In this article, we will help you cut through the clutter of all the advice found on numerous blogs and SEO agency websites. Here’s what we found.
SEO agencies are always adapting their tactics to account for changes to Google’s constantly changing algorithm. This year was no different. Google launched two core updates, one in March and the other in June, and that is in addition to numerous unnamed and smaller updates that occurred throughout the year.
Although recent algorithm updates continue to move SERP results up and down in the short-term, Google’s long-term goal remains the same. They want to provide quality search results for their users so they come back and use Google again and again.
We will show you three tips – or rather, trends – that are centered around creating a better experience for your users. By your users, of course, we mean your potential customers searching for you on the internet.
Trend #1: Discerning Searcher Intent
There are over 200 individual ranking factors that Google takes into account for each search result. That may sound overwhelming; after all, how can any small business owner or professional SEO agency affect 200 ranking factors with a limited budget?
Our contention is that you should not even try.
Splitting your focus over hundreds of ranking factors will create poor results as you will do 200 things poorly rather than three things extremely well.
Put us squarely in the camp of recommending that you do three things extremely well. The single most important thing to understand about ranking in Google is keeping the end-user in mind because that is what Google does.
Look no further than Google’s named algorithm updates. Google’s Hummingbird update focuses on increasing the relevancy of results based on searchers’ intent. The Penguin update uses link quality signals to determine content quality. Google reasons that if users are linking to content, it must be useful. Lastly, Google’s Panda update focuses on the quality of your content. Panda considers grammar, syntax, and other readability measures to determine content quality.
Properly understanding user intent creates huge leverage in your content marketing efforts. Not only can it improve your search engine results, it will also help you turn website visitors into customers.
1. Keyword Searches
Searchers indicate their intent via keyword searches. Potential customers will type in searches to help them find products and services useful to them. That is why it is critical to conduct keyword research to understand the kind of keywords searchers use to get to your website. One quick way to do this is to jump into your Google search console account to check which search phrases resulted in visits to your website. Another resource is Google AdWords. If you are running paid search ads in AdWords, many of the same keywords will work well for SEO as well.
For most businesses, it is pretty safe to say that people are searching for your service plus where your business is located. For example, if you are a plumber in Chicago, people will frequently type in “Chicago plummer” or “plumber Chicago” to find your website.
2. Voice Searches
Voice searches work a little differently as people use natural language during voice searches. They are more likely to say something like “find a plumber near me” or “which plumber is open?” To account for voice search, our recommendation is that you build an FAQ page that answers questions having to do with your location and hours as well as modifying your products and services pages to include conversational phrases where appropriate. You should also add keyword phrases that people typically type in as noted above to your website copy to account for keyboard searches.
The combination of these two approaches will maximize the number of conversions to your website and reduce your bounce rate.
3. Content Targeting
Once you have completed that basic step, we recommend you create content that will attract your ideal customer. It is possible that you may not fully understand who your ideal customer is and what they’re looking for. If that is the case, spend time learning what your ideal customer wants. This may sound daunting, but we have a simple tip to help make this process quicker and easier.
Review your current client base and categorize them. Which customers do you want more of and what do they have in common? After you have created your list of ideal client characteristics, begin writing content to solve problems they face every day. The easiest way to begin writing content that solves problems is to ask your salespeople who talk to those ideal clients every day.
4. Picking Your Team’s Brain
Your sales and fulfillment teams solve their problems every day. Take your team out to lunch and pick their brains; they will be happy to tell you everything they know. Use that feedback to create an editorial calendar and begin generating content.
Trend #2: The Rising Importance of Artificial Intelligence
Google developed an artificial intelligence program called RankBrain four years ago to work in conjunction with algorithm updates in order to improve search results. The goal of RankBrain is the same as Google’s algorithm updates to provide searchers with extremely relevant search results that meet their needs.
To account for the presence of RankBrain, we recommend that you consider the following factors.
1. Content quality
Create user-focused content that will help your users grow their business or solve their problems.
2. Link building
Think of links as votes for your website. The more links your website receives the more popular Google believes that page or that blog is.
Many website owners believe that creating great content is enough to attract links by the buckets. Our experience in writing thousands of blogs over 11 years has brought us to a different conclusion. It is important to promote the content you make to websites that are likely to link to ot because the audience on that website would find it useful.
Link building is a time-consuming task; we recommend hiring a digital marketing agency to handle link promotion duties, which leaves you free to run your business. Most digital marketing agencies have pre-established relationships with other websites or resources to generate backlinks to your website.
Check to make sure your choice of agency has experience in this area before beginning a business relationship. Ask them what kinds of links they will be able to get for you and how authoritative those sites are. In our experience, it’s perfectly fine and even advisable if they partner with the best white label SEO services to expand the breadth of their link building services.
3. Keyword research
We recommend that you focus on medium-length keyword phrases over shorter keyword phrases. Medium-length keyword phrases are normally three or four words in length. Targeting medium-length keywords leads to better conversion rates due to the high specificity inherent in longer keyword phrases.
4. Improve click-through rates
Just as links are votes your websites, so too are clicks. The reasoning behind using click-through rates to aid Google’s machine learning is rather obvious. Google wants to rely on user preferences to determine the relevance of individual search results. Searchers will quite simply click on search results that meet their needs.
Google’s RankBrain compiles this data over time and uses it to improve search results. Sites with low click-through rates most commonly drop in Google’s search results. Since we don’t want that to happen to you, we compiled a short easy-to-follow list of tips to help you create a high click-through search result. We do this by improving the description tags on your website. Google typically shows your description tag as part of your search result. Your description tag is the text immediately below your search result.
Describe the services or products you offer in a very succinct fashion. Try to keep it at 155 characters or fewer. In addition to describing your services and products, quickly describe how you will help make their life better.
The description tag should contain a clear call-to-action.Tell them what you want them to do. Do you want them to call? If you tell them to call, they will not have to spend needless brainpower figuring out how to use your service.
Make sure your description tag matches the products and services on that page of your website
Trend #3: Creating Detailed Content
Blog posts that exceed 2,000 words are most commonly rewarded with page one rankings. Google favors long-form content for several reasons. The first is that longer content is typically more helpful as it allows you to go into greater detail, which is often helpful to readers. Long-form content also takes longer to read, which means more time on page.
Time on page is another quality indicator Google uses when ranking websites. The most important reason to write long-form content is that your readership will come to view you as a thought leader because your content truly improves the lives of your audience. That will encourage readers to read other content on your website. Although many of those readers may never buy, or it may take time to develop enough trust to work with you, we have found that you will move enough people in the short-term to make it worth your while. Longer content also ranks for more keywords, which will allow you to show up in more search results.
Integrate these tips into your marketing strategies and watch your marketing take off. It is important to be patient; many small-business owners will try this for a week or a month and then give up. Because we know most will not faithfully carry out this marketing strategy, you will be able to reap the benefits of improved rankings in traffic as you consistently carry out the strategies outlined above as a permanent part of your marketing strategy.
The biggest tip we can give you is to work these tactics into your current marketing strategy for the long haul. We wish you the best!