[Madelyn] Hi everybody.
Welcome to today’s webinar. We’re really excited that you could join us today. We’re going to be talking a ton about SEO and how you guys can improve moving forward, especially as you’re getting ready to plan for 2018.
So let’s go ahead and get started. So my name is Madelyn Newman. I’m a product marketing manager here at CallRail. I actually started out here on our customer success team, so I spent a lot of time on the phone and emails talking to our customers just like you and helping them with a lot of their SEO dilemmas.
And then I’m also joined today by my colleague, Carolyn.
[Carolyn] Hi, I’m Carolyn. I’m the SEO manager here at CallRail and we’re super excited that you’re with us today. And I think Marilyn has a couple of housekeeping items to go over before we actually get the party started.
Yeah. Before we get this party started. So just everyone knows, you’re all muted, so we’re not able to hear you. But if you have any questions at any point in time throughout the webinar, please feel free to ask them in the questions box of Go to Webinar. I will be answering those throughout the entire webinar, but then also at the end, we’re going to have some time for Carolyn to get to those as well and answer some of those.
So feel free at any point in time to submit your questions. This webinar is being recorded, so we are going to email it out after the webinar. So be on the lookout for that and we’re also going to post this on our website in our resource center, which is at callrail.com/resources. And the last thing I want to note is we are going to have some polls here throughout the webinar today.
And I’m actually gonna launch the first one right now. So we plan on having more of these webinars for you guys to help you learn about certain topics that will really help you up your marketing game in 2018. So we just kind of wanted to see what SEO topics you might be interested in us covering next time.
And we took a poll at the register when you guys registered for this webinar and we have a really interesting mix of people who are attending, so all the way from people who are beginners in SEO to big agencies. So we’re hoping to provide something for everyone of all levels of SEO knowledge during this webinar.
All right. Awesome. So let’s go ahead and get started.
Cool. So thanks again for joining us today. I’m super excited to talk about SEO. I can talk about SEO all day, all the time, all my life. So just for today though, I plan to go over how search engines figure out what pages to show in results and what that means for you as an SEO as well as the changes in technology that we need to prepare for coming into 2018, going into our 2018 and preparing those strategies.
And then I want to talk about the ways to get your SEO strategy ready for those changes, as well as just planning a good solid SEO strategy in general for the coming year. And then I also…once we talked about creating a strategy, I think it’s important to cover ways that you can track your SEO progress, improve ROI, not just yourself, but to your clients, to your company.
And lastly, how to create content that really focuses on the user instead of the algorithm. So thanks for joining us again and let’s get started. So Ted Stevens said this back in 2006 and he got a lot of flak for this statement. But on a basic level, he was actually kind of right.
Search engines work by crawling sites, indexing those sites in their databases and then trying to retrieve the best result for the user. And it kind of works like a subway system. So how do they work? Essentially, search engines use programs called crawlers and they crawl through websites and each page, and it sort of looks at the content on the page in the same way that a user would, because the search engine wants to know how the user sees the page and it wants its robots to see the page in the same way.
And the crawling process starts with this big list of web addresses from past crawls and then also site maps provided by website owners. So crawlers pay attention to things like keywords, website freshness, and they also use links on your sites and all the other sites out there to discover new pages and new sites on the web.
So we go back to Ted Stevens, if we look at the Internet sort of like a giant subway map, each site is a subway stop for the crawler and the links that take us from site to site are the tubes or the trains that get us to the next stop on a map. So once we’ve crawled all the data, we’ve taken all the information in, search engines sort of keep track of all that in the index.
And Google says there’s an entry in the index for every single word, scene on every single page that a search engine is able to crawl. That has a ton of data. So Google says its search index, as an example, contains billions of web pages and is over 100 million gigabytes in size. That’s huge.
So I like to think of the index, kind of like a giant library. So the information is all stored easily so that when a user searches a search engine can just go into the library, find the most relevant results, sort of like a librarian would and present them to the user as quickly as possible. And that’s where the retrieval process comes in. There are lots of like multiple algorithms that, I don’t know, I think Google said they change their algorithm or adjust it like 500-plus times a year, so you can average it around to like twice a day.
But their main goal is essentially to understand searches in the same way that a human would and provide the best, most human results possible. So a searcher will type in a query or even ask their voice assistant a question and then search engine quickly goes through the index to bring a ranked list of what it thinks is the best result for that query.
That seems super easy, but there’s actually a lot going on in a few milliseconds it takes for a search engine to bring up that results page. So I’m going to give you guys a small look into what goes on behind the scenes to get the best results for the user. So the first thing search engines do is try to understand what people are actually meaning when they search for something.
And that’s really crucial to a search engine providing a good answer. They try to find the pages with the most relevant information. And by doing that or in order to do that, they have these like language models that decipher what humans actually mean when they type something. So you and I could be searching for exactly the same thing, but the way I type in my query could be completely different from the way you type yours in.
And so search engines try to determine what those different queries actually mean if they mean the same thing. So they try to also figure out the category of information. So if you have a specific query or if you’re searching for a more broad information, for example, if I search red shoes, there are going to be tons of different results. I’m going to get Chuck Taylors, I’m going to get high heels shoes, I’m going to get clown shoes, maybe.
Whereas if I searched for something like the “Wizard of Oz” red sparkly shoes, I’m going to get a really specific result and Google tries to take that into account based on how it analyzes the words you type in. Next, the search engine looks into its index for web pages with information that match the query based on what it analyzed previously.
