Over the last 20 or so years, the internet has transformed everything. Businesses now operate very differently, and the internet plays a part in almost everything we do. The internet is a constant presence—whether in social media marketing or using a virtual PBX system to reach customers.
So much so that many organisations are abandoning brand-and-mortar stores to set up shops online. Of course, many companies have stuck with physical stores, but even they have some form of presence online.
71% of small businesses alone have a website. But the age-old question remains, ‘how do you make it easy for customers to find your brand?’. But the answer isn’t all that different. You wouldn’t want a store in the back-end of town, where people will struggle to find you. Similarly, your website shouldn’t be hard to find.
But how do you make your website easy to find? With Search Engine Optimization (SEO), of course!
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
When you type in a search query online, you get a list of results. Have you wondered how the order of these websites is decided? Well, the answer is SEO. It’s the process of making your website search engine friendly.
SEO is the key to success online, you might think you have built the best website, but without SEO, no one will find it. Still unconvinced? Let’s go through some reasons why SEO is essential for brand awareness.
1. Most online experiences begin through a search engine
How do customers learn about your brand? You might use a cloud phone system for business to call a customer directly. But it’s also useful for customers to come to you. It is where a search engine comes in handy.
Think about it, how many times have you visited a website by typing in its web address? The average internet user is no different. Research shows that 68% of online experiences start with a search engine. That’s a massive number of users you’ll be unable to reach if you don’t focus on SEO.
2. You’ll be seen as an expert
How do you want to be seen in the minds of customers? You’ll probably want to be an expert in your field. But if you’re new on the block, people will need winning over. It is where SEO can come in handy.
As your name crops up more and more in search results, people will begin to recognize it. The more familiar people are with your brand, the more they’ll trust you as a source of authority. As your SEO efforts start to pay off, you’ll see an increase in brand awareness as traffic is boosted.
3. It’s a way of cutting costs and growing your brand
Most small businesses do not have a huge budget. After you include factors like website expense and product creation, you will probably have limited cash for marketing. That’s why businesses look to cut costs where possible.
For example, this might mean investing in a VoIP phone. If you’re wondering, ‘what is VoIP? It's a system that uses the internet rather than a phone line to make a call. It’s a cheaper alternative and requires much less physical hardware.
SEO is also a way of cutting costs. It’s organic, meaning you don’t have to pay to rise in search engine results.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that there are no costs involved in SEO. As we’ll explain later, to build SEO, you need to focus on making your website as good as possible. In terms of cost-effectiveness, SEO is an excellent way of growing your brand.
How Do You Improve SEO?
As we’ve demonstrated, if you want to succeed online, you should focus on SEO. But why do so many organisations fail in this crucial task? While many businesses might recognize the importance of SEO, they are unsure of the steps to take.
If you’ve found yourself in this position, don’t panic! Let’s go through some steps that’ll help improve your SEO and increase your brand awareness.
1. Focus on user experience
Who should you listen to when it comes to SEO? If you haven’t guessed already, Google is the best port of call. The corporation owns an astonishing 86% of the market, so it’s a good idea to listen to what they say.
Recently, Google has put a focus on user experience (UX). Websites that deliver a good UX are boosted in search results, whereas poor-performing websites are pushed further down the list.
But how do you know if your website is providing a good UX? Sites that provide the best experience run smoothly, are easy to navigate, and are quick to load. Load up your website; is it running well? Your website might tick all these boxes, but that doesn’t mean you are out of the woods yet. Look at these metrics again but from the perspective of a mobile user.
A mistake made by too many businesses is only focusing on desktop users. Google has sought to rectify this. Their algorithm now actively penalises websites that don’t cater to mobile users.
Forgetting Google for one moment, it’s in your interest to make your website mobile-friendly. Mobile users now make up the majority of internet traffic (56.89%). If you don’t cater to these users, you’re cutting yourself off from potential customers.
Of course, handling website improvements probably isn’t something you should handle yourself. It might cost more, but expert help will make all the difference in SEO. When hiring a developer, make sure you clearly outline your requirements. Using a program link Docusign can help. Luckily pricing for Docusign is varied and doesn’t need to break the bank.
By improving the overall user experience of your site, you can improve your SEO and gain positive brand awareness. People are more likely to think favourably of your business if your website runs well.
2. Include keywords
When you read an article online, you might not realise it, but there’s a good chance it contains keywords. These are a big part of optimising your website for search engines.
But first, what are keywords? The term refers to popular search queries that users make online. If your website contains keywords that are relevant to a user’s search queries, it will appear more highly in search results.
But finding the right keywords isn’t always easy. For example, ‘spectre and meltdown performance testing’ was a popular query several years ago in the app development community after a series of cyberattacks. Popular search queries change and often relate to topics relevant at a given time. You’ll need to make sure that the keywords you use are relevant.
If you find keywords a struggle, a program like Google Analytics will come in handy. The tool gives you a list of critical keywords, alongside their popularity.
3. Gather backlinks
Backlinks are another important element in SEO. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a backlink is when one website links to another. Google views backlinks as a mark of a website's credentials. You’ll want to gather as many backlinks as possible if you’re to rise in the search engine ranks.
But consider quality rather than quantity when building backlinks. While Google rewards websites that have acquired a more extensive number of backlinks, this is only the case if they are of a higher quality. Avoid gathering links from websites that provide poor user experiences and/or contain poorly written articles.
If you’re unsure where to start, you can always use a backlink checker. It can lead you to the sites that your competitors are using for link building.
4. Get the best analytics
As mentioned already, analytics can be an integral part of SEO. Your website will probably collect large amounts of data as people visit from different locations. Why not make use of it? With the right analytics tool, you can understand how people are using your website. With deeper insights, you can better understand ways to improve user experience.
Of course, gathering large amounts of data means that you need a way of storing it all. There are many options available, for instance, apache kudu users gain access to real-time analytics on fast data.
What Other Options Are Available?
Of course, SEO isn’t the only option for spreading brand awareness online. It’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket and to use multiple methods to build your brand. For instance, you might also use affiliate marketing. It is when other websites link to products on your platform and gain a commission for sales. It can be a great way of introducing users to your website.
If you’re short on cash, you might also choose to conduct affiliate marketing for another organisation. You might be wondering ‘how much can affiliate marketing make?’ There’s no clear-cut answer to this, but with the right strategy, you can gain a steady flow of income. You can use some of this cash to improve SEO on your website.
Put SEO At the Centre of Your Online Strategy
The fact is, if you want to grow brand awareness online, you need SEO. It can be a long process; you’ll need to spend time researching and improving the quality of your website. But the rewards for doing so can’t be overstated.
Start looking at your website now. How can you create an effective SEO strategy? By putting SEO at the heart of your approach, you’ll attract new users as people start to recognize your brand.
So, don’t delay any further—start focusing on SEO today!
Tanhaz Kamaly is a Partnership Executive at Dialpad, a modern VoIP phone service for small business that turns conversations into the best opportunities, both for businesses and clients. He is well-versed and passionate about helping companies work in constantly evolving contexts, anywhere, anytime.
Check out his LinkedIn profile.