Digital Profits Podcast – Episode 5: Creating an SEO Strategy that grows Marketing Qualified Leads

Are you looking to take your digital marketing strategy up a notch by increasing your number of high-quality prospects? Creating an SEO strategy with the goal of growing Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) is one surefire way to do it. Not only does SEO have the power to give your website greater visibility, but also equips you with tools for accumulating data that can help inform and improve other aspects of your marketing efforts.

An effective SEO plan requires careful thought about how best to target your desired audience, which keywords will generate interest, and determining which type of content fits the needs and interests of this group. Read on if you’re eager to learn more about crafting an impactful strategy that produces measurable results!

What is an SEO Strategy and Why is it Important for MQLs?

An SEO strategy is the foundation of your digital marketing efforts. It’s not enough to just have a website. You need to ensure that it can be found by potential customers searching for what you offer. An effective SEO strategy involves optimizing your website’s content and structure, building high-quality backlinks, and staying up-to-date with the latest search engine algorithms.

By implementing a strong SEO strategy, you can greatly increase your chances of generating MQLs (marketing qualified leads) by making sure your website appears at the top of search results. Remember, your competition is likely investing in SEO, too, so it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve.

How to Identify Your Target Audience and Keywords

When it comes to identifying your target audience and keywords, it’s important to think like an expert but speak like a friend. You want to come across as knowledgeable and trustworthy but also approachable and relatable. Start by identifying who your ideal customer is and what they are searching for. What are their pain points, and how can you address them in your content?

Once you have a clear picture of your target audience, it’s time to do keyword research. Look for phrases and terms your ideal customer would type into search engines. Use these keywords strategically throughout your content to ensure that it shows up in search results and reaches your intended audience. Remember, the key to successful marketing is understanding your audience and speaking their language.

Tips for Optimizing Your Website Content for SEO

I know you’re always looking for ways to improve your website’s SEO. One important factor to consider is your website content. Optimizing your content with relevant keywords can help ensure your site appears higher in search engine rankings. But it’s not just about stuffing your content with keywords, you also need to make sure it’s high-quality and engaging for your audience.

Try to include clear headings, subheadings, meta descriptions, and alt tags for images. And don’t forget about internal linking, which can help direct traffic to other relevant pages on your site. Following these tips can boost your website’s visibility and attract more organic traffic.

Tactics for Improving Your Website’s Ranking on Search Engines

Improving your website’s ranking on search engines can seem daunting, but it’s crucial for gaining visibility and attracting traffic. There are tactics you can implement to boost your site’s ranking. First, ensure your website is optimized for search engines by including relevant keywords in your content, titles, and meta descriptions.

Additionally, focus on delivering high-quality, valuable content that will keep visitors engaged and informed. Consider link-building strategies and social media marketing to further increase your website’s visibility. With a little effort and dedication, you can improve your website’s ranking and bring in more traffic than ever before.

How to Use Social Media to Build Authority and Generate Quality Leads

If you want to establish authority in your industry and generate high-quality leads, then social media is a powerful tool. To start, focus on creating valuable content that resonates with your target audience. Share blog posts, infographics, and other engaging content that showcases your expertise and provides value. But don’t stop there! Engage with your followers, encourage conversation, and don’t be afraid to respond to any feedback you receive.

Building a rapport with your audience is key to generating trust and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Lastly, don’t forget to use hashtags and tap into relevant communities to expand your reach and attract new followers. By utilizing these tactics, you’ll see your social media following grow, your authority solidify, and your leads multiply.

Analyzing and Tracking Metrics to Track Progress of your SEO Strategy

As you dive deeper into the world of SEO, it’s important to know how to measure the effectiveness of your strategy. That’s where analyzing and tracking metrics come in handy. By keeping a constant eye on your website’s performance, you’ll be able to see what’s working and what isn’t.

From monitoring your search engine rankings to tracking your website traffic, a wealth of information can be gained from the right metrics. Plus, the more you analyze, the easier it will be to adjust and pivot your strategy to ensure maximum success. It may seem overwhelming initially, but with practice and patience, tracking your SEO metrics will become second nature. There’s nothing quite like seeing your hard work pay off in the form of improved search rankings and increased traffic.

