October 6, 2017
Now that fall is here, there’s no better time like the present to refresh your SEO strategy. Algorithms change from time to time, but your customer’s needs will stay constant. Make it easy for your target audience to find you with the right SEO fundamentals, and future-proof your site’s rankings against any changes to the Google search bots. Give your website a quick check-up to see if you’re getting the full value of your SEO potential with these four tips.
1. Know your audience inside and out.
Any good SEO strategy starts with an outside-in approach. Sure, your goal is to sell a product or service, but consider your company from a potential customer’s perspective. What problem does your ideal customer have, and how does your product solve it for them? What information are they seeking?
Your SEO strategy should be structured around providing the information that is most important to your target customer. Especially for customers who are migrating toward mobile, the best SEO strategy provides instant answers. Google now has the ability to answer many queries without sending someone into a page. If you want your page to rank highly, be able to provide your customers the answers they need, quickly.
How do you know what information is missing that will help someone make a decision to build a relationship with your company? One way to find out what customers want is to simply look at your customer service records. CRM systems like Zendesk allow businesses to make sense of massive amounts of customer service data. Look through your customer relationship data to see what prevents first-time customers from becoming repeat, loyal fans. What easily solvable questions or issues come up repeatedly for your sales team or customer satisfaction team? How can you restructure your website to solve those issues? Give the people what they want, and they’ll love you for it.
2. Use keywords wisely.
The right keyword research is mission critical for improving your SEO. Your keyword strategy should be driven by understanding the sentiment or intent your customers have when seeking a product like yours. Again, this is where gathering your customer interaction data is important. Keywords are important, but select your keywords by understanding what the searcher truly needs. Small variations in keyword structure can indicate major changes in what that searcher is really seeking.
Here’s an example. Take a vague keyword phrase like ‘running shoes.’ Someone might be shopping for new running shoes. However, someone might also be wondering what running shoes are versus basketball sneakers, versus football cleats. A specific keyword phrase such as ‘buy running shoes’ is more likely to be selected by someone who’s ready to find some trainers and hit the streets.
What does that mean for you? Keyword phrases should be as specific to your business as possible. Put yourself in the (running) shoes of your customer and look for phrases with an easy, conversational vibe, rather than marketing buzzwords. Swap your marketer hat for your shopping hat. What would you search for if you were trying to find your business?
Lastly, consider taking a long-tail approach to keywords. Long-tail keywords are those that give you good returns over time. By consistently publishing original, quality content (more on that in a minute), your site will begin to naturally capture long-tail search traffic. This kind of traffic comes from keywords you may not expect to work: these keywords are more niche and targeted, and often result in better conversion rates given enough time.
3. Publish relevant, original content.
The holy grail of SEO is great content. Fresh, quality, original content, to be specific. This is the No. 1 driver of great search engine rankings. Information that entertains, educates and speaks directly to your intended user is the best way to improve your relevance. Regularly updated content is viewed as one of the best indicators of a site’s relevancy.
What do we mean by quality content? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to the eyes of Google bots, some content is certainly more beautiful than others. According to one study, the best content is: uses the same language as your audience; helps the reader complete a specific task; and features an enticing call to action. Don’t forget to use bold, italics, heading tags, and other emphasis tags to highlight keyword phrases, and never sacrifice good writing for SEO. Your target audience is your customer, not the google bots.
4. Give your site structure.
Google is constantly tinkering with their algorithms and ranking methods. Future-proof your SEO results by giving the right headings and layout to your site.
Google’s bots will always read the layout and structure of your site to evaluate your SEO rank. Your page title and description, as well as your metadata, will always play a role in how easy it is to find your company. Likewise, every page on your website should have a title and subtitle. A clear text hierarchy is easier for the bots to read and understand the intent behind your page (and these days, intent is more important than keywords). The most relevant part of your page, the title, should be defined as H1 in your text editor. Limit yourself to one H1 title (including a keyword, ideally) per page, and follow it with H2, H3. The clearer your text hierarchy, the quicker and easier it will be for search engines to digest and rank your content.
Scan through your site to see what quick changes you can make to maximize your SEO strategy. Your customers will thank you.
Charles Dearing is a veteran tech and marketing journalist with more than 15 years of experience using words to move people to act. He has written for various publications such as ProBlogger, Big Think, Apps World, to name a few.