But they don’t just look at keywords, I think a lot of people think SEO is just a bunch of keywords and it’s not, otherwise keyword stuffing would still be a thing. Google and other search engines look for clues to measure how well potential search results will give users what they’re actually looking for. So like if you search dogs, you don’t want a page that just says dogs 100 times, you probably want maybe pictures of dogs or information about adopting dogs.
And using their algorithms, search engines try to match that search best based on what they’ve analyzed from the previous step. Then for a typical query, there are probably thousands, maybe even millions of pages that have potentially relevant information based on what you’ve typed in. So to help rank the most important, the most relevant, and the best pages first through algorithms to sort of evaluate how useful each page is based on the query.
So there are tons of factors that play into this as well. The freshness of the content, the number of times your search appears, but also things that are sometimes less quantifiable like having a good user experience, which is why user experience, user intent, and focusing on the user is really important in SEO as well. And then lastly, context is super important for searches.
Google and other search engines look at where you are physically, your location, when you search for something and other factors like what you searched for previously. So, for example, we’re here in Atlanta right now and if I go to Google and search football, I’m probably going to get the information about that Falcon Saints game that’s happening tonight.
However, if I were in Europe and I search football, I’m probably going to get soccer information. And then when I type…for example, like I’m looking for soccer information and I type in Barcelona versus Arsenal and then I want to research more into my soccer team, I type Barcelona again, Google is going to assume that based on my past search, I meant the soccer team, not necessarily the city.
So there are lots of these like small factors that the algorithms are working on to essentially provide the best search for the users. So I think that’s really important to keep in mind, that yeah, there are lots of mathematical equations going on behind the scenes, but the overall idea is that we want to provide the best user experience.
Another way that search engines are working to provide the best user experience is to stay on top of the latest technology trends in the search industry and the technology industry in general. So in this section, I want to talk about the elements of technology and SEO that I recommend we take into consideration when we’re creating our 2018 SEO strategy. And the first one is Google’s mobile-first index.
So they’ve started rolling this out, I think in a couple of places, but it’s not across the board yet. So if we go back to how search engines actually work, they crawl, they index, they retrieve. The mobile-first index essentially means that Google, specifically, is performing those three tasks as if it were a user on a mobile device. So in the past, Google would go through those steps, crawl, index, retrieve as if it were a user on a desktop, a desktop computer.
However, over half of searches now occur on a mobile device. So we’re out in the park, we want to know where the nearest restaurant is. We pull out our phones and we search from there. But about 80% of people will stop engaging with a piece of content if it doesn’t display well on whatever device they’re using, so it doesn’t display well on the desktop, the tablet they’re on, or their mobile device.
That’s according to Adobe. So Google took all this information and decided if they’re going to rank things, they’re going to crawl, index, and retrieve and essentially rank pieces of content for people, they’re going to do it from the mobile perspective. So all that means is that it’s really crucial for SEOs to, firstly, make sure your site is responsive, which just means that it adjusts in the right ways, depending on the device that the person is using.
So you can have the site shrink down the buttons, get the correct size for a mobile device, and then everything expands when you’re on a desktop computer. Some of these, you also may have to work with your developer on to get a little more if it gets a little more advanced. And the next one is for the mobile-first index to make sure that your site loads quickly on all devices.
So if your site, like it mentioned before, it doesn’t load quickly, people will just bounce off if they’re trying to browse from a mobile device. So it’s important to compress your images, minify your HTML, and things like that to make sure your site is speedy and gets people what they need as fast as they want it.
And then lastly, this is something I think is also very crucial, is making sure your site is accessible on a mobile device. So if your site is responsive, the buttons should adjust to be able to be clicked with a finger because there’s not a mouse pointer on your mobile device. So if people are pressing buttons with their fingers, make sure it’s accessible on your site.
So the next thing that’s super important, and that probably everybody has used either recently, maybe you’re getting someone one of these for Christmas is voice search. Google says that about 20% of searches in 2016, so last year, it’s probably even more now in 2017, were voice searches. So people ask questions to a smart speaker or a home assistant.
And Gardner also predicts that 75% of U.S. households will have smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home by 2020. So people are probably getting those for holiday gifts right now. It essentially means that you don’t really need a screen to get the answers to our questions anymore.
But that also means as SEOs, that the user trusts the single result that their voice assistant speaks back to them as essentially the definitive answer to their questions. So Google is providing that single answer in search results instead of having users have to click through to a site. So this sounds kind of intimidating as an SEO, but it shouldn’t be. I like to keep in mind that Google doesn’t actually write the millions of pages of content that it provides to potential users.
So we write those things, Google just assembles them. So they’re relying on us for this information. But it’s important to keep in mind these single results that Google serves up. So I’ve created a list of them and I plan to go over a few of them here. The first one is rich answers, and those are essentially just the straight-up questions answered by Google without credit to any site.
So they’re sort of like the short factual questions that you ask like, “What is 10 plus 2?” Nobody technically owns the answer to that, so Google doesn’t have to link to any specific site. They’re sort of like public knowledge information that you can ask Google that and it will provide that information to you immediately. The next one is the knowledge graph, and those sort of like pull from other sites and assembles information and you can see it on the right and on your search engine results pages in a box or… So now I’ve noticed there’s a carousel at the top of organic results.
So earlier, I was actually searching SEO tools and I noticed this carousel popped up at the top of my search engine results page with information on Google Analytics, and MAZ, and that sort of thing. So I think those results typically show up for searches for like brands, people, organizations, but it seems like it’s showing up or even more now with the recent search I did this morning.