SEO strategies are essential for ensuring that your MQLs convert into customers. Now that you know how to develop an effective SEO strategy, start by identifying your target audience and the keywords they use. Next, work on optimizing your website content and improving your website’s ranking on search engines. Social media can also be a great way to build authority and generate quality leads.

Lastly, analysis and tracking metrics are key in order to keep track of the progress of your strategy. Not only will this help you refine your approach and identify areas for improvement, but it will also help ensure that you focus on what’s working best for driving conversions. With a bit of dedication and effort, utilizing good SEO practices can really make a difference for achieving quality leads and increasing sales!

Listen to the latest episode of the Digital Profits Podcast on Creating an SEO Strategy that Grows Marketing Qualified Leads where the Profit Squad discuss how to avoid common pitfalls in failed SEO strategies, prioritize conversion funnels, measure the right KPIs, and create better content that fulfills user needs for long-term business success. Learn how to evaluate campaign returns, segment traffic by intent, and understand the conversion potential of traffic in the funnel to drive potential marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Join the Profit Squad and learn about setting goals, selecting metrics, and implementing SEO strategies that focus on user needs and add value to surpass competitors. Tune in now to start optimizing your SEO strategy for business growth!

Intro: Welcome to the digital profits podcast, where you’ll learn how to grow your business faster using paid traffic and SEO. Each episode will feature a breakdown of digital marketing trends and answers to your burning questions that will provide actionable takeaways to make your marketing better. So join us, Ben Page, Ray Sawvell, and Blake John, as we guide you on your journey to higher profits. Remember to join the profit and get ready to profit in 3,2,1.

Ben Page: Really excited to be here today. I’m in the studio with Blake.

Blake John: Hey, Ben.

Ben Page: And we’re going to deep dive into creating an SEO strategy, but with the lens of one that actually grows your marketing qualified leads, or MQLs. And I think sometimes that’s missed because we get so caught up in SEO strategy and tactics, and it’s easy to gloss over the fact of beginning with that business outcome in mind at the outset. And so what I think I’ll do to kind of kick this off, Blake, is let’s invert this. What do SEO strategies that fail all tend to have in common? Big picture Meta level?

Blake John: Yeah, I think it’s a really good question, and there are a few things that come to mind first, and I think you kind of just mentioned it right off the top, is not measuring the things that matter. I think sometimes people get caught up too much in just overall traffic rankings and things that aren’t necessarily going to move the needle or drive business. Right. Not just traffic in kind of superficial numbers, but that’s a big one. Another one is and I think this one’s key and I’ve run into it a lot, is just not having enough patience. SEO is a long term game, and you need to have that mindset going into it to see success on the other end. Because if you don’t stick with it and you don’t continue to improve and optimize your site and make the right updates, it’s going to fall off eventually.

Ben Page: Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting. Do you think people just take it for granted or like, it’s almost assumed? Right. If a prospect comes to you, a client comes to you, or you’re talking to someone about SEO, they might describe pain points like, oh, my competitor is ranking more than me here, or, oh, our SEO traffic is flat, or we know we need to start doing SEO, is it a foregone conclusion? Like, what they’re really looking for? If you ask the fivefold why? And you’re like, why does that matter? Why does that matter? It will always eventually boil down to the business outcome. It’s like, hey, we want more closed deals. We need more qualified leads for our sales team to work, or we need to increase our patience or our census in our center. Do you feel like that’s what people are really after, even if they’re not describing it as such?

Blake John: Absolutely. I mean, at the end of the day, that’s what your digital marketing channel should do for you, is drive your bottom line and put heads and beds. That’s a term term that you’ve been using. Ben. Get leads. If you’re a landscaping company, you want to work on more lawns this summer, that’s what we need to do. Like, that’s what SEO and PPC and every other channel that you prioritize in your marketing should be doing for you. Traffic and rankings. Sometimes you get caught up in that. It’s easy to get caught up in that, but at the end of the day, it’s like, that bottom line that you really need to focus on.

