Now Is the Time to Develop a Strong SEO Strategy — One That Lasts
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 would be characterized as a pandemic — sending a shock wave across the United States and the globe.
As more and more individuals stayed home from work, businesses across all industries were impacted in some form or another. In some cases, businesses were forced to close their doors while others saw an immense increase in buying, including Wayfair, Zoom, Clorox, and Nintendo.
Online shopping and time online, in general, have spiked.
In a recent Forbes article, it was reported that internet hits have surged by between 50 and 70 percent. The virus may lead to a major consumer shift — but what does that mean from an SEO perspective?
SEO Remains Resilient — But How Much Has Changed?
If there’s one question I’m asking right now, it’s what is the most durable, long-term strategy that I can implement today? For me, that’s a rather easy one — even during these uncertain times.
Organic search was the top preforming online channel in 2019… it still is. Based off search engine lands survey, SEO will again be the primary focus of marketers during the downturn.
Because not only is it a highly effective strategy, it’s also a lower-cost marketing channel. That is why I still believe establishing brand authority through search is the most critical approach. However, search has changed — big time.
In reality, SEO isn’t exactly a fair term anymore. SEO’s today are responsible for so much more than ranking a keyword. In its entirety, an SEO strategy is a comprehensive position that impacts all facets of the digital strategy. Search isn’t going anywhere.
I will never forget when it first clicked for me that a good SEO strategy was actually really simple — SEO is all about becoming the authority. I’d even go as far to say that In 2020, SEO is brand authority.
It’s clear that COVID has rocked the world of business, both in terms of brick and mortar, as well as digital operations. Never has more opportunity than ever, the competition has also skyrocketed, that quality standards are at an all-time high.
The web is our global market and the currency is attention.
Of course, SEO isn’t that simple, but at the root of it all, SEO is about becoming an influencer within the wonderful world of content marketing. Because despite what some may say, SEO is NOT dead. The right SEO campaign will get you the eyes your brand needs to thrive. The whole “SEO is dead” thing is only said because provocative statements get clicks, which is still one of the best pieces of advice I ever got by the way).
It’s Time to Rethink “Things”
When I say it’s time to rethink things, I’m referring to the “internet of things.” The traditional, simple desktop search is a thing of the past. After all, today it’s possible to voice search using refrigerators — which is just what we needed, right? (Insert sarcasm).
Based on how quickly search capabilities have evolved, today, your approach needs to be comprehensive. There are not only online factors to consider, but offline variables as well — and on top of all that, Google’s algorithm is growing more sophisticated by the day.
The following six steps are intended to guide you, as you move forward with your latest SEO strategy.
#1: Be mindful of real-world entity signals
Google is now investing in methods to better identify what they call “real-world entity signals.” What this essentially means is that Google is getting better at detecting offline events that provide relevance and authority to an entity. This is why you want to have a good balance between online and offline marketing.
If your business made the news because of a community program you created and people start starting about it on social media, this would be an example of a real-world entity signal.
It’s also important to remember that Google uses “bounce rate” to determine relevance. Viewers today want content with a defined, clear message, as well as a fast, efficient experience. Spend time really defining your message and make your header text really count.
#2: Don’t underestimate the impact of mobile page speed
This step cannot be understated. If your site is not providing a fast and enjoyable mobile experience, you will not rank. This particularly matters to Google in 2020, as mobile traffic has finally outpaced desktop traffic. To address this, make sure that you don’t put large images and a bunch of unnecessary code on the mobile version of your site.
If your mobile experience is fast and clean you have already won have the battle. Check your mobile friendly page score here.
#3: Create accurate user personas and offer conversational content
To really thrive and grow, you must eat, sleep, and dream like your customer. More importantly, you must understand their pain points so that you can communicate your solution to them. Of course, you don’t want to do this in an overly “salesy” way. There’s a reason why 85 percent of ads get ignored.
To help you find the problems that your target market is having at the top of the funnel, you must understand the search intent of your target users. Here is a good template to get you started.
When you are addressing your target audience, always be thinking conversational and remain unique in terms of your personality and perspective. After all, by adding a personal human element that no else in the industry has, you will begin to carve out your own niche — because well, there’s no one quite like you.
Here is one of my favorites quotes I’ve heard this year:
“Real-world entity signals are the key to future success. Instead of writing crappy content just meant to rank for a keyword, we need to start looking at entity signals — and at writing a conversational answer to a query with specific intent, while making sure that answer is the best answer out there.” – Greg Gifford
#4: Know who your competition is — and watch them closely
In order to better understand how your target market consumes information online, start by analyzing the top two brands in your industry. Then, focus your attention on a third brand that is smaller, yet up and coming. How have they been able to disrupt the market?
Be mindful of how much content the are producing. For example, if they’re blogging a lot, creating a ton of unique pages, then their authority is going to rise rapidly. With all that content, they’re going to get noticed — it’s a game of brand awareness.
The second strategy is a bit more ambiguous, but it will help you find the kind of strategies that are working in your industry. This will involve analyzing their backlink profile. When I am doing this, if I see links from news or .gov sites, then I know that they’re doing some type of community outreach, good PR, or simply report newsworthy things in general. This is a great way to approach brand activation or build online authority.
#5: Keywords are still the blood of SEO
First off, go for the lower hanging fruit. Identify questions that people are asking related to the vertical and find lesser-used phrases. Hit your title tag with that lower used KW and make sure that your page is optimized with the best on-page practices. Also, see what pages rank on page two and focus on those.
But more importantly than all of that, is to SET UP YOUR CORNERSTONE CONTENT FIRST for the most important keywords. The keywords with red hot search intent that will get you conversions.
Your cornerstone content is the long-form static pages that you’ll write blogs around to boost the pages authority. This content will also better increase the chances of receiving traffic based on the desired search intent. Which is the goal of SEO, right?
I personally like to call it flagship content, because these pages are going to provide the most valuable information about your service or product. More of a visual learner? Lori Ballen made a simple-to-understand illustration.
#6: Use the same content for multiple channels
Your content is so vital when it comes to your marketing strategy and overall success, which is why you should repurpose as much of your quality content as possible. For example, say you created a podcast. You could then write a blog post about that podcast and create a custom thumbnail on Pinterest, linking to the podcast there.
Right there, you used one piece of content to market your brand across three different channels.
Moving forward, identify the channels that are most important to your brand and then craft your content specifically for them. From long-form guides and checklists to podcasts and YouTube videos, quality tweets to email newsletters, the sky’s the limit — so do not limit yourself to blog posts only.
In Summary (drumroll please…)
Well, there you have it.
To sum things up, keep it simple. SEO is about production.
If you make it so complicated that you never actually start writing then you’ll never get pages ranking. Sometimes you have to produce content and see what sticks . We’ve all been there.
In fact, it’s time that you stop reading about what I have to say and just go start. Finish a blog post and put the wheels in motion!