The Most Important Aspect of SEO

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When it comes to ranking and driving organic traffic to your site, there is no magic bullet. SEO is much more than just checking tasks off a list. In order to really get the traffic you want and need, you have to put in the time and effort to create a strategy that will speak to your core audience.

In this episode of the SMA Marketing Minute, I am going to be looking at the most common SEO questions I get.

“What’s the single easiest thing I can do to boost my website’s SEO?”

Instead of digging into tactics and tools, I want to talk about the most important yet often overlooked aspect of SEO. Let’s see why getting to know your users and their needs is the best way to create an SEO strategy that works.

Video Transcript:

We live in an internet-driven economy, and if you want to grow your business online, your content and website must be easily found. Yes, there are a lot of benefits to using social media channels (among other channels) and referral sites, but one of the best ways to drive targeted traffic that converts at a high rate is to rank with search engines. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

Today, I’ll discuss a question I always get: “What’s one thing I can do to improve my search ranks? What’s one thing I can do to help my website do better in search?”

How Do Search Engines Work? 

Before we get into tactics to optimize your site for users in search, let’s talk about how search engines work. The search engine’s job, especially Google (this is what they’ve been going after for the last few years), is to deliver the best answer in the shortest amount of time to that specific user.

Search ranking can shift depending on who is searching. If I’m searching for something on my computer at home and you do the same query at your house, we might see slightly different results based on our search history and patterns. We must step back and understand that none of these keyword rankings are cemented. It will vary based on many different variables.

We know that many different signals go into the algorithm. This is to help Google get the most natural results possible. Their goal, again, is to deliver the best answer to the user in the shortest amount of time. If that’s your site, Google rewards you with a higher spot. If your site doesn’t fulfill that, you won’t rank high. 

We can look at several things to make sure our site is more optimized for search. We want to have the right links pointing to our site. Again, it’s not the number of links that matters as much as it is the quality of the link and the context of that link. You want to make sure that the links make contextual sense.

Let’s say you own a car detailing shop. Make sure you have links related to car detailing, car detailing supplies, the auto industry, or things related to that niche. You want to avoid having links from a beauty supply forum or some random page that really doesn’t have anything to do with what you do. Google sees those links and sees them as spammy. They can devalue your site and hurt you.

Many times, people think, “I need to rank higher. I need to get more links. I’m going to go to Fiverr, and I’m going to buy links.” Those are the types of links you will get–low-quality, spammy links that will do more harm in the long run than help promote you to the search engines.

Helpful Content

Content is extremely important. It fuels the internet. When people search for an answer online, they look for a piece of content that will solve their problem or answer their question. When you’re writing content, you’ve got to make sure that your content makes sense to the user and that it’s written for the user’s intent because that’s what Google is trying to understand.

Over the last year or so, we’ve been talking about Rank Brain. We’ve been digging into what it means. Google’s AI technology tries to understand how people use the search engine to find solutions to their problems.

People search differently depending on the types of problems they have. While at work, you may be more specific in the keywords you use than at home with Google Voice or another application. You’ll say, “Hey Siri, how far is the moon?” She will look at Google and answer your question with a human tone or a more natural type of question. Rank Brain is trying to understand those tones and the context of the situation and then delivers the best answer for that user at that moment.

We also know that Google has split the index–mobile index and desktop. Again, you’re going to see different rankings and different things matter when you’re searching on a mobile phone rather than a desktop. Accelerated mobile pages will start to rank better in mobile because you deliver the content faster, and it’s a better user experience. Google is placing more weight on that, while on the desktop version, they might be looking at deeper, long-form content. It depends on the industry.

When you’re starting to look at search engine optimization, you’ve got to look at it in the context of your business, the context of your industry, and the context of the users who are searching for your products and services.

Know Your Buyer Persona

One thing that I think everybody should do before diving into an SEO campaign is to do persona research. Start to understand your users. 

You can do this through your website by installing tracking software. Google Analytics has a number of things that you can do to dive into your personas and demographics. I would also recommend that you use a heat mapping tool like Hot Jar to understand how people are using your site and how they’re interacting with your content. You get to actually understand what people are doing on your site. That’s going to start giving you some of the technical side.

Then, interview your clients. Interview the people you interact with. Ask them questions about how they found you. Start to get into their heads about how they search for things. That will give you a ton of valuable information on building your site around them. If you build your site around your users, their questions, and their intent, you will have a much higher chance of ranking for those high-quality keywords because your site serves the user’s purpose.

Google is honing in on what they do to serve the end user because they know that those users depend on Google. If Google can continue to stay that trusted source that provides the best results, people are going to continue to use them. That makes their ads and brand worth more and helps them keep their market share. Google will continue to evolve and continue to really serve the end user because it serves their business purpose as well.

The one thing I would do to help improve my site and the overall effectiveness of my campaign is to get to know who I’m targeting. Get to know your audience: their likes and dislikes, the way they’re typing keywords, the types of keywords they’re using, the types of phrases they use to solve their problems, and then take that information and adapt your content strategy around that. 

Look for other sites that have the same philosophy as you with a similar buyer persona profile to build community, which could lead to creating organic links.

Once you understand who you’re targeting, now you’ve got to put in the work. Now, you’ve got to start developing the content around those users. Again, long or short forms will depend on your users and how they want their content shown to them. This is why short pieces of content can outrank long pieces of content depending on a specific industry. 

You’ve got to understand that it’s not really about how much you do, but it’s about the ‘why’ and the intent behind it more than anything else.

That’s the same thing when it comes to link building. When you’re creating or building links or reaching out to gain links, it’s about the intent. Who are you getting these links from? What do they do, and where are they interacting? What does their backlink profile look like? It’s really understanding the intention behind all these different pieces and making sure that you have the right links, make sure that you have the right content, and that it serves the user’s intent.

I hope you found this helpful. I know it wasn’t a lot of tactical stuff because, really, when it comes to one thing with SEO, the best thing you can do is understand who you’re targeting and then deconstruct your strategy from there. Yes, content is a huge key, and links matter. Still, you need to have content that’s centered around your users and have links that make contextual sense and that are our user’s focus so that when a user sees your link on that site, it’s not spammy. It adds value to their journey as they seek more products and services in that niche.

If you have any questions on SEO, I’d love to help you. Shoot me an email at ryan@smamarketing.net. We’ve also got a link if you want to add to this conversation and join our community, where you can submit a question, and we’ll answer it right here on our video. Thanks for staying tuned, and until next time, happy marketing.

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