Chances are you’ve probably heard of search engine optimization before. ‘Experts’ all over the internet are preaching about the power of Google for your website. If you are new to the digital marketing game, this may seem a little confusing and technical. That’s why, here at Piktochart, we’ve decided to explain what SEO is, how it has evolved over the years and why it is our #1 growth channel.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Search engine optimization (from here on, SEO) is the process of altering the visibility of a website on search engine’s unpaid (organic) results to increase traffic. As a website owner, this might be extremely beneficial. Ranking on the top spots for a competitive keyword in your industry can drive thousands of qualified visitors every month, for free.
Interesting, right? That’s why marketers have always tried to ‘game’ Google for their own advantage. The problem is Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving and becoming smarter every day. That’s why SEO methods have evolved over the years. For instance, a couple years ago, it was all about link building. The quantity of links that pointed to your website had a huge influence on search ranking so marketers started simulating this. The most talented SEO people started building enormous blog networks to artificially point back-links to their site. It worked like a charm. However, Google realized this and changed. Links are still important, but where you get them from is a major influential factor. Artificial links don’t work anymore, to increase search engine rankings you need to get natural, organic links from real, high quality content websites.
What is the only way of getting real, organic backlinks to your site? Content creation.
Content is the name of the game
“Nowadays link building has become link earning, so if you want to earn links, you need to produce something of an exceptional value for your target audience“, explains Marta Olszewska, our exceptional Head of Marketing.
As a marketer, you need to create valuable content that people will read, share and link to. Those organic links will improve your search engine rankings naturally, but the only way of getting this right is to empathize with your target audience, to put yourself in their shoes and understand how they perform search when it comes not only to your topic but also all the related fields.
Think about their pain points, their challenges, their struggles, things that would be the most valuable for them to learn. Then, start shaping your content strategy around that: blog posts, infographics, social media outreach, podcasts, etc. For Marta and Piktochart, “now it’s humans first, search engines second“.
The Foundation: On Page Optimization
Before thinking about the content strategy that will earn you links, you should lay the basic foundation and get your website or blog ready. This will not get you traffic by itself, but it will complement the content you generate.
Some things to revise before going live:
- Optimize your site page around a single topic or keyword. This will help Google identify the topic easily so it can rank it for the proper keywords. Important on-page elements like titles, headings, content and image alt texts should be created around the keyword you want to rank for.
- URL structure should be short and descriptive. Making the URL easy to crawl for search engines, and containing the category, topic or keyword is a must.
- Optimize page Titles. The Title tag is used by search engines to display a page in search results. You should keep your copy compelling and less than 55 characters.
- Utilize proper Heading tags. Proper heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>) not only helps search engines identify the proper headline (the one between the <h1> tags), but also tells the hierarchy and level of importance of each element in the page.
- Optimize image Alt tags. Not using the proper keywords in image alt tags is a wasted opportunity.
- Increase site speed. One way Google has to determine a site’s quality is speed. It assumes a great site that humans would want to read would be, by definition, fast. Improving loading time should be a priority.
- Use HTTPS and not HTTP. Google is placing extra emphasis on security, and slowly abandoning the old HTTP protocol. Using HTTPS will give your ranking a slight boost.
The Real Deal: Building Exceptional Content For Your Audience
As mentioned before, at Piktochart we are firm believers that the focus is definitely on great content, even more than ever.
Our SEO strategy is based on 4 different elements:
1 – Understanding Our Users
It all starts with understanding our customers. We need to get a sense of who they really are, what they do on a daily basis, how they use our tool, what challenges they find in their everyday work, what else we could be providing them during their journey with us. We need to understand what Piktochart is ultimately solving in their lives.
We are so invested in this that we hired Eureka, our brilliant UX researcher. We also decided to have everyone in the marketing team involved in talking to customers on weekly basis via phone, Skype an email.
This is something we started heavily investing in this year and it has paid off multiple times. First, it helped us shape our main user personas. By understanding how our core audience groups use our product, we can take all sorts of decisions regarding Piktochart’s content & SEO strategy: mainly our interface, features, and the content we need to produce to satisfy their needs.
2 – Building an Online Reputation via Content
When doing customer development, we also focus heavily on understanding people’s search behavior or what’s even more critical, their search intent.
