How do you get your content to rank #1 in 2020?

There are lots of publications that talk about 2020 ranking factors and how you can optimize content to rank #1. But what’s more important about investing in SEO long term is investing in a larger SEO strategy – not just one-off page tactics.

Out of the 2020 ranking factor publications, there are a few very common things:

  1. Your content should match searcher intent
  2. Your title tag should be optimized for your target keyword
  3. Your site should be mobile-friendly
  4. Quality backlinks can help your website
  5. Google is always updating its algorithms
  6. Your site should be secured (HTTPS)

These are pretty universal for ranking factors. The rest is subjective based on industry and individual company goals. But what does it mean to invest in SEO – and not just do simple, on-page efforts?

ActiveCampaign’s SEO Marketing Manager Joe Baugnet hosted a webinar about the larger strategy for SEO and how to approach it.

Watch the webinar above or read the webinar recap below to learn:

  • When to use SEO to achieve business goals
  • What is “high-value,” multipurpose SEO content?
  • How to leverage external websites for SEO value
  • Quick tips for SEO measurement

When to use SEO to achieve business goals

Do any of these 5 statements relate to you?

  1. Your product solves a problem
  2. People would benefit from your expertise
  3. You want to grow brand awareness
  4. You need to improve your bottom line
  5. You are looking to build new partnership opportunities

If you answered “Yes” to any of these statements, there’s a probability that you’ll want to invest in SEO at some point.

If you think you do, there are some important business considerations to think about:

  • Who is your target audience? Are they even digital?
  • How niche is your product? Depending on the answer, SEO needs can be subjective. How important is visibility for you?
  • How valuable is an organic customer to you? Do you know if the quality of organic conversions is higher than other channels?
  • What information do you need to feed your customers before moving down the funnel? At the entry point, is a customer going to have the info they need to have a good conversation with your sales team? If the answer is No, that’s probably a good opportunity to build out SEO-focused content so that both sides are educated on the topic from the beginning.

SEO is more than an acquisition strategy. Many businesses are used to the typical marketing funnel, but an infinity loop (like we use at ActiveCampaign) is more accurate. At each of the lifecycle stages, there is corresponding content.

The more realistic marketing funnel – the lifecycle marketing loop.

The Awareness Stage

This is standard, top-of-funnel SEO content. Content includes blogs, 101 help guides, glossaries, free tools, how-to videos – and all of these content types typically go after “big fish” keywords that you want to rank in the top for.

The Consideration Stage

In the consideration stage, you have to think about visibility. How visible are you on other people’s websites? How visible are your competitor pages? Content like testimonials and influencer content is especially important here. Nothing sways the opinion of a prospective customer more than seeing the opinions of experienced users – and that includes their experiences of your competitors.

The Decision Stage

This is the most common area to invest your SEO pages. At a buying decision, SEO-optimized pricing and product pages are going to be key for conversions.

The Growth Stage

If you have a customer that uses a particular service, they might have many questions like “What do I do next?” Chances are that the customer is going to search for those answers, which means you need to have content that not only answers the questions they have but are SEO-optimized properly so that customers can find those answers.

The Advocacy Stage

Finally, the advocacy stage; this is a link-building opportunity. Who is amplifying your visibility and sharing your brand – and what are you doing to also amplify your brand visibility?

All of these stages connect, and SEO touches every aspect of your lifecycle marketing funnel. It’s important to make sure that you’re truly thinking about yourself and your business when it comes to SEO, and not just the standard best practices.

What is “high-value” SEO content? AKA: multi-purpose content

What content is going to give you the best ROI? High-value, SEO content. But what makes content “high-value?”

High-value SEO content has specific qualities that make it valuable:

  • It answers a specific question
  • It speaks to a consistent or repeating part of your business – things that you know people are always searching for which can drive consistent traffic to your site
  • It demonstrates how to do or create something
  • It gives you detailed information about a process or product
  • It serves as a tool to solve an immediate problem or need – like a free calculator tool or a template
  • It communicates exactly what the product or service provides
  • It helps solve a problem or build efficiency in a process
  • It is mobile-friendly and easily digestible

Now you might be thinking, “cool…so where do I start?”

Start with what’s consistent in your business. Think about what elements of your business or your product that rarely change. What are your constants? What problems or questions do you know that your business can always be a resource for?

You can think about how your business stands out amongst your competitors. And most importantly – think about what content you already produce in other channels that you can repurpose in other places. You can also look at the content you specifically create with SEO in mind and see where else in your business it can be useful – like sales and support.