Ben Page: Yeah. And so that’s where that not measuring the right things comes into play. It’s like if the real desired outcome is that growth in marketing, qualified leads, MQLs and you’re measuring rankings on some particular keywords, like, yes, that might be part of the equation, but ultimately it’s not aligned. It’s not in alignment with your goal. Yeah, that’s interesting. And what about there’s another point, though, about SEO strategies that fail.

Blake John: Yeah. So I think a big one is actually hiring the wrong agency. And specifically what I mean by that is sometimes people or companies will hire really like a web development agency to do their SEO. And it’s like, yeah, we kind of offer this as a side product. It’s not really our specialty, but we do it. And we can make sure that you have SEO. Air quotes for those who are listening. You can’t see it, but you have SEO. And what that really means a lot of times, maybe not every time, but some of these web dev. agencies are just kind of going down a checklist and saying, oh yeah, well, you.

Ben Page: Have title tags, you have plugins.

Blake John: Yeah, you have the right SEO plugins, you have content on the page, and it’s crawl able. Sure, those things are related to SEO, but it’s search engine optimization. It’s not just hitting the checklist and making sure those things are present on the page. It’s about, okay, taking it a step further, what do we need to actually get us to where we need to be to driving those leads, improving our organic visibility, and how do we actually optimize going beyond the checklist, optimize for a given user, need a given keyword, et cetera?

Ben Page: Yeah. Recently you’ve been talking a lot about the idea that visibility organically and getting traction in your SEO. It’s an emergent property. It’s the combination of multiple factors and multiple optimizations that are ongoing that kind of add up to result ultimately in. But it’s not like any typically there are certain things that are table stakes, but after that, it’s like the combination of factors that leads to the visibility.

Blake John: Yeah. I like to say its sum of all the things. That’s what SEO is. It’s the sum of all the things. And a lot of times there’s no real smoking gun. Like, oh, we did this and it resulted in 20% increase or something. Sometimes you can make that call and you can correlate it, but at the end of the day, it’s like, well, that probably wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t do these other things a month ago or something, or whatever it is, or last year. It’s the sum of all the things. And you continually compound all your efforts and build on that to grow and to optimize at the end of the day and to grow that visibility and continue to drive qualified traffic that converts.

Ben Page: Yeah. So this point about Misaligned Team or Misaligned Partners, misaligned Agency, it’s like it could be a skill alignment issue. It could be like a data or an approach. That’s probably the best way to put it, like an approach. Misalignment, they’re not aligned to seeking that outcome, that business outcome. And so it’s like you almost failed by definition when you do that. Super interesting. Well, look, let’s jump into this deep, dive this breakdown for today and let’s nail it. Let’s talk about at a Meta level. What are the things, what are the elements that allow you to create an SEO strategy that actually works, that actually grows your MQLs? Evidence based marketing, as we like to say. So the first thing Stephen Covey, begin with the end in mind, right? So you want to work backwards from that end state. And big picture, it’s like, hey, we need to work on this. We need to work on increasing MQLs, maybe tying that into a smart goal of some kind. Hey, by the end, like time bounding it and making it more measurable and more specific. So in 2023, we want to grow our organic MQLs by 20%. I think if you can get to that level of specificity, you’re on your way, because now you have a desired end state and you can create a strategy to try to accomplish that. But the first thing you need to do is really benchmark where you’re at today and compare current state versus that future desired state. Do you have any wisdom to share on that? Either like that benchmarking process or current versus future and how you start to think about that?

