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Digital Marketing Demystified - Part 2: The Role of SEO for the Modern Business

May 1, 2024By Isabel Refford

Topics: Marketing Strategy, SEO, Small Business

The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing. Trends and algorithms are adapting rapidly to combat spam and manipulation, meaning that marketers have to adjust their strategies to fit within them.

With more than 8 billion searches every day, it is getting harder and harder to show up on the coveted first page of Google Search (because how many of us are clicking through multiple results pages?).

Digital marketing can get seriously overwhelming when you don't know what challenges to prepare for. But understanding how to stay ahead gets much easier when you learn to speak search engine. Learning how to optimize your website and content FOR search engines (known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO) and human users is the science behind strong holistic marketing campaigns. 

We're here to break down the components that make up a strong SEO strategy so you can optimally optimize your website for your audience and search engines. 

What is an SEO Audit?

Before working on getting better, you need to find out where you are. This is where audits come in. An SEO audit comprehensively evaluates a website's health and performance in search results.

Why should you conduct audits of your website? Identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas where you can improve is essential. The ultimate goal of SEO audits is to help optimize your website and boost organic traffic, leading to your website ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) like Bing and Google. SERPs hold a LOT of information on them. 

The core listings on SERPs, Organic Search Results, contain the most relevant and valuable content based on your search query. Sprinkles among them are the sponsored listings paid for by advertisers based on the keywords users search for.

The Key (words) to Strong SEO

Keyword research drives traffic to your website by helping you to understand who you're reaching and what they want. By understanding the words and phrases people are searching for, you can tailor your content to their needs while making it more discoverable for search engines. Strategies for incorporating keywords have grown with platforms, evolving from stuffing as many keywords into a sentence as possible to a quality-over-quantity approach. 

Keyword Stuffing

In the old days of the internet (so... not very long ago), search engines chased keywords with the highest search numbers, regardless of whether they reflected user intent. This led to brands trying to game the system by stuffing their content with irrelevant keywords, resulting in poor user experience.

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Today's algorithms reward strategic keyword integration that works to drive value to the user and severely punish keyword stuffing. As technology advances, search engine algorithms are taught how to understand the context behind questions to provide the user with specific suggestions.   

Types of Keywords/Phrases

There are a few different types of keywords, so understand what they are and how they can each be used to help search engines understand your content. Keywords give insights into specific user intent or behavior, the context helping the search engines tailor their results to your specific needs. 

Today's search engines are driven more by the intents of their users, but keywords/phrases are still the drivers of these intents. There are 4 "major" categories of intent: Informational, Navigational, Commercial, and Transactional. Keywords and phrases are easily clustered into one of the categories. Below is an example of how to consider the keywords or phrases you target.

Navigational (specific pages/sites requested): Verizon phones

Informational (answers to specific questions): Which phone is the best in 2024?

Commercial (investigate brands/services): Phone cases

Transactional (users want to complete an action): Where to buy an Android Phone?

Generic single keywords are the foundation of your content but are difficult to rank for specifically. Include your primary keyword in the title, meta description, and throughout the content (where it makes sense). These are typically a single word, for example if you sell phones, trying to rank on "phones" is incredibly difficult.

If you're looking for specific phrases that target users with a clear intent, long-tail keywords are your answer. Long-tail keywords with lower competition but relevant search volume indicate a user's deep interest in your brand. Incorporating them into your blog posts to address your audience's problems establishes you as a valuable information resource. Link the long-tail content to relevant, high-authority pages to improve user experience while keeping visitors engaged throughout our pages and blogs. Returning to selling phone references, your chances of ranking high are dramatically increased if your key phrase is like "phones with 64GB of memory and 32GB of RAM". The trade-off is less traffic, a much higher intent to purchase a phone, and less competition.

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On-Page SEO and Content Development

On-page SEO refers to optimizing a webpage to improve its ranking on search engines to attract more traffic. Making your website easily digestible by readers and search engines is key to generating consistent traffic. But where do you start?

First, look at the content you're creating.

Good content will keep people's attention if SEO gets content in front of the right people. Use the keyword research you conduct to obtain insights about the questions your audience is asking, then build content that addresses those needs.   

When you wow your audience with valuable content, other websites are more likely to link back to you as a credible reference, organically boosting your SEO efforts. But maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves...

Off-Page SEO and Link Building

Links that point back to your website (AKA backlinks) act as votes of confidence from other sites that your content is valuable and credible. 

