Since Google was founded in 1998, the marketing world has been disrupted more than ever. Google has had such a large impact that after just 4 years, “Google” was named The Most Important Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society in 2002. Consumers have realized that they can research nearly anything before making a purchase, and they do not hesitate to do so. For this reason, making sure their content can be found by search engines and ultimately helping them land on the first page of Google should be top priority for every organization. How can this be done? Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
The Importance of SEO
There’s no better way to stress the importance of SEO than sharing the cold, hard facts. There are:
- more than 40,000 Google searches per second;
- 30,000 of those searches result in organic traffic;
- 3.5 billion Google searches per day;
- 1.2 trillion Google searches worldwide.
SEO is crucial … need we say more? In case you still think SEO is just a nice-to-have:
- 90% of the clicks on Google occur on the top 3 search results
- 75% of users never click past the first page of Google results
- 15% of all search queries have never been searched before
With Google tweaking its algorithm over 500 times per year (take a stroll down memory lane with the 9 major updates here) and natural organic search accounting for 94% of search engine clicks, we can’t stress the importance of an SEO strategy enough.
What metrics drive Google ranking success? And what tools can you use to help?
Google ranking success often depends on a company’s awareness and measurements of onsite and offsite SEO. It’s also important to avoid costly penalties imposed by Google for the use of black hat tactics such as buying links or other tactics that are for the manipulation of the algorithm.
In order to make sense of the information available to marketers as they strive to maximize SEO success, we’ve put together a list of what you should be using to improve your Google ranking success and the tools we recommend for every marketing team’s toolkit to help ensure success for both onsite and offsite SEO as well as information and analysis reporting.
- Link Building
Link building and link management are crucial to SEO. Think of the website as a node within a massive web. The more connections the website has, the more trusted it is by the search engine. Trust is the fastest way to improve domain authority which leads to keyword ranking improvement.
Suggested Tools for Link Building
- Ahrefs (starting at $99/mo) – This is the largest database of crawled links that displays the entire backlink profile of a website. It allows a company to see its own incoming links as well as its competitors. The tool uses a unique algorithm to score the quality of each backlink.
- Raven Tools (starting at $99/mo) – This tool can be used for link management among many other things. One of the key features is the ability to alert the link builder when a link is set to active or inactive. This helps determine the ROI on link building efforts by seeing when links come to fruition and determine who helped purpose the link.
- Social / Brand Signals
Social signals are picked up by feelers that Google uses to determine how important a brand is, how many people are engaging with the brand and how trusted the brand is. This feeds into keyword rankings often times much faster than link building. Increasing the amount of positive social and brand signals is crucial to growing a company’s online presence.
Suggested Tools for Social / Brand Signals
- Oktopost (cost varies) – This tool is an all in one posting platform for social media outlets that monitors social media interaction and brand signals. It also engages a company’s employees to share blog posts, trending articles and other information to their social network.
- Content Quality
Quality content is the counterpart to link building. Without quality content, it is nearly impossible to obtain high quality links. Quality content is unique, current and appeals to the target market. While there is no single tool that magically creates quality content (wouldn’t that be nice?), there are tools that will help optimize the current content and ensure it receives the highest possible grade by search engines.
Suggested Tools for Content Quality
- Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress (price varies) – A plugin for WordPress that analyzes content in relation to a selected primary keyword. The algorithm is constantly updated to match Google’s ever changing best practices.
- User Interaction
User interaction and engagement is crucial to a company’s success. Simply driving a high volume of traffic to a website does not improve SEO. Google can determine how engaged a user is with a site by how many pages a visitor interacts with, how long the visitor spends on the website as a whole and how long the visitor spends on each page. Understanding and optimizing the paths users follow through a site is essential for keeping those users engaged.
Suggested Tools for User Interaction
- CrazyEgg (starting at $9/mo) – A heatmap for your website that tracks what visitors are looking at, how much time they’re spending in different sections, where they’re abandoning, etc.
- Keyword Research and Selection
Picking the right website keywords is critical to SEO success. Without this, it can be very hard to generate content that will attract the target audience no matter how high quality the content is. It’s very important to know if and when it will be possible to rank for a keyword. The SEO strategy will vary depending on the competition of the keywords that are being targeted. Sometimes keywords can take years to rank highly depending on how much ground the organization needs to make up and how much momentum top competitors have.
Suggested Tools for Keyword Research and Selection
- Keyword Planner (free with AdWords) – The AdWords Keyword Planner allows users to search words or phrases related to your products or services and works to find the keywords that are most relevant to your business.
- Website Architecture
With the rise of content management systems (CMSs such as WordPress, Magento, etc.), website architecture has become more accessible and easier to master. Many people are familiar with the advantages of using a CMS from an ease of use standpoint. However, they are not familiar with the SEO benefits from using an SEO friendly platform such as WordPress. SEO friendly CMSs will automatically structure the Header tags (H1, H2, H3) for posts and pages, include input fields for meta titles and descriptions and help structure the content in a logical hierarchy fully crawlable by Google.
Suggested Tools for Website Architecture
- WordPress (free) – WordPress is used more than any other CMS for websites and blogs. It offers an architecture that is continually optimized for and easily navigated by google.
- Domain and Page Authority
Domain and page authority is determined by mainly inbound links and social signals. However, there are other factors that make an impact. The domain authority transcends to each page diminishing in value the further it is away from the homepage in relation to the taxonomy. The individual page score that is related to the domain authority is called the page authority.
Suggested Tools for Domain and Page Authority
- Moz Pro (starting at $99/mo) – Moz allows condensed reporting from a variety of tools that show progress of domain authority with the ability to compare directly to competitors.
- Information Analysis
There are many metrics used by marketers in many different tools. Ultimately, all these tools are being used to gain insights in order to generate more traffic by increasing search engine rankings. Trial and error is an essential skill set to being successful at SEO. A lot of effort is put into trying new things, monitoring these new things and then noting the success or failure over several months. Reports make this much easier to make sense of key factors.
Suggested tools for Information Analysis
- Google Analytics (free) – This tells what is happening on a website and allows goals creation, visitor tracking and reporting of website KPIs.
Pay Attention to your SEO
So for these 8 reasons listed above, and because Google says so (and let’s face it, in this day and age … all of us digital marketers are really just working for Google right?), it is very important for organizations to ensure their content can be found by search engines. After all, no brand wants to be lost in no man’s land.