Search drives an estimated 62% of web engagement. But experiences are changing rapidly, and marketers who rely on old tactics for measuring SEO success are missing opportunities to capitalize on this engagement and drive conversions.
Duane Forrester, Yext's VP of Industry Insights, recently joined Stephan Bajaio, Chief Evangelist and Co-founder of Conductor, for a chat about what SEO professionals need to know in order to succeed in 2020. Read on for four key takeaways from the webinar.
1. Look through the eyes of your customer — not just at your conversion rate.
"Google is loyal to the searcher, not you or your competitor." – Duane Forrester
SEOs that live and die by transactions might see short-term wins under the right conditions — but that tactic won't serve them or their employers in the long run. Customer-first marketing means offering consumers value before expecting it back in the form of a transaction. Research precedes most purchase decisions, so you have an opportunity to empower your customers and build trust through content. If your brand is always selling, consumers will disengage. Use topic ideation and keyword intent to create quality content that offers something valuable to the customer.
2. Focus on fundamentals…
"Do the fundamentals better than your competition and it will move the needle. Google is building for results in a rich environment that satisfies the consumer." – Duane Forrester
Bajaio drew an analogy between digital marketing and Tesla Solar Glass Roof tiles, which can be added to an existing structure to provide clean power. While they might be a no-brainer for a new construction with an unlimited budget, would you add them to a house that you haven't inspected or that has a faulty foundation? Voice search and augmented reality are like the Tesla tiles — while SEO basics like a mobile-first, ADA-compliant site and effective implementation of Schema markup are the foundation.
3. …but keep thinking big.
"We need to be here to help interpret content and to help machine learning provide the right answers back to users." – Stephan Bajaio
Organic search data will help you identify keywords and consumer intent to target with your landing pages and other content. But if you measure your success solely by where those intent pages and content rank, and by how much organic traffic they drive, you're missing a big part of the story — and a big portion of the value your SEO team is delivering.
You can leverage content from your intent pages across mediums, well beyond search. For example, content from an intent page can be used in an email cadence, or turned into a short animated video for your social channels or to build audiences on YouTube. Make sure you measure the performance of this content across those other mediums for a more holistic view of engagement than measuring search performance alone. Ensure that your reporting provides a 360-degree view of content performance to demonstrate how search data can inform decision-making throughout your organization.
Another way SEO professionals can increase their contributions is by understanding the life-to-date value of their customers. So you got the click, got the conversion — then what? What kinds of questions do your customers have after they purchase your product? Digging in to post-acquisition user intent can help you create experiences that will build loyalty and trust — and identify new market opportunities.
4. Learn to effectively evangelize SEO throughout your organization.
"Search data is worth more than SEO and ranking. We need to leverage that." – Stephan Bajaio
Conductor calls this idea "search presence intelligence." That's what you, the SEO professional, possess. Search data can help your organization understand the competitive space, helping guide the product team in decisions around features, naming, geography, and seasonality. And just like optimizing for search, unlocking the power of this data means understanding your audience. Reframe your data, not to aggrandize SEO, but to reflect the voice of the customer and offer a new source of data as cookies become less reliable. Then, when this customer intent data informs a decision that proves successful, let the decision-making team take all the credit. As the keeper of that data, you're sure to get invited to more important meetings in the future.
As you head into 2020, keep these key elements top of mind to help you maximize your organization's search performance:
- Walk before you run: Understanding cutting-edge trends and tactics is important, but SEO basics like a mobile-first, ADA-compliant site and effective implementation of Schema markup should form your foundation.
- Google is loyal to searchers, not your brand: Use topic ideation and keyword intent to create quality content that isn't all about selling.
- In 2020, your entire organization needs to leverage search data. Share intent insights and evangelize SEO throughout your organization — no silos.
Want more digital marketing predictions for 2020?Check out our eBook featuring insights from 10 experts.