Why SEO for tech and IT companies should be unique?
Let’s consider three factors:
- The number of people using search engines is growing every year. More than 3.5 billion searches are conducted daily.
- The search engine results page (SERP) has improved significantly since the early days of the Internet. In the recent past, we only saw website results, but now we have interactive snippets with embedded Google Maps results.
- Search engines – in particular Google – are an essential aspect of our life. Besides social media, they are the primary way to find information and one of the main ways to learn about new brands, products, and services.
Thus, SEO is an effective enough way to get noticed in today’s market.
SEO is important for IT and technology companies for several reasons:
First, there are many competitors in the IT field who know about the technicalities of SEO, and they are already working on the Internet.
Second, your potential customers are usually tech-savvy. They expect more from you than they can do on their own; otherwise, they will notice that your content is not that well developed and will quickly move to your competitor.
Last but not least, SEO is an important but risky thing that will either help your business make money or generate losses. According to Junto, in late 2017, 57% of B2B marketers stated that SEO for IT and technology companies was generating the most leads. On the other hand, as mentioned above, if your content isn’t powerful enough, leads simply won’t convert.
What is in the future for SEO? How critical is proper SEO thinking?
In the early 2000s, SEO was about writing more keywords. Nobody does this today anymore since the Google Panda algorithm update in 2011. However, these days some marketers and “SEO experts” are still focused on keyword optimization and keyword density.
What about links? Yes, backlinks are still important, but nowadays, it is more about quality than quantity. Think about it: is there any opportunity that allows us to get links from quality websites consistently? No! So link building as a strategy doesn’t work either.
Thus, it is necessary to change the attitude towards SEO: SEO for IT companies is, first of all, not a strategy but a philosophy.
It is a widespread mistake to think of SEO for IT and tech companies as a way to “beat” search engines, and therefore treat Google and other search engines as enemies that need to be defeated.
Better treat Google as a partner because the job of SEO is to align our website, our content, and even our social media presence with the goals of Google and other search engines.
So here’s our next question: what are Google’s real goals?
What is Google?
Today Google has expanded significantly as a company, incorporating several different non-search engine industries from the Android operating system to hardware manufacturing (Google Home, Pixel Phone, etc.).
Here we focus particularly on Google as a search engine.
According to the Google Search mission statement, we can summarize that their main goal is to create the best search engine that can provide users with the most relevant, reliable, accessible, and useful data.
We tend to forget that the ultimate goal of SEO is human audiences, not search engine algorithms.
One of Google’s goals is to help you succeed. The search engine algorithm is being updated and improved not to complicate the work of SEO marketers but to ensure that the user finds the best, most suitable content.
You don’t have to treat the search engine algorithm as an enemy that you must defeat; treat it like a friend you want to be friends with. Thus, SEO for IT and technology companies is not a strategy to defeat the search engine, but on the contrary, something that will help you find a “common language” with the browser.
Well, let’s get started.
Stages of creating SEO for IT and technology companies
Now that we have decided on our SEO approaches, it is time to start developing our SEO strategy for IT and technology companies. Thus, the first step:
Step 1. Define goals, ways to achieve them, and performance indicators
A strategy needs to be developed. We have said earlier that one of the most common mistakes is to treat SEO for IT and tech companies as a strategy to beat search engines, but as it turns out, many of these people don’t actually have a working strategy at all.
First and perhaps most importantly, establish your SEO goals.
Wait, isn’t it apparent that SEO’s goal is to rank higher in the search engine?
Another common misconception is that ranking – and even ranking # 1 – is not the ultimate SEO goal but rather a means to reach the aim.
You can, for example, quite easily rank #1 for an unpopular keyword, but that won’t do any good to your business since you won’t get any traffic, right?
The main goals of SEO are:
- Organic traffic: to put it simply, you get more people to click on your content and visit your website.
- Lead generation: turn a visitor into a customer.
- Sales Conversions (eCommerce or Affiliate Marketing): convert those who consume content (or others through affiliate marketing) into a purchase of a product/service.
