It’s no surprise to us when clients are hyper-focused on ranking reports as a measurement of SEO success. After all, they hired us to increase the visibility of their website(s) in the search engines. But in an industry that is constantly changing due to Google’s algorithm changes, the way we show clients the value of our services has to adapt as well. Now that Google Analytics no longer shows individual keyword data, and SEO campaigns are becoming more about content & integrated social media marketing, the reports we show our clients as indicators of a successful campaign need to reflect that.
Here are 3 essential measurements of SEO success:
- Organic Traffic – as our Director of SEO Project Management, Chris Surovick, says, “A number one ranking without click-throughs is not going to be very valuable to clients, is it?” No, Chris, it is not. In fact, we often see pages in the 5th, 6th, and 7th spots in the SERPs with higher click-through rates than number ones. That’s why we are educating our clients about the importance of traffic over rankings, and our monthly reports reflect that. Are people coming to the site? Are they getting what they need? The answer to that question brings us to another important metric, conversions.
- Conversions – every website has a purpose whether it’s to bring in leads, sell something, or educate people. If you don’t have Goals set up in Google Analytics then how can you tell if a website is doing its job? At WebiMax, one of the first steps in launching an online marketing campaign is identifying a website’s target objectives and making sure Google Analytics is set up to capture that information. A webpage with a number one ranking in the SERPs but that doesn’t accomplish its intended purpose isn’t ideal. Showing clients forward movement by tracking increases in leads, sales, or time spend on a page is far more indicative of success.
- Social Referral Traffic – as social media becomes a bigger part of the online marketing picture, it’s important to be able to show clients the value of these efforts. Under “Acquisition” in Google Analytics, there’s an option to view traffic coming from social sources:
If you click “Overview” under “Social,” you can see a summary of how many visits to a website are coming from social sources. The Overview also shows how many conversions, or “Goals,” were completed directly by social channels or with the assistance of them.
This isn’t about ignoring rankings altogether. There is still merit in climbing the SERPs; however, ranking reports do not tell the whole story. At WebiMax, it’s our job to show clients the true value of an SEO campaign from all angles. And, as the industry continues to change and evolve, so will our reporting.
When writing for your site, it’s true that content is key and plays a very large part in increasing conversions and keeping people coming back to your site. However, there is a big difference between user-friendly content and… well, not-so-user-friendly content. Consider what draws your attention – would you rather read a list of key points with subheadings or lengthy paragraphs of copy? Personally, and I think it goes for most people, I tend to scan things before I read them and if I find something interesting, I go back and read the rest. A good thing to keep in mind is that if it looks like a research paper, chances are users are probably not reading it.
However, creating ‘easy-to-read’ copy is a lot easier said than done but because it’s so important, it’s vital to understand what it takes to create user-friendly content.
The Key “Points” of Readability
- Bullet points provide an easy way to break up text and draw the readers’ eye to the most important points (see what I’m doing here?).
- Lists, again, are a great way to break up content to make your content appear more user-friendly. From numbers to bullet points, lists are the perfect way to wrap up your key thoughts without overloading the user with text.
- Bolded subheadings also aid in breaking up text and let the reader know what they’re about to read. This makes it easy for the user to skip around the page to read only the parts the interest them.
- White space cannot be stressed enough – don’t make your web pages look like research papers. You can use short paragraphs with white space in between to make it more readable and easier on the eyes.
- Mixed media is another way to break up text to make your site content more readable. From pictures to videos, give your reader something to look at that relates to your content.
It’s About Design, Too
While content is a key component to a great site and has a strong influence on readability, there are certain web design aspects that also affect your website’s readability. Aside from keeping content short, concise, and to the point, it’s also important to ensure your website’s design is effectively conveying this content. Things such as alignment, color contract, and font all play a part in making your site more user-friendly.
- Font is often the most overlooked aspect of web design but is also one of the most important. Always use legible font sizes and font types that are web-safe.
- Contrast is important when it comes to readability. Light grey text on a white background may look slick to you, but for someone else, it may be completely unreadable. Similarly, if you have a dark background you should probably make the text as light as possible. While contrast is important, color is also important in creating an attractive web design so don’t be afraid to use it!
Alignment also plays an important part in readability. Not only does it look nice but scattered web components look unattractive to the eye, reducing site readability.
It’s important to keep content simple and to the point, while making use out of lists, white space, and subheadings. The implementation of a good design has a huge effect on readability as well. While there is a large variety of things that affect your sites readability, content and design play a large part and oftentimes go hand-in-hand.
Think of the world of content marketing like an aisle in a grocery store. Google is in charge of stocking the shelves, and they place the best products right where the shopper can see them. In the world of supermarkets, companies pay for that prime space. In the world of organic SEO, Google chooses the products that offer their “shoppers” the best value.
So, the question is, how do you offer the most value in a competitive environment? You present your products in a unique and engaging way. By being unique, your website can enjoy the equivalent of a showcase display at the front of the aisle.
Our marketing experts need the answer to two simple questions to get the ball rolling on an exciting and unique content marketing strategy:
1. Who is your target consumer base?
2. What do you offer your customers?
After these questions are answered, your onsite content needs to be reviewed to ensure you are at least providing the essential message your visitors are looking for. Your pages should be set up to offer the maximum convenience to your guest. Keywords and links will naturally find their way into the copy when written with this strategy in mind.
When users are unable to scan your website and determine if you have the information they are looking for within seconds, they are gone. And, if it is clear what you offer, your content better keep their attention with a great hook.
Hook ‘em with Humor
While there are several ways to hook your audience, one of the most overlooked avenues is humor. The Internet is about connectivity–people love to share something interesting or humorous with their friends and family. When your content has your customers saying, “You have to read this!” Google will recognize the value you offer searchers.
Of course, before you ever add humor to your webpages or daily blogs, you need to realize that humor is the seasoning to the informational steak. It’s okay to be funny when your core message is clear. When the two merge, your website can start turning readers into buyers.
Sometimes standing out from the crowd takes courage. Many businesses shy away from humor at the risk of being offensive. This is certainly understandable, but not all humor has to be so blue. For instance, think of Google. They once debuted Gmail Motion on April Fool’s Day. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a special occasion for Google to bring the funny. Think of all the different Google Doodles on their homepage that always provide sharable, buzz-worthy content. As long as humor is geared toward your user base and is sprinkled in with plenty of high-quality and informative copy, it can be a great way to separate your company from your competitors.
Utilizing humor through infographics or instructrographics is another great way to provide fun, sharable content for your social media campaigns. When you create something funny, promote it through your Facebook, Twitter and other social outlets. It will humanize your business and help potential customers build up some trust in your brand.
If humor isn’t an outlet your business can work with, don’t worry. When you inform, instruct, or relate to your audience in creative and valuable ways, it produces a relationship with your customers, and that’s the hook you need. Then, when SEO techniques bring in more traffic, your content can help reel in the sales.