Why Keywords Still Matter in SEO (But They Aren't Everything)
In the early days of search engine optimization (SEO), keywords were everything. Many search engines including Google relied heavily on matching keywords and phrases in a user’s search query with real pages on the web. For example, if a person searched for “hot dog restaurant,” Google’s algorithm would disproportionately favor domains and pages with the exact phrase “hot dog restaurant.”
This led to the rise and dominance of keyword research, and keyword-centric SEO strategies. Writing content and building links that contained the phrase “hot dog restaurant” could practically guarantee your ranking for the phrase — but that's not the case anymore.
Google's algorithm update in 2013, called Hummingbird, introduced semantic search capabilities. Google started looking at the context of content, rather than just scanning for specific keywords, which required SEO and content marketing strategies to shift away from a keyword-density focus.
But that doesn't mean keywords aren't still relevant. So how can you implement the best content marketing and SEO strategy?
The importance of keywords
A keyword is defined as a search targeted word or phrase in your web content that a search engine can use to establish relevance. In modern parlance, a "head keyword" is a short, topical keyword or phrase; for example, “hot dog restaurant” could be considered a head keyword.
By contrast, a “long-tail keyword” or “long-tail phrase” is an extended, often more conversational string of words; for example, “where to find the best hot dog restaurants in Memphis” is much longer and, as you might expect, less common.
Conducting keyword research allows you to glean three main insights:
Read more: 7 Reasons Why SEO Matters for Every Startuphttps://sntipsofficial.blogspot.com/
From there, you can choose an assortment of powerful keywords for your industry. Hypothetically, there are a few ways you can utilize those keywords:
Search engine algorithms: the high-level view
Google has always been the dominant competitor in the search engine field, and most other search engines mimic its functionality, so we’ll use it as our main example and as a stand-in for other algorithms.
Keywords are almost exclusively used to determine relevance. If your website has many instances of the phrase “hot dog restaurant,” and lots of content about hot dog restaurant-related terms, it’s probably going to be considered appropriate for a user search about hot dog restaurants. A tech blog, no matter how trustworthy and authoritative it is, will not be considered appropriate.
But let's ignore the “authority” part of the equation for now, and focus exclusively on the “relevance” part. Will the right keywords guarantee that your site will be considered by Google appropriately?
The inner workings of Google's Hummingbird algorithm are somewhat secret, but the functionality is clear. Rather than taking a user’s query and looking for exact matches throughout the web, Google Search now attempts to analyze the general meaning and intent of a user query. This looks like a subtle difference, but it has some important side effects.
Take the query “hot dog restaurant” above. Rather than looking for this exact phrase throughout the web, Google will understand that a user is looking for a restaurant that sells hot dogs, and probably nearby. It may make some assumptions and consider topic-adjacent keywords, including synonyms.
Related: Here We Go Again: What Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Hummingbird, Google's Latest Update
The consequences of low-effort keyword strategies
Even with the presence of semantic search, keyword research and inclusion can be a valuable way to boost the visibility of your strategy. However, you need to realize that excessively or thoughtlessly using keywords can actively work against you.
There are several tactics that could end up weakening your position, or even earning you a manual penalty, including:
If you have a selection of target keywords in your SEO strategy, you need to avoid these pitfalls. It’s simply not worth the risk.
The power of keyword-centric SEO strategies has declined over the years, thanks to the increasing sophistication of semantic search and Google’s capabilities in general. But make no mistake: Keywords and keyword research still have a place in your SEO strategy.
Related: Should You Simply Ignore Keywords When Writing Content for SEO?
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This article originally appeared on entrepreneur.com
Five Tips For SEO Agencies On Setting Expectations With Their Clients
Founder/CEO of Rankings.io, an SEO agency that helps elite personal injury law firms dominate first page rankings.
As an SEO agency owner, you probably know that getting clients is just half of the battle. The other half of the battle is retaining those clients.
