Laurie Beasley is co-founder and president of Beasley Direct and Online Marketing, Inc., which provides services in inbound and outbound marketing including: content creation, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), website design, media planning/public relations, direct mail marketing, lead generation and nurture campaigns, marketing automation management, and database management for both B2B and B2C companies.
Ms. Beasley serves as president and online marketing certification instructor for the Direct Marketing Association of Northern California. She also speaks on online marketing and demand generation topics for several marketing organizations, including the DMA, BMA, and AMA.
We spoke with her on our weekly Podcast, and here's what she had to say!
Cyndi Greenglass: Let's start by making sure our audience in grounded in what SEO is, and can you give us a definition that we can all work off of?
Laurie Beasley: SEO stands for search engine optimization. Basically, Google indexes websites based on search ranking factors. What they want to do is, when a searcher is looking for something, looking for an answer, looking for a product, looking for a solution, they're typing something, a keyword, a key phrase into Google. Google needs to serve up an answer or a result for that. In order to do that, they need to be able to index websites offering solutions or answers or products. In order to index your site to provide your site as an answer for that, they need to be able to index your site. There are research ranking factors that allow Google to do that. There are several different search ranking factors. There's technical factors. There's content factors, and there's inbound link profile factors that tell Google that you have the solution, the product, or you are the authority on that problem, that product, or that solution that that person is looking for and they should serve you as a resource or an answer for that search.
CG: Is it fair to say that SEO is free versus we pay for those rankings?
LB: It's free in that Google does not charge you for the SEO rankings, that is correct. Although, there is a cost, I would imagine, and I think there is a cost to the company to make sure that they are doing all the things that they should be doing to maintain their website to conform to the Google search ranking factors. The costs are really in their marketing and their website development department to learn and keep up with Google's search ranking factors, to write the copy and conform the website to the technical factors and to make sure that they're always perceived as an authority and have inbound links from authoritative sources linking to their site.
CG: What almost always spurs a call to you for an SEO or a website audit project is a dramatic drop in website traffic or leads. Why would you think that is happening?
LB: It goes back to neglecting the site. It can happen for two reasons. Google does updates in their search algorithms, and there have been, over the last few years, some pretty major updates. If people were not paying attention to them, there have been some pretty disastrous falling off the cliff of search results for companies. They were scrambling to catch up and make changes to their sites to catch up with those updates. The scenario that we see very consistently, and this is true of big companies and medium sized companies and very true of small sized companies, is that there's a big scramble all the time to always be putting up new product information and new content. Marketing and the web development team are always rushing to keep up with product information, but they're not properly trained on Google search ranking factors. They allow the website to be updates sloppily, and they allow technical problems to happen and grow that become obstacles for Google to index the site, duplicate pages, they allow 404 errors, they don't put alt tags under images. They don't do their meta descriptions properly. They don't integrate their keywords properly on their on-page content. When you don't do those things properly, Google can't index them and it cannot serve you for the search. You're not helping Google and you're hurting yourself when you do things in a rush and don't structure them properly by the way that Google thinks. The other thing that almost is always is true is there's some tools that we have that objectively analyze sites based on their link profile, as Google looks at a site and who's linking to the site. Does the site have authority? Are educational institutions, are governments, are associations, or consumer advocates or influencers linking to this site and recommending this site as a source of authoritative information on this topic
CG: Can you share with us what you would consider the top three metrics that we should be paying attention to and why you would choose them.
LB: What's interesting to me is many companies don't even have their Google analytics and their Google search console setup and configured properly, so that's number one. Get those set up and configured properly on your website, and if they're not, call us up and we will do that for you as a small consulting project and get reports setup and sending to you. Secondly, set a goal for what keywords you want to be searched on and start to figure out whether you're being searched on those keywords. If your keywords are not showing up in the first three positions in organic search on Google - and be wary, don't just look at it on your computer because Google will serve results to you and to your computer based on your search parameters. If you've been searching on your company, on your products, on your computer, they're going to show your company's results as probably first on your computer. You need to use an objective third-party tool, like Screaming Frog or SEO Moz, to show you average search positions for keywords. And then, if your Company is not showing up in the first three positions for the keywords you think you should be searched on, you've got a problem. You need to set about and figure out how to solve that problem. That is an SEO project, and you tackle it sort of one by one. Resolved the technical the issues that are hindering Google from indexing your site; you solve the content issues, the meta descriptions, the meta titles, and the on-page content issues that are causing the keywords not to be picked up and recognized and indexed properly by Google; and you solve the inbound link profile issues that are causing Google to say, "Hmm, these guys really aren't the authority on this topic." And you just pick away at those problems and start solving them until you are being offered as a solution for those keywords.
CG: What do we lose by not paying attention to SEO?
LB: You lose a lot. Leads that come in through organic search tend to convert 60% higher than other leads; they tend to be the lowest cost per lead as measured against other channels. So remember that someone who is searching on a problem, they are top of funnel; they have a problem, they need a solution. They are the very top of the funnel; you sure want to catch them as they are in their research mode looking for companies to solve their problem. Because they are the most likely to convert first out of any other lead channel that you're going to be pursuing. Now the middle and the bottom funnel, those are the longest lead times, the most expensive, and the hardest leads to get, to find the attention of, to convert over time, and the most expensive. So, get the ones at the top of the funnel.