Next one is a rich snippet. This is just an enhancement to like a regular old organic result. So rich snippets are things like star ratings, pricing information, photos for reviews, and they sort of give your organic result a little more space on the page, a little more pizzazz, if you will. But you get rich snippets really by structuring your page with markups, so adding schema data to your reviews.
That’s how it shows up in organic results. And then the last one is a featured snippet. It’s sort of the creme de la creme of voice search. And these are the results that show up at the top of the search engine as the answer to questions people ask online. So Google pulls this information from one of the organic listings on the page and then give the website credit via a link.
So with all of these results, really, Google and search engines are trying to make the searcher’s life easier. They want to answer their questions within the search results rather than forcing the user to go somewhere else and dig through to find the information. And then lastly, personalization. I think we all know like if we get on the phone with a salesperson from a software we’re interested in or something like that, it helps when they know personalized information about yourself.
And I think the same thing can be said for marketing. So Marketing Insider Group did a survey and they found that 80% of consumers really like it when a brand, the marketing department creates personally relevant branded content and consumers want and expect that now, that their individual preferences are taken into account when they receive marketing data and sales information.
So I think a lot of times, as SEOs, we see the issue with that, like personalization, what does that mean for Google and other search engines? What gets indexed? And I think the issue is sort of solved along the same lines that AB testing is. So most AB testing softwares or websites would recommend that you don’t actually change the general message and content of your page, but that you test smaller things.
And I think it’s important in personalization to do something similar. I went to a website the other day that I had visited before just for research and a little pop-up in the corner came up and said, “Hey, Carolyn, I see you’re looking on this site again.” I had submitted information. So it knew who I was again and it said, “Hey, you’ve looked at this before.Maybe this would be interesting to you.” So it’s serving the SME-personalized result, but it didn’t affect their SEO in any way.
All right. So we’ve talked about how search engines work and what’s happening with technology in SEO. So let’s look how to use that information and make your SEO plan for 2018 and the years going forward. As with any plan, there’s always prep work. So this is work that I want to know that the prep work should be sort of individualized to your company, and your industry, and your clients.
I think it’s important not to try a sort of one size-fits-all approach for SEO. But I think it is important to see how other people do different things and try it and learn from it, whether it fails or succeeds. Failure is just the way to learn and be better. So let’s get started with this part.
Before any project starts, I think research should always be your go-to. Like how can you know what to do next without really getting the lay of the land? And as an SEO, of course, I recommend starting off with some good old-fashioned keyword research just to learn what people are looking for and try to find out what people who don’t know that they need your product or service are searching for to solve their problems.
So they don’t know you exist, they’re just trying to find a solution and you want to show up as a solution based on whatever it is they’re searching. And also, I’ve got a really great article on keyword research. I’ve included the link to it in the SEO strategy template and there’s a link to that template at the end of today’s webinar. So you guys can check that out and learn more about ways I recommend doing some keyword research and there’s some really great free tools and that as well, especially for people who are just starting out or are entrepreneurs, doing their own SEO.
And then competitor research, I think, is also important. There’s no shame, I think really in checking out what your competitors are doing. This doesn’t mean you have to do it too, but I think it’s good to know what strategies are out there and maybe what you haven’t thought of yet. And I also think industry research is really critical as well, not just into your own industry, but industry, the industries of your potential customer and your current customers.
So like what works for financial services probably won’t work for healthcare, etc. So it’s important to go out and see what’s crucial to those people in those industries and then think of how your product or service solved that particular industry’s problems. So before we get to changing anything in our SEO strategies, I think establishing a baseline for your reporting is crucial.
How can you know what kind of progress you’re making, your ROI, which we’ll talk about in the next section, so stay tuned for that, if you don’t actually know where you started. So think about what metrics are important to track for your particular business and see where you’re at right now. So by establishing these baselines now, you can know how your efforts are faring in the future.
And then the last part of the prep work is figuring out the customer journey for your specific customers. So when we’re thinking about how your website is set up and how it flows, we should think about where people are in the funnel when they get to our sites and when they get to certain pages. We should also think about those funnel stages when we’re creating the content for the people we serve.
So you’re like, “Okay, that’s great, but what are the stages of the funnel?” I’ve created this generic funnel to give you some good information of like a starting point. So at the top of the funnel, the user is in the awareness stage. They may not actually be aware of your product or service yet, they’re just sort of learning what you are and how you could potentially solve their problems for them.
So I think an important metric to track at the top of this funnel would be rankings, metrics where people are just becoming aware of your brand, they’re searching for solutions to their problems, and you show up in the rankings for those particular things. That’s something that SEOs can track in that stage of the funnel. Then we move down one into the engagement phase, and this includes people who they knew about your brand, your engaging with your site, your marketing materials, just to get an idea of how they could benefit from your potential solution.
They want to learn more about the company, etc. They’re just checking things out. And I think for this one going into your Google Analytics, checking out website traffic, how people peruse your site, where they drop off, that’s really good information for SEOs to track in the engagement stage of the funnel. And then people decide they’re ready to buy, so they move to the evaluation stage.
This is where they evaluate to make sure your particular product or service is perfect for their specific needs and they have the intent to buy for that solution. So these are people who go to your website and call and complete forms to get more information. So calls and form completions are important to track. Those are important metrics to track for this particular stage of the funnel. And then finally, they’ve purchased, this is the conversion stage, that’s leads convert into customers.
