Regardless of whether your organization is for-profit or non-profit, because it’s highly likely you want target audiences to learn about your mission, products, services, and solutions, and you want to be able track which marketing and communications activities are creating awareness and sales/engagement, you’ll stand to benefit greatly from setting up and using the following four types of free Google accounts:
Google Search Console – this tool serves a couple of purposes. It allows you to see for which search terms Google is most frequently serving up your website. And, then, for which search terms for which Google serves up a listing (which includes a link to your website) are searchers then clicking on the link to visit your site. This free Google tool also lets you see, on average, where in Google Search results listings, a listing with a link to your site appears, and the % of people who click on a listing link when it is served up to them. You can also use your Google Search Console account to submit revised or new blog posts or website pages for indexing/crawling, so that you don’t have to wait for Google to find this new and revised content, and therefore, wait for Google to start serving it up in search results for relevant searches.
Google Tag Manager – this tool allows you to set up tags that track various actions that a website visitor can take on your website. These tags basically “fire” and provide data to and in Google Analytics when visitors take actions like completing and submitting an inquiry form on your website, clicking on a hyperlinked e-mail address or phone number, scheduling an appointment, or purchasing something. Such desired actions by visitors are known as “conversions.” Without the use of a conversion-tracking tool like Google Tag Manager, you’re never going to know what marketing activities are causing website visitors to “convert,” and as a recent article about analyzing digital advertising results from Search Engine Land explains, that’s so important to understanding the effectiveness of various marketing activities and where to spend your marketing time and dollars.
What Our Recent Audit Of Google Generative AI Results Revealed
We conducted an audit of the various content and websites that were served up in Google Generative AI results for a number of questions we posed via Google SGE and identified some commonalities among the content (content that was either shared directly in the results by Google or, indirectly, in the blog posts or website pages to which Google SGE linked in results.
As shown below, in addition to sharing content in Generative AI results, Google may serve up links to various websites below the content or in a carousel to the right of results. And, Google may even serve up an infographic!
EightCommonalities Among Content Or Websites Served Up In Google SGE Results:
Use of questions in page or post titles or in headers or sub-headers (H2, H3, etc.) on the page/post
Use of headers/sub-headers, in general, to break up content
Concise/short content (keep in mind content should still be actionable/provide enough detail to really answer someone’s question and allow them to take next steps)
Rows of space/white space to break up content
Infographics (keep in mind that Google doesn’t tend to like infographics from an SEO standpoint because they aren’t accessible; unless they are tagged on the back-end, a screen-reader used by those who are visually impaired can’t read them; if you decide to add more infographics to your site, be sure to use what’s known as “alt-tags” to make infographics accessible
Post/page title or header makes it obvious a list will follow, such as “3 Steps…” or “5 Actions To Take…”
Is It Possible To Prepare For SGE?
The answer to the above is a strong “yes,” and the above commonalities information should provide lots of insight to get you started with developing new, or revising existing, content to make it more likely to be of interest to Google SGE. Need more hands-on help with or advice about Google SGE Prep & Planning? Reach out to our team of SEO experts today!
And, while we’re at it, we’re going to answer another very similar high-volume search question. The one in our header above. Because succeeding at “search” is all about making content understandable, we’re going to keep this really simple. SEO means employing tactics, activities, and best practices that support and lead to both your organization’s website and other digital properties, such as your Google My Business profile, or your social media presences, ranking well in Google for relevant searches.
So, what’s a relevant search? A relevant search is when individuals (likely target audience members for your product or service) enter terms into a search engine, like Google, that are relevant to the products and services your organization offers and the geography in which you offer them. These relevant search terms are known as “keywords.”
What Are SEO Tactics?
Some SEO experts break down SEO tactics into these different categories. And, quite honestly, some use the category terms differently, but this should still give you a good idea of what SEO is all about. Note that on-page and off-page SEO tactics also fall into either the “organic” SEO category or the “technical” SEO category.
