Recap of Azlo’s SEO and Content Marketing Basics Webinar

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This article is a recap of Grow Your Business: SEO & Content Marketing 101 webinar that Azlo hosted on June 25, 2020. Watch it here.

As a small business owner, you likely grasp how content is key to zeroing in on your brand message, building an audience, and ultimately, helping you with the overall success of your business. And if you understand the importance of content, then you know why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is necessary. 

In 2020, SEO is far more than strategically placing keywords. Recently, Azlo dove into SEO with a webinar. Presented by Kelly Ayres, an account manager at Jordan Digital Marketing, and moderated by Val Stepanova, Azlo’s director of content marketing, the webinar looked at how small business owners and entrepreneurs can grow their businesses through SEO. Kelly and Val also provided a primer on how to create an SEO strategy and what you should focus on. 

Why Is SEO Important?

Here are a few reasons: 

  • SEO strategy needs to include a comprehensive strategy. 
  • Most leads come through organic search. 
  • Being visible online can help prospective leads find you.
  • It’s strategic for small businesses that don’t have the budget for paid social advertising or pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. SEO is a great place to start. 

How Can I Create an SEO Strategy? 

Understand the search algorithm. In a nutshell, an algorithm is a set of rules or formulas that perform a specific task. As such, search algorithms locate information. Because search engine algorithms get updated constantly, there’s a lot to unpack. Google alone has more than 200 known ranking factors. Let’s focus on some of the most integral ranking factors of the algorithm:

Searcher intent. If you think of SEO as a house, then content is its heart. It includes link-building, keyword research, and user experience. Google seeks to deliver the results people are looking for. You’ll want to create content that best corresponds with what the searcher wants to find. Your content should engage, build brand awareness, and inform. 

You should also understand your audience, and know what problems they want your content to solve. You’ll want to create content focused on solving your audience’s problem in the most concise, effective way possible. Aim to write clearly, and pull from sound, accurate data. You should update this content on a consistent basis. 

Technical Elements

If SEO is a house and content is its heart, then the technical aspects are its foundation. Creating great content and promoting it can only take your SEO so far if there are technical snags. If technical issues exist at the domain and page level, it’ll negatively affect your SEO. 

Let’s take a look at the technical side of SEO:  

On-page technical elements. This code encapsulates written content and provides markers for Google to understand the content’s context. Being optimized at the page level helps Google identify elements. Google crawls your code to see if the page is optimized and performing as it should. When starting out, here are things to check to make sure your on-page technical elements are in a solid place:

  • URL.
  • Title tag.
  • Meta description. Short snippets that sometimes appear in search results to give users an idea of what a page is about. 
  • H1-H6 tags. These are the headers on your pages. This can help you target key phrases, and help you answer a question. 
  • Alt image attribute. Helps with accessibility for mobile devices for folks with hearing and vision loss.
  • Structured data markup. Helpful for specific pages. It targets specific questions within the code itself.

Some things to look at when it comes to your content’s performance:

  • Do the pages load quickly? 
  • Are they optimized for mobile devices? 
  • Are they hosted on a secure connection? 
  • Is the content crawlable?

Domain-level technical elements. Google also sorts and understands documents at the domain level. It’ll ask questions like:

  • Can this domain be trusted? 
  • Has this domain done “bad” things in the past?
  • Has it published important content? 
  • How many links does it have? 

If you’ve ever wondered why someone’s LinkedIn profile will outrank their own website, this is why. LinkedIn is an established website that has built a level of trust over the years. 

Keywords. Keywords are a core element of SEO strategy. They determine how you target search intent and how you optimize on a page level.

And developing your content strategy starts with keyword research. When doing your keyword research, you should take into account the traffic and opportunity for current and new keywords.  Look at both keywords that drive traffic and result in conversions. You should take note of how you can optimize keyword research and how you can go about investing in the future.