Blake John: Yeah, I think one of the big things is making sure you’re measuring the right things and setting the right KPIs. A really good example of this is we have a client that has sort of three main conversion funnels. There are more than that, but there’s kind of three main ones that we are paying close attention to and there’s kind of a priority level in terms of what do we ultimately really want that user to do? So one is to fill out a form, which I think a lot of companies and they have that option. Another is to just call us and we can help you. And then the third option is chats. Like with the chat box, you can contact someone directly to get help. But we know I think this kind of goes back to the alignment factor and making sure that you’re aligned in understanding going back to all the MQLs we know for this specific client that chats just don’t really convert at a high level. They don’t turn into clients. It’s kind of more of like a resource that is helpful and maybe there’s sort of that long term value from there. But ultimately we want people to either fill out that form or call and those people do actually convert. So measuring those things and making sure, let’s develop a strategy that’s optimized for these conversion paths. We’re still going to have this third conversion path, but ultimately we want to make sure this is what we’re pushing and this is what we’re prioritizing and we’re getting in front of the users who are ready to complete this action, essentially. Yeah.

Ben Page: And let me make this, I don’t know, more real. Right? The difference in approach is this what’s common might be agency comes back and says, hey, SEO conversions on the website are up 30%. We’re actually meeting or exceeding your goal so far this month, this quarter, this year. But without that extra layer of knowledge to know that based on the specific kind of conversion that’s happening, that the conversion to MQL rate is one third in this case for the chat conversion versus the form submission or the Call conversion. Without that extra layer of data and insight, it’s near impossible, I think, to sculpt the content, the strategy, the approach, the targeting, all of it. The UX and CRO efforts like to all lead to the path that’s going to result in the desired outcome at the end.

Blake John: Yeah, and I think it’s easy to get caught up in it too, because you can start feeling really good about the progress you’re making. Like, oh, we’ve seen conversions increase by 50%. Then when you dig a little deeper, it’s like, oh, well, the conversions we care about are flat lined over year over year or whatever. But digging deeper, that’s where you’re really going to find. Okay, well, what do we need to do to improve the difference makers in our business and making sure that you’re aligned in that and kind of starting with that, because that’s the end in mind. You need to start with and kind of going back to that methodology is really tracing it back to what is truly important. And how can we prioritize that?

Ben Page: Yeah, let me tell a quick story about one of our B to C lead gen clients. It’s almost like the inverse of this. And I just thought it just came to me, it’s kind of funny where in this case they’ve actually shed some of their organic traffic year over year while non-branded organic conversions, the specific conversion action we actually care about, in this case, more of that MQL are up. So it’s almost inverse, not always directly. So it’s kind of like by focusing the approach on what’s going to lead to those MQLs, we’ve been able to move that metric even though some traffic that before was not converting has declined year over year. And so that was kind of a deliberate choice. But Blake, what about when there’s like, a significant delta right between current states, future state? How do you advise people? It’s like, hey, we want to do this, we want to double, or we want to go from zero to 100 on SEO. We’re just getting started for the first time. To me, it’s like, I feel like you’ve got to have tradeoffs between, all right, what are your resources and what’s your timeline? Or what I normally say is, what do you have more of time or money?

Blake John: Yeah, ultimately, too, I think you have to go through that research process a little bit and sort of start to identify really where you need to be, what keywords, and what user needs that you need to target. I’m interested. Ben, what your thoughts on I feel like you have something in your mind sort of when that big delta is there, what do you think the next step is?

Ben Page: Yeah, I mean, to me, when we’re doing an audit, right? So normally we do some discovery and then we do an audit, we look at what is that current state? As far as we’ll talk about funnel metrics a little bit, but in terms of visibility, traffic conversions, and hopefully down funnel data, what is that present state? And then in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, okay, is your goal credible? Like a do you have the patience to see it through? If it’s a competitive, matured, search engine result page landscape that’s really entrenched, we’re going to have to throw a lot of resources at that consistently to win, most likely. And then resources too. Not just monetary, but human capital. Do you have the technology resources? Oftentimes one of the biggest stumbling blocks, I think, is with content development. And even if you’ve got the strategy, and if we provide you with a content intelligence report, like, do you have the humans capable of producing that that content? You know, so I’m I’m thinking through those things. But then another consideration is, like, is there enough demand volume, you know, space in the universe of, you know, out there to even realize it? It’s like, maybe you’re doing pretty well, and then you come back and say you want to grow organic 50%, but you’re capturing a huge click share on the existing volume. And if we can’t find new tangential topics or user needs or semantic clusters, however you want to think about that to go after, then I’m like, well, this isn’t super credible, and maybe it’s time to look at another approach, another marketing channel to complement your already pretty great SEO program. Or you might turn your effort more to authority building, or you might turn it more to CRO to get more out of the existing traffic. That’s kind of how I start thinking about it when I understand the goals and the current state and then it comes down to the planning phase and how are we going to get there, how are we going to close that gap?

