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How to harness RankBrain for ecommerce websites

January 3, 2023 No Comments

How to harness RankBrain for ecommerce websites

30-second summary:

  • Let’s make this clear, RankBrain is not a Google algorithm, it is a component of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm
  • RankBrain is a powerful AI-based system that helps Google understand search queries better and generate more accurate results
  • If you want to break through the clutter of 12+ million ecommerce websites, marketers need to understand and align with Google’s RankBrain-driven search algorithm
  • This step-by-step guide will help you make RankBrain work in favor of your ecommerce website’s search visibility

Lack of search engine visibility is one of the top reasons ecommerce businesses fail. And it is understandable why.

Data shows that 38 percent of an ecommerce store’s traffic comes through organic sources. When an ecommerce website fails to rise in the search results, it loses touch with a massive chunk of its prospects. And with around 12 to 24 million ecommerce websites out there, disappearing in the search results and failing to interact with the audience means losing to vicious competition.

Attempting to rank higher, on the other hand, means understanding and aligning with Google’s RankBrain-driven search algorithm.

For relevance between search queries and results, Google uses RankBrain to rank websites. Any seller who wishes to rank high and gain exposure must optimize their ecommerce store for RankBrain. But how do you get about harnessing RankBrain for ecommerce?

What is RankBrain?

Google is very secretive about how its algorithms work, so we have little information about what RankBrain is.

But from what we do know, RankBrain is a powerful AI-based system that helps Google understand search queries better and generate more accurate results.

RankBrain helps Google understand the pattern in user search and browsing behavior. With this understanding, Google uncovers the intent behind a search and generates results that are conceptually and contextually relevant to the search.

From the example below, we searched for “Edison” in Google. Now, it could have been the city of Edison in New Jersey. But Google must have known most people who search “Edison” are looking for information on Thomas Edison, and hence generated results accordingly.

Example of the search term Edison in Google and how RankBrain works

This is courtesy of RankBrain.

RankBrain is exceptionally accurate at matching search queries with results. In fact, it outperformed Google’s experts by 10 percent in doing that.

Google now uses RankBrain in all of its search queries. Therefore, it is critical for any ecommerce store looking for search visibility to optimize for RankBrain.

Before moving forward, it is essential to note that RankBrain is not a Google algorithm. It is a component of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm.

Now since that’s out of the way, let’s go ahead and talk about how you can optimize your ecommerce store for RankBrain.

How to optimize and make the most of RankBrain for ecommerce stores

Optimizing for RankBrain involves no rocket science. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Rethink your keyword research

If you are still optimizing your ecommerce store around one primary keyword, please stop. The search engine world has evolved far beyond that.

Yes, keywords are still relevant. But Google no longer uses exact-match keywords to find relevance.

You can see how the search query and keywords in the top search results differ:

use keyword clusters to optimize and harness rankbrain for ecommerce websites

Therefore, identify a core keyword and brainstorm other similar keyword ideas around it.

For example, when optimizing your crockery ecommerce store, your main keyword may be imported china crockery, but Google may also associate words like “imported plates” and “China sweet bowls” with your primary keyword.

Additionally, consider including medium-tail keywords. According to digital marketing maestro Shane Barker, medium-tail keywords are the perfect choice when optimizing for RankBrain.

Also, don’t forget question-based keywords. According to research, almost 8 percent of all search queries are questions.

Given that Google processes billions of search queries daily, 8 percent would form an appreciable number of questions.

Therefore, search for and include question-based keywords.

Finally, remember it’s no longer about keyword density. Optimization is all about user experience. Therefore, include keywords in a way that doesn’t disrupt the flow of the content. 

2. Create in-depth and quality content

RankBrain is big on user experience. This is why it gives extra weight to well-written content that offers value to the users.

So, first, identify your target audience’s struggles, and figure out their unasked questions and unsolved problems. And then create detailed content around it.

For example, you have realized your prospects are keen on learning about laptops. You have a topic on hand. Now, you can create a long-form blog or an ebook explaining all the types of laptops, what makes them good and bad, and how they can choose the right laptop for themselves.

Also, keep your readers in mind when creating this content and ensure that the style and language align with their preferences.

Keep your tone conversational. Write like you talk so the readers can feel a human-to-human connection and stay longer on the page, demonstrating satisfaction – something the RankBrain rewards.

3. Work on increasing your CTR

CTR is another indicator of user satisfaction. Google uses a quality-score algorithm. And CTR is an integral part of the quality score.

Activating featured snippets may help since listings containing featured snippets are reported to have 2x higher CTR than those without featured snippets.

When running an ecommerce store, you can use rich snippets to display your product’s reviews or your catalog and price.

Branding may also help increase CTR.

88 percent of customers say authenticity is critical when deciding what brands they want to support.

Therefore, invest in building your brand authority. Generating clicks will become much easier when prospects recognize and trust your brand.

Imagine searching for “running shoes” and coming across two listings, one of Nike and another of an unknown seller. Which one would you click? Nike, most likely because it is a trusted and recognized brand.

4. Focus on user intent and search intent

User intent is defined as the goal or intention of a user behind entering a search term into a search engine.

Imagine you have driven traffic to your ecommerce store. How are you confident that the traffic is here for shopping and not simply browsing?

This is where user or search intent comes into play.

To get more leads and generate more revenue, you have to focus more on the commercial and transactional intent of the user.

Your website ranks higher if you are using intent-specific words.

These transactional intent keywords often include the words discount, buy, deal, promo codes, coupons, cheapest, and purchase.

Thus, you are directed to the right customers using these transactional keywords.

5. Increase dwell time. Decrease bounce rate.

RankBrain collects information about user satisfaction and assigns ranks based on that.

When a user enters your website and leaves quickly, RankBrain thinks your website isn’t satisfactory enough for the user. And hence, your website may suffer in ranking.

As opposed to that, if a user visits your website and stays back for a long time, this tells RankBrain how users are satisfied with what you have on your website. Consequently, you may be rewarded.

This is why you must work on increasing your website’s dwell time and decreasing bounce rate. Here are some ways you can do that:

Work on site navigation

Site navigation is the process of clicking and looking through the pages of a website. It is a collection of user interface components and it helps customers to flow from one page of a website to another easily.

Simple site navigation allows the user to complete the task in less time. This increases the user experience as the user encounters fewer confusions related to the website.

Simple site navigation also allows search engines to crawl your website more easily and effectively.

Content

Effective content designing and formatting increases users’ engagement on a website and positively impacts the experience. According to a survey, 66 percent users prefer to interact with “beautifully designed” content.

User-friendly layout

Layout design and text size on a website can improve or disrupt the user experience. User-friendly layout of a website can be attained by using images and videos, organizing and formatting content interactively, and adding links to other related content.

User-friendly layout can also be achieved by adding related graphics, CTAs throughout the site and using clear headers.

Website structure

Website structure defines the arrangement of your site’s content, its design, and the way the pages are related to one another. A good website structure has various elements including taxonomies, internal links, breadcrumbs, navigation, and schema.

The most popular type of website structure is the hierarchical structure. This type of structure is useful for websites having a large amount of data. As ecommerce websites have a large amount of data, the hierarchical structure makes it easy for search engines to crawl your website. Thus it becomes easier for your website to be indexed.

website structure example to harness rankbrain for ecommerce websites

Website load speed

Website load speed is the time it takes for your website to load as well as the time it takes for search engines to crawl your website.

Customers prefer fast-loading websites. This is why improving your website load speed enhances your user experience. 

More importantly, website load speed is a search engine ranking factor. Google uses it to judge a website’s UX while determining its rank.

Therefore, optimizing your website’s load speed is critical when enhancing your ecommerce store. 

Some of the methods to reduce website load speed are improving server response time, reducing redirects, and enabling compression for CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files.

Internal links

Internal links help users navigate from one page on your website to the other, keeping them on the site for longer and prolonging dwell time. 

So, build a solid internal linking structure and make sure to link only relevant pages with one another. 

High-quality product images and include product details

Since you are optimizing an ecommerce site, use clear product photos and include as many details as you can about your products to keep the customers on your website for longer. 

Conclusion

With the advent of Machine Learning and advanced SEO techniques, avoiding new marketing technologies can drastically harm your ecommerce business.

RankBrain is a machine learning (AI) algorithm that Google uses to sort search results. It also helps Google process and understands search queries. RankBrain understands the user intent and provides relevant search results.

RankBrain will only increase in popularity with time and become even more crucial for ecommerce store optimization. Working to get yourself acquainted with RankBrain today will help you run your ecommerce store more successfully in the future. So, start now to foster your long-term success.


Atul Jindal is a web design and marketing specialist. He has worked on website/app optimization for SEO with a core focus on conversion optimization. He creates web experiences that bring conversations and transform web traffic into paying customers or leads.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

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The post How to harness RankBrain for ecommerce websites appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The ultimate 2022 Google updates round up

December 22, 2022 No Comments

The ultimate 2022 Google updates round up

30-second summary:

  • 2022 saw nine confirmed updates (including two core updates,) five unconfirmed instances where volatility was observed in page rankings, and one data outage that caused chaos for 48 hours
  • Video and commerce sites were the biggest winners in the May core update, while reference and news sites lost out most, especially outlets without industry specificity
  • This theme largely continued and saw ripple effects from the helpful content update
  • What were these ebbs and flows, who won, who lost? Let’s find out!
  • Joe Dawson takes us through another round-up post that gives you the complete picture of Google’s moves

Only three things are certain in this life – death, taxes, and an industry-wide hubbub whenever Google launches an algorithm update. Like any year, 2022 has seen substantial changes in how the world’s largest search engine manages traffic and page rankings, with some businesses winning and others losing out.

