Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a daunting task to many of the Channel Partners we work with, and marketers are also often perplexed on how their efforts relate to SEO. What’s more, there are a number of misconceptions and general confusion on the tactics that move the needle today. As someone who’s straddled the line between content strategy and SEO, I’ve seen a thing or two.
Whether you’re new to SEO or looking for a refresher on the latest trends, keep reading for tips on how to level up your strategy:
Myth: Last year’s SEO game plan still works
SEO is like working out––if you don’t stay on top of the trends and switch up your plan, you’ll stop seeing results.
Google rolls out hundreds of small search algorithm updates and 1-2 major updates each year that unleash massive changes to search rankings. For example, health sites without positive Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) signals were hit hard by the Medic update of 2018––think WebMD versus spammy ginkgo biloba sites. As this specific change might not affect your type of business, many updates can have a negative or positive impact on your web traffic and sales.
It’s important to monitor the algorithm updates and how they affect your web traffic, and adapt to the changes. You can keep watch over most metrics via Google Analytics and the MozBar. Below are a few of the KPIs to track:
Organic traffic: viewers from Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) that are not a result of paid campaigns.
Keyword rankings: the position the top keywords in the SERPs you’ve identified as key to your business.
Domain authority and page authority: strength of how your domain/subdomain and individual pages rank.
Myth: SEO is all about on-page optimization
Just like exercise isn’t effective without a healthy diet and vice versa––on-page and off-page SEO strategies go hand-in-hand. Oftentimes I see confusion on how these strategies differ and work in harmony to achieve success.
On-page SEO consists of site and page optimization techniques: information architecture, taxonomy, sitemaps, meta descriptions, meta tags, keywords, SEO-friendly URLs, heading tag optimization, quality content, etc. On the other hand, backlinks (inbound links to your website) are the foundation of off-page SEO. Search engines rank sites higher with several high-quality backlinks than sites with fewer or lower-quality backlinks.
Off-page optimization is the key to sparking growth, but there are no shortcuts. While it’s easy to manage on-page SEO through quality content and SEO best practices, off-page strategies take time and patience. Nevertheless, on-page optimization gets you one step closer to gaining high-quality backlinks.
Many Channel Partners and newer businesses encounter a “chicken and egg” problem––how do you obtain backlinks if your site is falling under the radar?
Create quality, relevant content, and ensure you check all on-page SEO best practices boxes.
Leverage a solid paid strategy (Google Adwords) to build awareness of your products and/or services.
Utilize social media to organically build brand trust and awareness.
Reach out to authors at high-quality sites and build relationships.
Myth: Quantity of content trumps quality of content
Web content gets stale––and who likes stale? Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not all about cranking out fresh content week after week. Search engines don’t necessarily prefer sites with new content, but they rank fresh content higher if it’s relevant, unique, informative, and interesting.
What’s more, search engines must perceive your website as trustworthy. But how do they decide? I can’t say it enough––your website’s backlinks must be from trusted, high-authority, and well-visited sites.
A massive amount of content is published every day with the main objective of winning your attention, but this doesn’t mean you can’t cut through the noise.
Leverage high-impact media in your content: images, videos, podcasts, etc.
Ensure your content is crawlable by creating an XML sitemap.
Utilize keywords that are relevant but resist the temptation to keyword stuff!
Check your backlink profile regularly, and remove backlinks from spammy sites by contacting their web team or disavowing those links.
Myth: Social media doesn’t enhance SEO
The connection between social media and search rankings is controversial––Google has denied a direct correlation time and again. For example, social media sites are indexed the same as all websites and specific engagement signals (mentions, likes, shares, followers, etc.) do not directly affect rankings.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t gain significant value from social media, as it indirectly affects search rankings and web traffic. For example, when you generate awesome web content, viewers are more likely to share and link to it.
At the end of the day, social media builds brand and audience while increasing organic web traffic and backlinks. Not to mention, it establishes you as an industry thought leader, which drives trust and ignites your audience growth. I recommend that you:
Build social media profiles on sites that are relevant to your audience.
Post to social media sites regularly utilizing compelling copy and interesting images. Here are a few tips from the Channel Maven team on how to find interesting content and craft your posts.
Make your web content easily shareable with social share buttons and plugins.
Myth: Mobile experience doesn’t matter
In the past, web developers optimized sites for laptops and desktops––and mobile was an afterthought. Currently, according to CIODIVE, 70% of internet traffic comes from mobile.
Fast forward to today and mobile-friendly websites aren’t just ‘nice to have,’ but absolutely necessary. In 2018, Google introduced mobile-first indexing which prioritizes the crawling, indexing, and ranking of mobile web content, instead of the desktop version of websites.
On top of this, to win the SEO race, speed matters. In January of 2018, Google rolled out the Speed Update, which penalizes websites and pages with poor performance, especially on mobile devices.
To make your website mobile-friendly, Google offers great tips.
Utilize responsive design, which means your website serves up the same URLs and code, regardless of the device (desktop, mobile, etc.) and automatically optimizes the pages for the screen size.
Don’t skimp on speed. Here are tips on why and how to optimize it.
At Channel Maven we work with a diverse group of Vendors across all types of technologies and a wide variety of Channel Partners. If you need help enabling your Partners to develop content, enhance social media profiles, and up-level SEO efforts, we’re here for you. Feel free to reach out.