- Brand Presence: improving the company’s online presence to increase awareness and perceived trust.
- Online Reputation Management (ORM): Manage your online reputation, for example, by preventing negative review ratings from increasing for your brand’s keywords (and letting your own content rank there).
- Achievement of a specific goal (of a consumer or company): challenging, but possible, mainly by targeting keywords specific customers are looking for.
- Customer Service: Optimizing content that can provide useful information and answer specific questions; can be effective in building ongoing interactions with potential customers.
Be bold about your goals. For example, an increase in traffic by a certain %, an increase in lead generation by another %, expanded brand awareness, etc.
The goals should be:
- Specific: clear and well defined
- Realistic: achievable. If the goal is too big or too long-term, break it down into smaller, more realistic steps.
- Measurable: it is pretty simple – you should be able to measure performance by measuring a specific metric tied to a KPI.
Then, develop a clear strategy for how to achieve these goals. For example, if your goal is to increase organic traffic by 10% per year, how can you do that? Should we develop new content to target new audiences? Should we create new landing pages or even an entirely new website?
Regardless of the strategy and tactics chosen, the core of any SEO tactic for tech and IT companies will revolve around the keyword(s), so this will be at the center of our next step.
Step 2. Choose the right keywords
As established earlier, today’s SEO is no longer about keyword filling, but that doesn’t mean keyword optimization is no longer important – we just need to approach it differently.
Keyword research is still one of the most basic steps in developing an SEO strategy. Here are some key considerations:
- The first and most important thing here is correctly defining and understanding your audience based on the previously set goals. Conduct market research and develop a buyer persona, and the key here is to define your ideal audience’s search goals clearly.
- In a nutshell, search purpose is the reason for any search query: why the audience searches in the first place. The idea here is to align these potential search goals with your SEO goals, as discussed above. For example, if your SEO goal for your IT or technology company is to drive traffic, you will need to target keywords related to informational purposes. Likewise, you can also select keywords related to transactional or business intent.
Based on possible search goals, find your target keyword by following these guidelines:
- The keyword must be relevant to your audience. It is usually associated with high monthly search volume.
- On the other hand, the keyword should be relevant to your business – a fairly obvious rule that is often ignored.
- Competition for a keyword should be manageable according to your budget and time frame.
- Last but not least, can the list of keywords be expanded after a keyword has met all three of the above criteria?
- Use as many keyword research tools as possible (within your budget). You can use tools like Spyfu to check your competitor’s targeted keywords, Buzzsumo to find relevant keywords, or SEMrush and Ahrefs, among others, for more traditional keyword research.
- However, even with all the tools and technologies available, it is sometimes better to rely on yourself and trust your instinct (and experience). For example, keywords like “slam dunk” might be obvious to us, humans, if we target a basketball niche, but basic keyword research algorithms might not notice it.
List your target keywords, categorize them by SEO goals and user intent (as discussed above), and prioritize.
Step 3. Launch your content marketing plan
As previously stated, as the search engine algorithm gets smarter, there will be no shortcut to SEO for tech and IT companies in 2021. In addition, they will actually have high-quality, relevant content that is valuable to your audience.
As such, planning how you will approach your content marketing ahead of time will help tremendously in the process. However, we will always start with the “why” question, which is the user’s intent and should be the main driving force behind the content creation process.
Overall, here are a few key steps in developing a content marketing plan:
- Decide in advance who will be involved in the content development process, which may include:
- You (if you have the desire and time, you can do it yourself)
- Content Author
- Voice artist for podcasts
- SEO-marketing specialist and/or strategist
- Graphic Designer
- Programmer (for web design, technical SEO optimization, etc.).
- Study the list of keywords you have accumulated above and convert it into a list of topics. If the content has already been published in the past, you can include it and mark it as “done.” In the future, you may decide to update or reuse them in one way or another, so listing them might help. Again, structure your list according to search target/goals and priority. This is that very “what.”
- Decide on possible publishing channels: how or where you intend to distribute the content:
- Your Blog
- Medium.com and other similar publishing websites
- Other video-sharing platforms (Vimeo, etc.)