Arguably the most significant change in 2022 is awareness of the rise of AI for content creation, becoming a hot topic in the world of marketing software. “Helpful content” updates have intended to bolster content written by human beings, penned with consumer needs in mind, over auto-generated articles designed to game the SEO system.

Has this been successful, or is the world of online marketing set for a rise of machines in 2023 and beyond? Similar to my last year’s column, let’s review the Google algorithm updates issued in 2022. I hope this helps you decide for yourself and build your business model around the latest developments in page ranking.

Complete list of 2022 Google updates

2022 has seen nine confirmed updates to Google’s algorithms, while an additional five instances of volatility were noticed and discussed by influential content marketing strategists across the year. We also saw one major data outage that caused a short-term panic! Let’s take a look at each of these updates in turn.

1) Unconfirmed, suspected update (January)

The core update of November 2021 was famously volatile, and just as web admins were coming to terms with a new status quo, further fluctuations were noted in early January 2021. Google remained tight-lipped about whether adjustments had been made to the algorithm, but sharp adjustments to SERPs were acknowledged across various industries.

2) Unconfirmed, suspected update (February)

Again, webmasters noticed a sudden temperature shift in page rankings in early February, just as things settled down after the January changes. While again unconfirmed by Google, these adjustments may have been laying the groundwork for the page experience update scheduled for later in the same month.

3) Page experience update (February)

Back in 2021, Google rolled out a page experience update designed to improve the mobile browsing experience. In February 2022, the same update was extended to encompass desktop browsing.

The consequences were not earth-shattering, but a handful of sites that previously enjoyed SERPs at the top of page one found their ranking drop. As with the mobile update, the driving forces behind the page experience update were performance measured against Google’s core web vitals.

4) Unconfirmed, suspected update (March)

Fluxes in page ranking and traffic were detected in mid-March, with enough chatter around the industry that Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search at Google, felt compelled to confirm that he or his colleagues were unaware of any conscious updates.

5) Product reviews update (March)

March saw the first of three product review updates that would unfold throughout the year. As we’ll discuss shortly, ecommerce sites experienced a real shot in the arm throughout 2022 after the core updates, so this would prove to be a significant adjustment.

The fundamental aim of this product review update was to boost sites that offer more than just a template review of consumer goods – especially when linking to affiliates to encourage purchase. Best practice in product reviews following this update includes:

  • Detailed specifications beyond those found in a manufacturer description, including pros and cons and comparisons to previous generations of the same item.
  • Evidence of personal experience with a product to bolster the authenticity of the review, ideally in the form of a video or audio recording.
  • Multiple links to a range of merchants to enhance consumer choice, rather than the popular model of linking to Amazon.
  • Comparisons to rival products, explaining how the reviewed product stacks up against the competition – for good or ill.

The product review update did not punish or penalize sites that failed to abide by these policies, preferring to list a selection of items with brief (and arguably thin) copies to discuss their merits. However, sites, that offered more detail in their assessments quickly found themselves rising in the rankings.

6) Core update (May)

The first core update of the year is always a nerve-wracking event in the industry, and as always, there were winners and losers in May’s adjustments.

The most striking outcome of this update was just how many major names benefitted, especially in the realm of ecommerce, much to the delight ecommerce agencies around the world. Sites like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy saw considerable increases in traffic and prominence following the update, perhaps due to the product review update that unfolded two months prior.

Video sites also saw a spike in viewers and positioning following the May update. YouTube videos began outranking text articles while streaming services such as Disney Plus and Hulu rose to the top of many searches. Health sites began to see a slow and steady recovery after the May core update, for the first time since the rollout of 2018’s Medic update.

News and reference sites were the biggest losers in the May core update. News and media outlets suffered the most, especially those with a generic focus, such as the online arm of newspapers. Big hitters like Wikipedia and Dictionary.com were also pushed down the pecking order. Specialist sites that dedicate their reporting to a single area of interest fared a little better, but still took a hit in traffic and visibility.

7) Unconfirmed, suspected update (June)

Minor nips and tucks frequently follow when a major core update concludes. In late June, many webmasters started comparing notes on sharp changes in traffic and page ranking. Google failed to confirm any updates. These may have just been delayed aftershocks in the aftermath of May’s core update, but the industries that saw the biggest adjustments were:

  • Property and real estate
  • Hobbies and leisure
  • Pets and animal care

8) Unconfirmed, suspected update (July)

More websites saw a sharp drop in traffic in late July, especially blogs that lacked a prominent social media presence. SERPs for smaller sites were among the biggest losers in this unconfirmed update.

9) Product reviews update (July)

A minor tweak to March’s product review update was announced and rolled out in July, but caused little impact – while some review sites saw traffic drop, most were untouched, especially in comparison to changes at the start of the year.

10) Data center outage (August)

Not an update but a notable event in the 2022 SEO calendar. In early August, Google Search experienced an overnight outage. This was revealed to be caused by a fire in a data center in Iowa, in which three technicians were injured (thankfully, there were no fatalities.)

This outage caused 48 hours of panic and chaos among web admins, with page rankings undergoing huge, unexpected fluctuations, a failure of newly-uploaded pages to be indexed, and evergreen content disappearing from Google Search.

Normal service was resumed within 48 hours, and these sudden changes were reversed. All the same, it led to a great deal of short-term confusion within the industry.

11) Helpful content update (August)

The first helpful content update of 2022 saw significant changes to the SEO landscape – and may change how many websites operate in the future.

As the name suggests, this update is engineered to ensure that the most helpful, consumer-focused content rises to the top of Google’s search rankings. Some of the elements targeted and penalized during this update were as follows.

AI content An increasing number of sites have been relying on AI to create content, amalgamating and repurposing existing articles from elsewhere on the web with SEO in mind. On paper, the helpful content update pushed human-generated content above these computerized texts.
Subject focus As with the core update in May, websites that cover a broad range of subjects were likeliest to be hit by the helpful content update. Google has been taking steps to file every indexed website under a niche industry, so it’s easier for a target audience to find.
Expertise The EAT algorithm has been the driving force behind page rankings for a while now, and the helpful content update has doubled down on this. Pages that offer first-hand experience of their chosen subject matter will typically outrank those based on external research.
User behavior As a part of the helpful content update, Google is paying increasing attention to user behavior – most notably the time spent on a site. High bounce rates will see even harsher penalties in a post-helpful content update world.
Bait-and-switch titles If your content does not match your title or H2 headings, your site’s ranking will suffer. Avoid speculation, too. Attempts to gain traffic by asking questions that cannot be answered (for example, a headline asking when a new show will drop on Netflix, followed by an answer of, “Netflix has not confirmed when >TV show name< will drop”) suffered in this update.
Word stuffing Google has long denied that word count influences page ranking and advised against elongating articles for the sake of keyword stuffing. The helpful content update has made this increasingly important. 1,000 relevant words that answer a question quickly will outrank a meandering missive of 3,000 words packed with thin content.

12) Core update (September)

The second core update of 2022 unfolded in September, hot on the heels of the helpful content update.

This update repaired some of the damage for reputable reference sites that suffered in May, while those impacted by the unconfirmed update in June continued to see fluctuations in visibility – some enjoyed sharp uptakes, while others continued to hemorrhage traffic.

The biggest ecommerce brands continued to enjoy success following this update, while news and media outlets continued to plummet in visibility. Household names like CNN and the New York Post, for example, were hit very hard.

The fortunes of medical sites also continued to improve, especially those with government domains. Interestingly, the trend for promoting videos over prose was reversed in September – YouTube was the biggest loser overall.

13) Product reviews update (September)

A final tweak was made to the product reviews update in September as part of the core update, and it proved to be unpopular with many smaller sites, which saw a substantial drop in traffic and conversions. As discussed, it seems that 2022’s core updates have benefitted the biggest hitters in the market.

14) Spam update (October)

In October, Google rolled out a 48-hour spam update. This was an extension of the helpful content updates designed to filter out irrelevant and inexpert search results, in addition to sites loaded with malicious malware or phishing schemes.

Sites identified as potential spam during the update were severely penalized in terms of page ranking and, in some cases, removed from Google Search altogether. The most prominent targets of the update were:

  • Thin copy irrelevant to the search term, especially if auto-generated
  • Hacked websites with malicious or irrelevant redirects and sites that failed to adopt appropriate security protocols
  • Hidden links or excessive, unrelated affiliate links and pages
  • Artificial, machine-generated traffic

15) Helpful content update (December)

Early in December, Google began rolling out an update to August’s helpful content update. At the time of writing, it’s too early to announce what the impact of this has been. However, it promises to be an interesting time.

The August update faced criticism for being too sedate and failing to crack down hard enough on offending sites, especially those that utilize AI content and black-hat SEO tactics.

Many site owners will be crossing their fingers and toes that this update boosts genuine, human-generated copy created by and for a website’s target audience. The impact will become evident early in 2023.

This concludes the summary of 2022’s Google algorithm updates. It’s been an interesting – and frequently tumultuous – twelve months, and one that may set the tone for the years to come.

