Alina Ghost says:I am going to be controversial and say that you should do something different - completely different. I've been in the industry for many years and it's always the same stuff. It's always about knowing the basics and doing the three core pillars: coding, links and content. However, what makes you stand out is doing things that nobody else is doing. The reason we even know what actually works these days is because people try out everything, and not just what we are told to do. Think outside of the box and try something new.
What's an example of a different campaign? What have you done or seen, that wasn't a traditional SEO campaign but resulted in incredible SEO success?
Firstly, you need to be thinking about brand, which we know is increasingly important these days. Consider creating those huge campaigns that will get eyes and traffic onto your website. It's about getting people to think about you in a specific way - you have to show that on the site and across the web as well. Your E-A-T has to be good. I'm not saying disregard the ranking factors, I'm suggesting you go about it a different way to get to that point. If you are building your brand, think about how you are doing it. You have to think differently and come up with new ideas. For example, you could use emotion to help people remember you and revisit. This is something that Google looks at as well. They assess the brand and how people actually think about - not only across the web, but also on social media.
What if your boss says, 'I just want to rank for red woollen socks for Christmas'?
I've had that in the past where people were fixated on one keyword. It's a matter of telling them to look at the bigger picture. It's not just about specific keywords, it's about knowing the categories you're ranking for and clustering what you stand for. Going back to the brand, you need to make sure that the content you're producing is giving back to the users, providing them with more information, and making you an authority.
How do you measure success if you're creating articles for entertainment, rather than targeting specific keyword phrases?
Use as many tools as you can to actually understand what is happening. Every tool has its own great functionality that it can showcase. You obviously need to track visibility, and sessions and clicks are your number one consideration. However, understanding the keywords within that is also important. Are they branded or non-branded? Additionally, be aware that as SEOs, we touch on many different things. I say, 'Go big and go bold' because it's not just about the SEO metrics. It's also about looking at your conversion rate, or your Average Order Value. Is there a way that you can increase these values? Discover what people think when they come onto your site, what they are currently feeling, and how they actually want to purchase.
You talked about the expanding role of SEO. How does an SEO influence and work with other departments? Do you have any managerial tips?
There are plenty of different things an SEO can be doing, including training. Showing the numbers to managers always works. If you can show someone how much they might be losing, which is something you can forecast, it's a really strong message. SEOs are not just about one area, and the traditional activities, anymore. Now, you can be writing code one day, and creating PR campaigns the next. We've got such a breadth of things we need to be looking at. Because it's growing, it's about trying something different to see whether that's working or not. Make sure you are constantly testing - especially when it comes to the CRO factor. Meanwhile, UX is equally important as we need to make sure that developments are actually workable for our users as well.
What are your thoughts on the importance of doing more testing? What are the typical metrics or areas of a page that needs to be tested, and where are the quickest wins?
The low-hanging fruit would probably be something that you already rank for. Are you able to improve their click-through rates, add some stuff and even use PPC or affiliate data? For example, you can use any ads you create, do A/B tests on different snippets or content, and take the one that saw the highest click-through rate - and the most conversions as well.
To decide what to split test, and how to improve your SEO, what is the best way to take data from your pay-per-click campaigns to map against your organic success? Do you match things together by syncing your data from Google Ads to Google Data Studio?
The quickest and easiest thing is not to waste your money on brand. If you are showing up for brand, and people are actually looking for you, don't waste that money on PPC. You can use the content that you're writing for the PPC ads, pull the data out, and discover what is working. This doesn't have to be for that particular category - you could potentially use it in a different category. If it is working for one area, perhaps it's working for something else as well. Having said that, sometimes it's category-specific. For example, if you're trying to push something seasonal, such as clothing, then it might be completely different to something you do with, say, makeup.
One progressive area of content marketing where SEOs should probably have more involvement is digital PR. How can those campaigns help SEOs to achieve results?
I used to work for AMARA, a luxury interiors brand. I knew about them because I did interior blogging, and they had an annual event around the Interior Blog Awards. They would get lots of bloggers, interior designers with websites, and experts from the main brands. They brought all of them together and had different categories, such as Best Colour Award. This all resulted in amazing feedback. Not only was it great PR for the brand but also, they managed to get loads of natural links because people were naturally talking about them. It was driving people to the site. That traffic was great because people were being told to go to the website and vote for each of the nominees. It was also a great, organic way to build that community. That event worked for them in a number of ways. That example shows the importance of planning. SEOs need to be thinking about how they can take advantage of the countdown to an event, to drive as much awareness and links as possible towards their brand.
Are SEOs (and digital marketers, in general) too reactive, and are they not planning enough for opportunities like these? Is there anything that digital marketers can do to be more strategic?
Definitely. Another thing to mention about that example is that, on the night the awards took place, there were journalists interested in coming as well. Not only was the blog linking back to us, but also the press. Planning ahead is so important and so strategic. Sticking with this campaign, as an example, we began talking about it months in advance of starting the process every year. We discussed what we're going to do this year, what kind of categories we are going to get, and what isn't getting much traction. This is because the trends are always changing. Thinking ahead, and being strategic, is always important. Use the data you have in front of you. It's going back to the basics, like doing your keyword research and looking at Google Trends. Is there anything new you can jump on, to offer more information or actually create this campaign around? There are a number of ways you can be strategic, both in the short and long term, when it comes to trends. Sometimes, people want something right here, right now. Other times, if you are thinking about the bigger picture, it's about planning and making sure you go back to see what data you've got, and how you can it mix together. The reason I'm saying, 'Go big and go bold', is because everybody knows that's what we're doing for digital PR. We are going and looking at the data, but what can you bring to the table that's different? What kind of data can you bring that other agencies can't get? Think outside the box, be strategic, and actually try a bit harder.
What's one thing SEOs should stop doing to spend more time thinking about how to go big and go bold?
This will be controversial. If you went to the recent brightonSEO, you might have seen Tom Capper speak, and he said that Core Web Vitals is a bluff. It resonated with me because he's saying to take it with a pinch of salt. Yes, everybody is working towards those Core Web Vitals, but if you actually breakdown what the metrics ask you, you might make your UX worse. Your website might look awful as you try to improve. Is it actually a ranking factor, or is it more of a tiebreaker? This is a conversation that you need to have with the wider business. Consider whether you are wasting your time trying to improve things when you actually don't need to do everything. You can save your resources to do other things that will make more of an impact. We're trying to chip away at things, but ultimately, we want to make the best and biggest impact as quickly as possible.
Alina Ghost is SEO Manager for debenhams.com.
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