July 21, 2015 | Written by: Trevor Sanford
Categorized: Customer Experience
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Investing time and effort into Search Engine Optimisation(SEO) should be high on the lists of priorities for any brand. It’s not just something for dedicated SEOs or the IT team, nearly every line of business has a role to play from Marketing copy writers to Product owners.
The good news is that SEO is not complicated or black magic, with a bit of knowledge content generators and owners can create and fine tune strong search engine friendly content which is also great for the user – The ultimate goal.
I’d like to take look at the bridge between the SEO basics and Advanced SEO with maybe what we could call Medium SEO. I’m not going to talk about how to optimize your on page HTML that creates the foundation of your SEO approach but instead talk about one of the most important considerations we can take as brand content generators:
Focus on Customer Experience and Engagement.
Search engines are continually changing the way they rank sites, and one of the most recent trends has been to look at engagement and branding signals and mobile friendliness. This simply means does the page the Search Engine links to in search results provide engaging and useful content for the user – surely the goal of all brands anyway!
Relevance is a strong SEO factor which over time has strengthen developed to include the relevance and quality of a web page or piece of content to a users search. To rank strongly you need to start providing genuinely useful content that engages with your target audience.
For SEO purposes (and of course turning ours users into customers) I would recommend starting with a quick audit of what you don’t want, I would consider these my top 4 things to avoid:
- Low quality content.
- Unclear or no calls to action.
- Poor navigation (this includes via mobile device).
- Content that does not serve the user.
Check out my earlier post about auditing your site for User Experience if you want to dig deeper into this
Take time to fully asses your site and to keep assessing it moving forwards. It really needs to be an iterative process, long gone are the days when you launched a website and just left it untended, or only added new content. You need to really get into your analytics and start to understand your customers. What interests them? what Social Media do they use, What demographics or segments are there?
Once you know your audience then you can start to look at how they use your site, and develop effective navigation, remembering the F-pattern and prominent CTAs! Use your analytics and tools to identify search terms that are driving users to specific content. Check Page views, unique views, time on site and bounce rate to identify not just your best and most engaging content but also the low quality content. If it’s not performing then don’t be scared of removing it. Something that is performing poorly gives a good indicator not to continue with content of that type. Conversely well performing content gives you a basis to build out more quality content on a theme that interests your audience.
The move into semantic search
As Search Engines continually advance, over the past year or two we have seen the growth of semantic search. Whats new here is that it uses artificial intelligence to understand the search intent and the meaning of a search query rather than just parsing through keywords. Previously search used to look at your search query and return results based solely on the text and the keywords that you put in that search box.
Semantic search takes a different approach, Google for example will look into the relationship between the words you type into the search box and how they work together. In fact Google moves away from keywords and starts to look at entities. In Google’s terms an entity is any real world item, concept or fact that has a number of pages related to it. An entity can be either businesses, products, movies, authors, people, places, events or a whole lot more besides. These entities are used to better understand a users intended search. Let me give you an example of how this works (why not try it yourself also):
If I’m planning a weekend sightseeing trip to Bavaria I might want to find out more information about Neuschwanstein castle, if we approach the search in a structured way that hits all the SEO markers I would probably search “Neuschwanstein castle Bavaria Germany”. Now what if I had just heard about a famous castle in Bavaria that I should definitely visit but didn’t know its name or specific details? There are lots of castles in Bavaria, how will I find the right! Well this is where semantic search comes into play, a search for “the most famous castle in Bavaria” will also work pretty well. That big clock in London? yep that returns Big Ben pages.
*As I found out recently don't go during the summer holidays, it's very busy!
Semantic search essentially makes it easier for Google to return relevant pages for even ambiguous search requests.
When you are creating content you really need to think about how your content answers a specific search question. It’s no longer about using specific keywords from a list in your content, but much more about answering these specific questions. For example lets take ‘Scuba Diving’ as our keyword group, it is very unlikely users will just ask Google about ‘Scuba Diving’ so as a content generator you will need to ask yourself with every sentence you write, what questions does this answer. You will need to focus strongly on natural language use. The Keywords ‘Scuba Diving’ can make up many questions.
- Where to learn Scuba Diving
- Where to go Scuba Diving
- How much does Scuba Diving cost
- Is Scuba Diving safe
- etc etc
Remember to keep it relevant, if your page is trying to sell a Scuba Diving course then you need to answer questions all round this subject but maybe not about gear maintenance, so leave out content that is not directly relevant.
Tweak, improve and measure for success
It’s important to realise that SEO is not a destination but a journey that continually evolves and needs working on. So once you have completed your review, don’t let that be the end of it, keep checking the analytics, keep reassessing the site and content and continue working on enhancing it. Keep checking the website regularly for the following.