoY).
If you’re drooling at the prospect of experiencing improved search engine rankings, increased site traffic, and boosted revenue, you’re not alone.
But how can you reach your SEO goals?
Next up in our SEO 101 guide, we’ll talk about the steps you should take to experience all that SEO has to offer.
How can you reach your SEO goals?
Marketing manager, here are a few ways you can reach your SEO goals:
- Write amazing, SEO-optimized content
- Decrease bounce rate by adding internal links
- Create a simple yet effective site navigation
- Improve time on page with multimedia
- Speed up your website
- Check analytics often
Let’s break down each strategy.
1. Write amazing, SEO-optimized content
If you want to rank at the top of search results, you must write high-quality content that satisfies the search intent of your target audience.
To find the search intent of target keywords, type them into Google and read some of the articles that rank. These pieces rank highly for a reason, and although you shouldn’t copy them word for word, you can certainly pay attention to the topics they focus on and the keywords they target.
From there, focus on writing quality content that integrates your target keywords and provides the information your audience is looking for.
2. Decrease bounce rate by adding internal links
Bounce rate is a factor that Google looks at when ranking your pages, and it refers to the percentage of users that leave your site after looking at just one page.
To keep users on your site longer, add internal links to every piece of content. This will make it easier for users to find related content while keeping them on your site.
Internal links also help Goggle crawl and index your site pages so that every page can rank.
3. Create a simple yet effective site navigation
Your site’s navigation provides built-in internal links on every page, so select them wisely! Your navigation should be simple and easy to use — the main goal is to help users find what they’re looking for.
The goal of your navigation bar is not to link to every page on your site, but rather link to main pages that your audience might be interested in. Typical links to add to your nav bar include:
- About Us
- Contact Us
4. Improve time-on-page metrics with multimedia
When people spend time on your site interacting with content, it sends positive signals to Google that your site has beneficial information — and it can boost your rankings.
Adding multimedia to your content also helps improve your site’s UX.
5. Speed up your website
As we mentioned before, your site’s speed impacts your rankings. Mostly because 83% of users expect a website to load in three seconds or less — and if it doesn’t, they could bounce.
That said, you want to ensure that your page speed operates like a well-oiled machine.
To do so, you can try some of the following strategies:
- Compress files
- Improve server response time
- Compress images
- Use browser caching
- Minify your code
- Limit redirects
If these strategies are overwhelming, you can also consider hiring a page speed optimization agency to help you!
6. Check analytics often
Checking your site’s analytics is one of the most important parts of your SEO strategy. Failing to do so means you won’t have any idea of how certain SEO strategies impacted your campaign — meaning you won’t know what works and what doesn’t.
SEO is a long-term strategy, and if you want it to be effective, it’s paramount that you keep track of campaign strategies that you implement and the results they’ve driven on your site.
Not to mention, checking analytics can help you know which strategies you need to tweak to make them as successful as possible.
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Why every marketing manager should invest in SEO
As a marketing manager, it’s your job to select the marketing strategies that will bring your company the most benefits — and SEO is at the top of our list.
When it comes to long-term business impact and high return on investment (ROI), SEO is second to none.
Here are a few reasons marketing managers should invest in SEO (if you’re still on the fence).
1. The ROI of SEO is unmatched
Your exact SEO ROI will vary depending on factors like your investment and industry. But if you’re looking for a long-term solution that continues to drive ROI for years, SEO is a great option.
Consider this — when you do SEO right, you’ll benefit from the increased site traffic, brand awareness, and conversions for years.
Depending on the aggressiveness of your strategy, the number of pages on your website, and other factors, your SEO will cost anywhere from $1000 to $3500 per month.
2. SEO helps put food on the table
As cliché as it may sound, SEO is a strategy that works for you for the long haul — it will continuously put food on the table (or keep your business thriving).
That’s mostly because the nature of SEO is ongoing, and when you work with an SEO agency like WebFX, you’ll have the guidance of a dedicated account manager to help you make the most of your campaign.
Your account manager will analyze your campaign continuously to make sure that you’re squeezing every benefit from your strategy.
3. SEO works with just about every marketing strategy under the sun
We like to think of SEO as the crux of any marketing campaign — which means that every other marketing strategy out there works as a great supplement.
For example, when you use SEO and PPC together, you’ll dominate search results. You’ll have organically ranking content from your SEO efforts, while sponsored PPC ads help you earn top ad space in search results.
When you use SEO and web design together, you create a power strategy by using your web design to leverage SEO micro-strategies like navigation bar design, use of engaging graphics, and more.
Did we mention that we offer SEO services that cover all the types of SEO listed below? It’s true!
4. SEO drives long-term results
SEO isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy — it’s a long-term marketing approach that will bear fruit as long as you cultivate it.
That said, cultivating an SEO strategy takes time and effort, but it won’t go unrewarded. Though it may take six to eight months to see the results of your new SEO campaign, don’t lose hope — the best is yet to come.
In addition, here are some ways you can set your SEO strategy up for long-term success:
- Continuously add new content to your website
- Find new target keywords regularly
- Make sure that you link to new site pages so Google can find and crawl them
- Create evergreen content
- Update old content often and make sure it matches search intent
- Check analytics on a regular basis
By making these list items a priority, you’ll reap continuous benefits from your SEO campaign.
What shape is your SEO in? Run our free SEO Checker to find out
Now that we’ve covered all of the SEO basics for marketing managers, it’s time to ask yourself — what is the state of your SEO?
WebFX offers a free SEO Checker to help you determine where your SEO stands.
You’ll get a free report that tracks metrics, including:
- Overall SEO score
- Site speed analysis
- URL optimization check
- Meta tag assessment
- Content grade
- Image optimization check
- Code analysis
- In-page link audit
- Site security score
- Mobile-friendly check
- Crawl and indexation analysis
If you are unsatisfied with your SEO score, WebFX offers unmatched SEO services to take your results to new heights.
Contact us to get started with your custom SEO campaign!
If you understand SEO basics, but you’re unsure if you can create a successful SEO campaign, WebFX can help!
We’ve been in business for more than two decades and have more than 500 in-house marketers who are ready to take your SEO campaign by storm. We’re ongoing learners, award winners, and Google Premier Partners who know how to drive incredible results for your website using SEO.