Joey Coleman, the author of Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days, stresses that the first 100 days are critical for each customer—they have to feel like they made a good purchasing decision; companies need to counter potential buyer’s remorse.
One of the key ways to make each of your clients feel like they made a good decision turning to your SEO services? Set expectations early. As Robert Patin, the author of The Agency Blueprint, explains, “Unmet expectations are the root of all unhappiness. Setting expectations with your clients sets them up to feel confident throughout the process of working with you.”
Here are five tips for SEO agencies on setting expectations with their clients.
1. Uncover The Reasons Why Former Clients Left
One common business practice is to run retrospectives, also known as post-mortems, to reflect on what went right and what went wrong with a particular project, with the goal of avoiding the same pitfalls in the future.
You and your team should put together retrospectives whenever a client leaves (and retroactively run retrospectives as needed). During each retrospective, some of the factors you and your team should reflect on include:
• What challenges you had working with that particular client
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• What challenges that client had working with you
• Why that client left
Whatever the reasons you uncover were behind those clients’ departures, address them in future client onboardings. For instance, let’s say you and your team conclude that a client left because they felt your SEO agency wasn’t transparent enough. You can take two steps with future clients to improve transparency: sending them monthly reports and setting up regular meetings to discuss progress. Your future clients will all start your working relationship with those two expectations.
2. Reach A Mutual Understanding About Priorities
It’s essential to reach a mutual understanding about priorities with all of your clients.
If a client comes to you and says they want to rank number one for a keyword that’s only tangentially related to their business, you should have a conversation with them about why that’s not the best strategy. If a client wants you to edit their website to focus on specific keywords and requests that you follow their style guidelines—style guidelines that they haven’t formalized in a document—it’s up to you to set the expectation with them that they’ll need to give you a formal style guide so you can complete the second half of the project.
Many clients will have an idea of what they want, but at the end of the day, they’re seeking you and your team’s SEO expertise. You should give them guidance to set them on the right SEO path.
3. Get Clear On Deadlines And Turnaround Times
Sometimes, clients have unrealistic expectations about turnaround times and deadlines. They might think it’s feasible to get 40 polished blog post drafts a month or revamp their entire website copy in a week.
It’s up to you to communicate to your clients when they can expect to get their deliverables. For example, if they want 30 blog posts a quarter, you could create an editorial calendar that maps out deadlines for each blog post or set the expectation that they’ll get ten blog post drafts each month.
Keep in mind that the client will hold you to whatever expectations on deadlines and turnaround times you set unless there are extenuating circumstances. If you realize you can’t meet a deadline or turnaround time for whatever reason, inform the client as soon as possible. And sometimes, especially in situations where you have a client on retainer, the client will suddenly want to prioritize a new project over an existing one. You should tell clients how far in advance they should give you notice if they want to shift their priorities.
4. Show Clients How To Treat Your Time
It’s also vital that you set expectations with your clients about your and your team’s availability.
For example, if you set an expectation that your agency doesn’t answer emails or pick up phone calls after 5 p.m. on weekdays, your clients won’t get angry if no one responds to emails they send at night. But, if you don’t tell your clients your hours of operation at the start of their onboarding, you risk opening a can of worms. A client might call you after hours and get frustrated if you don’t pick up.
Also, remember that setting expectations about your availability is essentially useless if you constantly break your own rules. So, if you tell your clients that they can expect a response the next business day if they email you after 5 p.m., but you constantly email them back after hours, you’re showing them that you don’t respect your own boundaries. And if you don’t care about your boundaries, why should they?
5. Educate Clients On When They Can Expect To See SEO Results
SEO is not an industry where clients can see immediate results. That’s why it’s important to tell clients that it can take at least four to five months, if not longer, to see results.
When clients understand that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, you’ll be able to nurture a better working relationship with them. You’ll be less likely to be on the receiving end of anger over not seeing overnight results. Clients will understand that you’re doing all you can to give them the best outcome; it’ll just take some time before they’ll see the payoff.
