Speaking about SEO we enter a grey area dominated by thick fog and urban legends. Like any complex topic we always tend to reduce a way of thinking to a mere definition: “Search Engine Optimization = how to rank on browsers”. Well, we need to start somewhere and clients are never keen on listening to someone’s philosophical lecture however, we should always understand the potential an SEO strategy has if we think of it as an additional asset to the brand identity.
What is brand identity?
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Brand Identity - Not Just A Logo
The Mysterious Algorithm
SEO is not just an algorithm (as if there was such thing as easy maths stuff), behind queries you will find human beings just like us so the buzz around certain topics can’t depend on an algorithm or on the powerful people of the world. Search trends are the product of what hundreds of millions of people look at every day, a direct mirror where every aspect of a person is traced constantly. I’m looking for a french toast recipe, I can’t remember the name of Herny VIII’s fourth wife, I listened to a song but I only know part of the title: I open my browser and I quickly look everything up. Around 2 billion searches are made on a daily basis on Google Italy alone with almost 34 million unique users. The algorithm is just the rule that takes care of all the traffic and it can’t be fooled in any way nor be considered the golden ticket to success. As Google itself writes on the Introductive Guide to SEO:
Why SEO Is Meant To Stay
Do you really need SEO? Well, sorry to disagree with those who always say all the things must come to an end (it’s not even that fashionable anymore to behave like that), but SEO is not going anywhere anytime soon as long as the volume of content on the internet will keep on being incredibly high. This means it will be increasingly hard for people to find a place on SERP (Search Engine Results Page = the results page as it appears to you on Google) with a website that has non-optimized content or no content at all. By content, we mean any kind of text: titles, subtitles, paragraphs, even the company phone number. What usually surprises people is to find out that you can’t index images, not entirely at least, unless you give the image an alt text while uploading it.
Much of the SEO action happens through meta descriptions, tag titles, sitemap and the pyramid structure of texts (ex. H1, H2, etc.) When browsers crawl websites they give a sort of score to any of these features and there is simply no way you can deceive, not even by placing “hidden content” because if something is not visible to the user it won’t be for Google too. The importance of queries and of SEO is not solely bound to Google, the same process is applied to social media as well, since the amount of content is big enough to require an internal way of browsing.
Optimizing The Approach Before Words
The best idea to start with SEO is knowing really well who we’re talking to and whom our product is for. The world wide web is so vast that we should sit down and understand that with all the probability our SEO strategy will be much different from the one of Amazon and Coke. We need to think about how we can define our field of action because it never makes sense to try to speak to every single person on the planet, not even for those who produce toilet paper. For some reason, this step always looks like an impossible task, while it actually is the easiest thing ever.
Your SEO strategy should make the right words slide through communication pillars placed on the foundations of your brand identity: you know who you are, what your values are and most importantly, who your customer is. For instance, a company producing baby diapers is unlikely to target parents with grown-up kids or people with no kids at all, just like a butcher won’t be likely to advertise at a vegan convention. Each product must be contextualized depending on the clients, existing or potential, that belong to different demographics, geographical areas, cultures and interests. All of this needs to be there before even talking about SEO simply because scoring some big numbers on our website, just for the sake of it, doesn’t really make any sense.
SEO With Good Behaviour
Each SEO strategy can work only if the premises we mentioned are good. As Google says though, there’s no such thing as a magical spell so please beware of those fake pros promising fortune and fame with a list of keywords. What really has the power to attract visitors is what you have to offer and the reputation you have. You won’t go far if you don’t water your plants, especially if you don’t put yourselves in your customer’s shoes. It will be up to another human being and their free will to choose whether to visit your website or not. In order to accomplish this, try to shift the focus from one keyword to an overall vision that provides an integrated editorial plan and quality content. SEO gets really happy when you share a website link on a social media platform or if you link internal and external resources in a blog article for instance. There is no need to lose your mind over a specific word, make sure the content is at its best and works for what you need.
Patience will come very handy when waiting for results to come; SEO strategies take time to work, sometimes even years. You can make some adjustments with time and monitor the situation with a range of useful and precise tools like Google Analytics (traces every movement on the website) and Google Search Console, the best one to see what queries made your website rank and if the user actually clicked on the link. Once you know how people find you, you will then be able to use that precious information (which is a lot for a free tool!) to adjust both your web and real-world positioning. On the other hand, becoming obsessed with “what the algorithm wants” is more than useless, so if you want the story to have a happy ending, do yourself a favour and focus on what your clients want.