In Part 1 of this series, we reviewed SEO strategies of the past and explored the technical elements that SEO specialists need to employ to be successful. But those behind the scenes elements, while important, are only a piece of the puzzle. In the past, non-technical SEO was mostly concerned with keywords. Today, keywords still play a role, but its importance pales in comparison to newer, emerging methods.
The Non-Technical Side of SEO
There are still many visible, on-page elements that SEO specialists are focused on. You should still expect to receive recommendations on how to optimize your existing content. This would include things like better incorporation of keywords/phrases, and working to ensure each page has an appropriate level of useful, relevant content.
But you can’t just stop there.
Today, more than ever, Google is looking for websites that deliver an optimized user experience. Just as Google’s algorithm has moved towards anticipating searcher intent, so should your digital marketing strategy.
What does this mean for today’s SEO specialists? It means working with other areas of your digital marketing department to ensure the digital marketing strategy is, as a whole, focused on driving traffic to your website through relevant, useful content and promotion of that content on the appropriate channels, such as on social or email. While SEO is mainly concerned with organic traffic, these non-organic sources can help boost your authority with search engines, as they see how all visitors coming to your website are engaging.
SEO specialists also need to pay particularly close attention to metrics around organic traffic such as time on page, exit rates, bounce rates, and conversion rates to not only get a better sense of how users are entering your site, but what they are doing once they are there.
For example, let’s say, like most brands and businesses, you get the highest number of page views on your homepage, but you notice average time on page is less than 10 seconds. This could suggest a couple of things. First, it could mean that users are searching for a term or phrase related to your business, clicking on your link in the search results, and pretty instantly clicking back to the search results.
Ping ponging back and forth from the Google results page and a website suggests to Google that the user didn’t find what they were looking for…signaling the infamous Google algorithm to adjust itself in hopes of helping searchers find what they need as quickly as possible.
Of course, if you look at your pages/session metrics and see that those coming in from the homepage actually view more than one page during their session, and you see that the bounce rate (rate at which users exit from the same page they entered) for your homepage is low, it could just mean that users aren’t spending a lot of time on your homepage because they are able to quickly find the next step they need to take to get the information, or complete the purchase, they want.
Again, you have to think about searcher intent and user experience. What experience do you want visitors to have when they come to each page? Does the data support this is happening? No? Then it may be time to make an adjustment to the copy, the navigation, etc. Or it could be a more technical issue, such as a slow page load time. Keep in mind that survey’s show nearly 40% of searchers will click off a page if it doesn’t load fast enough.
This type of analysis and the actions you take based on the data you have, is a growing part of the new way to approach SEO.
What’s coming next for SEO? We’ll tackle that question in Part 3 of our series.