Blake John: Yeah, I think that’s pretty rare truthfully, where you’re out of those topics or user needs when the well is dry. I don’t think I’ve ever come across that instance, to be honest, but I’m sure it’s happened. And one thing that you touched on I think is really important and I feel like almost every campaign that I’ve worked on has run into this problem where it’s the content resources and content development resources specifically in getting those things actioned, doing them right. Again, I feel like that’s kind of a common theme across a lot of this is doing it the right way, focusing on the right things. It’s really difficult. And I think in a lot of scenarios I want to make recommendations like, oh, let’s do 1020 new pieces of content every month or something, right? But it’s like we have the budget for one or two this month and that’s what you have to work with. And so now you have to get really strategic and you have to really prioritize the highest impact opportunities to again, grow your MQL to drive leads. And I think we’ll kind of talk about a little bit of those things and how to make those decisions and prioritize the right things. But that is a common challenge and I think a lot of business owners and a lot of marketing manager’s deal with that. It’s like, okay, what is truly the most impactful, next step for us to take to grow our business?

Ben Page:
 Yeah, that’s wild. I mean, I think when you’re evaluating this to getting into the idea of setting the right KPIs that are aligned now, I think that also plays into the evaluation piece because you want to sort of segment the kinds of traffic based on their intent, where that traffic lives in the funnel, their conversion potential. Do you want to talk about that a little bit and then we’ll think about that and kind of metrics and how to choose the right KPIs?

Blake John: Yeah, absolutely. I think really and this is, again, when I was talking about traffic could potentially be a vanity metric that people can get hung up on and feel good about, but maybe it’s misleading it’s because the way that I see it, there’s three types of traffic. There’s your branded traffic. So, if someone searches Nike shoes, that would be a branded search term. That would be branded traffic. There’s also service based or product based traffic, which is kind of like really in the way that we do SEO. That’s where we generally spend most of our time and most of our energy is growing. That kind of traffic service based because that’s again, focusing on the transactional intent, focusing on those MQLs and growing your business. There’s also blog traffic, which is usually higher funnel depending on the industry or the niche that you’re in, blog traffic may or may not convert well and conversion rate stuff range, so mightily like across various verticals and industries and even just generally just topics. But generally speaking, blog traffic doesn’t convert very well. So there might not be that much, it might not be worth your resources. We were talking about prioritizing making the highest impact to develop some of the blog content because we know it won’t convert very well. So again, breaking that down, it’s three, there’s branded, there’s service or product based and then there’s blog traffic. And we really kind of dive into service or product based because again, that’s going to grow your business and that’s how you’re going to see those MQLs continue to climb and trend in a positive direction.

Ben Page: Yeah, so it’s like generally do not pass go until you have well optimized pillar pages representing your services, products, industries, et cetera. And then eventually, once you’re in a good, healthy place, there is when you could start to build a content strategy to kind of live on top of that and maybe address a user that’s at the comparison stage of their journey, and then it helps them make a higher quality decision. And perhaps some of the time, that leads them to purchasing your product or service. And fantastic for me. Blake when I’m thinking about metrics, I kind of think about choosing one or some a handful to represent the different stages in the funnel. And so from top to bottom, it’s like you’ve got to have something to tell you how you’re doing in terms of visibility. You got to have something to tell you how you’re doing in terms of traffic, then conversions and then all the down funnel, metrics, MQLs, SQLs, closed deals, customers, patient, whatever your sales funnel looks like. And so you want to be aware of how you’re performing at those different levels and also the ratios between those different levels to see if there are places where you could improve. Do you have some thoughts on the specifics on KPIs that are appropriate at these different stages?