Building a good reputation takes time, but it is crucial to build authority for your site in the eyes of search engines. For search engines, the more high-quality backlinks you have, the more authoritative your website appears. Different strategies for building up your backlink catalog include guest blogging spots on other websites or creating infographics that can be shared from other sources.  

Over the years, the importance of backlinking has fluctuated. Recently, Google revealed that the weight of backlinking has been lowered in future algorithm updates. Prepare for this evolution by using backlinks as the cherry on top of your SEO sundae, not the main course.

Site Speed, Performance Testing, and Optimization

Site speed refers to how quickly your webpage loads for users, which is crucial for SEO and user experience. Everyone has tried to load a website that takes forever.

9 times out of 10, we're giving up. 

Track your website speed progress over time with performance testing. Once you've identified areas for improvement, you can implement optimization techniques.

Site speed and performance are vital, especially for mobile. Google in 2023 announced a massive change to their algorithms in that the engines are "Mobile-First". This means that the engines will base performances on how your site reacts in a mobile environment instead of the "old" method of the desktop. Much of how you optimize your site should be done with mobile, even if your client is more likely to be a desktop user.

Tools of the Trade

So, what tools do marketers actually use?

We'll give you a sneak peek into Team Trailblaze's favorite SEO tools. The first (and maybe most important) is SEMRush, the big kahuna of search engine data. 

Using SEMRush, you can track your content's and competition's data, helping you get the edge you need to stand out. Providing recommendations on improving your website's content, SEMRush may beat the rest to win the title of our favorite SEO multi-tool.

Making the best even better, sync your client data between SEMRush and HubSpot. Giving you the best of both worlds by providing you with the keyword and content analytic genius of SEMRush and the enhanced content creation tools that make HubSpot one of the most cohesive CRM platforms. Organize your contacts, clients, companies, and prospects in one interface, allowing you to streamline your client management strategy. 

Beyond syncing contact information to receive data from both platforms, you can use the integration to build transparent communication with clients by setting up interactive portals that allow them to access automatically updated reports and tasks. This gives your clients secure portals to view and download your reports whenever they want.

Another common favorite is Google Analytics 4, which focuses on understanding user behavior across your website. GA4 is incredible as it helps you identify traffic from all your sources like user engagements, Landing Pages, and much more. Leverage the huge power of Google with AI-powered trend prediction to give you a look into the future.

The most important FREE tool that gives you a look at your pure organic content is Google Search Console. This platform shows you the keywords/phrases from which users came to your site, as well as landing pages, site performance, backlinks, and even product data if you are an ecommerce site. This, paired with GA4, is vital to SEO operations and monitoring.

Once you post your data-driven content, you can sit back, relax, and watch the views roll in... right?


How are you supposed to know how well you did if you don't analyze it? And how will other people understand it if you don't explain it in a way people can understand? That's where analyzing and reporting help you bring it home.

The Benefits of Analytics and Reporting

The art of uncovering insights, analytics is the process of collecting, examining, and interpreting data to understand the performance of your website. 

Examining your website traffic, social media engagement, and sales figures will give you insights into your customer base and how your strategy is performing. Once you have compiled your data, you can move forward analyzing it. 

Dig into the "how" and "why" within your website. Using diagnostic analytics to dig into the root causes behind patterns. Once data is analyzed, you can use your findings to forecast future trends. Don't forget to report on your findings!

Reporting is how you effectively communicate the insights you uncovered to others. Turning complex data into a concise format that is also visually appealing, reporting is the Key to making sure your insights are understood by the masses.

A powerful analytics and reporting combination will allow you to track the effectiveness of your SEO efforts over time. SEO analysis gives you a peek into user behavior so that you can improve your experience and keep visitors engaged.

Work Smarter

Don't let your content fall flat. Use data to optimize your strategy over time. While we just scratched the surface of the ever-evolving world of SEO, we've equipped you with the essential building blocks to start your SEO strategy. 

Stay tuned for more blogs that delve deeper into the specifics of SEO strategies and ways to refine your content for maximum engagement. In the meantime, head to Trailblaze's website to explore more digital marketing resources and read up on Part 1: The Role of Content Marketing

Want even more digital marketing greatness? We'll let you in on a top-secret Trailblaze teaser that Part 3 in our Digital Marketing Demystified series tackles digital advertising, so keep an eye out for that.  

Looking to leverage results-driven digital marketing for your business? Contact us today and let's get started!

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