Many business owners are mystified by SEO, considering it a black box that is undecipherable. Even those who understand the SEO basics have a difficult time keeping up with the numerous algorithm updates Google puts out on a regular basis. We are here to help you cut through the clutter to focus on what’s working now. You’ll be encouraged to hear that despite a regular parade of algorithm updates, the core of what Google wants remains largely the same. The only twist is how Google wants it packaged. We will provide an in-depth explanation of how you can implement the trends we have identified below so that your small or medium-sized business can achieve search engine marketing success in 2019 and beyond.
Understanding Searcher Intent Is Key
As mentioned above, Google’s core mission has remained largely unchanged. The search engine giant’s greatest desire is to provide meaningful and relevant search results to their users so they come back to use the search engine again and again. We believe you will find tremendous success as long as you keep the end-user in mind when devising your SEO strategy. Although Google regularly updates their algorithm with updates with cute animal names like Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird, they all focus on improving the quality of Google’s search results from slightly different angles. Penguin places its focus squarely on link quality as an indicator of content quality. Google reasons that users will link to content they find useful. The number of links is important as well as the quality of the sites linking to your content. Panda cares more about the quality of the content on your website. Does your content make sense from a grammatical and syntax standpoint? Hummingbird is focused on improving relevancy for searchers based on how Google interprets the intent of their search.
Understanding user intent is central to understanding how you can improve your rankings in Google search results. The most common way users express intent is through keyword searches. Users will type in keywords they believe will help them find a service or product they are looking for. A typical search will include the name of the product or service, a company, and/or the city the searcher lives in. For example, if the searcher is looking for a dentist in San Diego, they will most likely type in “San Diego dentist” or “find a dentist in San Diego.” When conducting voice search, users tend to use more conversational keywords and leave out the city name. They instead opt for phrases like “find a dentist near me” or “Which dentist is open now?” We suggest building pages that act as resources for both voice and type searches. An FAQ page is perfect for voice searches while modifying your service pages works best for typed searches. Increasing the relevancy of your website will help to reduce bounce rate and lead to an increase in your website conversion rate.
To further increase your conversion rate, we strongly suggest that the content created on your website speak directly to your ideal customer. If you are not 100% sure who your ideal customer is, take the time to develop an ideal customer profile. Doing so will help you better understand the needs, aspirations, and fears of your ideal customer. That, in turn, will help you produce content that speaks to those needs. You may come to realize that there are multiple ideal customer profiles each with their own distinct needs and desires. Writing content for your unique audience builds an authentic relationship with your readers before actually speaking with a customer. Remember, Google is looking to show content to solve problems faced by your customers. That illustrates why it is so important to create content targeted to the needs of your unique audience. o one knows your customer better than you do. Your team speaks to your customers every day and knows the questions they ask before buying.
Understanding the Role of Artificial Intelligence
Google launched RankBrain in 2015 to improve their search results by introducing machine learning. The goal of RankBrain is no surprise; it wants to give searchers more relevant results.
The introduction of RankBrain has far-reaching ramifications for your website’s online presence. We identified four big takeaways that you can implement to improve your search results.
- Keyword research: Change your focus from shorter length keywords two medium length keyword phrases. Medium tail keywords are typically three- to four-word phrases and are typically less competitive with the added benefit of being more specific. Higher specificity typically leads to higher conversion rates for your business.
- Click-through rates: RankBrain interprets high click-through rates as an important search result indicator. Understanding why RankBrain believes this is rather simple. Users reward relevant websites with high click-through rates. Websites with lower click-through rates typically drop in Google search results over time. Improving click-through rates start with picking the right keywords. If we pick the wrong keywords, we will attract the wrong customers; that much as easy to understand. Once we’ve identified the correct keywords, the next job is to create a strong description tag for each product or service page on the website. The description tag for each page is typically displayed as the descriptive text that accompanies a search result. We added a screenshot below to illustrate.
Fortunately, writing a great description tag is pretty easy. As long as you follow the formula we outlined below, we believe you will see an increase in your click-through rate.
- Clearly describe the service you offer and include keywords relevant for that page of your website and how your services will solve their problems
- Make sure the description matches the content and metadata on that page
- Include a clear call-to-action
- Quality content: As detailed above, it is critical to create quality content marketing that speaks directly to your customers.
- Link building: The quickest and easiest way to build the overall authority of your website is to attract links to the site. Many website owners believe that simply writing great content is enough. In our experience, that is not the case. It is important to promote your content to relevant websites and thought leaders in your space. If you do not have the time to devote to this activity, as many small business owners do not, we recommend hiring a professional digital marketing agency. These agencies typically have relationships with websites that may link to the great content you’re producing. Be sure to select an agency that has an extensive inventory of backlinks. They may outsource a portion of their link building to White Label SEO agencies. This is perfectly okay as many of these white label agencies provide valuable resources to agencies looking to increase their inventory of relationships.
Create Long-Form Content
The majority of small business owners create blog posts that are 300 to 400 words in length. Although that was adequate in the past, studies now indicate at the ideal content length is between 2,000 and 2,400 words in length. Longer content will help you rise in Google search results for many reasons. The chief reason is that most small business owners will simply not write content of that length; that alone will separate you from the pack. It is also important to understand that longer form content will allow you to go into greater detail, which results in more time on page, which is an important engagement metric valued by Google. There’s another added benefit of writing longer content: it positions you as a thought leader in the eyes of your readership. If your blogging community views you as a valuable resource to help them solve problems they face, it stands to reason that they will be more likely to engage with your brand. The introduction of more content provides you with the opportunity to include more keywords and a wider variety of keywords for each piece of content. By increasing the number of keywords per piece, you improve your odds of showing up for more searches.
Our next tip is the most important of all: Start implementing these strategies today. Fully integrate these strategies into your current marketing mix. Don’t give up if you don’t see an immediate impact. It typically takes three to six months to see a discernible impact from the initiatives you start today. It takes a full six to 12 months to see the full impact of your efforts. We wish the best for you and your business in 2019 and 2020.