Search engine visibility: how and where to compete with the big boys

Search engine visibility: how and where to compete with the big boys

Editorial team Published on 5/9/2022

Strong brand awareness is the life blood of any company. We can offer the best product on the market, provide outstanding customer service and have a slick website, but if our company is unknown and doesn’t occupy a clear place in the minds of consumers, all of our efforts will be in vain.

There are many strategies out there for improving visibility. So, it’s important to focus on those actions that will give us biggest “bang for buck”. And online, the cornerstone of any digital business is SEO, in other words, improving the visibility of our website in search engine results.

Where to begin: what SEO is and how it can help you

Before getting into the specifics of what SEO is, we first need to understand the environment it’s used in and why it’s so important. Let’s look at three statistics:

  • 5 billion searches are made every day online (according to the We Are Social 2022 report)
  • 68% of online experiences begin with search engine interaction
  • Of these, just 0.78% involve users clicking on something on the second page of results (report Backlinko).

These numbers bring to mind a well-known expression in the SEO world: “The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google search results ”. Put another way, if a website is unable to position itself and its offering properly, it will be as if it doesn’t exist to users.

This is where SEO (search engine optimisation) comes in, a strategy aimed at improving the positioning of your website and its content in search engine results. To understand how it actually works, we need to know how search engines, particularly Google, work. Why Google? If we want to be found by customers, we need to be with them every day, and according to a survey conducted by Sparktoro, 92.96% of global search traffic goes through Google, Google Images and Google Maps.

What makes SEO highly effective is it’s very nature, which has turned marketing methodologies on their head. While traditional advertising is based on selling a product to the masses, even if the masses aren’t receptive to that (outbound) sales message, with SEO the process is the other way around. Now people search for what they need, while marketers are tasked with creating the right (inbound) content for them to find at the right time. In fact, there are many reasons why an SME should include an SEO strategy in its marketing activities, but the most important is undoubtedly timing. It’s vital for a firm to be found by potential customers when they need it, otherwise they will look elsewhere.

La local SEO è importante

What local SEO is and why it can make a difference

There is a subcategory of SEO called local SEO and its aimed at all those businesses that have direct contact with their customers. This applies to SMEs as much as it does major national and international brands. If a company directly encounters its customers through a shop or area dedicated to them, it’s considered a local business  and specific techniques can be used to increase its visibility online.

Local SEO has become a highly effective marketing technique, as evidenced by the data provided by Google, Hubspot and Chatmeter on the local behaviour of users:

  • 46% of searches on Google are for local information
  • Of people making these searches from smartphones, 76% visit the physical location within a day
  • Searches made using the words “near me” have grown by 900% in two years

This is also happening because local results differ from traditional organic results as they enjoy better visibility and more contact points, especially from mobile devices. Thanks to the Google My Business page in particular, users can view contact details, opening hours and reviews, as well as the information they need to find the business or navigate there using Google Maps. What’s more, most of these interactions will occur without even visiting the company’s website, because Google will provide users with all the information they need before making another click. As you can see, local SEO should no longer be seen as an alternative, but an opportunity to be seized upon by creating a tailor-made strategy for our business.

Content is always king

Content is the foundation of any digital marketing activity. Without a valuable offering, our strategy will struggle to be effective. Indeed, content even plays a role in optimising our website for search: if we have relevant information on it, SEO will amplify our site, leading more people to visit it (rather than those of our competitors).

In the past, SEO just meant using certain keywords on strategic parts of the site. User experience was an afterthought. All that mattered was that search engines found the keywords and ranked the site as relevant for those search terms.

Today, however, Google determines the relevance of a page from both its content and its context. While keywords are still important, exactly matching queries is no longer essential. Instead, it is expertise, authority and trustworthiness that make the difference. Just like with people, Google prioritises information of value that satisfies users as quickly and fully as possible. Which is why it’s vital to produce content that is of genuine interest to people, rather than simply designed to improve search engine rankings.

The main characteristics that a web page should have to optimise its position in SERPs (search engine result pages) are the following:

  • In-depth: the content should be sufficiently in-depth and well put together.
  • User-friendly: copy that’s easy to read and laid out simply, without too much advertising.
  • Unique: the content should be unique. If it has been copied from other pages, it will run into ranking problems.
  • Authoritative and trustworthy: is the content is authoritative and trustworthy when it comes to a given subject?
  • Search intent: subjects should be in line with user search intent. This is key for creating quality content.

In short, content should be natural, unique, good quality and written with users in mind first, and search engines second.

The biggest trends in SEO

Now we know what SEO is and the importance of content that’s valuable for users, it’s time to look at the latest trends in 2022 and the what you need to do to stay competitive.

  1. User intent: like content, the focus on user intent has grown over time. And it’s here that we should concentrate our content strategy efforts. What’s more, this strategy must be implemented holistically, which is to say, we should line up our whole corporate communication strategy to provide genuinely useful content. To do so, marketers must have an in-depth understanding of the target they’re aiming at and then breakdown content based on specific needs. Understanding the relationship between keywords and knowing how to use them to satisfy search intent is the difference between an effective strategy and an ineffective one.
  2. User experience: having a website isn’t enough; you need to carefully craft every detail to make the browsing experience as natural as possible. Users should be able to find the information they need without feeling like there are barriers in the way. UX covers a many areas of a website’s design. In fact, even content that we publish should be written and laid out for smooth and fluid reading. It should also be organised in a hierarchical manner to allow users to find key takeaways without necessarily having to read an entire text or watch a whole video; one piece of content, but several ways to interact with it.
  3. Images and visual content: 2022 is the year that stock images will see a steep decline. Google is placing ever more emphasis on the uniqueness of what is offered on a website and this is because users quickly realise when something isn’t a true representation of a business. And when it comes to search, Google Images will no longer just an alternative search engine, but will be increasingly integrated into the main search results. Google’s artificial intelligence will work out whether an image or video would be a better result for a user and then show these first.

At the very beginning, search engines were created to satisfy people’s demand for information. With an increasingly crowded online space, quality content written by people is what stands out from the crowd. That’s why we should try to keep in mind how important it is to optimise our website and content for search engines, without forgetting that it is people, not machines, who will decide whether to click on our link or not.