Everyone’s search process is different, however, we’ve identified several different stages most customers go through. We do our best effort to reach them with the right content for each of those stages.
Let’s take a look at the Design Series. Our content & design team produced a series of articles on design tips. This served two purposes: first, targeting our current users with inspiration and tips to create their infographics, but also people outside our user base who aren’t ‘graphically gifted’ and need guidance on how to pair fonts, align elements or choose colors palettes.
Sometimes, people are not convinced on why they should be creating infographics in the first place. After identifying this issue, we wrote articles including inspirations, ideas and real data on why people should use visually compelling content (a.k.a infographics) for their projects. This is approaching people who are either stuck after signing up or haven’t even decided on an infographic platform yet.
Another great example is the April’s Marketing Series you are currently reading. A huge portion of our users love Piktochart and create beautiful infographics, but they don’t know how to distribute them. By writing posts on SEO, growth hacking, social media and much more, we help users in non-marketing fields market their infographic more effectively. We know that if an infographic makes a difference, users will come back to create more.
The key is to understand that search journey and tackle every step of it with an adequate piece of content that matches someone’s need at that very moment.
3 – Building Outreach
As we mentioned before, SEO is no longer about scoring backlinks, it’s about building real relationships with people. It’s about earning backlinks. Nowadays, it comes down to the very roots of good, old marketing.[Tweet “SEO is no longer about scoring backlinks, it’s about building real relationships with people”]
As a result, we have been ridiculously active on the social media front in the last year. Our team invests countless of hours to listen to our customers, their comments, their doubts or just being there for them.
We’ve found out that happy customers who like your product and who you take time to talk to and understand, whom you have built a personal relationship with, are so much more likely to talk about you.
We constantly reach out to people via email marketing, interviews and social media. This led to several successful partnerships with people who either approached us or were already doing an amazing job talking about us.
Our product is something that people need and love using, they find it easy to use and they get their questions answered. They also feel cared for. This is mostly how we get mentions, in the most organic of all ways.
It might sound like a cliche, but be exceptionally good at what you do and people will tell others about it. We focus on satisfying and really caring for our customers. They reciprocate organically.
4 – Monitoring and Analyzing
The only way to grow is to be heavily focused on data and metrics.
We measure everything we do, then we analyze it and reshuffle things around if needed. There’s no one solution that will work over time. It’s a bunch of factors and sometimes you will never know why something worked. You need to keep re-adjusting until the point you see the engagement and results.
Good SEO is also very much about user experience. We have hired CRE (Conversion Rate Experts) to help us identify elements on our website that don’t work for people and keep readjusting our copy/user interface/features to match people’s needs better. Also, our customer delight team keeps listening to our users’ requests which we really take to heart and implement regularly.
The Result: How SEO Impacts Piktochart’s Growth
Building the right content and SEO strategy takes time, planning and effort, but Piktochart is a living proof that it works.
More than 60% of our traffic comes from search engines like Google and Bing. Besides, it’s our second highest converting channel, where 25% of visitors turn into new users (right below direct traffic).
This makes SEO our biggest influx of new signups. That’s why we also heavily invest in our reputation, branding and community building. Our development and design teams focus not only on delivering a great product but also on anticipating and responding to market and people’s needs. According to Marta, “it will have a great impact on user LTV (lifetime value) and conversions“.
Inspiration: Follow These People For Great SEO Content
If you want to explore SEO further, we recommend reading these blogs. It’s people we trust and read on a daily basis.
KISSmetrics Blog. KISSmetrics is the go-to analytics platform for marketers and growth teams. Their blog offers some of the most detailed, thoughtful advice on internet marketing, growth, SEO, analytics and much more.
Glenn Allsop, from Viperchill. Glenn writes some of the longest, most well-researched and thoughtful posts on internet marketing. His SEO insights are brilliant.
MOZ blog. Apart from building the best SEO software out there, MOZ offers some of the best content on marketing, SEO and growth in the internet.
Matt Cutts. Matt is the head of Webspam for Google. He clarifies and debunks myths regarding Google’s SEO policies and algorithm updates.
Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land.
This post is part of Piktochart’s Marketing Series, stay updated with new and relevant posts about all your infographing needs and more by subscribing to our blog.