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The Undeniable Importance of “Quick Wins” In SEO

The Undeniable Importance of “Quick Wins” In SEO

Sometimes, marketing can feel like you’re putting in a ton of effort for fleeting results.

For example: you publish the perfect blog post. It took you forever — the research, the analysis, the storytelling. Fast-forward a week, and you have no results to show for it besides a small, temporary spike in website traffic that day.

Then you work hard at scheduling original, witty tweets and Instagram posts for the week. They get a handful of “likes” during that time, then they get buried in people’s feeds.

How do you know that these types of actions are producing sustainable value to your business? A lot of times, you don’t.

But SEO is different. SEO is all about doing the analysis to figure out exactly what your audience is searching for online, and then creating the types of pages and content that will serve their needs. It’s specifically targeted to your audience, and when executed successfully, results in a sustained flow of new people to your website, month after month.

This is why SEO is one of the best ways to grow your business online in a sustainable, tangible way.

So what’s the catch? The catch is that it can take months for an SEO program to start showing substantial results.

Not only do you have to do the hard work to create the type of content that Google will see as something worth including as a top search result — you also have to prove to Google that your site is an authority worth including in search results in general. They’re not going to rush their validation process — especially if your site is new, or you haven’t published much on that topic in the past. The reputation of Google’s service depends on surfacing the most authoritative and useful content.

Makes intuitive sense, right? If you’re less familiar with SEO, not always.

If you’re used to the instant-gratification of “likes” and pay-per-click advertising, it can be a difficult transition to recognize that appearing in highly-trafficked Google search results can take time…and this is why producing a couple “quick wins” can be powerful in SEO.

Quick Wins” to Keep Your Team Invested in SEO, While You Work on The “Big Wins

You will need buy-in for SEO from your team if you want to really create the type of content that can move the needle for your business…for years.

Whether you’re a marketer pitching your boss for more SEO budget, or a contractor trying to persuade your client to sign a longer retainer agreement — you’re going to want to know a handful of ways you can show some results quickly to get your team invested & excited. Here’s two strategies to keep in mind.

Quick Win #1: Optimize Page Titles

If a page on your website is a book, then the page title is the cover of that book. It’s the text that shows on your browser tab.

Here’s a common problem: sometimes the title of the book can misrepresent the content of the book, and as a result, people searching for that content never find it. The same concept applies to web pages. Page titles (often referred to as “title tags”) are a strong signal to Google, and searchers, as to what the page is about.

In Action:

A site selling necklaces has several pages dedicated to military-style jewelry in the shape of dog tags. One page is titled “military shields,” and the other is titled “occupational tags.” Neither of these pages are earning much traffic — or visits from prospective customers.

Some quick keyword research reveals that no one is searching for those phrases, but in comparison, hundreds of people a month are searching for the phrase “dog tag necklace.” The jewelry site decides to combine the two existing pages into one, and title the page “dog tag necklaces.”

Sure enough, traffic to that page multiplied within weeks. And more importantly, sales of the product line improved. This is the result of both people and search engines now finding and understanding the content on the page.

Quick Win #2: Build Internal Links

Internal links are just what they sound like: links from pages on your site that point to other pages on your site.

These types of links are important for two reasons. First, links are the main way Google navigates through your site. If you link to one page much more frequently and prominently than others, you are sending a signal to Google that that page is an important one. Second, the anchor text (the words used in the hyperlink) provides a signal to Google as to what the page is about, and in turn, what type of Google search results the page is most suited to surface on.

Why is this important? Because you can use internal linking to highlight the importance and relevance of your pages to Google.

In Action:

A site that sells wholesale, custom promotional items has a “reusable bags” page that represents its best-selling, most profitable product line. There are hundreds of people searching for a “reusable bags” offering, and as a result, the page is earning a substantial amount of organic traffic.

People on the company’s site that want to navigate to this “reusable bags” page can use the top navigation menu to click a link to the page, with the anchor text “Make Your Bag.”

A quick look at the page’s performance in Google Search Console confirms that the organic traffic going to the page is being driven by people searching for the term “reusable bags,” rather than “make your bag.” This inspires the company to update the text on the navigation menu to match the title of the page, and most relevant keyword, “reusable bags.”

They also add several links from blog posts that explain the value of reusable bags as promotional items, linking back to the same page with that same text (reusable bags).

Within weeks, the page is ranking higher in search results for “reusable bags,” and is earning more valuable traffic to their site. And most importantly, more potential customers are inquiring about the offering.

The Takeaway? Treat “Quick Wins” Like A Stepping Stone Towards Your Bigger Goal

As you can see, even in the long-game of SEO there can be “quick wins” that produce some results in weeks, rather than months.

These wins are exciting. There’s nothing like seeing that blue line in Google Analytics move a little bit up (and stay there), then see the impact that has on your business.

But never lose sight of the purpose “quick wins” serve. Quick wins are important to show value quickly, in order to get buy-in for the bigger SEO initiatives you have planned. Good luck pitching your team on that 3,500 word guide, or that blog buildout, or even hiring an additional writer, if you haven’t already earned some SEO credibility.

