Images and words lay at the core of every web page and information architecture. They are weaved together with code, shaped through UX design, made accessible to end-users thanks to strategically planned content. These are the all-encompassing elements that contribute to successful organic search engine rankings.
Organic Search Optimization Snapshot
- 93% of online experiences start with a search, according to a study done by Forrester
- 75% of internet users don’t go past the first page of results
- 50% of search queries are four words or longer; these are known as long-tail keyword opportunities
- Conversions deriving from organic search rankings are quality driven and bring higher overall conversion rates compared to other traffic funnels
- 61% of marketers agree that improving their SEO and boosting their organic presence need to become top inbound marketing priorities for 2018
Growingly, it appears that for consumers “seeing is being”. Feelings and appreciations are expressed through hearts, thumbs up and icon-based reactions. People touch base with friends and family transforming smiley faces into modern-era hieroglyphs. The aspirational and luxury customer is now engaged and ultimately converted into purchasing $400 #GucciHallucination t-shirts thanks to beautifully crafted immersive realms of graffiti and animated oil paintings.
Images are also all over our screens. Laptops and smartphones allow us to communicate through visually-driven channels—think of Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat. The streaming giant Netflix has just reached the 125 million subscribers mark, exceeding its own KPIs for Q2 of 2018. Teenagers in Asia (and globally) are becoming impromptu content creators through Musical.ly, the China-founded visual lip-sync tool, growing globally to the ton of 200 million active users.
However, even if graphic hallucinations have more immediate appeal and text instead feels as less directly prominent, it is actually the most important element of a website from a conversion perspective.
Today, “just Google it” is the default problem-solving action most of us would say or perform, finding answers to whatever by simply typing a few keywords into the search engine’s quasi unchallenged query space (according to Net Market Share, Google has a net share of 73.7% on desktop, and of over 90% on mobile).
Indeed then, words are what search engines can chew, crawl, process better: indexation is always text-based, and organic search also tends to be the highest converting traffic channel, especially when there is a strategy integrated within a website’s text, to target specific brand and competitive keywords, as this leads to achieve ever-sought-for organic SEO rankings. It isn’t an easy game to play, as organic optimization can be achieved only through the most diligent keyword analysis reporting and strategic content generation; but when the highest converting consumer traffic channel is matched with an effective strategy the result is guaranteed success (or, as we say at netamorphosis : 1+1=3).
What’s behind a successful SEO execution
If the core of organic search engine rankings is analytics consulting, all around it is meaningful content creation and what allows a website or e-commerce platform to cut through the noise, and to be found and most importantly browsed in the overcrowded contemporary digital marketplace, is its ability to build structures that take into account both form and function.
On one hand, through keyword mapping marketers can customize and optimize their websites, producing materials consumers will actually want to engage with, anticipating needs, trends and delivering unique consumer journeys. On the other, great design and storytelling are growingly becoming the secret twist behind achieving outstanding organic optimization results.
But what does this mean for organic SEO?
Back in the early 2010s, it was sufficient to simply have an online presence to stand out. Today, organic SEO is less immediate to achieve, and the path leading to conversion-worthy SEO work can be condensed into one concept: integration of services and talents. Precisely for that, SEO needs to be a forethought not an afterthought, and should be considered at the outset of Information Architecture – UX, or minimally integrated into all content positioning directly across the primary digital platform and marketing campaigns, but extending into email strategies, social media strategies and most definitely back-linking (all of which are ‘referral traffic’ strategies); in an effort to maximize cost-efficient customer acquisition.
This challenge is the reason why n e t a m o r p h o s i s began offering SEO services at the end of 2015, when we discovered that one of our digitally leading clients was significantly over-paying an ‘SEO Specialist’ for unmeasurable results, or lack thereof. We proposed that this client compensate us on the same monthly budget as this 3rd Party and allow us to manage their SEO for 3-months, serving as a test; where we would be measured on 2 primary metrics: (1) could we achieve more organic traffic? and (2), could we do it at a lower monthly budget (i.e. a higher ROI)?
The answer was “yes” to both questions, which has led us to today, where our SEO services comprise 35% of our client services and are lead by our Managing Director, Strategy, Lyde Spann, along with our Data Scientists and Financial Analysts, supported by our in-house SEO Specialist, Alia Carangelo, and then implemented by Carly Link, n e t a’s Manager of Design.
Our collaboration-based approach allows us to consolidate conversion-worthy SEO content and UX design into award-winning digital platforms, proving that another crucial aspect behind a successful SEO approach is that to unlock the power of integrated visual displays in delivering superior organic search rankings.
n e t a + Design Awards
- New Museum: W3 Silver Award & Davey Silver Award for Website (Art)
- Newport Academy: W3 Gold Award Winner – Website Design; W3 Silver Award Winner Copy or Writing; Davey Silver Award Winner; Communicator Awards Distinction for Websites & Copywriting (General Health Care Services); Interactive Media Awards (IMA) Best in Class for Websites – Healthcare
- Oliviers & Co.: W3 Best in Show (Food), Davey Awards (Food & Beverage)
Win-Win: SEM vs SEO Organic Optimization Approach
Customer conversions—rather than pure un-qualified traffic—are clearly the objective behind organic search optimization, from both an SEO and an SEM perspective.