- Newsletter by e-mail
- Publish podcasts
4. Decide when to publish content, how often, etc.
5. Also very important but often overlooked: how you promote the content (we will discuss this in more detail in the backlinks section here).
6. This is where we can develop an editorial calendar using all of our above solutions. It is possible to create a basic spreadsheet containing the following information:
- Publication date
- Who will work on the content (the creator/author)
- Preliminary title or just the title of the topic
- Target the keyword(s)
- Objective(s) for this particular content
- Planned Channels for publishing/sharing
- Call to action (if any) and a leading magnet (if any)
- Status of development/publishing
7. Implement, monitor, and evaluate your content marketing workflow. This process will include maintaining ongoing communication with your team members (if any) regarding:
- Your overall marketing objectives, goals, content, and marketing purposes related to SEO
- Whether the content is designed correctly, its quality, and whether it meets your standards. For SEO purposes, the main criterion here is how much better your content is than your ranked competitors.
- Make sure that your team member understand your content marketing plan and can properly use the content/editorial calendar
8. If necessary, adjust your content marketing strategy based on your assessment, especially including the SEO performance assessment (more on this below or here).
The crucial thing here is to keep in mind that you shouldn’t focus too much on keyword optimization. Include your target keywords naturally; use synonyms and semantically related words. Focus on delivering relevant and valuable content to a human audience.
Remember, how good your content is will ultimately be the main factor in determining the results of your SEO campaign.
Step 4. Build your links properly in 2021
We mentioned above that nowadays, the quality of inbound links – backlinks – is much more important than their quantity.
So how can we determine the quality of a backlink? While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to answering this question, in general, the main thing to consider is that the quality of the backlink is directly proportional to the credibility of the original website.
We can use various analytics tools – both free and paid – to validate a website’s credentials, such as the famous Moz domain authority metric and Ahrefs website authorization checker; numerous free alternatives are also available.
The point is, getting backlinks from any high-quality and trustworthy site will be difficult unless you are a big website or a brand in the first place. Most of us just aren’t.
With content quality as a prerequisite for proper link building, there are still several tactics you can use to amplify your results:
- Deliberately add something to your content that will be actually relevant
What is the main reason for adding an external link to our content? This is done to back up relevant data or provide information about something indirectly related to our content and is usually discussed for too long.
For example, in this article, we might not want to define backlinks, but it might be useful for readers, so we can add an external link to content that discusses this in detail.
Another common reason is to add links to the data presented in the content to give it some weight. For example, if we say, for example, that 50% of B2B tech companies use LinkedIn, we can link the content that provided the original statement.
We can add such data and information to our content – let’s call it a chain of links – in various forms, such as:
- Original research report or case study (white paper, e-book, etc.)
- Infographics, images, and high-quality photos (make sure these images are properly optimized so that Google can index them as valid inbound links)
- Data collection content like this will always attract many feedback opportunities if done correctly
- Unique information, instructions, and engaging content will always attract links
Be creative, and don’t be afraid of experiments and errors. Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate data, helpful advice, and technical facts into our content in the IT and technology niche. This means that you have many opportunities to get those valuable inbound links.
- Promote your content to get backlinks
Here is the thing: we’ve discussed how the quality of your content is essential to get those backlinks. However, no matter how good your content is, it won’t do any good unless someone really notices and takes advantage of it.
This is where the content promotion has a double meaning:
- Getting more organic traffic to your content (which will bring various benefits to your site in general)
- Getting more backlinks in the process, which in turn will improve your SEO rankings, generate more organic traffic, and even more backlinks. This will build a long-term ecosystem in which you can continuously generate traffic and backlinks.
Promote your content using all available channels and always aim to get traffic and backlinks in every advertising channel. Always build relationships with business partners, technology influencers, and even your competitors. Be generous and link their content first, and they can be valuable sources for your backlinks in the future.
The good news is that you really don’t need to be aggressive in your link-building efforts.