Google will always tweak and finesse its policies, and attempting to second-guess what Alphabet will do next is frequently a fool’s errand. All the same, it’s always helpful to check in with Google’s priorities and see which way the wind is blowing.


Joe Dawson is Director of strategic growth agency Creative.onl, based in the UK. He can be found on Twitter @jdwn.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

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The post The ultimate 2022 Google updates round up appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How much impact can visual identity have on your organic visibility?

December 15, 2022 No Comments

How much impact can visual identity have on your organic visibility

30-second summary:

  • A visual identity is all the graphic elements that represent your brand making it unique and recognizable
  • When visual identity is build consistently across several channels, it builds brand recognizability which in turn improves conversions
  • Visual branding elements often show up for brand-driven search results allowing users to remember them well
  • Commercial and informational queries often contain visual results as well, so they can reinforce brand presence if you brand all your visual assets consistently
  • To build a strong visual identity in organic SERPs, create lots of original images, cross-publish them on multiple channels and use best SEO practices when using them on your site

What is visual identity?

A visual identity is a collection of graphic elements that represent and differentiate a brand.

It can be a logo, a tiny element of a logo, a color palette, a unique font – or any combination of all of these visual branding elements that make a brand recognizable.

Creating a recognizable visual identity used to be a prerogative of big brands with huge budgets. Thanks to digital channels (social media, video, etc.), a visual identity is something every brand can and should have because it helps your past customers recognize you and become your returning customers.

Creating a consistent and cohesive visual identity is key to cross-channel marketing. People traveling from channel to channel and seeing your brand everywhere will finally start recognizing you and with recognition comes more trust and engagement.

How is visual identity reflected in organic search?

Historically, Google has loved brands because they are easy to understand and map together (hence the Knowledge Graph is based on entities, i.e. brands).

A few years ago, Google started featuring brands visually in SERPs too. So now brands can actually build recognizability through organic search results.

Let’s look at just one example.

Let’s search for a brand name first: Notice how many images show up in different search sections across SERPs, including:

  • The knowledge panel
  • Twitter carousel
  • Image thumbnails
  • Image carousels
  • Video thumbnails, etc.

Visual elements are all over branded search results.

Now, searching for something informational, like [room soundproofing] brings up a well-written guide on how to do it from Hubspot, and the best part is that its search snippet includes a well-branded image:

That’s when a searcher can immediately recognize the brand’s results and click through just because it looks familiar.

How to create a consistent visual identity

The key to building a visual identity online is being active and consistent.

It doesn’t mean living on social media sites. It means using social media strategically and regularly to publicize well-branded visual messages that keep reminding your target audience of your brand.

According to Namify, it takes five to seven impressions for people to remember your brand.

This means serving your visual message to the same person at least 5 times before you start looking familiar.

How can this be achieved?

Reuse the same image across several channels

Apps like Photoleap make it extremely easy to create effective visual assets that can be used across multiple social media channels. You can use it to apply advanced effects or minor touch-ups to existing images, or use the built-in text-to-image AI engine to describe whatever visual you want to see, and then edit from there.

You can find inspiration at the brand’s Instagram account, which is filled with creative images you can create using the app:

Once you have your concept created, you can easily fit it to multiple social media channels, and even animate it, which extends your possibilities even further allowing you to use it as Reels, shorts, and even stories.

Curate your own (and your customers’) images

Monitoring your customers’ reviews and turning them into visual assets (images and videos) is a great way to control your brand sentiment under control and promote your brand’s visual identity through user-generated content.

There are many ways to approach that, and you don’t have to choose once. Try several of them before your create your own UGC-driven visual identity strategy:

Visualize all you can

You need your brand-own assets to rank for a wide variety of brand-driven and generic queries to build recognizability, one search session at a time. This includes posting visual content on Twitter (which has its own carousel section in SERPs) and Facebook (that is usually granted visually rich snippets).

Make sure you stick to your brand-driven color palette for every asset you create (see the orange SERP example above), play with your logo elements, and add watermarks inside your videos.

Consider (but not limit yourself to) a few ideas below:

  • Create original images for every article you publish (and then re-use those images on social media when sharing your link)
  • Use image optimization tactics to ensure your images rank in organic search results. There are SEO plugins that make this step easier.
  • Embed videos on your landing pages to generate video-rich snippets in organic SERPs
  • Create infographics to visualize how-to guides or make steps easier to follow. There are quite a few data visualization plugins to make this easier.
  • Use illustrations: A brand illustration system is a collection of images with a cohesive mood and style that visualizes a brand’s promise

Use retargeting

Retargeting is a great way to reach people who are already familiar with your visual identity, and so they will respond better to your ads. Google offers dynamic remarketing ads within its display network. Facebook is another great retargeting platform that makes it easy to reach your past site visitors and let them continue their buying journey from where they left it.

Conclusion

Building a recognizable visual identity takes time and effort but it is well worth it because a recognizable brand brings higher conversions and more sales. Keep your visual identity in mind when planning your content and visual marketing strategy and you’re halfway there! All you need now is time and consistency. Good luck!


Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

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How do you hire an SEO manager?

December 7, 2022 No Comments

How do you hire an SEO manager

30-second summary:

  • Business leaders struggle to hire SEO managers, and often wonder if they need one
  • SEO visibility is key to business success and is hard to increase your customer base and sales
  • SEO is a great contributor to brand growth and essentially needs the right mindset
  • This is a checklist to help you hire the right fit for your business

If you’re looking to improve your website’s search engine ranking, you may be wondering how to go about hiring an SEO manager. It can be a daunting task, but with the right information, it can be more straightforward than you think.

In this article, we will discuss some of the things you should consider when hiring an SEO manager. We’ll also provide some tips on how to make sure your team works well together and gets the most out of your SEO manager.

Why hire an SEO manager?

Without an SEO manager, it’s often difficult to know where to start when it comes to improving your website’s search engine visibility. And without valuable organic traffic, it’s hard to increase your customer base and sales. SEO can be a big contributor to brand growth.

An SEO manager can help you identify the best strategies for improving your website’s search presence. They will also be able to monitor overall performance, spot potential improvement opportunities, and create effective tactics to get the best results from your website’s content.

This includes conducting keyword research and creating SEO content, optimizing existing website pages, analyzing traffic sources, managing link-building campaigns, monitoring search engine performance, and regularly reporting on the progress of organic traffic. An SEO manager will ensure that your business sees SEO progress much more quickly.

What responsibilities does an SEO manager have?

The primary responsibility of an SEO manager is to ensure that your website ranks as high as possible in search engine results (not just Google, but Bing, and Amazon too).

If you’re not on the first page of Google for your most important keywords, you’re missing huge sales opportunities. This is particularly true for ecommerce SEO, where a poorly-performing website and SEO strategy can literally be the difference between a thriving business and bankruptcy.

It is crucial to hire an SEO manager who understands all aspects of SEO, including technical SEO, content-related tasks, analytics tracking, website performance, and link building.

They should have the ability to assess the current health of a website, developing plans to improve ranking in organic search results. The successful candidate should also be able to track and analyze performance metrics, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and bounce rates.

What characteristics make a good SEO manager?

When looking for an SEO manager, you’ll want to find someone who is knowledgeable in the field, has good communication skills, is a self-starter, and can work independently.

Personality traits are key too. The person should be creative, persistent, and have a passion for problem-solving. They should also have good organizational skills and the ability to prioritize tasks.

It is important that the SEO manager you hire is a team player, and can take direction from upper management. Having the ability to build relationships with stakeholders and clients is also essential.

The importance of project management

Project management skills are essential for an SEO manager as they will need to coordinate activities between multiple teams and departments, manage timelines and budgets, and report on project progress.

Without good project management skills, an SEO manager will struggle to get results and could cause delays in achieving desired outcomes.

How can you ensure that your team gels well?

The key to creating a successful SEO team is finding people with complementary skills who work well together. This involves looking for individuals who have experience in different aspects of digital marketing, such as content writing, web design, and analytics.

You don’t want to hire a team of people who are all experts in the same field, as this will limit your team’s ability to think creatively and come up with innovative ideas.

It is also important to ensure that your SEO manager has good interpersonal skills. Having an open-door policy where everyone can easily communicate with each other is essential. This will help build trust between team members and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Having an open dialogue between all team members will also be crucial. This will ensure their feedback and input on how best to optimize the content or improve strategies.

Ideas for welcoming and onboarding your new hire

This could include creating an onboarding checklist, setting up regular meetings, assigning tasks to the team members, and scheduling time for team-building activities. Do make sure your SEO manager has face time with key leads from across the business to get a strong understanding of the business and its needs. This pays off in the long run.

Hiring in-house vs SEO outsourcing

When it comes to deciding if you should hire an in-house SEO manager, outsource the work to an SEO agency, or simply get a freelancer – you need to gauge the pros and cons.

Hiring in-house may be more expensive but can provide a greater level of control and allows for closer collaboration with the team. You totally own your processes and have granular input on everything.

On the other hand, outsourcing to an agency or freelance professional may be more cost-effective and can provide specialized skills that are not available in-house. Many SEO providers will offer types of monthly SEO packages, which make costs predictable and controllable. And depending on the terms of a contract, you likely have the freedom to cancel whenever you like. This can be much less hassle than employing someone ­– a poorly-performing employee, which can be more troublesome to resolve.