SEM vs SEO definitions
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s ‘natural’ or unpaid (‘organic’) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a client’s website appears in the search results lists, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. As an internet digital marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines, and ranges upon sophistication levels. With all n e t a website ‘builds’, there is a focus on attaining prime rankings within the SERPS by ensuring that client site’s (web) page hierarchy and site infrastructure (organization) results in optimizing our clients’ organic (Google) search results.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) also known as PPC (Pay Per Click) is a marketing driven approach, that can quickly generate traffic for a website or web page through carefully made investments that are defined by a CPC (Cost per Click) market value that can fluctuate at the keyword and campaign level on a daily or hourly basis. Not unlike SEO, SEM is also based on keywords: by paying a fee based on the digital market value of each word (which varies depending on the word itself), marketers can have their content featured within the first page of a Google or any other search engine’s results. However, if SEO uses content, design and UX to naturally catch the search engine’s attention and hence foster users’ clicks, with SEM marketers will pay-per-click to tie their content to a number of relevant keywords, leveraging searches to their advantage, and understanding bids, bid modifiers and other nuances within the marketplace to truly leverage this powerful traffic channel.
SEO and SEM are not 2 opposite ways forward: they actually work in tandem. SEO is quality based, bringing more conversions to a website and relying on strategy to pull the customer in, versus SEM which is instead a paid service, depending on marketing and focusing on supporting reach and traffic, by pushing users towards a service or opportunity that occupies what Google has termed the ‘golden triangle’, and usually drives higher volume leads given ad and audience targeting sophistication driven by campaign analytics and performance. The ability to harmonize SEO and SEM opportunities unlocks the true value of an integrated approach where we have been successful in all of our SEO endeavors to date to meet and exceed ROI goals.
SEM vs SEO strategy should be refreshed every 6 months to derive new tactics that ultimately drill deeper into customer conversion through a conversion funnel analysis tied towards SEO vs SEM landing pages, stays on top of current user search trends and responds to the ever-important and shifting relationship that exists between SEM vs SEO along with in-depth keyword analysis, where dynamics shift daily. All SEO vs SEM strategies should therefore begin with the same action: aligning a client’s products and services with qualified leads, rooted in page by page keyword(s) mapping. This incorporates terms that users most frequently search directly into digital content so that Google’s algorithms can successfully pair the very best content with what users are searching.
Think about it, if you were Google, wouldn’t you reward your customers through heightened content and organic results if they were aligned in their paid advertising? This is the win-win type of advertising relationship that has helped us achieve on average +70% year over year growth for the companies with whom we partner, vs. any other digital agency handling this same work.
Good SEO for a Good Cause
For a recent client within the behavioral health services targeting parents of teenagers, and who was confronting head-on the national opioid epidemic, where drug overdose has resulted in the number 1 cause of accidental death in the United States, n e t a helped to unlock the power of a considered SEO vs SEM approach, with the additional challenge of Google’s unexpected regulation of both SEO and SEM channels for companies within this specific industry for a variety of reasons.
Our strategy for this client has always been to harness leads for caregivers seeking treatment for their teen struggling with either substance abuse addiction or mental health disorders—what is called within the behavioral health industry, as a dual-diagnosis disorder. While this is a challenging situation for most families to endure, what was incredibly surprising to learn was the rising cultural reliance leading parents to search for solutions and support through Google, rather than consulting a professional or someone IRL.
Leveraging Google’s semantic search updates (Hummingbird 2013 then RankBrain 2015), in just more than 6 months, we were able to achieve the following results:
SEO performance results:
- +37% traffic penetration for organic (+7% vs. previously)
- +402% growth in customer conversions for organic generated traffic attributed to a concerted keyword strategy and supported by developing content and enhancing the user experience, through impactful inbound landing pages
SEM performance results:
- +33% traffic penetration for paid (+46% vs. previously trending)
- +35% increase in customer conversions generated by paid search traffic
Keyword analysis report results:
- +50 words ranking in the first page of Google, in the top 10
- +200 words ranking in the top 50 words linked to treatment searches
“Our SEO work in the behavioral health services industry probably constitutes our most meaningful SEO work to date, not only because of the unprecedented results we’ve helped this important client achieve, but because we are actually having a deep impact in solving a national crisis by helping parents find the best treatment solution in the industry. In this experience, our SEO work is actually saving lives, and providing a solution to parents in what is undoubtedly a harrowing time for any family.”
– n e t a Founder & CEO, Lyde Spann
So now, a new question. If we can achieve a +437% increase in customer conversions with a combined SEO vs SEM approach in one of Google’s most competitive industries, how could we help your business reach its maximum organic search ranking performance potential?