become a search engineer

We practice what we preach. Today I googled “branding Salt Lake City” and “branding Utah” and modern8 comes up #2 or #3. Same thing if searching for “graphic design.” If you google “branding for architects” nationally (one of our target markets) we land on the first page. Same with engineers or construction companies. How do we do that? Keep reading.

When was the last time you googled your company? Of course it comes up if you google your company name (if you fail that, you have real problems). Today, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine query. What are the search terms your potential customers are typing into Google? Those are the things you should be known for—the points that distinguish you.

We achieve our rank through content marketing. That’s industry jargon for giving your customers what they want. They’re searching for answers to their needs, problems they have to solve. All you need to do is give them what they’re looking for using searchable content.

Content is just part of an overall digital marketing ecosystem, but it is the central part. Social media, display advertising and paid search advertising (PPC/pay-per-click) are all strongly dependent on having something of value to link to.

Content marketing works equally well for B2B companies who sell professional services. Like our clients in the AEC industry (architects, engineering firms and construction companies) we don’t sell products, we sell our expertise. And yet most of those companies provide no educational content outside of their project descriptions. Photographs are nice, but they provide little to no searchable content.

You don’t need the world to love your company. You just need to attract the audience that is interested in your value proposition. What can you provide for them? Define that. Who is the target user? Define that as well. We typically define three primary motivations for users of websites we design. We even assign them personas, with demographics and user descriptions that identify the way they search. Classify people based on their needs.

Content is great for both referral marketing and search marketing. “But it is important that you clearly define your end goal and come to terms with the fact that your blog might not be your best venue”, says Tony Passey, CEO of Firetoss. “Content you write may serve a better purpose on LinkedIn, an industry forum, or as a guest writer somewhere.”

Content can be developed in multiple formats and can be consumed according to the preferences of your customer: blog posts, white papers, video, motion graphics, webinars and slide presentations. It’s not necessary to invent the wheel every time. Take one big idea and make many smaller content executions from it. You can also repurpose content and gain more impact. Use modified excerpts from white papers as blog posts or embed a slide show from your speaking engagement. Content written to intercept informational queries should be easy to consume, with imagery, headlines, sub-heads and excerpts to engage the short attention span of typical users.

You can’t expect people to magically find your content. As a matter of housekeeping, your content must be technically optimized, so it can be filed in the search engine index as a relevant and authoritative answer to the query. Further, you must market it.

Think of the last step as the Content Marketing Conversion Process. The goal, of course, is to increase revenue, not rankings. Pull people to your content with TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagram and pay-per-click links. Push out to your target audience with email newsletters, digital display ads, retargeting ads and print ads. Consider specific landing pages that directly answer their search inquiry.

Lastly, convert them to a lead by offering something in return for their contact information. On our website, we want them to subscribe to our newsletter, which offers us an opportunity for interaction in a non-threatening engagement. Alternately you can offer white papers, free consultations, or demonstrations in exchange for their contact data. Analysis shows that the average user requires multiple interactions before they are motivated to call, email or contact.