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Virginia Tech

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Anyone who has built and launched a website has likely encountered an oft-repeated acronym: SEO (search engine optimization). And while you might not have ever done SEO yourself, you've benefited from it in the past: Every day, search engines like Google employ complex algorithms to sift through more than 400 billion web pages and deliver the most relevant results.

Website owners like you use SEO techniques and strategies to get their websites to the top of the search results for relevant user queries. But SEO is not a one-time endeavor — Google and other search engines change often, and ongoing SEO ensures your website stays in front of the people you want to reach. Just as a physical storefront requires regular maintenance and updates to stay competitive, your website needs ongoing SEO to remain visible amidst the ever-changing digital landscape.

The ABCs of SEO: What is Ongoing SEO and Why Does It Matter?

Don't let the techy jargon intimidate you. HubSpot — considered one of the gold standards for SEO and digital marketing advice — defines SEO as simply a collection of strategies and tips that "expand a company’s visibility in organic search results'' and help "drive more visitors to the company’s website, increasing their chances for more conversions which leads to more customers and more revenue."

SEO Connects the Search Engine Algorithms With Your Website's Content

Regardless of your website's goal or industry niche, all SEO techniques have one thing in common: They look at ways to optimize your website's content, keywords, and links to help search engines rank your website higher in the search results when someone searches for something related to your keywords, content, or brand name.

According to HubSpot, SEO needs to address the key factors that all search engines use to determine the value of your website's content — and therefore how high in the search results your website or specific landing page should appear:

  • The intent or meaning behind why someone is searching for a specific term or question
  • The relevance between what someone searches for, and the content on your website
  • The quality of your content (for instance, a website about physical exercise written by certified personal trainers is deemed by Google to be higher quality than a website where the articles are written by non-experts)
  • The performance of your website, such as how long it takes a page to load and whether it works well on mobile devices

Static SEO Versus Ongoing SEO: Why It Matters to Stay Fresh and Keep Your SEO Updates Current

As users' web behavior changes and technology evolves, search engines proactively adjust their algorithms.

If you aren't conducting ongoing SEO maintenance and upgrades, a well-optimized website today can quickly become obsolete tomorrow, causing your search rankings to drop and attracting fewer organic visitors. Google itself updates its algorithms several thousand times per year, including significant "major" changes every few months that dramatically change how it crawls and ranks content. For example, Google's infamous Panda update changed how it ranked how-to lifestyle content on the Internet, causing one major content publisher to lose a whopping $6.4 million of traffic and advertising nearly overnight.

How Ongoing SEO Influences Your Website Strategy

Staying abreast of changes to SEO techniques and strategies provides important guidance to your content, marketing, and overarching website strategy. For example, it can dictate or influence:

  • How much content you publish, and the content's format, length, and focus
  • How you incorporate other forms of media on your website, including images, video, and audio
  • How you organize content on your site, including landing page layouts and your site's navigation
  • What keywords and target users your website focuses on

Embrace the Power of Ongoing SEO

Caroline Forsey, an expert in thought leadership and marketing content, looked at the survey results from more than 400 of the world's leading web analysts to predict the biggest SEO trends of 2024. According to her data, some of the top changes in SEO strategies this year include:

  • A heavier emphasis on expertise, meaning the content on your website should come from experts in your related field (including bylines and author bios that demonstrate the author's credentials and experience on the topic they're writing about)
  • A renewed emphasis on first-person, credible content, especially as more websites generate high volumes of low-quality AI content (Google itself has announced upcoming changes to tackle low-value articles created by AI)
  • A priority on websites that are deemed trustworthy, such as e-commerce sites with well-rated customer service, or content sites that do a good job of citing trustworthy research and statistics
  • Bonus points on content that is creative and original and doesn't simply rehash content found on other sites

Of course, these SEO trends will inevitably change every year, and ongoing SEO will keep you competitive no matter what Google, Bing, and other search engines do. No matter your website's industry or content strategy, ongoing SEO requires that you:

