Impression’s search engine optimization (SEO) lead Daniel Liddle tackles Google’s upcoming changes to cookies and algorithms to supply a nine-step guide to help marketers become more SEO-innovative this year.
Google is continually adapting its search engines to respond to user behavior around search and understand how natural language is used. It’s aiming to improve its understanding of natural query inputs through considering audio and visual options.
Organic search can be a complicated digital marketing strategy to optimize, but applying some dynamic planning and dedication can contribute to search success. We’ve created a guide for marketers around the key elements for inclusion in modern SEO strategies:
1. Clear and all-encompassing narrative
Search performance used to be measured by tracking individual keyword rankings, based on lucrative monthly search volume. However, this meant that reporting was bogged down in data and anecdotal analysis.
SEO foundations should create key pathways for stakeholders to take and provide them with information about where their site sits within the current search landscape. They should be able to quantify individual queries and transform them into solid taxonomies.
We need to move beyond individual keywords and gain knowledge on how online presences exist within clusters of keywords.
2. Automation, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) fundamentals are key
Automation can be applied through association rule-learning algorithms or ML to process queries into categories without using resources. Create analysis that revolves around Natural Language Processing, which features data reading, copy creation and insight generation.
With the array of available technology on offer, marketers need only brush up on their programming language to utilize it at scale. Those working in-agency should consider making hires with suitable technical credentials or upskill prexisting teams with online training resources.
3. Setting KPIs and forecasting success
It’s difficult to predict the success of an SEO strategy. Understanding the current trajectory of a search strategy, its seasonality and how much activity will influence future uplifts will help. Free open-source software such as Facebook’s Prophet are useful for automating the process.
Forecasting doesn’t have to be about traffic. To prove maximum ROI, you can predict aspects such as revenue and average order value. Don’t stick to a single metric; ideally you’ll have a nuanced field of measurement that encompasses:
Upper yield: The expected ceiling of potential uplift
Median: Conservative estimate of direction over a given future period of time
Lower yield: Lowest footfall to be expected i.e. worst-case scenario
Forecasting can be flawed, as we tend to use previous data to gather aggregated metrics, so if there any drastic changes in user behavior, they will disrupt the prediction.
4. Use resources tactfully
On using client resources (such as developers), we give a clear strategic direction and prioritize tasks that drive quick ROI. Using the prioritization matrix, we customize logic based on the formulation and regularity of tasks. The foundations are built on business value, resource, strategic value and cost, used to devise a scoring system that highlights which activities will generate best results.
5. Prove ROI before scaling
Before implementing any activity, test it across a number of pages before scaling it on the site. SEO is a slower channel, so don’t expect to see results straight away; give any activity a three-month bedding-in period.
Furthermore, isolate each activity for reporting so you see how they impact each other. Proving ROI in the long run will relieve internal tension on activity and easily create case studies.
6. Reactivity and adaptation
The pandemic instantly changed user search interaction, creating continued volatility around query search volumes and keyword intent. Marketers should explore what searchers are looking for in real-time through platforms such as Google Search Console or Google Trends, which provide in-depth analysis of new data.
Keyword data from Google and third-party platforms tends to be based on average search volume dating back a year. Don’t overprioritize competing for existing keywords as it takes a while for pages to be indexed and search engines may have already satisfied that result. There will be new daily queries gaining traction that are less competitive and can reap quicker results.
7. SEO moves beyond text-first
Google’s newly-introduced multitask-unified model (MUM) is a multimodal algorithm to replace BERT and revolutionize our search methods. It also aims to unify different languages and formats for a more dexterous version of search results.
Because user queries now include text, imagery and video, Google is aiming to roll out a new user feature that allows them to ask questions related to their multimedia search – such as whether an image of a specific shoe can be used to hike a mountain. This will impact how marketers understand SEO and the user journey via search engines.
8. Building authority beyond outbound link acquisition
Google’s search advocate John Mueller assured marketers that they don’t need to be authoritative in order to rank. If you do need to be authoritative within a competitive space, invest in content without overkilling it. Build authority on your website through creating resource hubs that are rich in insights, rank well and gain citations for long-term cost-effective solutions. Link-building is overly competitive due to market saturation, and publications are savvier to link acquisition.
9. Think ahead
Search will always change; 2021 had the most algorithm updates on record and proved the need to be reactive and agile. If your business has been negatively impacted by organic search traffic or revenue, reassess your SEO strategy; it could work to keep you relevant, competitive and innovative.