SEO strategies from the Search Engine Land SEO initiative award winners
In an interview with the Best SEO Initiative Award winners, Search Engine Land Editor George Nguyen deep-dives into the best SEO strategies and tactics for your campaigns. Here are the category winners:
Lindsay Neilson from NP Digital worked with PROS to overcome the challenges of a conceptual product and finding search volume in the market to win the Best B2B Search Marketing Initiative – SEO: “We were trying to find a nice balance between the product marketing buzzwords and the conceptual theories of what their product does and actually how users and these various industries and personas work for those terms.”
Lily Ray is the director of SEO at Path Interactive and worked with an insurance client that was affected by a Google core algorithm update to win Best Overall SEO Initiative – Enterprise: “There was a lot of content on the website that needed to be updated to meet Google’s expectations as far as E-A-T. There was a lot of other work that we did as well both on the technical front content optimization website architecture and backlinks.”
Abby Reimer from Uproer worked with CaringBridge to help them drive more traffic through their resources and blog sections to win the Best Overall SEO Initiative – Small Business award: “The challenge here was as a nonprofit, they don’t have the time or resources that a large scale company has, so we had to work around that and that really involved expertise, authority, and trust. We thought about who are the experts on these topics around how to you know cope with a certain health crisis, we found that it’s actually CaringBridge users and people who have gone through it themselves.”
Kaushal Thakkar is the Founder of INFIDIGIT worked with Superbalist to gain maximum traction during Black Friday to win the Best Retail Search Marketing Initiative – SEO category: “Superablist’s site was not ranking for the particular set of keywords for 2018. So for 2019, they wanted to rank in the top positions for Black Friday related keywords. We were able to rank them on the featured snippets not only for some of the Black Friday related keywords but several other keywords.”
They offered their best tips around optimizing for difficult industries, using paid data to inform organic search, using UGC in search campaigns, and getting 240x results for Black Friday e-commerce campaigns.
Buzzwords are often a big sticking point when it comes to B2B and SaaS marketing. How do you work around that to optimize an SEO campaign?
Lindsay: It’s definitely a challenge when you get into SaaS companies. Phrases like empowering digital transformation and words like omnichannel, but sometimes it’s a little hard to actually connect up to the solutions that users are actually looking for. We dug things down a little more granular and noticed that challenge that comes up, is the sales cycle is really long. And so, with organic especially attribution can sometimes be a challenge because you don’t necessarily see that one to one connection between a top of funnel visit to the site and revenue.
They now have a more robust content offering that we’ve been able to bring a lot of in front of the gate, a lot of it was previously unprofitable or not optimized or existed in PDF format. So one of the cool things about PROS is they have so many fantastic thought leaders and subject matter experts internally. We were able really to tap into a lot of what they already have, and just kind of either reformat it or really closely align it to very specific longtail keywords that were actually more representative of how users are thinking about the products and solutions.
How do you strategize and think about recovering from being hit by an algorithm update?
Lily: One of the things about this site is that it produced a lot of content over the years and it’s not necessarily a content publisher site–that’s not their primary purpose as a business. It’s just something that they’ve successfully used for SEO and to drive new visibility over the years. And we do actually think that that’s one of the main sources of why the site declined. One of the things that can happen and something that I see really frequently with sites that are negatively impacted by recent core updates is that they have produced so much content for so long–and maybe way back when the content did really well for SEO–but the rules of the game, kind of changed.
So one of the things that we were looking at is you know you have great product pages, service pages, brand pages, but there’s this blog that has so much content on it. And in many cases that content was not up to par with what we would expect nowadays with good quality content. So it’s really chipping away at that and just making sure that whatever is being indexed by search engines is truly high-quality content. So that was really like the bulk of the strategy.
How can businesses improve their E-A-T of their content?
