Heba shares a reminder: that your job as an SEO is to help searchers get the answers that they're looking for.
Heba Said says:Never forget that you're doing SEO for the user, or searcher, to find their answer. When you're looking at the website, you need to know what this website is about and how it's helped users when they search for it.
What does it mean in practice, to help searchers get the answer that they're looking for?
It means that you need to make it easy for a user to find your website, by making it easy for the search engine to find your website. I look at every project from the perspective of a customer, who needs to know how this website will help them in their life - or answer their query. You need to know how your website can reach your users. At the same time, you need your client to get revenue from what you're doing. You need your user to come to your website, and then convert. Before thinking about SEO on its own, you need to know that SEO is part of a marketing funnel that ends in sales. Look at every step of the customer buying journey when you're determining the questions they are likely to ask, the answers you should be optimising for, and the call to action to end this journey.
How do you determine which questions are the right ones?
Always look at the SERP; it answers everything. From this, you know how the customer is reacting, what they are asking, and what they need to know. Always put yourself in the customer's shoes. Keyword research is also still very important. It is not just about looking at individual words, it can be questions and everything about the website. Your keyword research will come from the SERP, your tools, People Also Ask, Google Suggest, etc.
How do you decide which phrases are the best to start with if you don't have high search volume?
I often just go for it. Even if it's low search volume, after a while the impression gets higher because the content itself is full of the information that people are searching for. You don't need the title to be 100% high-volume keywords. The content itself is very important and can contain a lot of good answers for questions. Even a volume of 10 is worthwhile. Those 10 people are your important clients, because they can become 10 Customers.
How do you financially measure the success of this?
Include CTAs and track them on Google Analytics. That's a very good way to measure how much revenue you are making for a website; how many users are signing up or making a purchase. You can measure the return on investment from there.
How do you decide what type of content you should be publishing?
Stalk your competitors. First, look at your competitors in the SERP to find out where they are ranking, and how they are ranking - what they are writing about. You need to see if it is informative, clear, transactional, etc., and then you can imitate this in your own way. If your competitor has a video answer to a particular question, then that would be a good signal that that's what you should be providing as well. You can determine your competitors based on the SERP, and by looking at who is ranking for your target keyword phrases. It can also be other businesses that do a similar thing to yours. It depends on the queries that are relevant to the project.
Should answering questions be the only part of your content marketing strategy?
Sometimes people don't ask questions because they don't yet know enough about your service to ask questions about it. You need to write about your service as information, and then answer questions as well. It should be 50/50. Answering questions within your content can also work for pillar pages. If you're looking to create a big, authoritative piece of content about a particular topic, you can link smaller pages to it that answer questions around that topic. I have done this before and received a 1000% traffic increase. I started with my pillar page and I made a blog. Then I wrote about that page but in smaller pieces of content, Questions and Answers for example, and linked them to the pillar page. We got much higher traffic and went from ranking on page five or six to ranking in the top three.
How regularly should SEOs be researching the types of questions to be answering on their sites?
You should be planning for three months ahead, so it should be done quarterly. You might find that old content on your website needs to be optimised, or re-optimised. It doesn't always have to be new content. You need to check every three months to consider what you're doing with your old content and what you need to add.
What do you think about the current trend of search engines trying to answer questions directly on the SERP?
It is definitely increasing, and it's going to continue into 2022 and beyond. As SEOs, we can take advantage of that. It's possible to generate some traffic by branding those answers. Some people need more than just an answer, they need to know more information. When you provide that initial answer for them, you can generate a lot of traffic. Also, if Google is starting to write an answer for something, that's mean that people are asking that question. There are a lot of opportunities. You can see what questions exist on the SERP, click through, and see if the answers are truly relevant. If they link to articles that just don't provide the right answer to the question, that's a great opportunity for content in your niche.
Once you've optimised your pages for answering user questions, how do you go about linking those pages to get them to rank higher?
You need to find high-quality links. It's been a struggle for two years now to get very high-quality links. You need to have a good relationship with people - you can't just post anywhere, because of Spam Score and the updates that Google is doing regarding linking. You need to find a website with a good reputation and Spam Score, that's high quality and is writing good content for people, so they are drawing high levels of organic traffic for keywords. When you reach out to them, reach out with your own quality content, so they will want to share with you. The SERP is good for findings those high-value websites, but you can use tools as well. Ahrefs is particularly useful for looking at backlinks.
Why is Google Search Central so helpful and what can you learn?
Seven years ago, it was very hard to be an SEO, but now everyone is talking about it. Even Google has a video channel that tells you what to do to rank. It didn't used to be like this. You need to take advantage and pay attention to them. Follow Google Search Centre, on Twitter and on YouTube, to see what's happening with SEO. Google can actually help you to do SEO. You need to put your own thoughts into it, but they will give you good pointers and explain the guidelines that you have to follow. You do need to be educated enough to know what advice to take, and where you can be clever and play with the guidelines. Although, they will always be sensitive with some of their information. Twitter is particularly helpful because it's very up to date. There are also many SEO twitter chats that you can get into, like the #SemrushChat on Mondays. This is a great way to get ideas about what you're doing. They talk about content, keyword research, technical tips, and much more. The SEOFOMO newsletter by Aleyda Solis is also very good. It's gives the latest updates on SEO and will keep you on track.
What's something that SEOs should stop doing to spend more time making sure that their content is answering the questions of their users?
You don't need to spend as much time link building. Stop trying to get as much links as possible because sometimes content can win over a link.
You can find Heba Said at Twitter.com/HebaSaidSEO.
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