  Hiring in-house Hiring an SEO agency or freelancer
Pros • Greater control and collaboration

• Easier to monitor progress

• Assign tasks quickly

• Affordable

• Access to specialized skills

• High level of expertise and experience

Cons • Can be more expensive

• Limited experience level

• Can be difficult to find the right candidate

 

• Lack of control over the process

• Communication can be more difficult

• Accountability can be less clear

Interview questions to ask your potential SEO manager

When interviewing a potential SEO manager, you should ask some specific questions to make sure they are the right fit. These can include questions about their experience with SEO, how they stay up-to-date on algorithm changes, and what strategies they would use to improve your website’s ranking.

Example starter questions

  • What experience do you have with SEO?
  • How do you stay up to date on algorithm changes?
  • What strategies would you use to improve our website’s ranking?
  • How would you optimize our content for search engine visibility?
  • What kind of link-building tactics do you employ?
  • What do you consider to be the most important SEO trends?

Common mistakes to avoid when hiring a new candidate

When hiring an SEO manager, there are some common mistakes you should avoid:

Not understanding the responsibilities of an SEO Manager

It is vital you have a clear idea of what the job entails and that the candidate has the relevant skills for the position.

Not considering the team’s current culture

When bringing someone new onto your team it is important to consider how they will fit in with existing colleagues.

Not asking enough questions during interviews

Make sure you ask any potential candidates about their experience and qualifications, as well as their ability to work with the team and manage client relationships.

Not setting clear goals for the role

Setting clear expectations will ensure that everyone is on the same page from the outset and that any targets are achievable.

Not agreeing on a budget

Before you start your search, make sure to set a realistic budget for this role. This will help you determine how much you can afford to pay, and what kind of person is best suited to the job.

Not conducting background checks

Background checks are important when hiring an SEO manager as they will provide insight into their past experience and any qualifications they may have. It’s also a good way to make sure that there are no discrepancies in their resume.

FAQ

Q: How do I find an SEO manager?

A: You can look for SEO managers on job boards, or hire a freelancer or agency. Make sure to ask them questions about their experience and qualifications, as well as their ability to work with the team and manage client relationships.

Q: What should I look for in an SEO manager?

A: A good SEO manager should have experience with SEO, and up-to-date knowledge of algorithm changes and strategies to improve a website’s ranking. They should also be able to optimize content for search engine visibility, employ link-building tactics and keep track of the latest SEO trends.

Q: How much does it cost to hire an SEO manager?

A: The cost of hiring an SEO manager will depend on the level of experience, skills, and services required. Generally, in-house managers can be more expensive than agencies or freelance professionals. It’s important to set a realistic budget before you start your search.

Q: Is it a good idea to hire an SEO manager overseas to work remotely?

A: This depends on the situation. Hiring a remote SEO manager can be beneficial if they are highly experienced and able to deliver results, however, communication and accountability can be more challenging with remote workers. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before making your final decision. There may also be legal or compliance issues when employing internationally.

Closing thoughts

Finding the right SEO manager is an important step in ensuring your website’s success. Make sure to ask potential candidates plenty of questions and take into account their skills, experience, and ability to fit into the team culture before making a decision. Consider both the benefits and disadvantages of hiring an in-house employee or outsourcing to an agency or freelancer, and don’t forget to set a budget. With the right candidate on board, you’ll be well on your way to achieving long-term SEO success.


Joe Dawson is Director of strategic growth agency Creative.onl, based in the UK. He can be found on Twitter @jdwn.

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10 SaaS marketers share what’s NOT working in content marketing anymore

November 11, 2022 No Comments

Content has become a traditional marketing channel for many SaaS companies. According to ProfitWell, content companies are likely to see 30 percent higher growth rates and 5 percent better retention rates than those not using content marketing.

The content marketing game is constantly changing – what used to work for SaaS companies years ago doesn’t make the cut today. Having spent a good five years in the SaaS content marketing space I’m always interested in tips, hacks, and low-hanging fruit that let you take a shortcut and speed up product growth.

I’ve interviewed 10 SaaS marketers and founders who’ve been creating SaaS content on a daily basis for years and asked them to share their insights – what’s not working in SaaS content marketing anymore? Let’s dive in and see what they have to share.       

#1 Chasing big fat keywords

Everybody wants to rank for these fancy keywords with large amounts of search volume. But the truth is, large search volumes usually come with a crazy high competition and keyword difficulty. If your SaaS is in the social media space and you are just unfolding your content marketing, going after stuff like “social media management” is literally wasting your time and money.    

“Being the bootstrapped startup that we are, we aim for actions that yield results. Our focus is on high-intent content marketing strategy. We pick keywords for blog posts not according to their search volume but according to their purchase intent. This helped us drive not only traffic but also sign ups with our blog being the only marketing channel today ” says Dennis Vu, co-founder and CEO at RingBlaze

I couldn’t agree more. The reason why our agency has been up and running for 2+ years is because we deliver not only traffic but also sign ups to SaaS clients. And the only way to do so with content marketing is to focus on high-intent keywords – think “alternatives”, “competitors” or “vs” keywords. It works every single time so that’s where I recommend starting your content marketing efforts.   

#2 Going outside of your niche

We’ve written hundreds of articles for the Expandi blog over the course of two years. Today, Google recognizes Expandi as an authority when it comes to all things LinkedIn –LinkedIn cold outreach, LinkedIn recruitment, LinkedIn automation – no matter which LinkedIn-related article we’d cover, it instantly ranks well on Google.

Recently, Expandi introduced new features, only this time they weren’t about LinkedIn but about email outreach. Once we started writing email-related articles, we realized that they were not ranking well. Unfortunately, we haven’t built the email marketing topical authority (yet) so Google didn’t consider us experts in the niche.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enter a new space and write about a new subject. Building the topical authority needed for recognizing you as a niche expert will require time and effort. If you decide to start a new category on a blog, you should keep this in mind. At the same time, if you aren’t changing your product, keep in line with the topic you’ve chosen. 

“If the article is written about CRM, but this is not your niche, it is challenging to get to the top of Google search,” says Andrew Chornyy, CEO at Plerdy where they write 30 blog articles per month. 

#3 Posting articles lacking expertise

Have you ever read one of those articles where it looks good on the surface but once you’ve read it you felt like there was absolutely nothing you’ve learned from it? Pretty much all the content marketing experts I’ve talked to agree on this – vague, watery content for the sake of content is a no-go. 

“Most companies use copywriters to write their content. This doesn’t work anymore. As they are usually not an expert in the topic they write about, they will read our copywriters’ articles to research the topic. This results in an endless loop of already fluffy content being the input for even fluffier content,” says Jeroen Corthout, co-founder and CEO at Salesflare.  

Be careful when you hire copywriters with no subject matter expertise – you might be risking your brand image. Ask about their previous writing examples covering a similar topic or niche. For example, when we chat with a wanna-be client from a niche we don’t have experience with, we let them know about it straight away. Losing a potential client is way better than losing a reputation.   

If your topics are technical and your tech experts don’t have time to write blog articles (which is usually the case) have your writers connect with experts on a quick call to get as many ‘meaty’ details as possible. Also, make sure to get those experts to proofread the post when it’s ready. 

#4 Prioritizing article length over quality

When Brian Dean introduced us to the skyscraper technique back in the day, everyone and his dog started creating content that’s longer than those competing results ranking in Google top. However, long content doesn’t necessarily mean comprehensive. What we see these days is blogs populated with 20-min reads that are vague, watery, and, let’s be honest, don’t bring much value to the table.

Ioana Sima, marketing manager at TextMagic said,

“Long-form written content as 90% of companies do it. The web is incredibly saturated with long-form articles that are written for the sake of being written. SaaS companies should not rely purely on long-form.

I would recommend experimenting with different formats and transforming articles that perform well into long-form content, while also including video summaries, templates, or rich media that can be distributed on other channels and quickly digested. Oh, and ALWAYS check SERPs to see the formats of top-performing pages.”

It can be hard to pack your article with value when SurferSEO asks you to write a 5K words piece. Remember that longer doesn’t always mean better. After all, this is what content marketing is about – writing for people, and bringing value while also catering to search engines. 

#5 Publishing articles under a wrong name

Ranktracker is publishing 50 blog articles per month, translated into 12 languages. Felix Rose-Collins, the CMO, shares that articles they’ve published under the name of unknown authors tend to have poor performance on Google.

“We noticed that they don’t appear for our target keywords, we have now stopped posting for unknown authors. Once we’ve started using well-known names (like CEO), we see them rank within two minutes after publishing in the top 3 results. Even for extremely competitive keywords,” says Felix. 

clicks and sessions over timeRankTracker clicks and impressions over time

In fact, this might be one of the reasons why you don’t see the results from the guest posts published on your blog. Next time, when you accept a guest post, make sure to look up the author on Google. If there are no online publications, chances are it probably won’t do your blog any good.

On the other note, when you pitch a guest post to an editor, include your previous publications on major platforms. For example, that’s how I got to write this post for Search Engine Watch – I shared my previous articles I wrote for Entrepreneur, HubSpot, Zapier, Foundr, and many more.  

