Note: This is part 1 to a 3-part series on performing the best SEO strategy that will rank AND convert searchers into buyers.
This IS NOT one of those dull “ How to do SEO in 2018” blogs. Instead, this article is meant to help marketing managers, organizations and digital agencies develop a better strategy and appreciation for SEO while understanding why it is so relevant, and why it always will be.
SEO has been getting a lot of crap-talk from marketers and organizations alike who continue to cap their focus on the big picture. But without SEO, that picture wouldn’t even exist (unless you limit your marketing channels to paid solutions). While Inbound marketing, chatbots and smart home technology are clearly dominating industry chatter, all three would be bare-boned without search engine optimization playing some sort of presence (to be discussed in the second article this June). From the best inbound marketing agencies in Los Angeles to Growth Stack strategists in New York City, SEO is an important bucket in their offering that is continuously changing to accommodate current users, search behavior and technology. True, buttoned-up boutique agencies have found a way to offer SEO in a way that both dominates the SERPs while increasing conversion rates. There is a right way to perform SEO, and this article (and the next two to come in this series) will highlight some of the considerations, tricks and tips our agency uses to give SEO clients a level of strategy and service unlike anything else in our industry.
RankBrain Still Matters, and Will Continue to Be Important
At the end of 2016, Google unveiled RankBrain. This is the third most important ranking factor that contributes signals that lead to showcasing a result in a search query. Google is continuously refining its algorithm. Considering this fact, along with the rise in search technology through mobile and smart home channels, RankBrain will only continue to climb in importance when it comes to ranking content and drawing leads to top of funnel conversion strategies.
So what is RankBrain, and how can we optimize for it? RankBrain utilizes AI and machine learning that helps Google understand the user’s intentions, their “pains”, and how to rank the right content that accommodates them with an ideal solution. In other words, RankBrain basically measures how users interact with search results. That said, your SEO strategy needs to write for people and hit upon their real needs in order to sit well with Google. For example, let’s say you search for “how to jailbreak the iPhone 8” and you get these results.
You like the third option because it has a video and it is the shortest of the top three which leads you to think they get straight to the point. You click it, and indeed it is the greatest video on jailbreaking iPhones that you’ve ever seen. You devour every work and watch the video twice. RankBrain will take notice of this and Google will likely give that #3 result a ranking boost.
On the flip-side let’s say you click it, start reading the content and watching the video, and it is annoying and doesn’t even mention anything that has to do with helping you complete your goal. You bounce out fast and click on something else. RankBrain will also notice this and, if enough searchers perform a quick bounce, it will drop in rankings.
A Good SEO Strategy Needs to Increase Session Durations
Session duration is how long a Google searcher spends on a page, and this is a factor that RankBrain heavily focuses on as supported by a SearchMetrics study. In order to create an SEO strategy that garners healthy session durations, you need to have a deep understanding of who your target buyers are so you will know how to create the right kind of content to engage them. Outdated SEO agencies will simply try ranking content using old school keyword strategies. While this may work for a while, it will eventually flop because searchers will bounce. More importantly, the SEO strategy will fail to hit revenue targets by not focusing on the buyer’s pains with content showing how your products offer the best solution.
In order to write content in a winning SEO strategy that both ranks and brings sales, you need to know what common industry-related questions customers ask, what common problems they face, and how your products provide the best solution to their needs. The content also needs to be educational, well-written, and at a level that best mirrors your consumer audience.
Good SEO Calls for CTR Ninjas
RankBrain also notices organic click through rates (CTR). Various studies show that pages with an above-average CTR see a boost in rankings.But this makes total sense because if a link is on page one of Google and very few people click it, then how can it be viewed as adding value? In order to get a high CTR you need to make sure your meta description is fully visible (don’t exceed 160 characters). You also need to create copy that reflects the content on your page, otherwise you will likely see a high bounce rate. Your meta description should have a CTA that touches on a common pain point. But writing a good meta description to get a high CTR has become increasingly harder. In a May 2018 study conducted by WordStream organic CTR is down by 37 percent as of 2015.What with the emergence of Answer Boxes, Carousels, Ads and the “People Also Ask” section, this helps explain why improving a Click through rate is no easy task.
Just make sure the page content clearly reflects your meta description. The page content should also indicate its objecting in a way that can be digested upon a three second glance. This way you are addressing the common problem of impatient searchers who bounce out after the “three second scan” if they fail to see how the content will help them.
The Right SEO Strategy Focuses on Context
Back in them good ole’ SEO days Google would judge a page based on how many times specific keywords were used. Then it focused on improving the user experience by adding Hummingbird which, more or less, meant that popular questions needed to be presented with good answers. Google also paid attention to see if keywords appeared in title tags, URLs, H1 tags and image ALTs. To be fair these things still matter. However, Google is significantly smarter than it used to be–now it focuses on context.
Keep in mind that Google’s primary objective is to show searchers the best result to match their needs, and this content is not some keyword-stuffed hack job. Pages that focus on specific topics that go in-depth gives searchers everything they need, and more. Various studies show that comprehensive articles of 2000 words or more rank better. Make sure you include latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. These are keywords related to your main topic that help give your content context, and they need to be naturally included.
SEO Should Be Part of the Big Picture
Nobody ever has a goal to simply rank their content. There is always a bigger picture that involves a desired action taken from searchers, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. Traditional SEO never focused on this, but when used the right way, it can be the biggest factor to your business growth. Next month we will publish a follow up article that explores other areas pertinent to a winning SEO strategy.
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If you found value in these tips, then we invite you to download our FREE guide on Inbound Marketing. This marketing methodology paired with a stellar SEO strategy can be the best way for businesses to convert leads into sales by closing the gaps, and nurture people into becoming buyers they would otherwise miss out on. If you have questions about forming an SEO strategy or using marketing automation with the Inbound approach, give us a call. We would love to learn more about your business and its goals.