What Is On-Page SEO?
This category of SEO tactics includes tactics you implement on your website pages and posts, such as incorporating high-volume, relevant search terms (keywords) in your website content, like we are doing with this blog post. And, making sure behind-the-scenes tagging capabilities, known as meta tags (available with all website platforms), are used appropriately to provide Google and other search engines with essential information about your website — and ultimately the products and service you offer, and the people you serve.
Tactics that fall in this SEO category are tactics that focus on making sure your content is helpful and addresses target audiences’ needs and questions, and tactics that ensure Google and other search engines can easily crawl your site and know what your content is about (via the meta tags we talked about above), your location, and the location you serve.
What Is Technical SEO?
This last category of SEO tactics is often overseen by a web developer or requires a web developer’s help. It’s all about making sure your website is mobile-friendly, and can, therefore, be read by mobile devices like cell phones and tablets that access it. And, that your site loads quickly.
What Is Paid SEO?
Paid SEO means buying advertising from search engines like Google to support an ad with a link to your website appearing at the top of search engine results for desirable keywords for the geography you serve. Since Google is still used by 92% of internet searchers conducting an online search, we equate Paid SEO to Google Ads.
Need Help Ensuring Your Site Is Optimized For Search In 2024?
On average, 110 individuals a month enter the question posed in our blog post title into Google. That’s over 1,300 individuals a year wondering whether they should be investing their time, energy, and money in social media.
Obviously, our Boston digital marketing agency and SEO company doesn’t know the intent behind the posing of this question. Are the searchers posing this question related to their personal use of social media or use of social media for their business? We’re guessing it’s a combination of both. That said, the purpose of this blog post is not to answer the question of how much time you should spend on social media related to your personal life, but rather, with a new year about to get underway, whether you should continue to invest time, energy, and money related to posting on social media and how much.
How Much Time & Energy Should My Organization Spend On Social Media?
The answer to the above is it all depends on the nature of your organization and the products and services you offer, plus the social media results you’ve seen to-date. I remember when organizations first started using social media to promote their businesses — I recall that happening in the early 2010’s. Both for-profit and non-profit organizations felt that if they didn’t jump on the social media bandwagon, they’d be left behind, have a huge competitive disadvantage, and maybe suffer great financial consequences. At the time I was in a marketing role at a health care organization, and quite honestly, I did champion the use of social media to create awareness of my organization’s services, but I don’t think I ever believed that social media was going to have an immediate, large impact on sales results. In many cases, as discussed below, social media has a less immediate impact and is more about creating awareness.
As a marketer, while I’ve often felt hesitant to voice the above and related thoughts about social media to other marketers, I’ve always been nervous and apprehensive about organizations moving too much of their marketing team’s or agency’s time and/or budget away from other traditional and digital marketing activities, and into organic social media activities vs. paid social media ones and/or investing too heavily in organic social media. Why? Because I just wasn’t seeing organic social media vs. social media ads moving the “conversion” needle, i.e., causing desired actions by target audiences, particularly when they visited an organization’s website.
Website Data Doesn’t Lie
For years now, I’ve been able to use various forms of Google Analytics to track either my employer’s or my clients’ website visitors — how they arrived on the site and what actions they took there. In many cases, very regular social media posting was driving very little traffic to their websites, and the traffic that was visiting their sites (due to clicking on a link to their website shared via a social media post or profile) wasn’t taking a desired action like completing a lead or inquiry form, or buying a product or service.
2024 Recommended Social Media Use By Businesses
So, what does that mean for organizations and their use of social media in the new year?
Consider how much time and money you have to spend on all forms of marketing, not just organic social media posting. Whether it be internal staff or an outside marketing consultant or agency that does the work, how many hours and what marketing $ budget will you have to spend in the new year for all forms of marketing?