To think about all of these answers for your business, ask yourself questions. What you ask depends on your business type and goals, but a few good starting questions can include:

  • How can we help our customers save money and grow?
  • What will and what will not change with our product?
  • What topics do our customers care about the most?
  • How can we leverage our own experts to help other businesses?
  • What content does our sales team need? Should it lead back to our website?
  • What content can we recycle and still communicate value?

A great example of good evergreen, SEO content that can stand the test of time AND is applicable across multiple channels are free tools.

ActiveCampaign has a free tools page that offers templates, helpful guides, and other free tools like calculators and generators to help customers be as effective as possible.

We’re not creating free tools just because we want to create free tools; we’re creating free tools because we know they’re going to help either a prospective or current customer of ours. And at the same time, we know that these problems are evergreen in nature – which means that free tools content has a very long shelf life.

The ActiveCampaign Webinars Free Tool templates.

Free tools are:

  • Easy to make and don’t require any development work
  • Highly searched for
  • Helpful for addressing specific customer needs and problems

And it pays off. ActiveCampaign has seen some impressive results from SEO-friendly free tools content:

ActiveCampaign Free Tools are chock-full of high-value content – the results speak for themselves.

Here’s what you see:

  • 351% growth in organic traffic since Sep. 2019
  • Went from single to triple-digit free trials in ~6 months
  • Rank for 1.9k keywords, 100+ top 10 rankings

“It raises great pride to see the growth like this, and to know that we’re helping so many businesses,” says Joe. “And so I think when you’re investing in your SEO efforts and you start to see this, it’s almost addicting. And it’s rewarding because you know that this is going to continue, so long as we’re answering the right questions about your content.”

Another website that delivers high-value SEO content is Autonomous.ai.

Autonomous is an ecommerce retail company that sells smart desks and ergonomic office equipment. SEO is a core component of ecommerce companies, and it can be very competitive. Autonomous delivers content that fulfills all of the qualities for high-value SEO content.

The product page from autonomous.ai

Their page contains a lot of important information:

  • It communicates exactly what the product does and offers
  • It demonstrates how to use the desk
  • It provides detailed information on the product
  • It contains use cases
  • It is mobile and desktop-friendly

This page immediately piqued Joe’s interest because, like many people, he is working from home in 2020 – and good office equipment is essential. As an SEO expert, the page made Joe wonder, “how is this company doing with their SEO?”

“Looking at their content, I realized that this page aligns exactly with the idea of multi-purpose content,” says Joe. “All the visuals that they have are ways to complement their product. And their visuals are not only appealing, but they’re very informative. And so right off the bat, I knew that my desk could hold 300 pounds. And from a description perspective, I knew how to build the desk before I even purchased the product.”

All of the visuals that Autonomous uses can be repurposed in other places. And so these images can be used in emails, help documentation, and within their owner’s manual. These are very simple images that you can swap the dimensions and the cost and all the other details out easily. It’s a scalable process, and it’s something that you can do across multiple product pages.

And again, it pays off. Joe took a gander at how they’re doing with SEO:

“They rank really well for both branded and non-branded keywords. So I wasn’t surprised at all. And I wanted to know what their company looks like as a whole. And they’re growing as well.”

How to leverage external websites for SEO value

Good SEO focuses on extracting value from the entire SERP (or Search Engine Results Page).

When you look at a SERP, what places can your business get visibility?

  • Paid ads
  • Featured snippets
  • Image results
  • Video results
  • “People also ask”
  • And so many others

When it comes to your business, you want to think about where you can sprinkle content everywhere you can with high-volume phrases that mean the most to your business.

One place you can sprinkle high-value SEO content is through partnership opportunities. You can turn improbable keywords into partnerships with a little exploration work.

“You might not be able to land a spot and the number one ranking piece of content. But by the end of your conversation with a given website, you’ll know exactly how to get into their lists, and what they’re kind of looking at to rank those products,” says Joe. “It’s absolutely a valid strategy and opportunity, because where your content is not showing, people are still searching, and they’re still going to land on a piece of content. So where is your brand in that equation?

While many SEO efforts are free, you might need a little bit of a budget to secure partnerships. Sometimes you have to submit a profile or you might have to enter into some sort of review process that costs money. Never pay for a backlink. But if there’s a process and a partnership opportunity, those connections can be some valuable SEO channels.

Quick tips for SEO measurement

The bottom line to remember is that SEO takes time! SEO can have a 3-6 month timeline to see the payoff. But to eventually see the results of your efforts, here are 2 simple measurement tips to keep in mind.

  • Document every win. Give yourself a point for every area in which you can increase the visibility of your brand and or content. You can even turn it into a little game!
  • Find free tools to help you. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Answer The Public, and many other free resources exist to help you track and improve your SEO efforts.

Stop people’s online searches at your site and create high-value SEO content that stands out.