If you don’t have the resources to invest in content marketing now, you can do some basic research to see where your qualified keywords can be invested for the greatest return on investment (ROI) on your future SEO strategy.

Remember: It’s not just the number of times keywords are on a page; it’s more about creating content that’s highly relevant to the topic.

Do continuous research. You’ll also want to look at trends and what keywords are clustered around that trend. A good tip is to take time to find out how competitors are targeting their content. 

Keep track of trends. Keeping track of trends can help you home in on keywords, so you can create content that’s relevant and timely. These could be seasonal trends, new questions that are being asked, or a new way of asking these questions.

Pay attention to what competitors are targeting. This could also help you learn about potential keywords and keyword phrases to attract new audiences, or engage your existing audience. 

Link building. You can think of link building as digital PR. It’s not just about inserting links into your content. You’re also building brand awareness and thought leadership.

Links are one of the foundational ranking factors that Google developed to stand out from other search engines. In Google’s eyes, links symbolize authority and speak to the quality of a document. Link building also builds trust and could lead to referral traffic.

However, not all links have the same standing. Google looks at the quality and diversity of your linking domains, and the diversity of the anchor text. Furthermore, Google considers the location on the page, topical relevance between domains, and the overall link profile.

Check where you’re ranking and what you’re ranking for. You might find keywords that might be opportunities for potential customers to find you. It also helps you discover new audiences who might be looking for what you’re offering.

Link to sites and content that you can amplify through your own content. For example, if we were doing link building for this SEO webinar, we would look to link to a site that produces content on SEO 101 and could be bolstered by a video webinar such as this one.

In a way, you’re helping other sites with their reach and credibility. That’s because when a site links to your content, it’s a sign of trust, and it helps them be seen as an authority. 

Linkbuilding should be strategic. It should be focused around building your own brand and promoting your own content.

External link building. External link building, or linking out to content on other sites besides yours, is a bit of a popularity contest. Google tracks how many sites link back to you. This shows you’re legit. The more credibility the other sites have, the more authority, credibility, and trust your content has.

Internal link building. Internal link building, or building links within your site, is a good place to start. Having a clear path between the related content on your site, building content where there’s a clear path to a marketing page, and good domain authority can all contribute to solid link building.

Target people looking for answers, and hopefully, you can turn them into a prospective customer.

User signals. User signals are signals that a website user sends to Google. This is a very important ranking factor that comes directly from people who are searching. In turn, it can affect the ranking of a website.

Click-through rate. This is the number of times your content appears in search results in comparison to the number of times people actually click on that search result.

Bounce rate. The percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after visiting one page. You want to keep this rate low, so you want engaging content that encourages people to spend time on your website as they click through different links and pages.

Citations. These are offsite listings that promote your small business. This is particularly important for local business owners in a specific niche. For instance, a Google My Business page, or a review on Yelp or on the Better Business Bureau’s site.

You’ll want to make sure information on your lists is consistent and accurate. If there are any errors, this can easily be remedied.

Sharing. The frequency of how many times your content is shared, whether it’s through social media or through backlinks. Sharing should be an integral part of your SEO strategy. It shows that people trust your content and that you’re an expert on a topic.

Time On Site. The average amount of time someone spends on your website. If your time on site is low, it could be because you have poor page performance. And if you find that people are spending a lot of time on certain pages, you can use that to your advantage and optimize those pages for conversions.

Return to SERP Rate. SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. This is how often someone visits your site, then they bounce back to their original search to find their answer. Make sure your content is clear, effective, and answers the question. That’s what’s going to keep the Return to SERP Rate low.

This is the first in a series of webinars and digital resources from Azlo on building your business with online tools. Stay tuned for more.

Jackie Lam
Jackie Lam is an L.A.-based money writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, and GOOD Magazine. She is currently studying to be a financial coach (AFC®) to help artists and freelancers with their money. In her free time she blogs at heyfreelancer.com

Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.

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