White hat, organic, PPC, on-page, off-page: Isn’t search engine optimization fun?

Marketers often advise client companies to “lead with digital” in their outreach. Sadly, some of these client companies have websites that are hard to find unless you know just where to look, making it tough to lead.

All around us, optimized websites and micro-targeted digital outreach are revolutionizing marketing, sales, meetings, presentations, and a myriad of other business activities. For the small business competing in this milieu, getting found online is not a finish line to be reached but a de rigueur ongoing discipline to be managed and monitored from now on.

Enter search engine optimization (SEO). It’s hugely important and hugely complex.

Do not despair. Focus on what matters most to you. First, determine who must see your website. If the answer is “businesses that need fire protection systems for buildings in the Central Ohio area,” you’ve substantially narrowed your desired reach and defined your SEO needs.

Second, learn (or get help learning) what search terms people are using to find your company and your services. Are they searching for “fire safety”, fire suppression” or “sprinklers”? Google Webmaster Tools, or a qualified SEO professional, can help you with this task.

Optimize on-page. Updating or overhauling your website? Make sure you or your developer is designing or updating it in a way that at the minimum does no harm. Banish obsolete design platforms such as frames and Flash. Remember that your site must work well on mobile devices.

Make sure you DO incorporate the factors that matter in SEO. Search engines (by which we largely mean Google, which dominates the market) look for content, performance, authority, and user experience. Use of an up-to-date, open-source content management system in site development can simplify your work in optimizing SEO later on. We often use WordPress when developing client websites that will be easy to maintain and update, and that will be SEO-friendly to boot.

Optimize off-page. Off-page SEO includes organic and paid techniques.

Organic off-page SEO entails processes to obtain a natural (non-sponsored) placement on search engine results pages. Make sure you (or your consultants) engage only in “White Hat SEO” (defined by webopedia as the usage of SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that “focus on a human audience” as opposed to search engines and “completely follow search engine rules and policies.”) This avoids the real possibility of actively damaging your SEO results by going afoul of practices that major search engines (okay, Google) condone. Generally, with organic off-page SEO, you can pursue having your pages become the “go-to” for a number of relevant search terms and phrases, bearing in mind your likely geographic market and both the popularity and specificity of the terms.

Paid SEO includes sponsored listings or ads high on search engine results pages. For paid off-page SEO planning and program management, you will use web analytics tools such as Google Webmaster Tools to choose terms that are 1) frequently searched for your topic and 2) likely to be “buy” terms and 3) hopefully, affordable. Remember that you are paying for clicks whether the visitor turns out to be interested in what you have for sale or not. Vague “non-buying” terms of broad general interest are typically not ideal for pay-per-click.

Monitor your efforts, trends and visitors. This should become part of your regular business routine. Fortunately, it can be interesting and rewarding.

They came! They left! Once a visitor has come to your site and then left after visiting defined pages, you can continue to target. Retargeting programs let you track visitors and then remind or incent them by presenting follow-up messages or ads, often on their social media sites. (You’ve probably seen the side ads on Facebook showing a product you just recently checked out on another site). These retargeting services, for which you contract, are available from several companies.

Call for help. If SEO is important to your company, you may be well advised to seek experienced consultants to guide you. The stakes are high and the playing field is constantly shifting. Having basic knowledge of the tools and techniques available to you is valuable, but having the right expert guidance may be the best way to achieve the results you need.

We’ve touched on fundamentals in this article. Of course, there is much more to know – and much more from which you can profit.


Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC, a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch™, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, as well as its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. Search engine optimization is important in many of vSA’s marketing launches, and is an area in which the company consults. Contact Michelle at michelle@vsamarketing.com.

© 2014 Michelle van Schouwen


  1. Val Johnson says:

    I've been able to successfully sell my high-ticket coaching program using long-form landing pages. My buddy Simon told me they're best used in the sales of high-margin products/services where a lot of information is required in making the purchase decision. The longer the sales page, the more marketing effort goes into producing it, although a solid long-form sales page can be used to sell almost any product/service if executed with top talent. Simon can help you setup long-form sales offers too, and if you're doing any kind of big-ticket sales you should really call him at 240-455-3886.

  2. Steph Riggs says:

    White hat marketing strategies are now achieved its goals so it is very necessary to move your attentions upon organic and natural ways of internet marketing. Search engine optimization is not fun anymore because now Google is strictly treating with website having low quality backinks and poor contents. So be organic in your policy and get organic ranking and traffic too.

  3. SEO Services says:

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  4. danysmith5 says:

    Nice Post ! Yes SEO is fun but only for those who can handle pressure at any point and have patience, because frequently Google comes up with updates which always have something new, sometimes it leads to spam our website. I would suggest be patient and keep updating yourself about the Google updates.

  5. Helen says:

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  7. Kamelen says:

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  8. Helen R. says:

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  9. martha says:

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  10. Mikhail K. says:

    Check for Online Reviews: A good SEO experts must have a good reputation online. Nowadays, there are countless review websites that you can use to find out more about others' experiences with the consultant who you are thinking about hiring. You can also look for testimonials on the company website; this will give you an idea of the number of satisfied clients who have used the service.

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  13. Steve Parker says:

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  14. Prachi Kalra says:

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  15. I think this will help to rank well in SERP. yes I know, SEO is not fun. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

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