Lily: For example, with this client, there was some content that required medical review or expert review that the company wasn’t demonstrating that they had actually used expert reviewers throughout that content. So you read the article and it’s like, “Who wrote this? Should I trust them?” So we made a lot of enhancements just like on the template level to depict that we can be trusted. And in cases where we felt a little bit iffy even the was client like, “Oh, we wrote that six years ago it’s not really accurate anymore.” There was a lot of consolidating and getting rid of content. So, in many cases, it’s just about communicating the right things on the site but also making sure that you’re putting your best foot forward with trustworthiness especially if you’re a website that falls into the “your money your life” space.
It’s often hard for clients to retire content. What tips do you have to help?
Lily: I think it always comes from the data so it’s not just like a gut feeling about content. (Although it can be. We’ve had clients where it’s like, that needs to come off the website. And they’re like, “Yeah it’s not safe information anymore.” So that’s easier to get rid of.) But data speaks for itself. So if you see that there’s really no organic traffic going to the page, not a lot of page views, not a lot of engagement, maybe it hasn’t ranked for anything in a few years, that makes it a lot easier to recommend what to do with it. And it’s not always just delete it. In many cases, it’s consolidated into this one, redirect it, and update that existing article.
How do you use paid to inform your page titles and meta descriptions?
Lily: Yeah, this is something we love doing just because you get so much more direct information about the performance of keywords and paid search you can really tie it to the conversion a lot more easily used to be able to do that in SEO but it’s been a while. So, we always love to bring in data whenever possible, cross-reference that with organic title tags and meta descriptions and they really see like are we using the best possible language.
So an example for this client would be, we have state pages like a lot of brands do. We can actually look on the page-level and see if different language resonates in different states differently so as opposed to having a template a title tag where you just fill in the name of the state. Maybe there are some tweaks that you can do to the language that better resonates with the audience and that state, and the keyword itself might even change based on how people describe things. Paid can give you that type of data.
How do you use user-generated content for an SEO campaign?
Abby: That really goes back to CaringBridge’s main challenge, which was the lack of time and resources to invest in one-on-one interviews with individual users or even doctors or therapists. We discovered that the experts in topics like “how to support someone who’s going through a cancer journey” doesn’t necessarily need to be a doctor. It’s actually the people who go through it every day whether it’s themselves or they are experiencing it in the loved one’s life.
So that’s what really led us to do the research for the topic and create from on social media. CaringBridge is an established brand with more than 300,000 followers on Facebook. So we thought, you know, why not try asking for their advice? Some posts get upwards of 100 to 200 comments of people telling their stories, their tips or advice. We see common themes throughout them and then we actually also incorporate those comments within the content itself.
How do you assess where you can compete in SERPs and how do you go about talking to clients about that?
Abby: The best way I think I found to talk to clients on this is by showing them the search results and asking them, “Do you want to get found here?” And most often the answer is no: no, we don’t want to compete with someone who has a Ph.D. So actually just showing them what the real search results look like and then comparing it to when we look at more supportive products–then we see competitors maybe like, Hallmark or Caregivers.com, where we actually do want to see ourselves amongst those names. That’s one way I use to communicate is just actually showing them what the search results look like and being really rational about it.
What are some things to take into consideration when you’re running a Black Friday campaign?
Kaushal: The thing about Black Friday is that you can face competition from any kind of websites–news websites and anything else. Say you’re ranking number 1 or 2. And a news publisher writes about Black Friday sales happening across e-commerce companies. They can suddenly come and outrank you. One thing we need to be aware of while doing this particular part of SEO is planning our strategy so that we’re outranking even news websites and even BlackFriday.com. We had to ensure that the page speed was optimal, the technical SEO was taken care of, the site health was at its optimal level, and that several keywords were supporting that one particular page so that the page can rank well.
How did you implement content for Black Friday?
Kaushal: We worked on several infographics, video content–which was required for the schema we implemented–and it helped us a lot. We created an infographic around how to go about shopping for Black Friday. When Google featured it on the featured snippet, the number of clicks and the CTR was much higher than usual. It also helped us achieve 240x more than paid search traffic.
Make sure to watch the full video to learn all the best tips from the Search Engine Lane SEO initiative winners.
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