Based on 2023’s time and $$ spend on social media (fees to agencies and/or consultants for their organic social media post work vs. social media advertising work and/or advertising buy), how much of your 2024 marketing budget and time would be spent on organic social media posting vs. social media advertising, and does it warrant that percentage of your overall marketing budget and time being spent on it? So, how will you know if it’s warranted? Ask yourself the following:
Do any sales or leads tracking systems, including Google Analytics (GA4) indicate that you are getting a sufficient number of inquiries or sales to justify the time and $$ associated with organic social media posting?
Do you often learn anecdotally from new and prospective clients that they learned about you on social media due to your posts or profile?
Does the product or service that you offer have a long lead time, i.e., do target audiences often take a long time and do a lot of research about your products and services before they make a decision, and therefore, is awareness creation among target audiences an important first step in the sales process?
Is your product or service one that target audiences tend to investigate on social media such as a consumer goods or consumer service one, like jewelry, clothing, a hairdresser, or a restaurant?
If you can answer “yes” to any of the questions above, then it’s likely you still want to have a fairly robust presence on social media in 2024 and, therefore, do want to continue to put out a steady stream of social media posts on the various platforms in which you participate. Keep in mind that daily posting is likely unnecessary and may actually be considered by target audiences as annoying. 3-5 posts a week is likely the ideal cadence for most organizations posting on social media.
Do I Need To Have A Social Media Profile On All Social Media Platforms?
The answer to the above is “no,” and if you do, it’s likely because you haven’t taken the time to really understand your particular target audiences and their social media preferences. Which profiles are they most likely to hang out on based on their age and interests — and are they personal platforms vs. professional ones like LinkedIn? Are there particular platforms like “X,” (formerly Twitter) or TikTok that your target audiences won’t/don’t visit and on which your organization wouldn’t want to have a profile simply because of all the negative press and sentiment associated with those platforms?
Add “first user source/medium” as a second dimension to your Google Analytics traffic acquisition report to determine which forms of social media are driving the most traffic to your website and/or your Google Analytics conversions/events reports (and add same “first user source/medium” dimension) to see which site visitors coming from social media are taking desired actions on your site. That will help you determine which platforms you should continue to post to most regularly, if at all (although don’t completely vacate a platform without encouraging visitors to follow you on another social media platform).
The Social Media Platform You Should Always Be Posting To
Being the SEO geeks and SEO experts that we are, we always say to our existing and prospective clients, “always think of your Google My Business Profile as another form of social media.” As we explain in our blog post about ranking locally, when Google decides to serve up your website in search engine results for relevant terms, depending on whether or not a geographic (city, town) or “near me” term was included in the search phrase, Google might serve up your website or it might serve up your Google My Business Profile.
To keep your Google My Business Profile ranking as well as possible in search results, be sure to keep it fresh/current, as Google rewards such profiles the way it does websites.
Need Help Related to 2024 Strategic Marketing Planning?
Need help figuring out where and how to spend your 2024 marketing $$ and time? Reach out for a complimentary discussion of your marketing challenges and opportunities.
Many a friend and family member has heard me share this old adage, “comparison is the thief of the joy.” In general, drawing comparisons between your personal or professional life with others just leads to heartache and disappointment. And, as I’m also prone to share, no two people’s lives take the same path, and in keeping with different paths, different outcomes follow. But, most importantly, we all need to forever keep the following in mind. People don’t tend to share the tough stuff that’s going on with their career, job, or personal life on social media. So, drawing comparisons with others, based on what you see or read on social media, again, is pretty pointless and just a recipe for unhappiness.
Okay, coming down from my soap box now about making comparisons between yourself and others, to address the title of this post. While it’s not mentally healthy to draw comparisons with others, when it comes to the products and services your organizations offers, it can be quite fruitful from an SEO standpoint to draw comparisons, and therefore, be “business-healthy.”