Ultimately, many times, clients have falling outs with SEO agencies because of uncertainty. By giving them clear expectations and answers to their questions every step of the way, you’ll minimize, if not eliminate, those feelings of uncertainty and boost your SEO agency’s client retention rate.
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How has your organization been adapting to an ever-changing landscape of global events?
Wondering how other digital marketers are planning for success moving forward?
There are a lot of new changes and strategies in place for 2022.
Still, one thing remains constant across all organic marketing – providing the best digital experience for your audience.
On April 13, I moderated a sponsored webinar presented by Jenny Li, Conductor’s Product Marketing Manager, and Sara Tejelo, Market Research Analyst.
They presented Conductor’s survey results on marketers’ top challenges and how they expect to succeed in 2022.
From the data, they provided insights into which organic strategies you’ll need to implement to find the right focus areas and gain influence within your organization.
Here is a summary of the webinar. To access the entire presentation, complete the form.
How This Data Was Collected
Conductor surveyed over 350 marketers who hold responsibility for their brand’s website domains.
Respondents came from a combination of enterprise (>1,000 employees) and mid-market (500- 1,000 employees) companies.
They also segmented respondents based on their organic maturity stages.
[Learn how organic maturity is defined] Instantly access the webinar →
Key Organic Marketing Survey Findings 1. Marketers Cited Positive Trends Despite COVID-19.
48-60% of organic teams experienced positive changes from budget to productivity.
Also, despite remote work, teams saw the biggest positive impact on productivity and the ability to achieve goals.
2. Organic Marketing Programs Had An Increased Impact On Website Performance.
90% of companies with high organic maturity saw at least a 5% increase.
[See the data] Instantly access the webinar →
The next step is for decision-makers to better understand how SEO can drive revenue and brand awareness, plus recognize how vital it is to incorporate it into overall marketing strategies.
3. Companies Are Investing More In Organic Marketing Budgets.
20% of respondents saw a significant increase in organic budget.
This is 7% higher than the same results for paid budget.
4. More Executives Are Starting To See The Value Of Organic Marketing.
86% of organizations with high organic maturity expect their budgets to increase over the next 12 months.
Buy-in is crucial for unlocking SEO potential, so it’s best to consider how executives are being educated on SEO and organic marketing.
[See the data] Instantly access the webinar →
5. The Growing Importance Of Digital Is Driving Positive Expectations.
About three-fourths of respondents anticipate a positive shift in goals, productivity, headcount, and budget.
Marketers don’t have to keep fighting for organic marketing buy-in; more enterprises are starting to realize that.
6. Collaboration Is Key To SEO Success.
Other teams from low-maturity organizations only collaborate with SEO professionals 32% of the time vs. 94% from high maturity organizations.
It’s evident why SEO requests take some time for these organizations.
[Find out how long SEO requests should take] Instantly access the webinar →
Successful organic marketing requires teams to be aligned around customer needs.
So, it’s essential to discover the bottlenecks, figure out how to get things done faster, and inform executives where they can help.
There are many opportunities for SEO to play a part across an organization, and it often just requires more education.
7. In-House Organic Marketing Drives Higher Performance Vs. Outsourcing.
In-house organic efforts drove 12% more website traffic than fully-outsourced efforts.
No one has the same in-depth understanding of your business priorities as an enhanced in-house resource does.
[See the data] Instantly access the webinar →
8. SEO Technology Enables Robust Tracking, Implementation & Collaboration.
Most mature companies report a more robust performance and use a fully-integrated SEO platform.
Outlook For 2022
[Find out the other strategic channels] Instantly access the webinar →
[Slides] State Of Organic Marketing In 2022: SEO Top Priorities
Here’s the presentation:
State Of Organic Marketing In 2022: Top SEO Priorities from Search Engine Journal
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Join our webinar to learn how to design a future-proof strategy that maximizes the potential of your first-party data in a cookieless world.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal
Digital marketing has quickly become the most agile and accessible form of consumer engagement.