And I think it’s important to track customer acquisition data in a specific phase. So you can use bigger software for that or you can just set up goals and analytics to track conversions if you’re just starting out or you like prefer to use a free tool. So now we have the basis to actually do the work, what work should we actually do? First things first, it’s important to focus on your onstage efforts, which include things like your technical SEOs, clean up 404s, make sure that all your pages have titles and descriptions and write all texts for your images.
Image search is like a super big thing, I think, in 2018. So it’s important to make sure your images are compressed for speed, but also have alt texts. And then I also recommend creating a keyword to URL map, sort of to help you get an idea that pages that exists on your site and what your intent is for them. If you create a keyword URL map and there’s a page on your site and you think there’s not really a topic that is addressed on this page, it’s sort of a nothing page, you need to ask yourself why it exists and then fix it, make it a page about something.
And then from there, site architecture is a huge element in providing a good user experience. So we talked about how user experience is really important to search engines. So if you think about the flow of information and pages that make sense for your users and where they are in the particular funnel. So the other day I went to a website and I didn’t know what they did.
It was a software, but I didn’t really know exactly what the software did. And the page had a single link in the navigation to pricing. And I was like, “This is a really bold move, but I actually don’t know what this company does and I’m not really ready to look at pricing without an idea of what I was actually getting pricing for.” So it’s important to take the site of architecture into consideration and also where people are in that funnel we talked about earlier.
And then the last thing I think that you need to think about what goals you want your content to achieve in 2018 and then plan your content strategy around that. So if you want to bring in tons of top of funnel leads, you want to just fill the top of the funnel, it may be a good idea to focus on more general information content.
But you’ve got tons of those and you want to help move those people down the funnel and draw in more people who are evaluating your product say versus a competitor’s, you might create content that’s more like a side-by-side comparison. So just make sure to set your goals first and then you can create your content strategy around that. So next is off page SEO, and this includes the elements that affect your ranking and traffic and essentially how users get to your site, but they’re not actually on your site.
So natural link-building is a key to SEO these days. And I think the key to good link building is making sure you have content that’s actually worth linking to. So if you create good, useful content that serves the need of searchers, then people automatically link to your content, they’ll automatically share it. That said there’s nothing wrong with some good old link-building outreach.
I just ask as a white hat SEO that you all please don’t buy links. Madelyn’s laughing at me. But the next thing that I think is super important for off-page, but it really affects local businesses is your business listing citations like Google my Business Pages, Yelp, Angie’s List, these are all really crucial to SEO.
A lot of times, like I mentioned earlier, we are hanging out in the park. We want to find a restaurant nearby, we’ll just… a lot of people click the Google my Business listing, which Madelyn has a great case study she’s gonna talk about later in the webinar about Google my Business for a local business. But these local factors are a huge part in who shows up and who doesn’t in local rankings.
And reviews are sort of the same. They’re really important to local businesses. They’re important to national businesses too, but I think they play a really crucial role in local business SEO as well. So I would say it’s totally fine to ask people for reviews. I just tell people as a general rule, please don’t try to sway your reviewers. I think that generally goes against the terms of service and most review platforms.
So just ask them to leave a review. It doesn’t necessarily have to say, “Leave us a good review or else,” just, “Hey, if you want to leave us a review, here’s the place to do it.” And then with any good SEO strategy comes collaboration. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be outside collaboration, you can collaborate with other departments in your own business, get ideas for metrics that are important to everyone, content ideas, even use them as expertise.
I actually wrote a blog recently, fairly recently about what is like voice recognition technology and I use one of our internal technology resources here who is an expert in the area for quotes and information, had him proofread my piece just to make sure it was accurate and that it’s interesting to people who already knew a little bit about it.
But you can also collaborate with people like your clients or case studies or you can get quotes from them for articles. And like we mentioned before, link-building is also another form of collaboration. I think SEOs are often seen as like a single person show or a single department show, but I think collaboration always makes it better. You can always get… You can always improve your SEO by learning from other people in other departments.
And I think social media is a really big part of that. So it’s not really a ranking factor, but I think it helps bring in more traffic to your site, especially when you’re seen as an influencer on social media as an expert in your specific industry or topic. And you can also work with other influencers on social media to help build each other’s brands mutually.
So there’s even more information and resources about planning this in your SEO strategy template. So that’s where I’ll leave it for now because I can talk about this forever, probably. So we know how search engines work and what technology changes mean for SEO in 2018 and you’ve taken all that information and created your wonderful 2018 SEO strategy.
But how do you get down to numbers and really prove your SEO ROI? So I made this next section correspond with the funnel we talked about earlier, so make sure to keep the funnel in mind as we’re going through these. So at the top of the funnel, I think it’s really important, like I mentioned earlier, to pay attention to your rankings. Like I said, this is the awareness stage of the funnel and it sort of makes sense to tie these two together so you can see what people are searching for related to your business and then how you rank for those sort of exploratory turns.
So on this slide, these are examples of paid tools. So this is like SEMrush or Moz, I think this one is actually Moz, but they can give you insight into how well your top-of-funnel organic efforts are fairing. So for a certain set of keywords, you’ll input into the software, you can track your things, things like visibility for both you and your competitors.
So you can see like these are the terms I want to rank for or how am I doing and then also how are my competitors doing? Are they doing something better than I am in this area? And SEMrush also has a super cool feature that lets you see if your website ranks for specific search features that we talked about before, so like the featured snippets, if you have the review stars and they can even tell you if you rank for like video searches, which is also super cool.