#6 Focusing on new content rather past articles

About five years ago I wasn’t thinking much about updating old content. We were on a hamster wheel of creating more content, faster for Chanty, a company where I headed a content team. Then I ran into this article by HubSpot and realized I was missing out big time. So we went back to the older posts to update and optimize them. I can’t share numbers as it was a long time ago but the results were huge. Since then we do this for our clients – if the article isn’t performing well, it gets an update. 

“You’ll find that most of your sign ups come from a handful of articles. Updating our lead-generating content is an ongoing work that never stops. After all, the supply of keywords relevant to your business isn’t endless. While you are producing new content, older articles are going down. If you neglect updating older content you’d be stuck with a traffic plateau and a business that doesn’t grow,” says Andrey Makhovskyi, founder and CEO at Effy.ai

SaaS content marketing - One of Effy.ai updated article performance over time

One of Effy.ai updated article performance over time

#7 Contributing via Help a reporter out (HARO)

This might bring a lot of resentment but we had to discontinue HARO for our clients in 2022. If you are not familiar, HARO is a service that connects journalists/ authors with experts in the field. 

Authors would request a quote from experts and experts would share their advice. Authors then would decide which quote to include in their article and credit experts by putting a link to the expert’s website (similar to what I’m doing in this article). This used to be a win-win case – authors would get meaty insights for their publications while experts would get attribution and links to their websites.

It worked great until it turned into a red ocean zone and space got overcrowded. What used to be a great link building technique became a waste of time and effort.

“About two years ago we used to get 25 backlinks out of 65 pitches for our clients. With time it went into a downward spiral. Today, nobody links to you just because you shared your advice. They also want a link back in return. We realized it no longer delivers the value it used to to our clients. We had to give up this service and focus on backlink building techniques that do work today, ” says Iryna Kutnyak, director of operations at Quoleady

#8 Distributing content across communities

Emilia Korczynska is a head of content at UserPilot and the hardest working marketer I’ve ever met. Getting published a whopping 60 articles per month, she’s tried distributing blog content on Quora, Reddit and social media. She says you have to be very cautious about how you spend time distributing blog posts.  

“Resharing content in social media groups that are mostly dead or Slack channels requires a lot of effort, and with the miniscule organic reach and a high chance of getting banned by the admins just don’t justify it. Similarly with Quora/Reddit and other Q&A sites,” says Emilia.

I couldn’t agree more – we stopped all of our Quora activities a long time ago because the results just weren’t worth it. What we realized is that people often come to Quora from Google search after typing your target keyword – the one you are optimizing an article for. It makes much more sense to get that blog article rank in the Google top (higher than the Quora result) rather than trying to compete with hundreds of Quora answers bugging your friends/colleagues to upvote and comment.

When it comes to sharing in social media groups – self promotion is usually against the group rules anyway. Unless you are an admin or have been constantly adding value to the group, your blatant distribution attempt will be quickly eliminated. At the same time, there are groups that allow this sort of promotion. I call them “distribution cemeteries”. Nobody reads the avalanche of irrelevant content that’s being posted there. 

#9 Prioritizing link building over content quality

Whenever I speak with a potential client on Zoom, I emphasize that content quality comes first. You can’t have a piece of content that’s thin and invaluable and expect it to rank well by building backlinks to it. It’s like putting a fresh coat of paint on a car with no wheels and hoping it will ride. 

I’ve interviewed Mohamed Sehwail, CEO at FullSession and here’s his input on this,

“We haven’t been building backlinks to our blog content for a while, yet we were able to maintain steady growth of traffic and sign ups. Article updates do its magic, boosting our positions and bringing our pages to the Google top.” 

SaaS - FullSession traffic growth over time

FullSession traffic growth over time

Building backlinks will only help rank content better once your content is polished – it’s valuable, well-structured, to the point, answers the search intent, etc. When that’s in place and you are still not ranking well, it’s time to add backlinks.

#10 Overdosing with gated content

“Give us your email and get access to an ebook, whitepaper, guide, checklist, etc.” The classic inbound approach introduced by HubSpot back in the days might not work for everyone as of now. The amount of content online these days is insane. Why would they give you their email if they can get the same contact (if not better) openly elsewhere?

Instead of closing off certain content, we’ve found it’s more beneficial to create ‘additional resources’ as a complement allowing readers the option to download and creating a win-win scenario,” says  Elizabeth Pokorny, head of content at Weglot

When you are putting together three already published articles on a topic and calling it a guide, it doesn’t sound right. If it works for you – great. However, gated content does its best when it’s unique, something you can’t find easily online.

It might help to review your gated content policy and experiment with the assets you share with your readers. Opening more of your content might bring extra organic traffic and result in more sign ups at the end of the day. On the other hand, if your content pieces are of great value and your website is the only place to get them, I’d recommend keeping them gated. 

Bottom line

I’ve interviewed dozens of content marketers and only top insights made it to this article. One thing that’s clear as day – great content is here to stay. It’s not about the amount of backlinks or length. Helpful, actionable, experience-based content written by an expert in the field is what you should be after when planning content pieces for your website. 

When you develop your content marketing strategy, focus on high-intent keywords that will bring a highly-targeted flow of people who are ready to sign up. When you have a pool of articles that generate leads for you, make sure to cherish this content and update it regularly to give it a well-deserved Google boost.

Topical authority is a thing and gradually building authority around the topic that’s most relevant to your business will help you rank your future articles faster and easier. 

When sharing content online, avoid the spray-and-pray approach (don’t bury your content on the spooky ‘distribution cemeteries’), always check the results of your activities and double down only on those channels that are worth the effort.

Hopefully, this article and advice from the content marketing experts who’ve learned their lesson through trial and error will help you save time and focus on things that work.


Olga Mykhoparkina is a founder at Quoleady, a SaaS content marketing agency on a mission to help great software products get quality leads through top-notch evergreen content.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

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The post 10 SaaS marketers share what’s NOT working in content marketing anymore appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Could these alternative SEO techniques be key to ranking successfully?

November 4, 2022 No Comments

With algorithm updates being rolled out on a more regular basis, staying at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) has never been harder.

Gone are the days of signing up to directories, exact match domains, and keyword stuffing; SEO practitioners must do whatever they can to outrank their competitors.

Sure, you can put out more grind work through aggressive link-building outreach, hire a PR agency or a bunch of content writers, but could these simple alternative strategies below give you the edge?

Tip #1 – Post content when no one else is

The notion that ‘content is king’ is certainly true – you need good quality content and regular content uploaded to show you are proactive and not a dormant site.

Content cannot be thin, with thousands and thousands of words, because it needs to be relevant and answer questions in your industry, presented by # tags, useful links, images, and videos where possible.

“A competitive edge over your rivals is posting content when no one else is,” explains Rosie Marie, CEO of Rosca Technologies, a data optimisation solution.

“You have to understand that Google is an algorithm and a machine and not just a bunch of suits who look at websites one-by-one.”

Google recrawls every day or at least every few days, Marie explains, stressing it is hard to know precisely when this is. “If you can post content at alternative times of the day or year and Google decides to index your site, who knows, this could give you a competitive advantage,” she says.

Marie notes her business has tried posting content on weekends – easy to do if using a content management system – because others are unlikely to do so.

“In addition, we take advantage of things like UK bank holidays and that lazy week between Christmas and New Year’s because Google could very well pick up that we are being more proactive than our competitors. If this is the case, don’t we deserve to rank higher?”

Tip #2Get impartial users to critique your website

We regularly hear that time on site is a good SEO indicator, after all, if people hang on your site for a long time and click through to various pages, this shows that your information is useful, compared to a user who comes and leaves after 5 seconds, resulting in a low bounce rate.

“You could ask your partners and people in your industry to look through your site and offer their feedback,” says Gavin Cooper, founder of Claims Bible.

“Start by posting on LinkedIn and Facebook and say to your friends that you have just redesigned your site or have launched a new business and would truly welcome some feedback,” he says.

“Some of the feedback may not be nice to hear! But you will get a lot of dedicated users really looking through pages and scrolling through and this is great for SEO, certainly in the early days of a website launch.”

Cooper notes businesses must be careful to not forget that a higher click-through rate on Google’s search results also helps during the early buzz of a site launch.

“For instance, if you are ranked position 9 and more people click on you than position 3 or 4, this should also help your ranking,” he says.  “Similar ideas include sending out blast emails and SMS messages or making a big announcement on LinkedIn, but linking to your website. Don’t give LinkedIn the traffic, keep it for yourself!”

Tip #3 – Acquire links from simple sources

One of the most traditional link-building techniques is to create quality data-driven pieces and then email around and get links back to it as a resource e.g calculators, money that can be saved etc.

But not only is this very time-consuming but you have no guarantee over which links point back to you, and what anchor text is used.

“Our alternative technique involves finding websites that have already written articles or blog posts on your subject, whether you talk about health, finance, travel or anything that has expert opinion,” explains Luke Fitzpatrick, head of digital at Earned Media.

“Our approach involves reaching out to all those guides on page two to ten, contacting them and offering to give additional data to help ‘bulk up’ and refine their articles,” he says.

“Understandably, several publishers were thrilled to have more information in their articles and were pleased to give a follow link back as a reference. Link building achieved!”

Tip #4 – Using link bait that has already been successful

Content is king, but we know that links make the world go round. There are some things that work as excellent link bait for a brand, such as being nominated or winning awards, and being featured in press sections.

“But looking into competitors, there seem to be some lists that grab more attention than others,” says Richard Allan, co-founder of Capital Bean.

