So, what can SEO practitioners do to keep the momentum going in the new year? Following are four areas in SEO that should be on every marketer’s list to master in 2016.
1. Map Strategy To Audience & Competitive Insights
Over the years, SEOs have become really good at understanding keyword intent and segmenting the marketing strategy to match intent.
With the loss of keyword data in Google Analytics, and the general progression of SEO as a discipline, we are starting to merge more traditional marketing concepts into SEO to create a new way of segmenting audiences.
Now, we must merge quantitative data around the topics that are driving search demand and pair that with market insights about who our personas are, and what types of information is useful to them on their buying journey.
In addition, we need to gain an understanding of what the competition is doing for those topics driving demand, because as we know, search is a zero sum game.
That means finding data points that can help us:
- Identify new ways to tackle adjacent markets
- Discover new keywords to target
- Understand what types of content perform
- See where the competition is doing well, and where you can do better
Progressive SEO means technical, analytical and traditional marketing all rolled into one.
2. Align Your Content & SEO Teams
Your SEO efforts are really only as good as the experience you’re creating for your target persona. That’s why great SEO needs to work in tandem with great content. If you’ve taken the time to explore Step 1 in this article, you have a good foundation for content and SEO alignment that’s focused on the user.
Data coming from the Content Marketing Institute in 2014 show that B2Bs and B2Cs are embracing content in the form of blog posts and web content as a key facet of their content marketing.
Many of us believe that that the best approach is to start with strategic content and apply SEO best practices to help maximize its value and visibility online. Google algorithms like Panda tell us thatuser experience and quality are what we should all be striving for.
And while recommendations on making creative content and technical SEO come together sound great in theory, many brands are still struggling with which department or team does what and in what order.
3. Make Mobile SEO A Priority
We’ve been hearing about it for years: Websites and brands should have a mobile marketing strategy. In 2016, it’s safe to say that the year of mobile is well upon us.
When it comes to search engine optimization, creating a mobile site should be at the core of any solid SEO plan in 2016. But be careful in your configuration — research from BrightEdge last year found that mobile configuration errors resulted in a 68 percent loss in smartphone traffic on average.
And even though Google recommends a responsive design, you may find that a hybrid approach suits you best for your marketing needs.
And remember that whichever route you choose, Google wants sites to render above-the-fold content in under one second. Slow sites could negatively impact mobile rankings.
4. Find Measurement & Reporting That Works
While the research studies we read on the impact of organic search are important for gauging how we’re doing as an industry, we still struggle as brands and marketers to measure results, quantify our efforts, and continue to prove our position for SEO budgets.
Even back in 2013, we were talking about the need for marketers with analytics skills. And in fact, according to the CMOSurvey.org, 44 percent of survey respondents said they lacked the metrics to demonstrate the impact of marketing in 2014.
This sentiment was echoed in an Adobe survey in 2014 that showed 49 percent of marketers used intuition, not data, when thinking about where to invest marketing spend.
Reporting does not have to become increasingly complex. In 2015, SEOs should focus on simplifying their data sources and work to uncover the right information via structured data sources.
That means identifying the KPIs that truly matter to prove marketing efforts (those that impact the business), and obtaining the technology that can pull multiple data sources into one platform to provide real insights in performance.