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A few years ago, Hammer Marketing signed a client facing a nagging problem: They sell corrugated cardboard boxes to businesses, yet kept getting calls from consumers looking for cardboard moving boxes.

After a deep dive into their brand and analytics, we identified the problem – and knew what to do. Our SEO team carefully updated content on and within the company’s website, prioritizing words and phrases likely to be searched by their exact target audience. Combining both front end (consumer facing) and back end (search engine algorithm facing), our team optimized both to reduce the number of times the client showed up for moving boxes and increased the number of times they showed up for business looking for innovative packaging solutions.  

Within months, non-qualified calls and messaging ceased as the company stopped appearing in wrong-fit web searches. Meanwhile, the number of inquiries from qualified prospects began to rise. But it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, this very client is still in the beginning stages of a longer effort to optimize SEO and convert growing site traffic into paying customers. Still, the point stands: For patient businesses, expert SEO works, helping them land in front of the right eyes on today’s ever-competitive digital landscape.

SEO’S POWER AND PROMISE

By now, most businesses know that search engine optimization (SEO) can help you snag a higher spot in search engine rankings – ideally even a coveted spot on Google’s first page.

There are various ways to get search engines’ attention, but SEO is unique in that it’s no-cost. Not that no cost translates to simple. The opposite, in fact: High stakes plus low barrier to entry make SEO a hotbed of competition – competition so fierce, some companies use unethical practices to cut ahead in the line.

Below, we’ll dispel some common misconceptions about SEO and offer a little more insight into how it works, and how to use it in your business’s favor.

But first, a note on ethics:

At Hammer Marketing, we firmly subscribe to above-board SEO practices – and have the results to prove that they work. When you partner with us, you’re partnering with SEO experts with integrity and a growing collection of certifications in Google-approved tactics that we implement every day, helping our business clients gain visibility that aligns with their goals.

With that out of the way:

SEO 101

When users search a word or phrase on a search engine, they’re taken to a search engine results page (SERP) featuring a list of websites, in descending order of relevance per the search engines’ algorithms.Search engine optimization, or SEO is the process of leveraging various words and phrases on and within your site (often called keywords) in hopes of ranking higher on that SERP page. A higher ranking makes you more likely to get visibility and qualified traffic to your website organically, i.e. without paying.

Some businesses think SEO is as simple as “use the right words, end up on top,” or take a “set it and forget it” approach. Another misconception is that SEO is limited to keywords or meta tags.

SEO is loaded with nuance and complexities. Did you know, for example, that your website’s speed, accessibility, and mobile optimization – aspects of what Google calls Core Web Vitals – all contribute to your overall site SEO ranking? Another layer: Google SEO algorithm specifics are vague and ever-changing, cloaking SEO in a degree of guesswork even for those of us who do it all day every day.

These complexities are why SEO is only worthwhile if it is nurtured via a fully-formed strategy, by specialists. While this might sound laborious, it has compounding benefits. When you optimize and nurture SEO over the long run, it actually boosts the impact of your business’ paid digital advertising. Be warned, though, that the opposite is true, too: Many platforms will shut down a paid campaign if you have poor SEO. For example, if you start showing 404 errors or have a high number of bounces, Google Ads will turn off your business’s ads. Keyword stuffing and other quality detractors can offset your SEO and therefore your paid advertising efforts as well.  

CAN SEO NEGATE THE NEED FOR PAID ADVERTISING?

Paid advertising plus rock-solid SEO is typically necessary for snagging those top three spots of any SERP page, especially on Google.

But more good news: Most businesses actually reduce their paid advertising spend once a solid SEO foundation is established. For example, once your site reaches the first page of some platform searches, you can readily leverage that SEO position to get site traffic to a new service or product you’re offering. For one client, Hammer Marketing’s ongoing updates to SEO and content – and subsequent results – have freed up advertising dollars for use on other line items like trade shows, webinars, and events.

HOW IS SEO MEASURED?

Hammer Marketing uses a wide range of leading ROI measurement, analysis, and keyword tracking tools – Semrush, Google Core Web Vitals, Screaming Frog, and Google Search Console, to name a few. Looker Studio is another reporting platform of choice; it converts data into customizable, informative reports and dashboards we share with our business clients. We also build specific reports using data pulled from a multitude of sources (Google Analytics, social media platforms, CRM systems) to create a reporting dashboard that’s a quick way to see how all strategies are aligning to create growth.

SO WHAT NOW?

And yes, we can do this for you. Ready to put your business’s SEO in expert hands and play the powerful long game? Reach out to us today!

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