Just a few years ago we were wondering if SEO was going to die an untimely death. With Google’s fancy new algorithms and warnings about “black-hat SEO,” it certainly seemed that way. But today, SEO is alive and well.
That’s good news, because with their higher level of competition, SEO for tech companies is more important than ever.
Today, executing SEO for tech companies, doesn't mean just taking a bunch of industry-specific keywords and stuffing them into pages on your website. Effective SEO applies an intelligent strategy to every digital channel of your marketing to accomplish that one goal of building an online audience who will align with your company and branding.
SEO falls into two main categories: on-page and off-page. Which is better? It depends, sort of. According to MOZ, every company is different and should have its own SEO plan. And that plan will depend on what the company has been doing right or (in many cases) has been doing wrong.
This is the place to start. Why? Because you have total control. On-page SEO for tech companies means optimizing everything that’s got your name on it—mainly your web pages.
In Search Engine Land’s highly creative periodic Table of SEO, content (on-page) ranks first as a priority.
While you’re totally in control of your own content, creating quality, optimized content takes more time than the full array of off-page SEO tactics does.
Still, if you’re just publishing optimized content, you may be capturing the highest single value of any SEO effort, but you’re only accomplishing part of the whole. That's because all SEO factors pull together. If you're trying to maximize your SEO potential, you need to do it all or as much as you have time for.
While publishing on your own (you really don’t own them) social networking sites should be considered on-page SEO, guest posting on other company’s sites does not. Off-page SEO for tech companies—because of the enormous number of tech websites—means invading everyone else’s networks and guest posting on everything you can find. Check out MOZ: 21 Off-Page SEO Strategies to Build Your Online Reputation.
Posting comments on other’s sites builds SEO juice by creating back links to your site. Both Google and visitors will follow those links. Many companies have learned it’s possible to acquire 20% or more of all new leads acquired just from being active on social networks. But be careful with back links. Best not to “buy” them as you may suffer being penalized. Google easily can figure out if you’re trying to cheat.
Where to Start
Blogging, without question, is the single best means to grow an audience. But blogging is not the place to start, strategy is. Here’s the process we use to execute a thorough SEO plan:
- Review your baseline. What does your website traffic look like now? What are you currently doing for SEO? What is your visitors to leads conversion rate?
- Set goals. While there are a lot of variables that come into this equation, it would be highly acceptable to say, “I want 10-15% more customers this year than last year.”
- Do persona research. Establish who your personas are, what are their needs, and their paths to solving their needs. Because this step is so crucial, we’ve created an easy to use template for you to get started.
- Build a keyword list. There are a lot of good tools for this. Here’s one: http://keywordtool.io.
- Start publishing on your website and on social media.
Off-page SEO is all about engaging and connecting with the wider audience in your vertical. While there are many ways to start, here’s one of the easiest paths:
- Focus on Twitter. Follow every thought leader you can find for your niche tech industry. You’ll find a lot of them will follow you back. Now that you have an audience, respond to the tweets you like. I think the main key here is to be real. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get a short dialog going.
- Monitor social streams. This is sometimes called social listening. We use Hubspot’s tool for this, but there are others. Since social has a very short life of its own, it’s important to respond to social posts quickly.
- Comment on blog posts, especially on authoritative sites. How do you know if a site has authority? You’ll see that one site frequently come up in searches and those sites will have acquired a social buzz—you’ll simply hear about them all the time.
How Much Effort Will I Need?
Depends. A tech company blog article on, for example, a case study may only need to be 500-600 words long. But if you’re going to publish an 800-1,000 word article that requires research, obviously that article will take much more time to complete.
Some companies waste time on obsessing over strategy or feeling they have to write “the perfect blog” every time. There is no such thing as "the perfect blog.”
There is no “best way” or one-size-fits all for all companies. What is so important is starting with best practices, developing one or more solid personas, and doing everything in your marketing around those persons you've created. It’s tempting to digress from the path. Just don’t! Ready to start? Get our template!