“Creating top lists such as best cities to do something, start a family or retire, tend to attract more interest than others, especially if they are filled with data.”

Allan also notes businesses should consider sponsoring large organisations in the health industry or non-profits since they often give a link and badge as part of it on their websites. “You get to help a great cause too,” he says.

“Another fascinating one is launching a scholarship or essay writing competition – which can attract links from universities and colleges if positioned well.”

 Tip #5 – Are you starting to fall? simple, refresh the content

Finally, if you ranked beautifully for some big keywords but find yourself starting to fall, you can just consider refreshing the content and replacing it with new and improved information, taking other points used by those who seem to be ranking better lately.

Google loves fresh content, and this helps your indexability, so it would not be strange to update your main landing pages every 6 months or so to give you that refresh.

The post Could these alternative SEO techniques be key to ranking successfully? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Ecommerce SEO guide for the 2022 holiday season

October 14, 2022 No Comments

Ecommerce SEO guide for the 2022 holiday season

30-second summary:

  • Global recession and cost of living crisis will not dampen the gifting spirit and consumer spending
  • For the 2022 holiday season, ecommerce retailers forecast $ 262 billion in revenue which surpasses the $ 205 billion benchmark from 2021
  • If you found yourself Googling “ideas to boost ecommerce holiday season revenue” we have answers for you!
  • Our latest guide uncovers the 8 sides of a robust, proven-to-work ecommerce SEO strategy that will help propel your sales

Holiday season brings with it many things. One of them being ecommerce revenue. Despite the global recession and cost of living crisis, the 2022 holiday season will see people spending. Economists at Deloitte forecast ecommerce revenue of around $ 262 billion which is a 13.5 percent growth.

The question here is, how do you get a share of this $ 260 billion ecommerce pie? By working on improving your ecommerce SEO.

Holiday ecommerce sales forecast to grow 13.5 percent

Source: Axios

Search engines push 37.5 percent of all traffic to ecommerce sites, and a whopping 95 percent of these searchers stick to the first SERP. Having an early enough start to your ecommerce search strategy helps you earn visibility in top SERPs, measure effectiveness, test, and scale practices as the peak season approaches.

Ecommerce SEO can help your store rank higher and offer a better user experience by making sure your website aligns with search engine ranking factors.

However, Google, the most used search engine, updates its ranking factors several times a year according to its users’ changing behavior. So, you need to upgrade your marketing toolkit with the latest SEO techniques before the holiday season.

In this article, you’ll find some of the latest and proven-to-work ecommerce SEO strategies to hopefully point you in the right direction as you prepare to dip your hands into the holiday season. 

Let’s dive right in!

The eight layers of a powerful ecommerce SEO strategy

Ranking an ecommerce store is critical to winning those holiday sales. Why? Because people turn to Google whenever they are looking to shop for holiday essentials or presents.

In this situation, an ecommerce website that fails to rank higher may miss out on interacting with holiday shoppers out with their money.

So, here are some key ecommerce SEO techniques to help you to help your website rank higher and possibly interact with holiday shoppers:

1. Focus on keyword research

Holiday shopping begins with keywords. People type in search phrases when they are looking to buy something. And that’s where your opportunity to rank lies. 

44 percent of people start their online shopping journey with a Google search. Keyword research might help you find words to help Google and other search engines connect these shoppers with your web page.

ecommerce keyword research differs slightly from regular keyword research. In this case, your focus is to identify and include search phrases with commercial or transactional intent.

There could be keywords that appear commercial but could have an informational intent and hence may prove detrimental to your SEO.

The phrase “best winter shoes for women US” may seem like a transactional keyword. But as it appears from the top search result, it has a dominant informational intent. 

Let’s talk about finding these keywords.

Your keyword research should start with brainstorming keyword ideas. Make a list of all the products you sell, and then jump in your customer’s shoes to see how they would search for what you are selling.

Say that you have a shoe store and sell running and other types of shoes. Your customers may search for your product with keywords like “running shoes” or “buy best running shoes.”

Think of all such keywords.

Backlinko also recommends diving into amazon and typing these root words into the search bar to find more keyword ideas.

amazon keywords - ecommerce seo for 2022 holiday season

All of the phrases in the image above can be used as root keywords for shoe store SEO. 

You can also check out your competitor’s websites to uncover the keywords that they are ranking for.

check competitor websites to find keywords for your 2022 holiday season ecommerce strategy

From the image above, we can see that “Buy best winter shoes for women” might be a good alternative to the “best winter shoes for women” keyphrase. 

Also, scroll to the end of the SERPs to check out the related searches section for more keyword ideas.

refer the related keywords to create a keyword list - ecommerce seo for 2022 holiday season

Make a list of keywords during this brainstorming session. 

Make sure to corroborate the search intent before shortlisting a keyword. Sometimes a keyword may appear to have commercial intent, but in reality, it may be informational.

Finally, run your keyword ideas through a keyword research tool like Google Adwords to determine the search volume and competition.

Low search volume and high-competition keywords are usually recommended. But when trying to rank an ecommerce store, you might benefit from long-tail keywords with low search volume and competition. But these keywords are touted to convert better and may help your website rank sooner.

2. Focus on content

Google now prioritizes websites with descriptive and valuable content. You cannot achieve results with your e-commerce SEO campaign while ignoring content.

Find out what’s trending in the holiday season. What are people talking about? And then create content around topics or products that are trending. 

Focus on optimizing all the content present on your website, along with creating new, informational, and valuable content.

Optimize your product descriptions with relevant keywords. Avoid keyword stuffing, though. Instead, create product descriptions that give users all the information they may need before buying a product.

This may include product details and reviews.

focus on the content in product details and reviews - ecommerce seo for 2022 holiday season

Besides product pages, consider creating a separate blog to post top-of-the-funnel content like blogs, case studies, product reviews, etc. Not only will this enrich your website’s content, it may also help rank your site quicker, drive more web traffic, and generate better leads.

Long-form content, especially blogs, gets around 77% more backlinks than short-form content. Therefore, pumping out informative, unique articles may also help build your backlink profile.

Since we have touched on the topic of backlinks…

3. Yes, backlinks are still relevant

Many people believe backlinks have gone down the hierarchy of ranking factors. That’s not true, though.

Backlinks are as important as ever. When determining your website’s authority, Google relies on the number, quality, and relevance of your backlinks. So, don’t slack off on acquiring links from other relevant sites on the internet.

Gaining backlinks for an ecommerce store may not be as straightforward as building some random blog’s backlink profile.

There are many bloggers that create seasonal content and it could be an opportunity in your ecommerce SEO strategy to get backlinks on holiday season offers and discount pages. Consider reaching out to them and asking them if they could write a holiday season piece on your product and link back to your site, or offer to write a guest post for them to earn a backlink.

Additionally, there are many product review websites. You can reach out to them, send your product, and ask them to write a review of the product and link back to the product’s page on your website.

connect with product review websites

Brand mentions like these may help uplift your SEO scores since 52 percent of marketers believe brand mentions impact organic rankings.

4. Work on improving website user experience (UX)

Website user experience is an important ranking factor. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

There are various ways you can improve your website’s user experience. The first one is through site structure.

Your website needs to be easy to navigate for the users and crawl for the search engines. And for that, you will have to make sure all your web pages are arranged so that every page within the website is accessible through three or fewer clicks. This is what backlinko calls the golden rule of website structure.

Here’s a representation of what a good website structure may look like:

what a good ecommerce website structure looks like

Source 

And here’s an example:

page footer site links should be clear to the user - ecommerce seo for 2022 holiday season

Once you have improved the site structure, look at the URLs of the web pages you’ve just sorted. Your website URL should tell the user what the page is about with a short but descriptive keyword.

Here’s an example of what good URLs may look like:

shoesforyou.com/athletic/runningshoes

shoesforyou.com/leisure/sneakers

shoesforyou.com/formal

Furthermore, 73 percent of web designers believe a non-responsive web design is one of the top reasons visitors leave a website. I know these are hard words but I should say all your ecommerce SEO efforts could be wasted, if your e-commerce store is not mobile-friendly and responsive web design happens to be a critical ranking factor. So make sure your website is mobile optimized so the design can adjust according to the screen it appears on.

An example of responsive web design:

responsive web design

Source

Another factor that shapes your website’s user experience is its security. Google, too, prioritizes website security and works to make sure the websites it drives its users to are secure.

Make sure you have a TLS certificate, so “HTTPS” and a little lock appear in the URL bar for the users to know your website is safe.

TLS certificate for HTTPS - site security

5. Page load speed

Page load speed is a part of the website’s user experience. But because it is so important, especially for an ecommerce store, it deserves its own space. 

A drop in page load speed decreases the conversion rates, with almost 75 percent of people tending to change their mind during the checkout process if the website is too slow or taking time to load during checkout.

Since the holiday season usually adds to the website load, your website can slow down. Be proactive and make sure you have enough website resources to handle the holiday rush. 

Google counts a page’s load speed as an important ranking factor and so make sure to remove unnecessary ad blockers, scripts, or optimize everything that can drag your website down in terms of speed.

6. On-page optimization

On-page optimization includes fine-tuning the relatively smaller website elements contained within the web page.

36 percent of SEO experts believe the title tag is the most important SEO element. Therefore, optimize your title tag so it is descriptive, short, and keyword-optimized.