Blake John: Yeah, absolutely. There’s four main stages. I think you could argue maybe there’s a fifth. So it’s visibility at the highest stage. And think about, again, like imagining this, it’s like a funnel, there’s visibility at the highest stage. Just where our coverage is basically then there’s actually traffic. Okay, we have coverage now, how much of that is coming in to our site then? I think this is maybe the fifth one that you could argue, but it’s like engagement on your site, but really going down to the next it’s conversions. I think that’s a little bit different than engagement because again, there’s sort of vanity conversions that maybe don’t lead to business but it could be important, like newsletter sign ups or something like that. I’ve been thinking about or just general button clicks or whatever it might be. And then the fourth and final metric to pay attention to is actual lead, like admits or customers, like literal customers. So going to visibility specifically, I’m thinking about a couple of things. I think about Impressions in Google search console. You can just take a look at Impressions and say, okay, over the last six months, are we up or are we down? How’s the trend? What does it look like over time? And I think too, you can also take all of these metrics and break them down by branded traffic service or product traffic and then blog traffic and sort of cut them into three and say, okay, where are we performing in each stage, essentially.

Ben Page: So you’ve got in essence, you’ve got three different funnels or three different columns based on the kind of traffic. And then you’ve got if this was a spreadsheet, then you’ve got rows for these different metrics.

Blake John: Yeah, absolutely. So visibility, I think Impressions are a good one. I’ll also mention a proprietary metric from SEMrush where they actually it’s literally called visibility, where depending on the search terms that you’re tracking in your SEM project, that if you have it or if you’re using it, it’ll show you it’s kind of like a keyword rankings metric a little bit, but it’s a trend line over time. And you can see in a graph like, okay, are we trending up or are we trending down? And I think rather than getting fixated on rankings, which we’ll kind of talk about, I think in a second here, you can just see, okay, what’s the trend? And again, because this is a long term game, on any given day, you could rank 10th or want first for a search term because there’s so much volatility. But I really like the visibility metric from SEMrush because it’s kind of a zoomed out picture of what do things look like over a stretched out period of time for traffic. Okay, we’re going to the next level in that funnel, the next level down from visibility to traffic. I mean, it’s for me, it’s sessions, you could break it down by new users. You could do just users in general, but how many people are we actually getting to the site and how many people are coming to us through the visibility metrics that we were just looking at? And again, remember the three columns that we’ve got? You can break that down by branded traffic service, product traffic, or blog traffic. You can see which types of traffic are performing well and not performing well. And then conversions, these are obviously extremely important. We kind of already mentioned this. You have to break it down by which conversions are the most important to you, because that’s the ones you’re going to want to pay attention to. And again, break it down by branded traffic, service traffic and blog traffic, and then ultimately, like, customers, clients heads and beds, right? That’s the last metric to pay attention to and really get a good idea of, okay, again, are we doing the right things to drive business at the bottom line?

Ben Page: And as far as comparisons go, look at these in your three different funnels over time. Look at them year over year. Look at the absolute numbers. Look at the percentage numbers. Look at the ratio of organic impressions to organic clicks or organic sessions. Look at that to the engagement conversions. And then again, you can start to identify trends or pain points or opportunities overall. And while we did hit on the rankings concept, and that’s again, why I like that visibility metric. It’s sort of a hedge. It’s like for a basket of keywords that you’re tracking in a particular index over time. Big picture directionally. Are you becoming more visible in the SERPs or less visible in the SERPs, which is pretty helpful? And I like the added context of SERP features and things, too.