But so, like remember feature snippets, so the features that lead to bringing the single result and the voice search results. So ranking for a featured snippet also means you’re potentially ranking as a single result in a voice search. So that’s super cool to track as well. And then Moz offers a local insights so you can…if you’re a local business or a smaller business in that single area, you can check your business listings and stuff locally.
So also to go back to like the prep work we were talking about and your technical SEO, these two paid tools have site crawl information as well so they can tell you if there are any technical issues going on with your site and those are always fun to try to fix yourself as well. So we move down one phase in the marketing funnel. We’re in the engagement phase.
We can see how tools like Google Analytics and Google search console show us how users get to our sites and then how they navigate and interact with our content on our websites. So in Analytics, for example, you can set a baseline, run comparisons for things like your traffic sources, your overall traffic, new users, all that.
And you can also set specific conversion goals and track how individual channels like Organic will play a part in the conversions you’re tracking. So how many leads did organic search bring in? And then of those, how many of those leads converted into customers? And there’s also… This is one of my favorite, there’s this super cool report called the Goal Path Conversions Report in Google Analytics and it tells you what pages on your site a lead visited before they convert it.
So you can see they visited my About Us page and then from there they went to a Features page from the Features page they went to the Pricing page and that’s where they converted. So you can see those like high traffic pages and how well they lead to your conversion. And it can also tell you like if I create a page specifically with the intent to lead people to conversions and it’s nowhere on that report and maybe I need to go in and make some changes.
So the screenshot here is Search Console. This is also… So Analytics and Search Console are great because they’re free. But the thing about search console is the data really only lasts for 90 days. There’s a rumor going around that they might extend it, which would be totally awesome, but right now, it’s still…only lasts for 90 days. So it’s important to go in regularly and check the data in this.
And search console offers a lot of great information too. You can, like I said, get technical information, you can see the 404s that Google sees, you can see how many pages on your site actually make it into the index. So going back to crawling, indexing, and retrieving content, the content can’t be retrieved if it was never indexed because it’s not in the library for a search engine to pull from.
So by going into search console and checking out what pages are indexed, how many pages, you can see it will potentially show up in the retrieval process. But the search analytics tab is my favorite tab, it’s my favorite tab and search console. Only a nerd will say they have a favorite tab. Anyway, so this sort of gives you really cool ranking data, keyword data, and you can do so much with this information.
So you can also sort by day, you can start by landing page, you can sort by specific queries and it shows you what keywords each page shows up for in searches, how many clicks the page got for each keyword, and also what position each pages ranked for. So this is like a minefield of data and I think people are always like, “Oh, search console.”
But go in there and check it out and like ravel in the data.
– So before we get into the next tool that the Carolyn’s going to talk about, which, sneak peak, it’s call tracking, we actually wanted to see how familiar everyone here is with call tracking because it’s not necessarily something you just automatically put with SEO and tracking SEO. So we just kind of wanted to gauge that really quick and it actually looks like about half of you guys are not currently using call tracking.
So this will be pretty interesting for you.
– So I think if you want to prove ROI in the next stage of the funnel, the evaluation stage, call tracking is a really great tool for that. I think getting organic attribution data for the engagement stage and also the conversion stage is really hard. Google Analytics doesn’t like give us the information as, you know, readily as we want.
And then we have like the not set keywords now, which is a bummer, but call tracking software like CallRail allows you to sort of determine where leads came from and like if they came directly from your website, a local business listing we could, you know, if you’re a local business you could say, “Oh, how did you hear about us?” But that doesn’t really give you the detailed attribution data.
Someone could say… Someone could technically have searched for a solution on Google, your site shows up and then they go to Facebook and see your Facebook page and they’ll tell you, “Oh, we saw you on Facebook, but that doesn’t attribute to organic like you’d like it to.” So call tracking sort of takes the element of unknown out of organic attribution. So CallRail, for example, can tell you if a call came from organic, a paid source, it goes direct, or even another source that you set up.
And also, there’s a really great article on the CallRail website about call tracking for local businesses. So I mentioned local business listings earlier, so local businesses have sort of a separate implementation. So I’ll make sure to include a link to that in the email we send out afterwards and actually, Madelyn and I have been using CallRail information to help improve the CallRail websites.
So we’ve been going in listening to calls, gathering data from them, and we’re going to use that information to try to make our website even better. So you can use this information not only to track the engagement stage in the funnel, but also do the things that you’re…like the keyword research that you are… You know, that’s the best part of SEO.
– We’ve been using CallRaill and it’s been really, really cool to see the insights you can glean on those phone calls.
– We view our products a lot differently than users view your product, and that was super interesting to see, I think.
– Yeah, for sure. And another great example, so we have a client here at CallRail called Social On. They are a marketing agency and one of their really big clients is a trampoline park, if any of you are familiar, and I’m sure as you can imagine, that’s a local business and they’re getting a ton of phone calls of people trying to book birthday parties and, you know, “Hey, are you open?”
or “You want to come in?” All that kind of good stuff. And they had assumed that all of their phone calls were coming from the marketing site that people were clicking through on ads or just organic search results to the site and then placing phone calls. Social On actually implemented CallRail in the middle of kind of their planning process and they found that while they had great, you know, web traffic, all the phone calls they were receiving were most of them were not people clicking through to the website, but they were actually viewing the Google Places for Business, so the local listing on Google and directly calling from there.
