As we head into 2021, I wanted to start the year off by providing four suggestions that non-technical marketers can use that will have an impact on your SEO performance but that likely won’t require huge investments in capabilities or technical resources to get them done.
Number one – pay attention to the length and depth of the content you’re producing. There are multiple studies out that demonstrate that long-form, in-depth content consistently outperforms short-form content when it comes to search rankings. I saw a Backlinko study recently that said that the average word count for content ranked on the first page of Google is almost 2000 words. That’s because Google is rewarding that content because it’s comprehensive and it does a better job at satisfying searchers by giving them complete answers to their queries. Longer, more robust content definitely takes more effort to produce but ultimately it provides more visibility and more traffic when those pages rank higher. Don’t forget though, you have to keep user design and simple interactions in mind when you create your long form content because you want your readers to be able to scan and engage at their own pace.
Number two – use meta descriptions and write them so that they create reader interest. Now, to be clear, meta descriptions themselves are not a ranking factor in Google. What they are, however, is sort of like an organic version of ad copy. That blurb that appears below your link on Google – that’s your chance to tell searchers what your content has to offer. Your goal is to provide relevance and value to the searchers so that they’re in turn are more likely to click on your listing. Meta descriptions themselves don’t have impact on search rankings but the click-through rates – those indicate relevance and interest – which definitely influence performance.
Third – use video but provide a transcript and make sure you’re putting it on YouTube. Plain and simple, video has to be part of your digital marketing strategy. Cisco says that more than 80 percent of all online traffic will be video by 2022 and that’s because consumers prefer it. It just takes less effort to consume video and it’s often more entertaining and easier to understand than written content. That said, when it comes to search there’s challenges with video content – namely that Google itself doesn’t crawl video content on your site. If you want that video content on your website to rank, you have to provide a transcript that can be crawled and indexed. You’re doing a huge disservice to yourself also by not posting that content on YouTube. It’s the world’s second largest search engine and it’s owned by Google! I challenge you to go out and do a video search on any topic and not have YouTube be the first listing.
Lastly, links to your website still matter. Most of the companies we talk to are investing at some level in producing content for customers and prospects and one of the main ways that that content adds value is as a source of organic search traffic. If you want to give that content a chance to rank, particularly in competitive verticals, you need high quality sites linking to it. Another study I saw by Backlinko and Buzzsumo found that 94 percent of internet pages have no links at all pointing to them but that pages that were ranked in the first position on Google have four times the number of links than pages ranked in the second spot or anywhere below that. Now clearly there’s many things that go into rankings, but getting other sites pointing to your content, essentially endorsing it as good content, that’s going to give you a clear advantage. Content and tools that deliver unique value to audiences – that’s more likely to get links from other websites than general run-of-the-mill content. So our recommendation is to produce high-quality, differentiated content that other sites would benefit from linking to.
So there you have it. Four easy, practical things that you can try in 2021 to see if you can influence your site’s rankings and drive better digital performance. Happy New Year!