Blake John: Yeah, absolutely. And this is something that doing SEO as an SEO guy like I’m doing all the time, clients want to know, okay, well, where are we ranking? Are we ranking? Is it better? Is it better? Are we worth? The tricky thing is, again, there’s so much volatility, and things change so drastically. I have clients come to me all the time and say, well, I just searched for this term and we didn’t show up. Google can just do whatever they want, man, we’re at Google’s mercy here. And a lot of times but things change on any given search so much, and there’s just so many factors for personal history, your unique intent, and things change, so it’s difficult. And on any given day, you might rank 8th or fourth, right? Things change drastically. So taking that single day snapshot and saying, okay, from the first of this month through the first of that month, on those specific days, we were 9th, and then we were 7th, or whatever it might be, it’s like, okay, well, yesterday we were fourth. You could pick a day. But again, you can see trending over several months or however long in some rush with that visibility metric, you can see, okay, the growth is there.

Ben Page: Two points of visibility gain is almost more helpful than ranking this versus ranking that right, exactly. All right, so number one, begin with the end in mind. Number two, set the right KPIs. What’s number three?

Blake John: Blake number three is and this is kind of where we might get into a little bit more tactical and just a little bit more of the how it’s ultimately like choosing the right keywords or the right user needs. And the way that thinking about a user need, I think everyone’s pretty familiar with a keyword, but a user need is really a specific goal or outcome that a user has when they make a search, when they query for something in Google. And ultimately what you have to understand and this is such a big important, it’s critical in your strategy in getting this right because if you’re choosing the wrong keywords and the wrong user needs, you’re going to spend time and energy on things that aren’t going to drive MQLs, they’re not going to grow your business. So paying really close to their intent and the way that you can do this is literally searching the term in Google and paying really close attention to what types of results are on that page. If you see direct competitors, so if you sell shoes and you see competitors on their selling shoes, there’s a good chance that, okay, this is relevant for me and I want to be here as well because there’s business being had and I’m not having it right now. But if you see the classic example that I think about is like a landscaping company, again, going back to that, if you search best landscaping services, you’re probably going to get a bunch of directory listing websites like Angie’s List and Yelp or whatever.

Ben Page: Yelp and whatever the is.

Blake John: Exactly. And so that’s an indication that, okay, this is an informational search. And I’m not like maybe there’s one or two spots where there are direct competitors, but ultimately this isn’t the right user need. My site isn’t optimized to fulfill that need. Angie’s List is and Yelp is, but mine isn’t. My sites optimized to fulfill the need of somebody who’s like literally looking for a hire, someone they’re ready to hire, and someone they need a quote. Yeah. They don’t want to mow their lawn tomorrow, they want you to do it and paying really close attention to that and making sure that you’re ultimately just getting that right.

Ben Page: Yeah. So if I’m hearing you, it’s all about inferring the meaning, the intent behind the search that lives a level above what the words actually are. And you can get some context on that by studying the search result page. What are the other results present there? How similar or different are they from what you’re offering your website is and so on and so forth. So having a good alignment there.

Blake John: Yeah. I’ll just add quickly to going back using another tool from SEMrush or SEMrush. Not an ad, but they do offer a lot of really great tools. You can do some keyword research with SEMrush and it’ll actually tell you the intent. They break it down by transactional informational, navigational and commercial. That’s a good starting point. I wouldn’t rely on that. Take it with a grain of salt. It’s not perfect every time, but it is again, a good starting point. And ultimately you want to either not always, but most of the time you want to be in either transactional or commercial intent because that’s where people are actually making their big decisions. Yeah, exactly. That’s part of the funnel that you want to be a part of, for sure.

Ben Page: So zooming back out to meta level and this idea of crafting an SEO strategy. We’ve got sort of the goal setting phase, the evaluation point about the metrics, selecting the right things to go to work on, and then you’re actually going to start doing the work right next, the implementation phase to try to attack that. So what goes into that? How do you do the work to get the results?

Blake John: Yeah, this is kind of where the magic happens, I guess. A big part of understanding the type of so once you’ve identified your keyword or your user need that you want to target and you want to go after, the next thing to do is to take a really deep dive into those competitors that you saw when you Google it. You saw these competitors ranking and doing well is take a really deep dive at what types of content they have on their page. Because what we’re going to do and the process that I think works and we’ve seen it, this is part of our process here at 2100 Digital. We want to understand why somebody’s ranking so well. And you can do that by doing an audit, basically, of their content of that specific page. And we’re thinking about this now because we’re working on one keyword right now.

