9.6.16

Stop Trying To “Do SEO.” Build Your SEO Like The Champs

BY ALEX MATLIN

Are you ready for some… SEO? With the football season upon us, we’re here to help you understand how to shift your thinking about SEO and develop a successful optimization game plan.

 

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You can’t do SEO. Seriously, stop trying. 

This may come as an odd statement from someone who supplies SEO services, but Chad Pollitt put it best when he stated “SEO is not something you do anymore. It’s what happens when you do everything else right.” In the past, Google engineers wrote an algorithm that would rank content based on predetermined factors. It didn’t take long for SEOs to figure out the key ranking factors and “do” some SEO to manipulate the rankings. Google didn’t like that; Google wants the best content, not the most optimized content, to rise to the top. So what did they do? They built Rankbrain. In a nutshell, Rankbrain is an artificial intelligence that uses machine learning to constantly improve the rankings based on patterns that it finds. Basically this means that the machine determines what the ranking factors are, not the humans. This is obviously scary for SEOs because we really don’t know what the ranking factors are anymore. People at Google don’t even know. 

So is SEO dead? Not at all! All of this just means that you have to step up your SEO game. You can no longer optimize toward a simple set of factors, but instead need to think broader and optimize toward the most important thing: the user.

But how do you optimize to your users?  Well, it’s not easy and requires every member of your online team, not just your SEO staff.

To demonstrate (and because honestly I kind of just feel like bragging about the Broncos), I’m going to use a football analogy. Here are some lessons that you can take away from the Super Bowl champs that will help you think about SEO. 

 

First and Foremost, You Need Quality

 

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Like John Elway evaluates his player personnel, you need to look at your content and ask, “Does this deserve to be in the #1 position?” Or to put it another way, does your content satisfy the searchers need in a significantly better way than other results? Is it useful? Is it trustworthy? Is it Unique? Is it memorable? If you don’t have good answers to these questions, you need to put more strategy behind your content.

Another part of this quality element that people don’t often consider a part of SEO is user experience (UX). While Mobilegeddon wasn’t the apocalypse it was made out to be, it did serve as a clear warning that Google cares how users are digesting your content. Monitor your user-behavior metrics and look out for bouncers and short time-on-site. Also pay close attention to differences in user behavior based on device. If you notice poor numbers, but are confident in the content’s substance, you may have a UX issue and should consider usability testing

 

Shape Up

 

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Once you have your players, it’s time to get them in shape. For SEO, being out of shape means that your content has unhealthy technical issues. While SEOs can find and fix some technical issues, it’s going to be mostly up to your dev team to take on things like content duplication, crawling issues, and slow site speed (just to name a few.) If you ignore technical issues, you will have trouble ranking because you’re putting roadblocks in front of your users. If you want to see if your website has been slacking, our audit will put it through its paces. Distilled has a good checklist if you want to do your own technical checks.

 

Get the Most Out of Your Players

 

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Players will always need some tweaking in order to maximize their potential. Just like players get tweaked, pages on a website should be tweaked by SEOs who know how to maximize each page. This means coming up with keyword strategies and implementing them correctly. While keywords are becoming somewhat devalued with Rankbrain’s understanding of synonyms, natural language, and context, they are still a way for you to directly communicate to search engines and users what your page is about. The key, and what distinguishes this from the old way of doing SEO, is that you aren’t trying to manipulate, you’re trying to help. If you have a great piece of content about places to eat in Denver, but your page title and headline is “Blog,” you arent helping users or search engines to understand what your content is about. 

 

You need a Game Plan

 

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The gameday of content comes when it is launched and promoted. Just like a head coach, you need someone that can come up with a good game plan that maximizes the potential of your content. This is an essential step that is often missed because people are following the “Content is King” mantra. While good content is essential, with how noisy the internet is today, you cannot simply expect good content to rise to the top on its own. You need to support content through Social, PR, Email, Paid, and any other pertinent channels in order to get the ball rolling. This will help your content earn some much needed links and give Google some metrics to sink its teeth into so it can accurately judge your content. 

 

Analyze and Adjust

 

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Everything up to this point has been about getting your content ready and in position to perform. But you don’t really know how good you are until kickoff. You need to have established goals for your content and have someone monitoring whether those goals are being achieved. Maybe a piece of content is getting more attention than you thought and could be bigger with a little more support. Or maybe that well thought out piece of content you love really isn’t that great and needs to be pulled out of the game. The most important thing is to be able to see these things by making sure your tracking is set up and is accurate.

 

Put Everything Together and Win!!!

 

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While some pieces of the team might get more or less credit than deserved, it really takes a combination of everyone doing their role well to create teams that win Super Bowls - or websites that win in search engines. Content creators, designers (including UX), developers, content marketers, and SEOs all play a role in creating this winning formula. So if you are losing in the rankings, don’t listen to anyone who promises quick ranking improvements without regard for the other pieces of the puzzle. If you have no idea what pieces you’re missing, reach out, we’d be happy to help

Alex Matlin
written by ALEX MATLIN

Alex is the Inbound Marketing Manager at Carbon8 with experience in SEO, PPC, display, and social media marketing. He believes that Google will soon take over the world and that learning how to understand it and please it will probably be a good life move.

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