You can use Moz’s Title Tag checker to see how your title would look on the SERP and optimize it accordingly.

title tag optimization for your ecommerce seo strategy - holiday season 2022

Meta descriptions are critical as well. While they do not influence SEO directly, meta descriptions play a vital role in shaping your CTR. So, take the time to write crips and compelling descriptions.

Also, make sure to include keyword-optimized H2s and H3s wherever possible. And don’t forget to optimize the images on every web page.

7. Make good use of schema markup

Schema Markup is a set of codes you can embed in your web page’s HTML to help Google understand the page. It also enables the search engine to return more informative and descriptive results, otherwise known as snippets.

This is particularly important for an ecommerce site because users want to ensure the website they click on contains what they are looking for. And optimized snippets give them that and hence contribute to improved CTRs.

While Google decides what it wants to display in the snippets section, including what you want to be displayed as a snippet through Schema may increase the chances of Google going with what you have chosen.

user schema markup

8. Optimizing ecommerce stores for RankBrain

RankBrain is one of Google’s most historical updates and is now among the top three ranking factors. This algorithm helps Google rank sites that are contextually relevant to the search queries.

Therefore, prioritize understanding your audience and creating the content THEY need alongside working on the technical aspects of e-commerce SEO.

Additionally, work on increasing your website’s engagement rates since Backlinko believes dwell time is an important ranking factor with RankBrain. And as mentioned above, look for any authoritative backlinking opportunity you get and capitalize on it.

Final words

Finding visibility in the search engine space during the holiday season is critical to help drive business revenue. However, winning with ecommerce SEO is tough but not impossible. You might compete with big sharks like Amazon, who dominate the first page. Therefore, you may have to be smart about your strategies.

Building a content-first SEO strategy can help here as these pages may rank more easily and help channel traffic to product pages that may struggle to rank when Amazon reigns over the SERPs.

So, focus on creating optimized, informative, and user-focused content. Work on the technical aspects of SEO, and continue tracking the latest search engine updates to adapt your SEO tool kit accordingly.


Atul Jindal is a web design and marketing specialist. He has worked on website/app optimization for SEO with a core focus on conversion optimization. He creates web experiences that bring conversations and transform web traffic into paying customers or leads.

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The inner workings of search advertising in a cookieless world

September 13, 2022 No Comments

The inner workings of search advertising in a cookieless world

30-second summary:

  • As third-party cookies will eventually phase out and marketers search for alternate approaches, they may find themselves lost in a sea of data when attempting to measure and evaluate the impact
  • Focusing on the quality of users instead of attributable conversions can mitigate the inconvenience of losing third-party cookies
  • The shift from cookies to a new engagement model will require constant testing, so keep data simple where possible

For years now, digital marketers have been spoiled by third-party cookies and the ability to accurately track engagement – it has made life simple, and reporting a campaign’s activity a breeze. Such an approach has allowed us to easily see how many conversions Meta, Criteo, or an influencer has contributed to with minimal effort. But the eventual demise of third-party cookies demands accurate data on engagement to ensure that the transition to new identifiers can be as clear as possible. However, due to either ignorance or convenience, many advertisers still take overly positive and blindly optimistic metrics as the truth.

Counting your chickens before they’ve converted

If we take Facebook for example, they have no way of knowing to what extent their services contributed to a conversion. There are many ways of producing wildly inflated numbers, such as having several touch points and one conversion being associated with multiple channels, or even inaccuracies from false positives. This is particularly troubling for those engaging in heavy remarketing based on past users who already have visited or interacted with a site. One must ask the question – when working with inaccurate metrics, will remarketing actually contribute to further conversions or will it simply attribute miss-clicks to campaigns that don’t increase revenue?

We as humans love to oversimplify things, especially complex patterns. Imagine how complex a visit is to your webpage – you get a session that is connected to a user, that considers different attributes such as age, gender, location, interests as well as their current activity on your site. That user data is then sent to, for example, Google Ads, in a remarketing list.

Even the remarketing list provides a notable variable when trying to make sense of conversions. Facebook and Google users are not 1:1, with one user on Google often being connected to more devices and browsers than the average Facebook user. You could get a conversion from a device that Google has connected to the same user, while Facebook may lack any insight.

With each user visiting your website you populate remarketing lists. Those remarketing lists build “lookalikes” in Facebook and “similar” in Google. These “similars” can be extremely useful, as although traffic from one channel could be attributed to zero to no conversions, they could in fact help build the most efficient “similars” in Google Ads that can then drive a large number of cheap conversions.

Identify data that helps you steer clear of over-attribution

All automated optimization efforts, whether they be the campaign budget optimization (CBO) or Target CPA are dependent on data. The more data you feed the machines the better results you get. The bigger your remarketing lists, the more efficient your automatic/smart campaigns will be on Google. This is what makes the value of a user so multifaceted and incredibly complex, even when you don’t take the action impression of an ad into account.

With this incredible complexity, we need to have an attribution model that can genuinely portray engagement data without inflating or underselling a campaign’s conversions. However, while there may be many models that are well suited to produce the most accurate results, it should be remembered that attribution is by itself flawed. As consumers, we understand that the actions that drive us to conversions in our personal lives are varied, with so many things that can’t be tracked enough to be attributed. While attribution cannot be perfect, it is essentially the best tool available and can become far more useful when applied alongside other data points.

The last non-direct click attribution model

When trying to avoid inflated data, the easiest attribution model is a last non-direct click. With this model, all direct traffic is ignored and all the credit for the conversion goes to the last channel that the customer clicked through, ultimately preventing any conversions from being falsely attributed to multiple touchpoints. It is a simple model that only considers the bare minimum that still manages to solve the problems of over-attribution by being direct. This way, marketers can measure the effect rather than attributing parts of conversion to different campaigns or channels. It really is a very straightforward approach; essentially, “if we do this to x, does that increase y?”. Of course, like all attribution models, the last non-direct click approach has its downsides. For one, it’s not a perfect solution to over/under contribution, but it is an easily replicable and strategically sound approach that provides reliable data where you can measure everything in one place.

In any case, the delayed death of the third-party cookie is certainly causing many to reevaluate their digital advertising methodologies. For now, proactive marketers will continue to search for privacy-friendly identifiers that can provide alternative solutions. First-party data could well have a larger role to play if consent from users can be reliably gained. While we wait for the transition, getting your data in order and finding accurate, reliable approaches to attribution must be a priority.

Ensuring the accuracy of this data is therefore imperative, this can be achieved by ensuring there are no discrepancies between clicks and sessions whilst all webpages are accurately tracked. In the absence of auto-tracking, UTMs should also be used to track all campaigns and, if possible, tracking should be server-side. Finally, marketers should test their tracking with Tag Assistant, and make sure they don’t create duplicate sessions or lose parameters during the session. Ultimately, once the third-party cookie becomes entirely obsolete, which direction marketers go in will ultimately be decided by data – which must be as accurate as possible.


Torkel Öhman is CTO and co-founder of Amanda AI. Responsible for building Amanda AI, with his experience in data/analytics, Torkel oversees all technical aspects of the product ensuring all ad accounts run smoothly.

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The creator economy boom, bust, and need for SEO!

August 3, 2022 No Comments

The creator economy boom, bust, and need for SEO!

30-second summary:

  • The content creator economy has created the influencer marketing boom which has been accelerated and growth heavy
  • However, bubbling under the surface is a growing climate of inflated risk, unstable ROI, and a shooing-away of vital practices in lieu of, what can be perceived as, a “faster track” to success
  • Influencer and CEO of Gamactica, Anthony DiMoro shares a topline view of influencer marketing, social channels, and the need to use SEO for amplified digital marketing results

Not long ago, many internet marketing strategies were divided into very specific categories, from search engine optimization (SEO) to search engine marketing (SEM/PPC) and from online reputation management (ORM) to social media marketing (SMM), aside from a few wrinkles, these were the roads most often traveled.

Fast forward to today and the climate has shifted, as brands look for viable ways to penetrate the creator market, and build ROI in a very turbulent space that has a number of variables and differing angles.

The content creator economy has been mostly responsible for the boom of influencer marketing, and the boom has been so accelerated, growth heavy, that it has created a lot of successes. But with those successes, bubbling under the surface, there has also been a growing climate of inflated risk, unstable ROI, and a shooing-away of vital practices in lieu of, what can be perceived as, a “faster track” to success.

Where Instagram once ruled, seemingly by itself, TikTok is now becoming a major threat, so much so that Facebook is making sweeping changes to catch the trend of success that TikTok has had.

TikTok hasn’t just pushed Facebook, it has also pushed platforms such as YouTube to incorporate their own version of short-form video content, ‘Shorts’.

But, is it funneling the marketing dollars to show the viability of these trends?

The marketing spending, on this newer wave of content marketing and social media marketing, is illustrated below, via The Insider.

stats on influencer marketing, the creator economy and SEO

Source: The Insider

There is no denying what the creator economy has become.

But as the creator economy continues to burst through ceilings, it has practically reached a point where now there is an inflation of creators, but more and more aren’t cashing in. And it begs the question – does this apparent dilution hinder the overall successes of the platform and the creators?

According to The Information, more than 39,000 TikTok accounts have more than one million followers. Whereas more people are finding fame, not everyone is cashing in on it.

A snapshot of why every social media channel wants to be TikTok

It’s fair to assume that this can negatively impact brands that use influencer marketing as a pillar of their digital marketing strategy.