So it was more important that they spend time making sure that that listing was perfect and pristine and pushing people to pick up the phone and call versus spending a ton of time creating all this new content on the website and optimizing these certain pages. Of course, that helps, but it was really better that their efforts were focused on Google Places for Business, which then once they did that, they saw a ton of results and it was awesome.
So that being said, we want to know if anyone else wants to learn a little bit more about how other SEOs are using CallRail to know which organic efforts are working. We’re happy to follow up with you if it’s something that you’re interested in and we definitely think that there is a ton of value. So just let us know.
And also feel free to follow up with an email as well. Awesome.
– Cool. So we have all the information about search engines, upcoming trends, planning our strategy, and making sure we proved that that strategy was successful. So I kind of want to talk about… This is like my personal preaching about SEO right now. I hope this is the main takeaway that you get from this webinar and I think it’s the top way to boost your SEO in 2018 and based on the other topics that we’ve covered, it probably will be a surprise.
But I feel like quite a few SEOs are very algorithm-focused. So I’ll go to forum like WebmasterWorld and they pay attention to certain elements and say, “Oh, no, my rankings are down.It’s an algorithm change.I’ve been penalized.” And I think instead, we should focus on the fact that if you think about it, Google isn’t really worried about the website per se, that it displayed and ranked, it’s more worried about making sure that they serve the user in the best way possible.
So Google actually have the philosophy and the very first thing, the number one thing in their philosophy is “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” So it seems pretty plain and because it’s the search engine’s goal to serve the user as best they can, I think our goal as SEOs and content marketers should not be to get the upper hand on the search engines, but to serve our users in a particular way or in the best way possible.
So that’s all fine and great and hypothetical. How do we do that? Google actually has guidelines, which I think will work for most search engines about search quality evaluation and they say it’s important to focus on what they call EAT, which is experience, authority, and trust. So you want to make sure your website has a great amount of expertise, whether it’s coming from you, your contributors, you want to show people why you have that expertise.
And that doesn’t mean it has to be like a scholarly article, you can be the expert in gossip on like celebrity gossip. You can be the expert on like fashion trends, that sort of thing. They just want to make sure that it’s not like a sketchy, crazy website that they’re serving up to their users. So it’s important that we try to display that as well. Authoritativeness, it’s kind of like experience and expertise, but it’s sort of from a website perspective.
Your whole website should be authoritative on whatever topic it is that you’re trying to write about, and market, and sell. So this can come from like the expertise of your writers or even if you have like a forum, the quality of the community. And then comes to trustworthiness. Google is essentially trying to determine for users, is this a site that users feel they can trust or is it a weird and sketchy and people have trouble believing what the website is actually trying to tell you?
And sort of all this boils down, I think, to the content like quality, creating quality content. So when a searcher lands on your page, they can easily tell if it’s created by a person or a company with really high EAT. And it not only tells the searcher that it’s great authoritative content, but they’re also much more likely to recommend your business or service to other people and share it on social media, it really gives them the confidence that they’re sharing trustworthy and accurate information, their circles, social circles.
So all right, how do we focus on EAT and user? Here are my recommendations. First, I think it’s important to actually write content to answer people’s questions. There’s a really great website called answerthepublic.com. You go in, you type in a topic, and you see what real people have asked about that specific topic.
So my go-to example is always, if I’m a plumber, I can go to answer the public.com. I can type in toilets and it’ll tell me all the questions that people have asked in search engines about toilets, like “How do I install a toilet?What do I do when my toilet’s overflowing?” Stuff like that. So answering the specific questions that users will have about your specific product, service, it’s a really great way to show expertise, authority, and prove your trustworthiness.
And the next one is focusing on long-tail keywords. And I think when we focus on these longer string keywords, not only will short tail keywords follow because they’re inherently part of the longer tail keyword, I think the conversions will be better. So if we go back, way back to my red shoes example, if I’m looking for red shoes, specifically if I’m looking for those ruby red slippers, my Dorothy shoes, if I just type in red shoes, I’m not going to get a result like that immediately.
I’ll have to keep refining my query and I type in finally Wizard of Oz Ruby red slippers. I’ll probably get a couple more really specific results and I’ll have the intent to buy. So the longer tail keywords often mean better ROI. And then also in theory, you might pull in a little less traffic because, you know, focusing on this longer keyword, but the return on your investment will probably be proportionally higher because you’re bringing in people with the intent to buy those specific products or services.
And then the next one I have it to write what’s called tangential content. This is… Moz wrote a blog about this recently and I thought I was totally awesome. It’s sort of content that is related to your business, but it’s not necessarily directly tied to the bottom line. So you’re like, “Great.What is this local gym doing, writing about nutrition?” Well, you can see that it would make sense for people searching for a local gym.
They’re interested in health and fitness. They’re probably interested in nutritional information as well. So writing that through your content brings in the kind of people who are looking for that general information and then they could potentially convert because you’re the expert in that information. So another example is like a pool company could write just summer safety pool tips for people with families or based on legislation in your area.
I know some places you have to have like offense around the pool or maybe that’s all places now. I don’t have a pool, I don’t know, guys. Sorry. But if you’re writing this sort of like tangential content, it’s related but not directly tied to your bottom line, you’re bringing in people who are searching for that information. If they’re looking for pool safety tips, they might already have a pool. So when they need something serviced, they might call your business for that information because you are the person that provided them with those good summer safety tips.
