Wednesday, 13 November 2019

A quick-start guide for SEO campaign management in 2019

SEO campaign management is the development, execution and monitoring of search engine optimization tasks over a measurable period of time (typically three months to one year). The goal of these actions is to increase SERP visibility of your web pages, outrank digital competitors in search and funnel high-intent traffic to conversion landing pages.
There are many methods for achieving SEO success, so let’s talk through the variables you need to keep in mind along with a proven checklist of tried-and-true tactics that should keep your campaigns firing on all cylinders.

A quick primer on SEO in 2019

Changes to search-engine algorithms are cited as the top B2B content marketing issue, so it’s clear SEO is more top of mind than ever.

So what factors should be highest on your radar when you launch your SEO strategy?

Ranking factors

Industry insiders love to make a bigger deal of ranking factors than is necessary. For the most part, the core ranking factors that Google uses to index and rank content have remained the same for several years.
Here’s a handy infographic that illustrates the factors that will dictate your website’s rankability:

SERP display changes

The search landscape is not static, and you can expect dozens of impactful changes to SERPs in 2019.
Most recently, Google has experimented with double Featured Snippets displays, infinite “People also ask” boxes and expanded Google My Business functionality.
Expect regular search listings to be pushed further below the fold in favor of images, videos, paid ads, maps and direct answer boxes.

Algorithm updates

Moz records a history of Google algorithm changes that you can frequently check in on. For 2018, Moz lists 12 changes; however, Google is often cagey about revealing confirmed algorithm updates. 2019 will likely bring a similar number of “broad core” updates that will primarily devalue spammy sites and penalize those with unsecured domains and slow page speeds.

Voice search, mobile-first indexing and video, video, video

These are the biggest topics of conversation at the moment, and Google has given clear indications that text-based content is slowly being displaced by auditory and visual content. People are spending an increasing amount of time using voice assistants, listening to podcasts, watching videos on YouTube and consuming content within apps.

SEO, classified

Here’s a refresher on SEO definitions before moving forward:

On-page SEO

Any factors that relate to what exists on your web pages, including text, metadata, HTML tags, images, alt text and links.

Off-page SEO

Any activities that impact SEO but don’t actually occur on your website, including referring domains, inbound links, brand mentions, social media interactions and influencer marketing.

Technical SEO

Any actions that refer to your website’s core functionality and crawlability, including proper URL structures, redirects, structured data markup, XML sitemaps, HTTPs and mobile responsiveness.

SEO checklist: A campaign from scratch

Google SERPs are more competitive than ever, and it’s not hyperbolic to say that every positional increase in your organic rankings matters enormously. Take a look at how much traffic each ranking position gets:

You HAVE to be on page one, or you simply won’t be seen by anyone. So here’s a rundown of on-page, off-page and technical SEO steps to take:

Run a quick site audit to find and fix broken links, 404 errors and other penalties

Lay the groundwork for your content to perform well by uncovering and cleaning up site errors. Using a tool like SEMrush you can conduct an in-depth audit as well as receive regular optimization ideas directly in your inbox, so you immediately know how and where to improve.

Use Google PageSpeed Insights to improve site speed

Users will bounce from your site if it loads too slowly, and Google may actually stop crawling your site regularly and prevent indexing. Fix that fast with Google PageSpeed Insights, thus adhering to one of Google’s key UX algorithm preferences.
Looks like we’re doing pretty well:

Set up goal values in Google Analytics

How’s your SEO? You won’t have any idea if you don’t properly set up your Google Analytics account with customizable goal values. Doing so allows you to mathematically determine how much each organic lead is worth, who is actually reading your content and where in the buyer journey people may be tuning out.

Use Google Mobile-Friendly Test to optimize for mobile-first indexing

Google shows users the mobile version of your website when it appears in search results. So by optimizing for mobile, you allow Google to display your content in the correct format – one that is conducive to smartphone scrolling and short attention spans.
Again, we’re faring well:

Identify and prioritize high-value, low-volume keyword targets

Head into SEMrush’s Position Tracking tool to see whether you’re actually ranking for the keywords you wish to own. Filter out keyword targets that are too competitive (Keyword Difficulty score is too high), have a lot of SERP crowding (will have to compete with several paid ads and Featured Snippets that may distract searchers from your listing) and aren’t fully relevant to your commercial goals.
In general, the longer tail a keyword is, the lower its search volume and the lower the Keyword Difficulty score. These are the search terms you’re actually capable of ranking for, which can be found in SEMrush’s Keyword Magic tool.

Thoroughly fill out your Google My Business profile and other online directories

Featured Snippets and Google Maps scrape your company information from Google My Business, so if your GMB isn’t set up, you’re missing out on geo-targeted search queries.

Before any other content creation, rewrite core landing pages for greater authority and depth

Your landing pages are where conversions happen, so use a tool like Market Muse to see how thorough your content on these pages should actually be and whether there are gaps in your topic coverage. Once your landing pages are fully optimized, you can start directing all of your blog and social traffic to these pages.
Take a look at how we use Search Performance Briefs as a starting point for ALL content creation, backed by science:

Consolidate and streamline your social media presence

B2B brands are scaling down their social media channels in favor of a more focused online presence, and for good reason. Social media has indirect SEO benefits in the form of user engagement signals and content promotion, and it provides a strong distribution method that amplifies the reach of all of your content efforts.

Convert top-performing content into other types of assets and redistribute

Have a data-heavy white paper? Break it into several infographics and distribute via email. Generated a lot of great questions from registrants to a recent webinar of yours? Create a comprehensive FAQ page that addresses them all.
This type of cross-cutting allows you to churn single ideas into several marketing assets simultaneously. It also shows Google that your site remains fresh and continually valuable to searchers.

Automate your analytics reports and integrate with other platforms

Google Analytics is your bread and butter, but you should also be pulling data from your email marketing platforms, social tools and CRMs. Many of these platforms offer integrations with one another to provide a more comprehensive look into your total marketing performance.
Most companies don't have proper processes in place to effectively measure data. Here's a look at the metrics that truly matter -- and those that don't: 
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Experiment with at least one new form of media

Videos, podcasts, PDFs and social posts, among others, are all indexed and featured in search engines just like trusty blogs or infographics are. Diversify your content offerings to better scale with ongoing SEO changes.

Share as much data as possible with your sales team (and vice versa)

SEO is more than a marketing tactic; it’s also an indicator of ROI, sales-readiness, lead quality and overall inbound success. Any data your analytics tools compile relating to user search behavior, on-site interactions, brand mentions, social media interactivity and content performance metrics can be leveraged as sales collateral for your sales reps.
Similarly, your sales team should prime the marketing department with information on customer lifecycles, cart abandonment, brand loyalty, referrals and other indicators of satisfaction or dissatisfaction that your content can potentially help with.

Bonus no-fail SEO tactics

Optimizing for search never ends. There are literally 10-20 things you can do every single day to improve your backlink profile, increase conversion rates and win those SERP rankings you treasure so much.
Here are a few other tactics we recommend:
  • Map every upcoming asset to a specific stage of the sales funnel.
  • Reach out to high-value industry sites for link-building opportunities.
  • Build and segment email lists.
  • Send out a regular newsletter.
  • Create unique, clickable CTAs for every downloadable asset.
  • Simplify your opt-in forms.
One point of caution, if we may: Beware of SEO companies that promise the moon. If they can’t show you examples of client success, provide regular progress reports or can’t back up their SEO claims in any way, choose a different vendor.
OK, you should be all set to get started. Happy 2019!

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