Given the number of people regularly entering comparison questions or statements into Google, why not make sure your website is found for those questions and statements (and, their answers, of course) by addressing them in an FAQ (frequently asked questions) and/or other sections of your website? Here’s a few examples from our own business:
Q: What’s the difference between organic search/organic SEO and paid SEO/paid search? A: Paid search or paid SEO is the practice of purchasing advertising from Google or other search engines so that an ad that links to your website will be served up at the top of search engine results for search terms relevant to the products and services you offer.
Q: When to use paid SEO/paid search tactics vs. organic search/organic SEO services? A: As we shared in our “SEM and SEO: Understanding the Difference and When to Employ Each Digital Marketing Tactic” blog post, three key reasons for employing paid SEO tactics vs. organic SEO tactics include: you need your site to rank well immediately on Google and can’t wait for organic tactics to gradually move the SEO needle; your organization is in an extremely competitive environment and no amount of organic SEO tactics is going to get your site ranking above more-established/-entrenched competitors; Google is serving up a particular page of your site for various search terms vs. the page of your site you want it to serve up for those search terms.
I recently watched a video from an SEO expert who stated that, for certain organizations, regular blogging may no longer be an effective SEO strategy.
The above is not what I’ve seen in the past and what I continue to see. My clients who make and take the time to write and post new blog posts on topics that their particular target audiences are interested in and need to better understand, continue to drive traffic to their website from audiences who have great potential to buy their products or use their services. And, they are driving those relevant audiences because they are ranking well on Google for desirable search terms (known as keywords) because Google is indexing their blog content and serving it up in search results in relevant geographies.
How To Blog Effectively
Anyone can “blog,” but how do you blog effectively to support SEO and actual sales?
Employ a keyword planner tool, like Google Ads’, to determine on which high-volume keywords your target audiences are searching
Use tools like Ubersuggest, Google Trends, and Answer The Public to see what questions your audiences has or what they are searching most about, and create blog posts that speak to those searches and questions
Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to determine what new, or long-time, blog posts on your site individuals are visiting most and make sure that you:
include strong calls-to-actions and call-outs on those blog posts to other main pages of your site
add updates regularly to those older, frequently-visited blog posts, so that Google indexes that new content and also makes note of the fact that you are regularly updating and refreshing your content. As we explained in our “How Not To Let Your SEO Strategy Slide When You’re Short On Time” blog post, the aforementioned is an approach that will help you to continue to succeed in the game of SEO.
Need Ideas About What To Blog About?
Our team can help you develop a blogging strategy that would include research to determine what you should be blogging about. Depending on the complexity of the products and services you offer, we can even write and post your blog posts for you and make sure they get crawled/indexed by Google.
Reach Out To Our Boston SEO Company Today!
We love a good complimentary discussion about any organization’s marketing challenges or opportunities — whether the organization be a nonprofit or for-profit. To-date, we’ve supported approximately 125 different brands, so there’s very few industries, products, or services for which we don’t have at least some relevant marketing experience; plus, we’re quick to learn new industries, products, and services. So, schedule your free call with our team of SEO experts today!
As I shared with entrepreneur attendees of a recent webinar I gave with a colleague on “ensuring your website is your workhorse,” search engine optimization (SEO) is not a one and done activity. SEO should be viewed as an activity that continues as long as your business or organization does. That said, there are steps you can take to stockpile some SEO work, while knowing that you can’t fully stockpile SEO because of needing to respond to yet-unknown industry, life, world, and personal events that may impact your organization and the products, services, and solutions you offer. Think about the onset of the 2020 pandemic. None of us really saw that coming, right? And, we had to pivot and put out new information, and/or add or tweak products and services to better serve our customers in a new world/business landscape.
How You Can Stockpile SEO
Google continues to reward websites who provide fresh/current “helpful content.” This was reinforced by their August 2023 algorithm update that indicated having “helpful content” was a key factor “the king of search engines” would continue to take into consideration when deciding which websites to serve high up in search results for relevant terms.
