Tripp Stanford, Papercut Interactive
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still at the top of everyone’s to-do list when it comes to digital marketing. Developing content, becoming a thought leader and teaching people about your product or service are still the best ways to drive traffic and earn more customers. Just what is the best way to do that in 2019?
When researching SEO trends, the reader typically wants quick and easy tricks to get their website to rank higher. When it comes to SEO, trying to rank “quick and easy” is nearly impossible. Historically there were ways to game Google’s algorithm. From developing private blog networks to unnaturally plugging keywords everywhere, black-hat SEOs (people who intentionally counteract the search engine’s guidelines and terms of service) would manipulate the search results to whatever website they wanted. In 2019, Google has engineered around old-school black hat manipulation tactics. It has the ability to penalize your website for investing in black-hat SEO, in turn, devaluing any beneficial work you’ve done.
Below we’ll list four key principles to keep in mind while developing content. Each industry is different, so if you’re curious about how to drive more organic traffic to your site, contact us at papercutinteractive.com to learn more.
Optimize for User Behavior, Intent and Search Query
Since 2015, Google has primarily utilized user behavior in their search algorithm. This means they’re tracking what queries a specific user enters, what URL the user clicks through and if they return to the search results or stay on that page for a while. They are tracking how often people click through links on other websites to your website, and stick around as well. Ultimately you want a user to click into your website and find the answer they’re looking for.
This means you need to answer the user’s question in the best possible way so that other websites and search engines want to link to your content. For example, if you are writing content on changing a headlight, it would be helpful to include pictures and even a video inside the article you're developing. It is best practice to develop content that is around 1200 words.
Through setting a goal to develop long-form content, you can thoroughly answer different aspects of the user’s question – covering a variety of possible search queries. For example, if you are a nutrition store and you’re writing about a specific supplement you sell, you should be sure to include information about the overall benefits of the supplement, risks associated, dosage information for the supplement and even reviews of the specific supplement. Your goal is for your article to show up when a user searches anything from, “Why do people take x?” to “Is x bad for me?”
An SEO principle and a principle of marketing, in general, is to get into the mind of your customer. Try and understand what questions they have when searching, and develop content that thoroughly answers them. Search engines want to provide the most relevant answers for their users’ questions, so if you’re able to create that content and host it on your site, you would most likely be rewarded with organic search traffic.
Mark Up Your Website With Structured Data
Structured data, or schema.org specifically, is a markup that categorizes and describes what certain content on your page is to Google. If you know basic HTML, most of your text content is written between <p>, <span> or <div> tags. Schema.org markup is placed within those tags to communicate to Google what the text means within the tags. The more information you can give to Google about your product and service, the easier it is for them to present it correctly in their search results.
There are different WordPress plugins that make it easy to add schema.org markup to your site, or you can manually mark it up inline within your HTML code. For example, if you want to communicate that you’re a local business, you add https://schema.org/LocalBusiness in the initial <div> tag of the section you’re marking up. Then Google knows to look for information pertaining to a local business. Then you can mark up your name, phone number and address accordingly to give Google accurate location information about your business. Google then is able to store this information in its database and it can be used to optimize its knowledge graph.
Be Wary of Voice Search
People have continually said, “This is the year of Voice Search,” each year over the past couple of years. But we have found that users primarily refer to Google to find information. As more voice-activated products are developed and distributed, we’re sure users will start utilizing voice search more often, but it shouldn’t change how you approach SEO. Google still pulls information from its database to answer queries asked from Google Voice products. The same thing is happening on Bing and from Amazon devices.
If you continue to develop thorough content that answers the user's question appropriately, mark it up with schema and promote it to drive inbound links, Google will learn how to present that information through Voice-activated products.
Utilize Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a Google tool that allows business owners to control how their website is represented in the search results. When you search for any brand name, it is the huge box of information that shows up on the right side of the search results. It allows you to add your address, phone number, website and pictures. It also gives the owner the ability to create “posts” that can showcase a weekly announcement and publish events that will help promote certain events the business is hosting.
By claiming and updating your Google My Business page, you’re able to keep your brand at the top for branded searches and manage how people find your business in the local map pack. It also helps communicate more information about your website and business to Google, which allows you to rank for unbranded searches.
The biggest takeaway from the SEO trends of 2019 is to continue developing intentional content on your website that thoroughly answers the questions your customer is asking. It looks slightly different than 10 years ago, but the basics are still there. Google is going to present the best answer for your customer’s query and you want your website to be the medium where your user finds that information.
Tripp Stanford is the director of marketing at Papercut Interactive, a local digital marketing agency. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO or digital marketing in general, contact Papercut at papercutinteractive.com/contact.