This isn’t just a matter of the internet giving businesses access to the global marketplace. Tools — such as video equipment and web design platforms — are more affordable and user-friendly than ever. This means even small businesses can create professional-quality digital marketing materials.
However, even as the digital marketing landscape continues to develop, there’s a tendency for businesses to focus on a single approach. Everyone wants to go viral. While this can result in short-term engagement, it is not always the most effective approach. One of the most powerful marketing tools that are frequently overlooked in digital spaces is the use of empathy.
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Empathy in itself is the ability to imagine the perspectives and feelings of another person. It’s one of our most important social tools. It helps us to form deeper connections with others and interact in a more caring way. This is something a lot of businesses consider a hurdle in their digital marketing. After all, with potentially millions of people in your demographic, is it practical or possible to put yourself in each of their shoes?
Well, empathetic marketing isn’t about making individual emotional connections with your entire potential user base. Rather, it’s about shifting the focus of your marketing efforts. The problem with most digital marketing with a viral objective is the focus on showcasing the brand. With empathetic marketing, the intention is to make the content less about the brand and more about the customer.
This means focusing on how the customer might interact with products or services. The marketing here might highlight the challenges demographics face and provide potential solutions. Often, empathetic content reflects what is important in consumers' lives and seeks to support and celebrate this. When small businesses make marketing videos in an empathic way, these are often geared toward their connections to a close-knit community. The key is to establish an authentic sense of belonging.Why Should You Prioritize Empathy?
There’s no doubt viral content has an impact. So why is it important to instead prioritize empathy as part of an effective digital marketing strategy? Well, firstly, the public is too often bombarded in the digital landscape by quite cynical methods. Clickbait, snidely-toned listicles, and piggybacking on memes are predictable tactics geared toward superficial engagement. Using more empathetic marketing helps your business to stand out from the crowd.
Perhaps most importantly, empathy is more suited to the contemporary marketplace. Consumers today tend to be less tolerant of businesses willing to pander to trends. They have little time for companies acting in ways where the intention is purely to make money. They want to see evidence that businesses are run by considerate human beings. While customers accept companies need to make money, they also want to know their interactions and investments are meaningful.
Empathy has particular importance when it comes to the longevity of your business, too. Your traditional and your digital marketing efforts are powerful tools for future-proofing your company. This applies to both business-to-customer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) enterprises alike. A marketing strategy built on empathy bolsters your brand reputation and improves your interactions with customers. Above all else, consumers tend to be more likely to demonstrate loyalty to businesses they feel a genuine emotional connection with.How to Implement Empathetic Digital Marketing
Knowing the ideas and incentives behind empathetic digital marketing are all well and good — however, this isn’t helpful if you don’t know how to make them actionable aspects of your campaigns.
Some of the most impactful practices to use include:
This is perhaps the most important element in an empathetic digital marketing strategy. You can’t hope to empathize with consumers if you don’t know anything about them. When you start a business or campaign, performing market research to identify your key demographics is essential. Developing solid analysis methods is important for both improving your profitability and bringing relevant products to the market.
However, pushing this a little further can help you learn more about the emotional needs of your consumers. Seek to understand their pain points. This doesn’t just mean talking about the problems you can solve but also how this impacts their lives. Look into what they value and the types of connections they enjoy. This allows you to create more rounded customer personas that you can use to direct your empathetic digital marketing.
Visual media is one of the more emotionally evocative tools. Videos, in particular, can help forge strong connections because they’re immediate. They also engage consumers with a wider sensory range. But this doesn’t mean all your visuals are naturally empathetic. It still takes effort and focus to create genuine connections.