Like everything in life, bigger investments are what it’s going to take to produce the bigger results. That level of investment in your site’s presence and authority will help Google understand the value of your content, and give them the peace of mind to serve it to their valuable users.

Matt Vazquez on LinkedinMatt Vazquez on TwitterMatt Vazquez on Wordpress
Matt Vazquez
Matt Vazquez
Matt Vazquez is a growth marketing consultant, specializing in technical SEO and content marketing. Matt is also an alumni of Drift, a hyper-growth SaaS company, along with award-winning agencies Stone Temple Consulting and KoMarketing.
Why Thinking Like Your Customers Is Important for Keyword Research

Why Thinking Like Your Customers Is Important for Keyword Research

Keyword research is a bit like learning to cook, in the sense that it doesn’t take a lot of knowledge or skill to do the basics. Once you know how to boil water, you can make pasta. Once you know what your business provides, you can use those words on your website.

Every business owner understands this concept. Vinny, the Boston Italian restaurant owner, knows intuitively that his website should prominently include language like “Boston restaurant” and “dinner in Boston.” All he has to do is use some type of free keyword tool, such as Google Keyword Planner, to plug some of those keywords in, verify that they indeed have search volume — usually quantified as “average monthly searches” — and look for some additional related keywords that the tool suggests. Bravo! All done.

Similarly, Nathan, the owner of a software company, knows that his software helps businesses, schools, and churches plan ahead and prepare for emergencies. Therefore, his most basic keyword research will revolve around similar keywords, such as “emergency preparedness software” and “emergency planning.”

In short, basic keyword research starts by identifying what value your business provides. This is a great first step to attract people that already know the solution they want from their search. For example, dinner in Boston or software that helps prepare for emergencies. But what about those people that understand the problem that they are looking to solve, but haven’t figured out the solution they want yet?  How do you attract them?

What Problems Are Your Customers Looking to Solve?

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes is the only way to uncover the insights needed for this next stage of keyword research.

This is when keyword research starts to become an exciting practice of discovery. Opportunities to provide value become clear, and you are able to meet customers exactly where they are in their search for a solution. Let’s look at some examples of how this can play out.

Vinny, the restaurant owner, started talking to his customer base as well as customers from other nearby restaurants. He soon realized that a large number of his customers are couples that are going on a date. Some were married couples looking for a fun evening away from the kids and others were young professionals on their first date.

It occurred to Vinny that these people were just as interested in “date night options” as they were in a place to eat, whether that be bowling, a movie, or a delicious meal together. This insight inspired Vinny to do keyword research around phrases like “date night Boston” and “romantic night out in Boston.” He selected the keywords with search volume that made intuitive sense, and used them to build an additional page on his website, titled, “The Best Date Night in Boston.” On this page, he highlighted the restaurant’s romantic ambiance and his “dinner for two” specials.

Soon enough, he was attracting new customers that weren’t originally searching for a restaurant in particular, but thought that Vinny’s restaurant would be a great place to spend their date night.

Unlearning What You Already Know To Understand Your Customer’s Search

Nathan, the software company owner, was having a harder time with this level of keyword research than Vinny.

He couldn’t figure out why people weren’t finding him for their “emergency preparedness” needs. After talking to more and more prospective customers, he uncovered the hard truth that people did not resonate with his “all-in-one” emergency preparedness product offering. Their concerns were more acute.

Given all of the terrible news of violent intruders and shootings, their primary interest was preparing themselves to defend that type of threat. Nathan knew that his software addressed this need.

He did some Google searching to see what language people were using online to describe this type of defense. He then used that language, terms like “active shooter preparedness” and “violent intruder training,” in his keyword research. This led him to a number of keyword opportunities, which Nathan then used for a new page on his website, titled “Active Shooter Preparedness.” He shared this page as a resource to others, and as people came to him for help, he was able to educate them in person about how his software can not only help them with that need, but also support them in preparing for other types of disasters.

Nathan’s customers were thrilled that such a solution existed, now that they understood its application.

Great Keyword Research is About Listening To Customers

Vinny and Nathan both had to humble themselves and listen to their customers in order to understand the language that would attract more potential customers to their website.

This crucial step is what separates good keyword research from great. Although it’s certainly true that SEO is often not this simple and involves many other factors, the most seasoned SEO practitioners will be the first to tell you that understanding your audience is at the core of the work. It is this process of discovery and exploration that makes keyword research and SEO such a fun and fulfilling form of marketing.

Final Thoughts: The Rise of Customer Conversations

Beyond the realm of SEO, more and more marketers are getting back to an important reality – that businesses exist to serve people and the only way to know how and what to serve is by having lots of conversations with customers.

We see this trend in the rise of “conversational marketing” and in new technology that enables more conversations online. It’s this process of discovery and exploration that makes SEO & marketing such a fun and fulfilling profession.

Matt Vazquez on LinkedinMatt Vazquez on TwitterMatt Vazquez on Wordpress
Matt Vazquez
Matt Vazquez
Matt Vazquez is a growth marketing consultant, specializing in technical SEO and content marketing. Matt is also an alumni of Drift, a hyper-growth SaaS company, along with award-winning agencies Stone Temple Consulting and KoMarketing.