Simply put, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing the content, technical set-up, and reach of your website so that your pages appear at the top of a search engine result for a specific set of keyword terms. Ultimately, the goal is to attract visitors to your website when they search for products, services, or information related to your business.

Remember also, that search engine marketing is only one online digital communications tool. For established brands, we commonly see from web analytics that more than half of site visitors arrive at a site, not through search engines, but directly through typing in the web address or following a bookmark (web analytics tools label these as ‘no referrer'). The volume of direct visitors shows the power of branding, PR and offline communications in driving visitor traffic.
Word of mouth communications and peer-to-peer dialogue often have a greater effect on customers, since they are not sent directly from the company and are therefore not planned. Customers are more likely to trust other customers’ experiences.[24] Examples can be that social media users share food products and meal experiences highlighting certain brands and franchises. This was noted in a study on Instagram, where researchers observed that adolescent Instagram users' posted images of food-related experiences within their social networks, providing free advertising for the products.[28]

Now imagine you had that brochure on your website instead. You can measure exactly how many people viewed the page where it's hosted, and you can collect the contact details of those who download it by using forms. Not only can you measure how many people are engaging with your content, but you're also generating qualified leads when people download it.

Coursera offers MOOCs (massive online open courses) created and taught online by universities such as Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California system. These courses start at various times throughout the year, so browse the catalog to see when one lines up with your schedule. Below are a couple courses that are perfect for content marketers -- here's what a module for #4 looks like:


Coursera offers MOOCs (massive online open courses) created and taught online by universities such as Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California system. These courses start at various times throughout the year, so browse the catalog to see when one lines up with your schedule. Below are a couple courses that are perfect for content marketers -- here's what a module for #4 looks like:
Despite the acronym, SEO is as much about people as it is about search engines themselves. It’s about understanding what people are searching for online, the answers they are seeking, the words they’re using, and the type of content they wish to consume. Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to connect to the people who are searching online for the solutions you offer.

Coursera offers MOOCs (massive online open courses) created and taught online by universities such as Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California system. These courses start at various times throughout the year, so browse the catalog to see when one lines up with your schedule. Below are a couple courses that are perfect for content marketers -- here's what a module for #4 looks like:
In our business, we find that higher-funnel activities like content marketing work best for us in contrast to ads. As an example, we have a piece of content that details 30 small business SEO tips. This generates some good exposure and leads for us. Whereas, if we run search ads, we will get leads, but we are often in competition with other agencies. It also tends to come down to price, and while we are not expensive, there is always someone cheaper.
As for what should your sandbox be, you have a few options. The easiest is to start a blog. That’s what this site was started as: a sandbox for learning content marketing, and it only became my full-time job on accident. A blog is a perfect sandbox for learning digital marketing since you can test almost all of the tactics on it, it’s low-cost, and you’ll improve your writing in the process.
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