Some of the best practices for creating empathetic videos surround optimizing the content to connect with your audience on an emotional level. This includes reinforcing the authenticity of your company’s empathy by demonstrating compassion for your consumers. You should also avoid making videos that dictate how your customers should connect with you. Instead, your narrative should spark your audience’s interest, ask them considerate questions, and invite them on a journey you’ll experience together.Conclusion
In a digital landscape that is so often considered distant and superficial, your business must make genuine connections. Empathetic marketing can be a great way to demonstrate you care about your consumers’ needs. These methods don’t remove your brand interests entirely from the scenario, but they do shift the primary focus toward the needs of your audience. By incorporating empathy into your strategy, you and your customers can benefit from long and meaningful relationships with one another.
Digital trends move quickly—that’s no surprise to marketers. The fast pace of the social media environment can cause marketers to sit on the sidelines. Or worse, it can lead them to make snap judgments about how to engage, believing that “seeing what sticks” is a better strategy than being left behind. Making quick decisions in the rapidly-shifting social media landscape doesn’t mean they can’t be smart and strategic.
Social media isn’t alternative media, it’s mainstream media, as reflected by the increasing spending across multiple platforms. In 2022, advertising spending on TikTok and Instagram will reach $177 billion, according to Zenith’s global forecast, overtaking TV for the first time. As a main source of information and entertainment, consumers are much less forgiving than they were in the early days. If brands are going to take advantage of these channels, they need to move quickly and get it right.
Here are three social media-focused insights and tips to consider when looking to accelerate clients’ social marketing presence by making smart, strategic choices about where and when to play:
1. KNOW WHEN TO ADOPT A MARKETING TREND AND WHEN TO STAY AWAY.
The question to ask yourself is: Why do I have the right to be engaging in this conversation? In other words, does your category directly relate to what’s happening in the trend? Is this truly relevant to your existing customers and/or target users?
If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” then your brand may get a boost by association—right time, right place—but you won’t fully leverage the potential of the effort. Consumers are very tough on brands they deem insincere. The price of aligning your brand with the wrong trend won’t be worth it if consumers decide you’re inauthentic.
2. EVERY SOCIAL PLATFORM IS DIFFERENT AND YOUR STRATEGY SHOULD REFLECT THAT.
As the fastest-growing social media platform globally, TikTok is a must-have for nearly every company or brand’s digital marketing strategy. That means understanding how best to use it and its features is imperative.
TikTok is a place where people—and brands—need to entertain if they want to capture viewers’ attention. Creating content on the platform that has tension is critical. What can your brand do that’s unexpected?
TikTok offers a place where brands can color outside the lines a bit or let their hair down, compared to other social channels. When brands show up in unexpected but still very authentic ways, consumers will reward them. And variety is key. Once you commit to a content medium like TikTok, you need to show up often or risk getting lost in the more than 1 million videos that are viewed every single day.
3. SHIFT YOUR FOCUS TO VIDEO CONTENT.
Video continues to become increasingly important in the battle for consumer engagement. As social platforms revamp around video, brand marketers won’t have the option to keep static as the center of their social content efforts.
Recently, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri revealed that the social media platform is planning to “double down” on its video features and focus efforts on the recently introduced Reels functionality. This indicates the TikTok-like feature is about to grow even more, and brands need to focus on how best to implement video-focused content quickly and affordably.
Remember, social media moves quickly and you should, too—but not so fast that you put a brand’s reputation in danger. Be smart, be agile, but most of all, control the urge to post, share, or create content for the sake of being part of a conversation. The repercussions of a bad move made on social media far outweigh 15 minutes of trending success.
Vice President at Blue Sky Agency, overseeing client relations and business developm
Patrick Johnson, Global CEO at Hybrid Theory
There is certainly no shortage of valuable data in today’s world of digital marketing, but the struggle to connect it all so that it can be leveraged effectively—to discover new audiences, increase sales and build brands—has some of the best and brightest marketing minds paralyzed with frustration. This vast universe of fragmented information is causing chief marketing officers to shut down—and digital advertising agencies are being shut out in the process.