By creating an editorial calendar that documents future blog post topics for the next quarter, or more, and then, actually writing the posts and creating or identify images for use along with the posts, you can certainly get ahead of the SEO game — by doing all you can to have content that your target audience will value queued up for several or many months. The aforementioned is particularly true if your content management system (CMS)/website platform allows you to schedule posts to be published at a future date.
Why You Can’t Completely Stockpile SEO
As expressed in our blog post intro., there will always be unforeseen circumstances that arise that will cause you to want or need to put out new unanticipated content, or to add or change product, service, and solution offerings. Here’s an example: a blog post I wrote with a colleague about how to best employ social media during the pandemic. Could I have foreseen a need for this post months in advance, and therefore, created and scheduled this, i.e., stockpiled it? No. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the severity and length of COVID’s impact on organizations and businesses many months in advance.
In sum, you can and should take time to create an editorial calendar detailing future blog post topics and publish dates, and you can and should write those in advance; plus, use CMS capabilities to schedule them to publish on your website at the right time. But, there will always be times when you’ll need to respond immediately to unexpected events that occur — either ones that may pose a challenge to you and your customers, or provide an opportunity for you and your customers that you’ll want to capitalize on quickly.
Need Help Building OutA Blog Post Editorial Calendar?
Not sure where to begin to figure out topics for future blog posts that will provide meaningful, beneficial information to prospective and existing clients?
The topic of this blog post wasn’t the one I planned to write about next. But, it’s particularly busy at Results Communications & Research, and that’s a good thing and blessing, right? It does mean, though, that the longer, more-detailed post topic I had on my radar will have to wait.
Right before posting this, I was faced with this challenge. I’ve been so busy helping clients with their paid SEO and organic SEO this spring and summer, I haven’t had the physical bandwidth to employ SEO tactics related to my own site that I encourage all my clients to implement — particularly the tactic I wrote about in my “Why It’s Time To Get Back To Internet and SEO Basics” blog post about being “fresh” by adding new content to, or updating existing content on your website.
So, I asked myself, “since I don’t have time to effectively write and post a really informative blog post, what small revisions can I make to my website to let Google know that my business, Results Communications & Research, is still alive & well? That we haven’t abandoned ship or shop? That we’re still open for business? That were not neglectful?
Small Website “Freshening-Ups” Support SEO
I landed on making a couple of simple tweaks. I recently had new, professional headshots taken. So, I added those to the About and Contact pages of my site, and wrote an image alt-tag for both of the photos. Alt-tags support being found on Google since Google will crawl and index such tags. They also make it clear to Google that your site is accessible to visually impaired individuals since alt-tags can be read by screen readers. It’s unknown if Google favors accessible sites over inaccessible ones, but Google does love sites that provide for a good user experience.
In addition to the above photo and tag additions, I added a new client name to the Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Services page of my site. And, I submitted all three revised pages of my site for indexing, using my Google Search Console account, so I and my site don’t have to wait for Google to find my revisions.
None of the above was a big lift, but it should support my site ranking well for relevant terms vs. it sliding as far as where in search results listings Google serves it up for desirable, high-volume search terms, known as keywords.
What small revisions can you make today to your site to support your SEO strategy?
As we’ve shared many times on the main pages of our website and in blog posts, our Boston SEO company and digital marketing agency works with a very diverse client base, including for-profit organizations and nonprofit organizations, and organizations that offer tangible, consumer goods, as well as ones that offer services. Included in the aforementioned client mix, are organizations that offer “experiences.” To us, experiences, such as events, shows, and classes are sort of a hybrid between a service and a tangible good. You certainly take something home with you — lots of great priceless memories!
What do all of these organizations have in common beyond offering “experiences,” great memories, and valuable opportunities for bonding with friends and family? They all want and need to be found in search engines by searchers searching on “xyz things to do in their particular town/city/state region.” Why? Because both residents of, or individuals planning a business trip or vacation to, their area, often don’t know they and their fabulous experiences exist. Appropriate audiences for their particular experiences may not be searching on their name or even the particular experience they offer such as “live music,” but they definitely will be searching on “things list” terms such as the following:
fun things to do in Boston MA
unique things to do in Harvard Square
best things to do on Cape Cod
romantic things to do in New Orleans
special things to do in Boston Metrowest area
We think you get the picture!