TikTok’s short form approach is more closely associated with television content, where entertainment is at an instant push of the button, or in this case a swipe of a finger. But is it the best form of new influencer marketing that delivers viable ROI?

Or, are platforms such as YouTube, where channels have a more long-term journey to success, reliant on branding and community building, delivering far better returns for advertisers and companies?

Surely, there is no clear answer here, and it varies from industry to industry and niche to niche, but TikTok’s success and immense popularity are forcing a shift in the creator economy that is having a serious impact on other platforms.

Amazon’s Twitch platform continues to stand atop the live-streaming game, but how long will Twitch streams be a major player with all the issues the platform has had to navigate through, such as toxicity, hate, and harassment?

And is it fair to consider Twitch streamers as vibrant aspects of influencer marketing the way that TikTok creators and YouTubers clearly are?

Furthermore, while platforms seem to fluidly move with the market trends, Twitch has seemingly stayed the course, for better or worse. Perhaps it’s a bullish vision, or perhaps even Twitch is out of touch in this aspect.

Businesses are showing the willingness to invest market dollars into platforms that have a vibrant influencer marketing value to them, and agencies are focusing on serving these needs.

“Working with content creators and influencers is different than traditional advertising for sure” Brendan Gahan, Partner & Social Officer at Mekanism said earlier this year (via Gamactica).

“Ultimately, the way to be successful with an influencer campaign is to make sure that three things happen:

  1. The audience gets the content they love
  2. The creator has a great experience
  3. The brand gets it’s message across

“When you’re not working with creators you are really starting from a blank slate. It’s wide open. But, the beauty of working with creators is their community. That community (in theory) knows them, trusts them, pays attention and wants to hear from them. As a result, advertisers need to collaborate. They need to focus much more on those first two points.”

A one-track approach could be a potential pitfall

As with most things, being diverse in your approach is key, and this point comes into focus more as we continue to delve into the industries providing the content that drives influencer marketing.

Where we celebrate the successes of this new form of digital marketing, other aspects are being left behind in certain spaces, such as gaming and content creation.

But we have gone over this a few times in the past.

However, little has changed, and despite the metrics, despite the proven formula, and despite the years of data, the absence of SEO continues to be troublesome.

And as the influencer marketing landscape continues to evolve, it will have its own struggles and present its own “risk and reward” and “boom or bust” scenarios, forcing the vertical to shift yet again, and platforms to reshuffle.

It still remains difficult to keep SEO in respective corners, where local businesses in Florida use Miami SEO, and surgeons use Medical SEO, but content creators and influencers don’t.

It seems short-sighted to continue that trends, especially as internet marketing evolves to bring influencer marketing into the spectrum.

Only time will tell.

The SEO element

While many may not automatically, initially, link SEO and influencer marketing together, there is a lot of symmetry, and it begs the question as to why SEO isn’t incorporated in most influencer marketing campaigns.

Influencer marketing is mostly about building relationships and optimizing those relationships in a manner to create impact, and ROI potential – the two appeals of a successful marketing campaign.

But coupling it with SEO is a “cherry on top” of the sundae.

By using SEO to boost the content marketing aspects of influencer marketing, there can be a real added value to both the impact and visibility of the campaign.

We, at Gamactica, have demonstrated that SEO can be viable within the industries and niches of gaming and content creation, both on an organic global level and a targeted search level. This indicates that these specific elements can indeed work to boost potential success, ROI, and impact for any influencer marketing campaign.

These integrations are critical in evolving the influencer marketing landscape so that it is more viable and valuable as these niches and industries grow and evolve. It also helps the SEO sector push forward to become more organically immersed in the new age of digital marketing.


Anthony DiMoro is CEO of Gamactica. He can be found on Twitter @AnthonyDiMoro.

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Seven SEO roles that are key contributors to brand success in 2022

July 27, 2022 No Comments

Seven SEO roles that are key contributors to brand success in 2022

30-second summary:

  • SEO is important for brand success and there are several key roles that contribute to this
  • Some of these roles are obvious, but others are ones you may not immediately associate with SEO
  • Each of these roles has a different but important contribution to make
  • An effective multidisciplinary SEO team will have good communication, clear roles and responsibilities, and realistic expectations
  • By following these tips, you can set your team up for success

SEO is more than just a one-person show. It takes a team of dedicated professionals working together to achieve success. In this article, we will explore the different roles that are key to brand building in 2022.

Whether you’re a CEO who wants to understand why SEO is important for your business brand or an SEO pro who wants to build a case for improving SEO processes at your company, we have you covered.

Why is SEO important for brand success?

There are many reasons why SEO is important for brand success. Here are some of the most important ones:

1. SEO helps you reach new customers

Customers who are actively searching for businesses like yours are more likely to convert than those who stumble upon your website by chance. In fact, organic search is one of the most effective channels for generating leads in 2022.

U.S. organic search visits by engine _ Statista - SEO roles and brand success - why SEO matters

Source: Statista

2. SEO builds trust and credibility

When customers see that your website is ranking high in search results, they will automatically perceive your brand as more trustworthy and credible. This is especially important for small businesses that are competing against larger, well-established companies.

3. SEO drives traffic to your website

The higher your website ranks in search results, the more traffic it will get. And the more traffic you have, the more opportunities you have to convert leads into customers.

4. SEO helps you stand out from your competition

If your competitors are not investing in SEO, then this is a great opportunity for you to differentiate yourself and gain an edge over them.

5. SEO is an ongoing process

Unlike other marketing channels (such as paid advertising), SEO is an ongoing process that needs to be regularly worked on in order to maintain and improve your rankings. This means that it can provide you with long-term results, which is essential for any successful business.

Business roles that are key to SEO success

There are many different roles within a company that contribute to SEO success. Some of them might seem obvious, but some of the others might be roles that you wouldn’t have immediately thought of when considering your SEO. It just goes to show: that SEO strategy is something that can be woven into your business operations at every level.

Here are my top six roles:

1. CFO (or another senior executive that holds the purse strings)

Why? because without a proportion of your marketing budget being ring-fenced for SEO, nothing else matters. The CFO or other senior decision-maker at your company needs to understand the importance of investing in SEO. Without a budget for SEO, none of the other roles on this list will be able to do their jobs properly.

2. Brand designer

This is perhaps an obvious one, but your brand designer mustn’t be overlooked: the person responsible for designing your brand identity should have a good understanding of SEO. This is because they need to create a branding strategy that includes keyword research and other SEO best practices.

Even the name of your brand is important, because it’s an opportunity to get important keywords into your website domain and across your web pages, and it may also be used as anchor text when other websites link to yours.

Side note: you should make sure that SEO becomes part of your next brand audit.

3. SEO consultant

The person responsible for your overall SEO strategy must work towards building your brand.

An SEO consultant is responsible for developing and implementing your overall SEO strategy. This includes researching keywords, optimizing website content, and building links. But it also goes beyond that. A good SEO consultant will also work on building your brand by creating a strong online presence and ensuring that your website is visible to your target audience.

4. Content marketer

The person who has a foot in the SEO camp and a foot in the marketing camp. This might be an in-house role at your company, or it might be a service you outsource.

A content marketer is someone who understands both SEO and marketing. This person is responsible for creating high-quality content that not only ranks well in search results but also resonates with your target audience.

5. Web designer

Why? Because the person who decides what the website design looks like will have a big impact on the SEO friendliness of the website.

The web designer plays a crucial role in determining the SEO friendliness of your website. This is because page design, navigation decisions, and site architecture will all have a huge impact on SEO performance.

6. Web developer

Because technical SEO has never been more important.

Your web developer is responsible for the technical aspects of your website, such as its code and structure. This is incredibly important for SEO because it can impact things like site speed and crawlability.

This is one of the many reasons that using an off-the-shelf website builder is not a viable option for a business serious about its web presence.

7. PR manager

Because this person needs to know how to get the most SEO impact from promoting the company in a traditional PR sense.

A PR manager needs to have a good understanding of both SEO and link building. This is because they need to promote your company in a way that will help you earn high-quality links.

Your PR person will naturally always be looking for ways to get your business mentioned by other publications and websites. This lends itself perfectly to a clever strategy of building backlinks to your website.

Tips for effective multidisciplinary SEO teams

Now that we’ve gone over the various roles that are important for successful SEO, let’s talk about how to build an effective multidisciplinary team.

  • Make sure everyone is on the same page by having regular meetings and communication. This will ensure that everyone is aware of the latest changes and developments.
  • Establish clear roles and responsibilities. This will help avoid duplication of effort and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
  • Encourage collaboration between team members. SEO is a complex field, and it’s important to have different people with different skill sets working together.
  • Set realistic expectations. SEO takes time, and it’s important to set realistic expectations for what can be achieved.

Following these tips will help you build an effective multidisciplinary SEO team that can help take your brand to the next level.

Final thoughts

SEO is a complex and ever-changing field. But one thing is for sure: it’s only going to become more important in the years to come. If you want your brand to be successful, you need to make sure that SEO is a key part of your overall strategy.

The roles we’ve discussed in this article are all crucial for successful SEO. So if you’re serious about your brand’s online presence, make sure you have the right team in place.


Joe Dawson is Director of strategic growth agency Creative.onl, based in the UK. He can be found on Twitter @jdwn.

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