And I think according to this Moz article that I read, tangential content brings in 30% more media mentions. So not only is this general slightly related information good for bringing in traffic, but it’s really great for PR as well and it gets 77% more social shares than like brand-focused campaigns, which totally makes sense, like if I’m a person with a pool, I’m more likely to share these pool safety tips with my friends than I would a blog post about how great your pool company is because I think my friends would get more information out of that pool safety tips blog, for example.
And then the last thing is what I like to call little to no salesing, top of funnel content. So the idea is that for the people who are in this awareness stage who are just trying to figure out what’s going on, it’s important to really focus on that user’s needs first. Don’t try to force them in the funnel and check out your branding and check out your pricing when you don’t even know what they do like that website I did earlier.
And I also think it’s okay to give a little bit of like free information away, like pool safety tips or how to install a toilet when you’re a plumber because it establishes you as the expert in that area and the authoritative person who knows the most about that specific thing. So that when someone tries to install their toilet and they don’t do it properly, they’ll make sure to call you, the person who gave them the information initially to come do it correctly for them.
So once they see you as the expert in your industry, they’ll make sure to be…they’ll make sure that you’re the person who they come to when they need a specific service related to your industry. So we’re toward the end now. Let’s bring it all together. The main ideas I hope you take away from this webinar are that search engines are really focused on serving the users’ needs as best they can.
And they’re doing that by trying to keep up with trends in the market, like mobile phone usage and voice search. And so, it’s really important to make sure that we create an SEO strategy that encompasses all of those elements, technology and that we can prove our ROI with specific numbers-driven metrics for our organic search results.
And we can create this holistic SEO content strategy as well that focuses on mostly on the user and making sure our goals are aligned with the search engines goals. So I really hope you enjoyed this webinar. I hope you learned a lot. If you’re interested, here’s the SEO strategy template I created to help you go forth and plan your SEO strategy.
There some really interesting links to articles and questions to consider for each section of the webinar. So if you email me after you check it out, let me know what you think. I hope it’s useful to you and I think we’re going to take some questions now.
– Yes, we are. And one quick note. I heard from a few people that I did not leave the last poll open long enough. I’m sorry. If you are interested in a demo of CallRail or learning a little bit more about us or our 14-day free trial. please raise your hand and Go to Webinar and we’ll be sure to follow up afterwards. But now, let’s take some time and get to questions.
So I thought this was a great question. It’s coming from Daniel, Carolyn. He wants to know how can you use active marketing campaigns like boosted posts on Facebook to work with existing organic content or SEO?
– Oh, this is super good question. I think that… So I’m not an expert in paid, so if I’m wrong on these specific things, I will hope that you guys will tell me. But I’m assuming that if you create a boosted post on Facebook and you want to link it to some page on your website, it could be a landing page, but I think also if you’re… Madelyn actually has a really good article coming out soon about like Facebook, creating Facebook ads.
And I think you could potentially even link people to the specific types of content that you’re creating that are really focused on the user’s needs. So I know Facebook has a lot of really great targeting options. I’m not super familiar with all of them, but you can target, I think, people at the specific stages of the funnel, so you want to target people that are maybe not aware of your product or maybe people who have visited your site, you can retarget them with Facebook ads.
So you’re, you know, you want to push them to the engagement stage of the funnel. You can do that, I think, with really great content that’s focused on the user as well. And then also, you know, if you’re tracking things that come from paid, that comes from social, you can also just optimize those really great content pages to also rank in SEO.
– Awesome. So this next question is from Emily. She wants to know how can you leverage videos for SEO?
– Yeah. So I think that there’s like some debate on video because a lot of people say that YouTube is like the second largest search engine in the world, which I think is true. I’m not going to lie. My dishwasher broke earlier and my husband and I just Googled like how to fix a dishwasher and we fixed it ourselves by watching YouTube videos, which I think is super cool.
But I know that some people are debating in SEO whether you should host the video on your site and then optimize the page for that or if you should host on YouTube, because a lot of people believe that there is not click-through on YouTube. So like when I watched this dishwasher video, I didn’t go visit the site of the guy who posted the video.
So I don’t know if he was actually a plumber or whatever, I just watched the video, got what I needed and left. So some people debate whether you should post the video on your site and then write a full transcript. So not only is that good for accessibility but it’s good for indexability because Google doesn’t… Search engines won’t index what you say in the video.
So I would totally recommend, regardless of whether you choose YouTube or hosting it on your own site, that you create a transcript for it. Some people will put it on YouTube, make it so that it’s not indexed in YouTube’s search engines, put it on their sites and then make it public later on YouTube so that their site gets the initial benefit.
But I also think if you’re going to do the YouTube route, you should make sure that the description, there are ways to add like tags or categories or whatever. And then also make sure the description is sort of like you would write a piece of content on your own website, so say what it’s about you… I know some people even include the transcript.
It’s like short video or like you know there’s like music videos, you can transcribe the lyrics but transcribe your video in the description if you have enough room so that that information can also show up in search. I hope that helps.
– The next question from Adrian, and she to know does Google favor or penalize duplicate content?
– So, Google, it doesn’t favor it and it doesn’t necessarily penalize it either. So here’s what I always tell people, is if you go to a restaurant and you have two plates of spaghetti and your server comes up in there too, like equal plates of spaghetti as far as you can tell and the server says, ‘Which spaghetti should I serve you?”You don’t know which spaghetti is the best spaghetti.