In fact, building too many links too quickly can be counterproductive and lead to Google punishing you, especially if you get a lot of low-quality links. Instead, just aim for one or two high-quality content links. You can also check out my link-building services and advice if you want to work with a professional.
Step 5: Initial SEO optimization (technical optimization)
Now that the content is (hopefully) working as expected, it is time to optimize your website’s technical factors and other aspects.
Backlink building is often referred to as off-site optimization. Here we will focus on on-site optimization, both technical and non-technical.
Non-technical site optimizations mainly include content optimizations, such as keyword usage, the readability of your content, and so on.
On the other hand, technical SEO can be tricky and cover various areas, from improving your site’s speed to structured data markup.
You might want to check out our previous guide covering the SEO technical checklist here for a complete picture. But first, there are two main goals in attempting technical optimization:
- Ensuring that Google (or other search engines) can correctly index and understand your website (and all included pages).
- Providing the best user experience (UX) so that visitors spend as much time on our website as possible. UX metrics, like bounce rate and latency, now both belong to indirect and direct ranking factors.
Based on these two goals, here are some important areas to focus on.
- Mobility – the responsiveness (or at least mobility) of your site. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool to check the current state of your site.
- Page loading speed. Some studies have shown that 50% of visitors will leave a website immediately if it takes more than 3 seconds to load (standard 3G connection).
- You can follow this guide by Neil Patel to follow a series of steps to ensure correct and instant indexation of your site.
- Implement structured data markup correctly. This will allow your site to be viable for fully functional and extended snippets. You might want to check out this guide on how to implement structured data markup for SEO.
- Optimize your website interface (navigation menu, layout, etc.), so your visitor can get the best possible experience – maximize their visit time.
- Optimize all the different elements of your content, including videos and images.
- Test everything regularly on as many different devices as possible.
Technical SEO is usually not a one-time but an ongoing process, during which we may need to adjust our approaches and re-optimize various aspects. This is where our next (and final) step begins.
Step 6. Evaluation and re-optimization
This last step is about creating a system to audit and monitor our website and, in particular, SEO performance.
It is important to note that SEO for IT companies is a long-term strategy. We usually need to spend from 6 to 12 months before we see our site on the first page of Google SERPs; that’s why maintaining consistency and conducting regular assessments is an integral part of it.
We can use various tools to help us in this step, from free Google Analytics to premium tools like Ahrefs/SEMrush/Moz Pro and HubSpot. However, knowing which metrics to track is more important than just using the most advanced tool.
Here are some of the most important performance metrics to look out for when evaluating SEO:
- Technical side
- If a search engine indexes your website correctly
- Load speed (you can use Google PageSpeed Insights for this)
- Title tags and meta descriptions on all pages and if they are properly optimized Alt text on images
2. Content aspect
- If there are any grammatical and spelling errors in your content.
- Check if the information is up to date. Otherwise, you may need to update your content.
- Correct internal linking structure
- If the content matches the intended purpose/meets the specific search goals
3. Performance indicators
- Traffic from organic search
- Referral traffic
- Pages with relatively low/zero traffic
- Improvements/negative changes in ratings
- Backlink profile and its improvement over time
- Most and least effective content
- Content conversion rate
Based on these metrics, make the necessary adjustments to your IT or technology business SEO strategy to improve results.
Schedule a regular evaluation of your overall SEO strategy and dedicate time to updating and using existing content according to its effectiveness, as this is often the most time-consuming aspect of the entire process.
Voila! The SEO strategy for a tech company is in place and ready to go.
Again, it is crucial to understand that SEO for IT and technology sites is a long-term game, and you will need to invest at least 6-12 months before you see significant results from SEO services for IT and technology companies. However, once your SEO strategy is well developed, you will have a steady source of traffic and prospects that can generate income for years to come.
As we can see from the step-by-step guide above, there is no secret tactic to improve SEO for your IT or technology company; it is all about consistency in both quality and quantity: the quality of your content and number of posts, the quality of your backlinks, consistency in naturally expanding your backlink profile, etc. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
Indeed, anyone can try and do SEO; the most challenging part is to act consistently until the very end.