Highlighting The “Things List” You Want To Be Found For On Google
There are two ways you can call out to Google, and other search engines, the “things list” terms you want your website to be found and rank well for:
Be creative about including in your public-facing website content those things lists you think your website/organization deserves to be found for. Let’s say you offer dinner and live music in an intimate, cozy atmosphere, why not include a sentence like the following in your website content? “We’re often told by visitors (or customers) that attending one of our dinner shows should be at the top of the list of romantic things to do in Boston.”
Include the things list term you want to be found for in your behind-the-scenes SEO/meta page or SEO/post title tag along with a geographic trigger like “MA” or “Copley Place” or “Braintree.”
If you don’t know what things lists your particular target audiences are searching on most frequently and/or how to compose a post or page title tag (or where to enter them on your website), reach out to our SEO services company for help.
Highlighting Solutions To Problems To Support SEO
Being found for right things list terms, is just one of many examples of how your organization needs to think beyond the exact names of your particular products and services, and about the solutions to problems you offer. As we always call out in any informal or more-formal SEO training class we facilitate, many people who conduct a search engine search, are looking to identify an organization or individual who can solve their problem. So, as we recommended above related to appearing for the right things lists, you need to incorporate these solutions to problems in your website content and page title tags. For example, nutritionists might include phrases in content and tags like “how to lose weight,” or “how to have more energy.”
Conversations I’ve had with clients and prospective clients recently about “local SEO” have prompted me to share the following reminder.
For “near me” terms, Google is going to focus on serving up “Google My Business Profiles/Google Search & Maps Listings” vs. an appropriate organization’s website. It makes great sense since “a near me” search is all about the searcher identifying an organization near them that offers the products, services, or solutions to problems they are seeking.
Ranking Organically (Without Paying For Advertising) For Relevant “Near Me” Terms
While some organization’s products and services lend themselves more to “near me” searching like “real estate agent near me,” “brunch restaurants new me,” “roofing companies near me,” “elder law attorney near me,” and “ice cream near me” — and those organizations definitely want and need to have a Google My Business Profile (GMB Profile) and ensure it ranks well — all organizations should have a regularly updated Profile in place to support overall, broader geographic ranking.
We won’t repeat everything we’ve shared in previous posts about keeping your GMB Profile current and comprehensive, but you can access such information at the bottom of this post.
What we do want to remind organizations about related to “Near Me” searches is to regularly revisit your GMB Profile business categories. When you set up your Profile, you can select a primary “business category” and several secondary “business categories.” Google regularly adds more specific product and service terms to this list. So, make sure your organization appears in local search results for as many of your products and services as you can, by indicating to Google, via your business category selection, what products and services you offer.
Ranking For Relevant “Near Me” Terms Via Paid Advertising
Two forms of Google paid advertising will help your organization appear high up in Google search results for relevant local searches:
Google Search Ads – while these primarily-text ads appear at the top of Google search results listing for relevant searches, they also can support your GMB Profile appearing at the top of the list of all Google My Business profiles that Google serves up in what’s known as the “Local Pack,” i.e., the first 3 or 4 listings that Google serves up (see first blog post at bottom of post.)
Google Local Services Ads – these ads focus on getting a searcher to call or message you; therefore, cause a pretty immediate conversion. While they don’t directly impact your Google My Business Profile or cause it be served up, they do pull information from your Google My Business profile, i.e., your “reviews.” Unlike Google Search Ads, the goal isn’t to drive traffic to your website or Google My Business profile, the goal is to make someone reach out to you immediately! You can learn more in this excellent article by WordStream.
Feeling Overwhelmed By All Things Local Search/Google My Business?