Ben Page: You’ve selected that topic that user need, and now you’re determining, how do I gain visibility, traffic, MQLs for that user need, because there’s a great alignment for my product and the outcome that I’m trying to drive.

Blake John: Right, so now you’re working on just that one user need because you understand, like you said, the alignments there, this is a priority for me in my business. So we’re looking at maybe I’ll say three competitors. And you take the page that each one of those competitors has that’s currently ranking on Google. And if they’re not ranking on Google, honestly, they’re not the competitor you want to pay attention to.

Ben Page: They’re in the same spot as you.

Blake John: Right, and understand what kind of content they have on that page. What are they doing that’s working? Because ultimately, we’re trying to satisfy a machine at the end of the day to rank. Now there’s the human element, where, again, we’re getting to conversion, but it’s like, okay, what’s making the machine tick? Like, what’s making Google in Google bot rank this piece of content over the literal millions of other options that it could rank? So taking a really deep dive into that and understanding that at a really detailed granular level is what you’re going to need to do so that you can basically and it’s not copying. It’s really not what it is, but it’s like understanding the ideas and the principles of what they’re doing right, so that you can do it on your own page and kind of reverse engineering it essentially at the end of the day, that is truly the way that I see things. That’s the bread and butter of SEO. That’s how you win, right?

Ben Page: It’s about finding the cracks in the sidewalk. Regardless, SERPs are going to have one and then it’s not, to your point, not about copying, but how do we better serve that user and their need in this moment? Is there a piece of content, a kind of content? What if we added audio video imagery? What if we made it easier to read? What if we had a more comprehensive take on that topic?

Blake John: Absolutely. And I think that is just incredibly important to dive into. You don’t copy it. That’s not what you want to do. You want to do better than the best. You want to deliver two x value, five x, ten x value. That okay. If you did like a blind test and you said to a user, which page do you like more? You want them to choose yours every time. So how can you deliver that value? And again, it’s kind of going to the fundamentals and understand what your competitors are doing to rank. But ultimately we want to take that a step further and improve the experience and improve the content. And at the end of the day, solve the user need. Like fulfill that you need, because then that’s how you get customers. That’s what you do. That’s, again, the bread and butter, that’s like how the magic happens. And I think it’s so important. And I also think this is kind of me getting a little bit on a tangent, but a lot of times people in SEO, analysts and people in the digital marketing space, they kind of overthink it. It’s like, well, the answers are actually all there for you now. You kind of have to do a little bit of the research and make it happen. But what’s winning? You already know what’s winning because you, you just Google determine, you saw it. Just let’s do that, but do it better. It’s not easy, but it’s that easy.

Ben Page: Kind of it’s simple but difficult, right?

Blake John: It’s complex. There’s a lot of nuance, and you have to have an eye for it. But at the end of the day, that’s the process.

Ben Page: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, let’s wrap up with some takeaways. I mean, ultimately begin with the end in mind. When you’re doing SEO strategy, what’s that business level outcome that you want to drive? You have to measure appropriately. You have to focus on the right user needs that are aligned with that outcome. And then finally you need to put in the reps and the work to provide the best solution to the user need. And that’s really all it is. So if you’re feeling stuck, our proven process, I talked about it kind of throughout this episode, but let’s do some discovery. Let’s learn more about your goals and where you are today. Let’s do an audit of your current situation, kind of benchmark your performance for that brand, non-brand blog traffic, create a plan, implement that plan, optimize and ultimately scale it. You heard Blake say he’s never had the well run dry. Well, part of that goes into you just don’t know what you don’t know at the outset. And as you start doing this research and implementation, you find new topic clusters and new areas that your users have needs for that you didn’t anticipate at the outset. And that’s one of the coolest things. So for us, at 2100 Digital, we manage SEO to your business outcomes, focus on your ideal prospects, and provide results based marketing to help you achieve your goals. So email us to learn more. Thanks for listening.

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