Running growclass, we see a lot of fear around acronym-ed skill sets— and fair, a lot of writing and online resources make their money by using confusing terminology to sell you consulting and services you just don’t need. SEO is top of that list.
Search engine marketing is a cloudy business, mostly because none of us actually knows how Google’s algorithm works. Not even Brad, King of SEO Blog Posts knows. I know Brad doesn’t know because Google’s data scientists don’t know. They may know some of the inputs, but the supercomputers have taken over to an extent that we can only make good assumptions around how Google ranks content.
Here’s the thing: SEO is about humans. Radical, I know. In growth marketing, to say anything is about more than just data and metrics is a bit out of left field, but stay with me, Karen.
Google’s search engine has one job (ok two jobs). The first is selling advertising space and the second is helping people find what they’re looking for.
If you write your content for search engines, your goals are mismatched with Google’s. A good rule is to match your goals to Google’s. To do that, you have to be really tuned into the problem you’re solving, and how that problem is perceived by and communicated by your users. It’s about humans.
To go a bit deeper, we interviewed growclass Instructor, SEO expert, Founder of FlowJo, and international speaker, Tiffany DaSilva. Tiffany has been in the growth game her whole life, starting her first affiliate site when she was in elementary school, having an impressive career leading digital marketing teams, and as the CRO at Shopify, before starting her consultancy and a rapidly growing e-commerce company. Tiff joins us today to give us four SEO tips we can implement this week. Let’s get into it.
Tip 1: SEO is about phones now.
Tiffany’s first piece of advice when it comes to SEO is about mobile optimization. Yes, we all know that a great mobile experience is key for a lot of reasons— primarily that 52.6% of all web traffic is mobile.
If most humans are seeing your content from the comfort of a tiny screen, it makes sense that Google is judging your website on your mobile experience, not your desktop experience. So you have to get real about how well you’re doing for your mobile users, and most of us aren’t killing it.
A quick audit: What is your mobile experience like?
- Does it take forever for your website to load? Our attention spans are low, and Google hates a slow load. You can test your mobile site speed using Google’s mobile insights tool.
- Are there pop-ups that you can’t close on mobile? Frustrating, and not a good human or Google experience.
- Do you have to zoom in to read the font size or to take an action? *squints*
- Make sure your tap targets (the places on your mobile site where folks take an action, like a button) aren’t too small to use on mobile devices.
Tip 2: Match intent to content.
It’s memorable because it rhymes!
Tiffany’s second tip was that we need to match our content to the real goals of our prospective customer.
Let me paint you a picture:
You’re searching for stuffed manatee for your niece. You type in what you’re looking for, and a bunch of choices appear. You choose one.
But instead of a stuffed manatee for sale, you find a blog post on oceanic stuffed animals. Unhelpful. You bounce off of that page right away to go back and find what you’re looking for.
The experience didn’t match intent to content. You need to match your content to the needs of your user and provide a contextual experience from title and meta description, to landing page, to content, to call to action. Surfacing just any content at all for that keyword isn’t helping your user– you have to provide an experience that makes sense, and helps them achieve the goal of their search.
Here’s how we make this happen for your site.
- Audit of your page titles and your H1s* to see if they match, one of the biggest reasons people bounce out of your site is because the content doesn’t match the keyword they came for. They’re looking for a contextual experience— if your title doesn’t have the keyword they searched for, you’ve broken the flow.
- What are your meta descriptions* like? Do they match the intent of your keywords, or are they a messy jumble? Humans like clarity, make sure your meta description is clean and helpful.
- Does the content of the page match the intent of the keyword? Remember, Google is trying to answer the question or solve the problem the user searched for.
*The page title is defined in the HTML <head> section while the H1 tag is part of the <body> of a page.
*The meta description is the 50-160 characters of text that appear under your headline.
Tip 3: If you want to rank for a keyword, you need a page for that keyword.
It’s common sense, but this advice is rarely put into action. Tiffany cautioned that sprinkling keywords across your website doesn’t work, this isn’t a damn cake. If you’ve sprinkled keywords, you may have a user come to your site, but land on a weird experience, like finding an oceanic stuffed animal blog when you’re trying to buy a manatee. That’s a bounce.
If you don’t have that page ready for the specific keywords you’re looking to rank for, that’s OK— but now is the time to write one, my friend.
First, let’s do a quick scan of your website to see how you're doing.
Go into google and type: site:yourwebsite.com
It will list all of the webpages that Google can find from your site. Then you can click through to see if your titles match your landing pages. No? You know what to do.
Tip 4: Out rank ‘em
The last tip from Tiffany was about authority. In SEO, domain authority is a search ranking score that forecasts how well a site will perform on a search engine ranking page (SERP). This is a score, much like a grade in school, that tells you how well your site is ranking out of 100. Higher score = higher probability of being seen by your customers at the top of their search. To build your authority you need good, SEO optimized content, and backlinks— links from other sites to your content that signals to Google that your content is legit. The higher quality sites linking to your content, the better your authority. Ah, something good PR can help with…
You can use a tool called AHREFs to figure out what your domain authority is on your own site vs. your competitor’s sites. Now you can:
- Look up the keyword(s) you want to rank for.
- Check your competitor’s domain authority. You don’t need to get a 95, you just need to outrank your closest competition.
- If you’re being out-ranked, now it’s time to do some digging. Go and look at your competitor’s backlinks. Is there an opportunity for you to get into a list, a roundup post, or a directory linking to them? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you can just have to find the gatekeeper, and politely ask for the link.
OK, now you have a starting place for good SEO, it’s time to get to work.
Some parting wisdom from Tiffany: You can’t be seen without keywords, you can’t be found without links.