  • Focus on keeping your content fresh and high quality, including new blog posts or regularly refreshing and updating old product descriptions or articles
  • Conduct keyword research often, since the terms or phrases that your core audience uses will evolve over time
  • Maintain your website's overarching performance, such as mobile-friendliness as mobile devices evolve, and page load speed
  • Build a diverse portfolio of high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites within your niche, which may include outreach campaigns, getting others in your industry to write guest blogs, and participating in online forums or communities
  • Keep on top of technical and performance metrics, such as scanning your site for broken links (and fixing the links you uncover) and using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track organic traffic, keyword rankings, click-through rates, and conversion rates
  • Stay on top of algorithm changes so you can adapt your SEO strategy in real-time

Some website owners think of SEO as the first step of their promotional strategy. But it's less a first step, and more an ongoing journey to ensure you, your brand, and your content stay relevant in such a competitive atmosphere. Whether you choose to go it alone and take a DIY approach to SEO, or you choose to consult with a digital marketing and SEO agency, check in often and make sure your SEO evolves as the world around you evolves.

We’re all aware of the power of hashtags to get your social media content seen. Tagging in a relevant business or account is another great way of raising awareness of your own brand. But many businesses shy away from one thing that combines the visibility boost of a trending hashtag with the positive association of an existing movement: National Awareness days.

Whether it’s Independence Day, Remembrance Day or World Kindness Day, certain dates on the calendar see social feeds flooded with content that hashtags the cause or subject.

But how do you choose which to celebrate with an official day for just about everything?

As a business, showing support for your favorite charities and causes and paying homage to things you find interesting is a great way of connecting with your audience and the community.

That being said, it’s important to be selective about the national hashtags and awareness days you associate with. Remember, you’re connecting them to your brand; they will impact your reputation as a business, how other businesses perceive you, and whether they choose to work with you.

Go For Relevance First

While it may be tempting to get involved in the days that appeal to you personally, remember, you’re connecting your brand to these occasions. They need to be in alignment with your values, your mission, and what you do as a business.

You may also think that doing all the things is a great way to go. After all, if participating in one national awareness day will give you a boost, surely doing all of them will give you a mega boost?

Not quite. Being discerning in your choices, selecting a few that really align with your brand, and doing a great job of participating will resonate with your audience. It will attract more people to you who are on the same wavelength, who are interested in your business and what you do.

Doing all the days is equivalent to abandoning targeting in your marketing and falling back on the old ‘spray and pray’ tactics. You shout a generic message at anyone who will listen and pray someone is interested.

One approach nets you quality audience growth that is of tangible value to your business.

The other might bring in the odd client or two, but they’re likely to be problematic because they’re not your ideal client.

How To Choose National Awareness Days

As you look for relevant awareness days and national occasions to support and celebrate, it’s useful to bear a few things in mind. First and foremost, before you commit to anything, make sure it’s 100% aligned with your brand, goals, and audience.

If there’s any aspect of it that you’re a little unsure of or which may potentially be taken badly or out of context, move on. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of other days to choose from.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your selections - Christmas Jumper day has become somewhat ubiquitous across brands. It's a great way for your staff to have fun and for your business to raise money for a great cause. When looking at any other day, consider the following points:

  • Is there a link between cause or subject and your business? For example, Star Wars Day (May 4th) is a great one for businesses in the industries that relate to science fiction or space - tech companies, science research, etc. Likewise, a charity that supports mental health awareness is great for a business in the mental health field.
  • Does the attention the day has garnered in the past match the kind of awareness and engagement you want to attract to your business?
  • Is it something you or your team members are passionate about? For example, do you have a team member with a disability who would like to show support to the disabled community and raise money to fund research that will support others like them?
  • Is it something that will really get your staff interested and engaged? Remember, this isn’t just about how the outside world sees your business. Positive company culture is vital to retaining your staff and attracting top talent in the future.

And Finally…

Have fun with whatever you choose to support. The benefit of being discerning about your choices means you can give your full attention to whatever you choose. Make sure you’ve planned out plenty of content to draw attention to the fact you’re supporting it. That can be pre-created with scheduled blogs, posts and newsletters, or it could mean going Live on the day itself.

Whatever you’re doing, make sure you get plenty of video footage on the day. You can use this for the day itself, but it can also be repurposed and used for great visibility-building exercises in the rest of your marketing.

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