As the Greek philosopher would say it, “The Only Constant in Life Is Change”. Brands should continuously monitor algorithm changes in major platforms especially now that consumers are spending more time on digital channels. Take Facebook as an example. This year, they announced a number of changes in its algorithm which should make publishers and brands re-think their content distribution strategy. With this change, this puts a big dent in the potential traffic that brands and publishers can generate from this channel.
Deprived of referral traffic from Facebook, the question now is should brands and publishers seriously take a look at SEO techniques and use it to save their traffic numbers? To answer this, let’s take a deeper understanding on what’s been happening the past few years and determine the importance of search marketing for brands and publishers.
Google is now the top source for referral traffic.
If you take a look at the referral traffic of Facebook for publishers over the years, you will see that it has been steadily declining. Organic reach is on a decline and there are no signs of going back to the good old days when brands enjoy high organic reach.
Another aspect that we should look at is publishers are now seeing more traffic from Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (launched in 2016) than that of Facebook’s Instant Articles. While there are pros and cons between using AMP and FIA, studies show the AMP’s effectiveness has contributed to Google overtaking Facebook as a traffic referral source.
So what’s the implication? Publishers and brands need to re-think their “Facebook First” digital strategy and try to learn how they can leverage on SEO and search marketing. So the question now is where will I start? In this article, I will share with you 8 SEO techniques that you easily can implement.
No. 1: Conduct an audit on your site and competitors’ site.
The first thing that you have to do is evaluate what you have and see how it compares against your competitors. Doing this will allow you to determine the major gaps between your site and your competitors’ and most importantly determine what’s the total potential audience in your segment. One tool that you can use is SimilarWeb. This tool allows you to see the performance of your competitors’ site (total visits, unique visits, bounce rate, mobile vs desktop traffic among others), which will then help you determine more or less the total addressable audience in your segment. In the example below, I compared the site performance of 2 QSRs in the Philippines.
No. 2: Identify the keywords that you need to own.
Allow me to share with you an important data point. Based on studies, the number of daily searches done on Google is at 3.5 billion or 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. And when you use online tools like Google Analytics, SEMRush, etc., you will see that there are different keyword permutations that generate that web traffic that we are all aiming for. That is why keyword research should be treated as the foundation of all digital marketing practices. It is an integral part of your SEO strategy. So you need to know what are the keywords that you should own and what you should prioritize. Note that you should not look only at search volume of a particular keyword but also consider other factors like competition, keyword effectiveness index (KEI), among others. There are several tools that can help you with your research, below are just some. Start playing with these free tools first then once you need to invest on more robust SEO platforms, you can explore using the likes of Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, etc.
No. 3: Fix your Title Tags.
Your title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor. In general, the closer the keyword that you would like to own to the beginning of the title tag, the more weight it has with search engines. So if there’s a keyword that you’re aiming for, try to put it towards the beginning of your title. In the example below, this company might be gunning for keywords similar to “money transfer to Philippines”, “online money transfer”, etc. What they did was to include those keywords in their title tag.
No. 4: Simplify your URLs.
Google has stated that the first 3-5 words in a URL are given more weight. In that case, it is recommended that your URLs should be short and if possible, always include your target keyword in your URL. Avoid the mistake of using long and ugly URLs like: xiklab.com/seo-is-the-way-to-go-for-brands-this-2021
Remember, keep your URLs short and use keywords that you want to own.
No. 5: Create More and Longer Content
Google prioritize long form content. In fact, the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890. The longer your content, the higher it will rank. Also, when you write your content, keep in mind the keywords you’d like to own. Try to drop these keywords somewhere in the first 100 words of your content so Google will understand what your content is all about.
You also need to sprinkle LSI keywords across your content. As a recap, LSI keywords are words that are commonly found alongside your target keyword. For example, if you were writing about “best car brands”, then you’d probably mention words like “top selling cars”, “highly recommended car brands”, etc. Those are LSI keywords.
No. 6: Use Internal Links
Internal linking is the process of connecting one page of your website to another page of your website. This is especially important for brands and publishers who regularly produce content. Providing links within your new articles that point to your older articles will provide your visitors more value – more articles to read, more information, more time spent on your site, higher chance of moving up in the search results. I think you get the picture now.
Additionally, internal linking is one of the simplest things that you can do that will provide your SEO metrics an immediate boost. Why? Because it will help Google to crawl your site. If your content is woven together, it will be much easier and faster for Google crawler to discover new content that you publish.
Additionally, some of the benefits of doing this are: internal linking improves the indexation of your website, internal linking increases the backlink earning potential of deep content pages and internal linking provides value to the user.
If there’s an SEO technique that you can easily implement, it’s this one. Do this for the next few weeks and for sure your ranking will improve.
No. 7: Improve your site’s speed performance.
Google has stated on record that page loading performance affects SEO ranking. There are multiple ways that you can do to make your page load faster. You can increase your site speed by using content delivery network (CDN), by compressing your images, by switching to a faster hosting service or by using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Whatever step you’ll take, just make sure your page loads within 4 seconds. Studies show that 40% of users wouldn’t revisit a site that took longer than 3 seconds to load. If you would like to check your site’s loading performance, try using this tool.
No. 8: Make your site Mobile Ready
If you still don’t have a mobile first site, you better start changing your agency. Having a mobile friendly site helps your organic ranking. We’ve seen the impact of having one coming from the site development projects we handled for our clients. Not only does it help your site rank organically, it also increases the conversion rate from your mobile-first customers. As an example, a local pizza chain saw their conversation rate from mobile traffic increase from 2% to close to 18% immediately after we rolled out their mobile site a few years back. Curious to know if your site is mobile friendly? Use this tool and it will tell you if your site still lives in the desktop age.
Having a “Facebook First” strategy is not an option anymore. You need to take a look at how you can reach your customers and distribute your content using other methods.
I hope this quick guide will push you to start applying SEO tactics in your website. If this is the first time you’ll be doing it, just pick the simplest and start implementing it. The important thing is for you to get something started today.
For those of you who have started investing in content production in your site, do your keyword research before you write your next blog post then use that to optimize the basics such as your title tags and URLs. Apply those things and who knows, the next time you publish your content, your site might end up in rank 1-page 1.
Let me know the results after you apply the basics I shared. I would be happy to hear from you. Cheers!
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About the author.
Mon Cayabyab is a successful entrepreneur who has close to 20 years of experience in sales, account management, digital marketing, and business development in well-known organizations within the telecommunications, banking, insurance, fintech and advertising industries. He is currently the CEO of Xiklab Digital, the biggest and fully-independent world-class Filipino Digital Marketing Agency. He is also the Co-Founder and Partner of the fastest growing digital rewards company in the Philippines which has more than 250 partner brands across the country.
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