So you just pick one, and that’s essentially what Google does with duplicate content as well. So it doesn’t know which one to serve up, so it just serves up one. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one or, you know, like the best user experience, you could have the same content, different pictures, or whatever. It’s just, it’s not necessarily a penalty, it’s just a part of having really good clean technical SEO, is that you get rid of your duplicate content or canonicalize it to the original piece.
I think… I was actually reading an article, a lot of local SEO outfits or businesses that are like franchises will often have duplicate content across websites or across multiple locations in their subfolders for their websites. So I think it’s important to just make sure to canonicalize to the original source so Google doesn’t like cannibalize potential listings by not knowing which spaghetti to serve.
– Awesome. We’ve been getting a few questions about CallRail. People wanting to know, can you use call tracking for organic traffic? The answer of which is yes. We’re not able to provide you the specific organic keyword. That’s a… We can do that for PPC, but we can’t do that for organic. That’s a limitation on Google.
No call tracking tool anywhere can Google has encrypted that. But what you can do is you can record the phone calls and that’s what me and Carolyn I’ve been doing, is listening to the recordings of the phone calls and from those, you can kind of glean a lot of insight into, you know, the intent of the caller and where they were on your website and why they picked up the phone call, which I think is pretty helpful for SEO.
– You can just for optimizing your site, like you don’t have to use it as a tracking thing, necessarily, if you don’t want to. I mean, tracking is like super important. You should always track because SEO is hard to prove the numbers that we want to like prove how awesome we are because we’re all totally awesome. But you can also use it to just optimize your site, which is what Madelyn and I have been doing. And it’s like I mentioned earlier, it’s been super insightful to see that the way people…we think we’re providing the best user experience, the most information to these users and they’re saying, “Oh, yeah, that’s great, but this is actually what we were asking when we mean that.”
So by listening to the call recordings, we’ve figured that information out.
– I am getting a couple of questions of people that are following the rebrand lead link and the permissions are not sent on Google. We will make sure afterwards to follow up in an email, we’ll send a link to resource again and we’ll also change the permissions for those for you guys right now.
– Sorry about that, guys.
– Yeah. I have one more question. It looks like this is great. So we’ve got a few questions on backlinking. So Ryan wants to know, he loves to find some solid information on how his business can acquire backlinks. Do you have any resources? And there was actually another question from Cecilia in there.
And do you think people still link to good content anymore?
– Oh, yeah, totally. I link to good content. I mean, in this SEO strategy template, which I’m trying to figure out how to give you all permission to, I link to outside sources and we link to outside sources in the CallRail blog all the time because we think it’s really good information. But I think that’s where, back to Ryan’s question, I think?
– Yeah, sorry. So that’s where collaboration I think also really comes into play. So when you’re sort of seen as an influencer in your industry, I think it’s totally fine to ask other people to link to your content either through like social media. A lot of people go in and do what’s called like broken link building or they’ll see if other people have broken links on their site and they say, “I have great information on this particular topic.You can link to my site instead of this broken link that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Or even just saying, “Hey, I see you have a really great blog on this topic.I also wrote a blog on something similar.Maybe you could consider linking to my blog.” So that’s why I said it earlier. I think there’s no problem in like going out and straight-up asking, but I do think if you create relevant content and also data-driven content, content that includes not only data about, you know, your industry, but data from other industries that applies to people who may buy your product or service.
People really prefer that content. I was looking at a slideshare a while ago and I don’t know the exact source of the information, but people curate content that includes data in it. So, you know, what did they want to prove something to someone else or they, you know, confirm something they believe, they want the kind of content that includes data.
So I think that was a really long-winded way to say, yeah, you can get links from having awesome content, but it’s also totally cool to just go ask people.
– One more follow-up question. If you get 50 of your Facebook friends to link to your site, is that as valuable as one link from a good business page?
– So here’s the thing I think about when I think about links. There is what… Google has like this page rank thing or it tries to determine, like I mentioned before, the EAT, the expertise, the authority, the trustworthiness of a site. And some sites are seen as more trustworthy than others and a link from those sites, it’s like kind of worth more, it’s called the link equity.
So you’re passing on the link equity from your site. It’s sort of like a vote of confidence of your site. So having a really good link from like, you know, like <i>New York Times</i> or some big publication or Moz, somebody big in your industry is worth, I think, way more than having a bunch of like smaller sites. Not that your friend’s sites aren’t totally awesome and your friends may also work for cool places like Moz, but having one awesome link is better than having a bunch of crap, be low quality links from sites.
And I think crappy because I mean, some places do like spam linking to try to like bring their competitors now, which is a terrible SEO practice. Please don’t implement that. But some people will go in and disavow links, which I also don’t recommend you do because once you disavow link, it’s forever. But they essentially are saying like, “Oh, this is a really sketchy site and I don’t want to be associated with it.”
So there’s also like the other end of the spectrum, so you can have really great links, but also you can have like really crappy links. And some people actually go out and look for those to disavow.
– All right. Well, I think that this is the end of our time, unfortunately. We did have a ton of questions that we weren’t able to get to. We will be following up with you guys after the webinar, hopefully, gets you the answers you’re looking for, and as I mentioned, we’ll also be following up with the recording as well as the link to the SEO templates.
– Yeah, I just tried to make that public. So I hope that it works now. And if not, then I’m sorry. That was a fail on my part and I’ll make sure it’s included in the follow-up email after this.
– All right, awesome. Thanks, guys.
– Thank you.