When client relationships devolve from collaborative to transactional, it is only a matter of time before the account is under review or out the door entirely. Whether an agency is pitching new business, preserving its role as agency of record or fighting to win back the one that got away, success will likely hinge on the relationship with the CMO. And for many of those on the digital media agency front, that person has become increasingly elusive.
CMOs are real people. Just like the rest of us, they experience the failings of old-school online marketing firsthand. Every time a CMO gets served an ad for the shoes they were looking for ten weeks ago, they are reminded of the fact that the standard refresh rate is one to three months, their performance report-fueled cynicism is reignited and they realize that this kind of inefficiency is commonplace—even with third-party cookies still in place. One end result of this is that their desire to sit and talk with the agency charged with delivering digital media diminishes even further.
When it comes to expected tenure within the C-suite, data shows that the chief marketing officer is the most expendable. And while this vulnerability can translate into a fear of new methodology, it is entirely possible to break through that resistance with solutions that make their lives easier. As the CEO of a behavioral intelligence platform that builds brands through unexpected information and bespoke audiences, I know that establishing a productive and collaborative relationship with the CMO means coming to the table with unprecedented insights that can be activated in real time and at less cost than a one-time intensive marketing research project.
Here are five suggestions that I share with our digital media agency clients that are struggling to reconnect with their CMO clients.
1. Tell your CMO something surprising about their audience.
We live in a complex world full of multi-layered people, and their online journeys back and forth between the open web and social media reveal unexpected connections and marketing opportunities. To cite one example, our behavioral data scientists recently discovered a high affinity for heavy metal music among Catholic nuns. When reaching out to your CMO, aim to share that caliber of insight.
2. Connect your AI to your humanity.
I have AI, you have AI, we all have AI. If you want to make your CMO’s eyes glaze over, speak of your algorithm as if it is a highly secured black box floating on an actual cloud. At this stage of the game, the smartest artificial intelligence seems to have the smartest humans driving it and interpreting it, and that’s not a coincidence. How do you relate to your AI to enrich the output? That’s what a CMO wants to know.
3. Abandon irrelevant metrics.
There are too many to name, but media delivery is at the top of the list. Many marketers have been led to believe that their media delivery data is a proxy for the success of their campaigns, but smart CMOs know that that data isn’t sufficient enough to gauge impact and it is essentially a toll.https://londonemergencyplumbing.co.uk/ https://labuncle.com/ https://www.xn--12csiojl2c7a6b5hdoq55a.com/ https://www.chudjen.vip/ https://www.securedmoving.com/ https://www.stylendesigns.com/ https://www.recipesjunkie.com/ https://www.catsincare.com/ https://www.ourhairstyles.com/ https://zzgame77.com/
4. Don’t be intimidated by the walled gardens.
Despite the ramped-up costs and deteriorating returns, Facebook and Google aren’t going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean you can’t outsmart them. Google can easily tell you what worked and what didn’t, but it can’t tell you what would have worked better. And that is the question on top of every CMO’s mind as they struggle to understand their audience. So, provide CMOs with that information. The old adage of “nobody ever got fired for buying Google” should be amended to include “but nobody ever learned anything from buying Google either.”
5. Embrace the language of advertising.
CMOs went into marketing because of their passion to build fan bases, expand audience reach and inspire people to convert, not to recite adtech jargon. The human connection of advertising is what a marketer understands more than anything—and that’s also what interests them.
If there is one thing that CMOs are craving amidst today’s highly fragmented media ecosystem, it is a simple solution. And whether a relationship is business or personal, the best way to revive one that is failing is by providing new energy and new information. Thankfully, that kind of new information is readily available to agencies that are committed to discovering new audiences and leveraging intelligence in creative ways. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look, letting go of tired practices and being open to something new and unexpected.
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