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If you’re ready to win in 2018, this week’s Grow Live is just what you’ve been waiting for. In 18 minutes or less, Renia Carsillo from Safety Marketing Services will break down recent technical SEO updates that you need to know.

Here’s the best part: She doesn’t just explain what they are, she tells you how to do it!


Watch, listen or read now and learn more about:

  • Why RankBrain can either be super creepy or super cool
  • Customizing metadata: #1 thing non-techie types should be doing
  • Getting a leg up with early meta description optimization
  • Why in-depth content matters more than freshness
  • How to rank for topic clusters over keywords
  • Why Google doesn’t care that your users still use desktop
  • Why FAQ’s are your best friend
  • How to be bold about link building

Don’t be afraid to ask for shares or links from partners. Be bold,”— Renia Carsillo, Director of Digital Strategy

Check out these additional resources:

Make sure you check out this week’s show for actionable tips even the most non-techie person can use. Just remember, it’s ok to start small. Choose one thing per month and execute. Just be sure to get started soon! You don’t want to be left in the dust.

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Read the Grow Live transcript... 


Matt is off doing his holiday preparations today, and so I am with you on my own. Hi, I'm Renia, Director of Digital Strategy for Safety Marketing Services, and we are back for our second "sprout-isode". This is a quick little mini episode, and P.S., today the nerds are taking over. We're going to give you eight non-techy tips for 2018 SEO, and I'm going to try to do it in eighteen minutes or less. You might want to set a timer for me, I'm a little bit nervous to get through all this techy stuff really fast. Never done the show by myself before, so it's a little nerve racking to just look at the camera instead of letting Matt do all the heavy lifting.


Let's talk about SEO in 2018. The reason why we wanted to do this for you is because a lot of things are changing or have changed recently, and it's going to be important if you want to show up in search for you to understand these things. But, sometimes when we talk about SEO, we get really nervous because it seems really technical, it seems overwhelming, or like you have to be a developer to understand it. Hopefully, today, what we can do is give you some actionable tips that don't have anything to do with the technology side of SEO and are things that you could do as a marketing manager or someone managing your company’s website without the help of a really techy person.


A lot of this stuff is just writing. Some of it is just analyzing what you already have out there, so let's dive in together and see how it goes. The first tip I want to give you today is about the brain that ate your rankings. That's right, we've got to talk about Rank Brain. But, when we talk about Rank Brain, it seems really scary for a lot of people, because it's literally this AI brain that's figuring out how you think and giving you the most perfect searches ever, which, depending on which camp you're in is either super creepy or super awesome.


Really, right now, what Rank Brain is, is two major factors, and yes, for all my SEO nerds out there, this is really simplified. But, I think it will get you through unless you're a super techy nerd like me. Rank Brain is basically two things right now. Click through rate and dwell time. Let's break down what that means, but first I guess I should just say, the reason Rank Brain comes first in our tips is that it is bah. Google has said over and over again, recently, that Rank Brain is the third most important ranking factor, so if you're not thinking about this, it's not very likely that you're going to rank the way that you want to.


Click through rate and dwell time. Those are phrases that aren't too hard to understand, right? Dwell time just means how long does somebody spend on your page? That's why a lot of the other tips we're going to talk about today are around keeping people on your page for longer and longer times. The second, click through rate, means when someone sees your result in a search, how often do they click through to your website? Does your metadata, does the information that shows up in the search, give enough information that it compels someone to want to learn more from you by clicking through and going to your website?


That's why tip number two is so important. We need to customize our metadata or we're going to get left behind. I have to tell you, when it comes to customizing your metadata, in my ten years of experience in digital marketing, this is the number one non-techy thing that you can do to increase your rankings that almost no one takes the time to do. The reason is, it takes a lot of work. It's really simple. It's writing titles and descriptions for each of your pages that are customized based on the content on that page, and the keywords that you want to rank for, so that when you're going through a search and you show up, the blue link that you would click on to go to that page, has a customized phrase, and the description of what's on that page has a customized phrase.


Most of you, particularly with your eCommerce, are doing this using an automated feature that just pushes through the name of the product and whatever the first line on the page is. The problem with that, is it almost never makes sense to the human eye, and that's why your click through rates suck, and it hurts your rankings for SEO. If you want to look like a ninja, no tech needed, all you need to do is customize those meta descriptions.


Now, you may, if you're a Rand Fishkin fan girl like I am, have seen white board Friday last week, where Fishkin was talking about the longer meta descriptions. Your meta description link has increased to two-hundred and thirty to three-hundred and twenty characters, and they really want you to answer a question that's probably related to that search in your meta description. There's a little more to it than there was in the past, and I highly recommend watching the video from Rand Fishkin that explains this in depth that we'll link in the show notes.


Basically, what you can do, right now, because this is new, is tip number three. Capitalize off of the longer meta descriptions. Capitalize off of that ranking factor from click through rates right now, before anybody else does. Because that's going to give you a leg up. First in is always a leg up, and it's going to take a lot of people time to get in there and do these optimizations. If you make this a first quarter goal for 2018, you're going to win just by merit of doing it before most of your competition.


What I want to give you is how to do this in twenty minutes a day. If you take your top five hundred products or five hundred pages on your site, for many of you, that's most of your site. All you need to do is write twenty five meta titles and descriptions a day, and that may sound like a lot, but that will take most people about an hour, because it's basically three sentences for each one. If you did twenty-five of those a day, block out an hour a day for twenty days, you'll have those finished, and you will be light years ahead in winning the click through rate game of your competition.


All right, so we talked really fast. We got halfway through. Now, let's look at number four. This is my personal favorite. Tip number four is the more you know, the better you will rank. It's time to ditch the short pieces. New pieces are two thousand words plus. Fresh is good, but authoritative is better. Google favors long form, in depth content. In fact, pages that rank in the top three to five ranking spots on Google, the typical time on page is over three minutes. That means there needs to be a lot of information on that page, because spending three minutes on a page is like three years in the real world, right? In internet terms. One two thousand word epic piece is way better than ten short pieces.


The days of three to five hundred or even thousand word blogs are over. I would way rather see you have big long pieces, and our favorite SEO nerds at Backlink.io, Moz, Ahrefs, and Search Engine Land, they all agreed. They crunched the data and found that in depth content out ranks freshness nine out of ten times. Think of it this way. Did you guys ever get those Goo Goo Good caramel and peanut clusters when you were a kid in your stocking? I'm waiting for Christmas because I really want those in my stocking, they're my favorite, but gone are kind of the good old days where we could just stuff a bunch of nuts, a bunch of keywords, into our piece and expect to rank for it.


Now, what ranking is, is really related to latent semantics indexing. Big, crazy phrase. We shorten it to LSI, makes it a little bit easier, and basically, what that means is you're looking to rank for a topic cluster, not just an individual key word. It basically means you're looking for topics that are related to each other. Let's say, I wanted to rank for fall protection. I need to think about all the things that are related to fall protection as well, so that I can rank in that whole cluster. Maybe fall protection and hard hats, or different types of fall protection, or fall protection for different body types, or for different situations. For construction versus oil and gas.


We need to understand those cluster topics. That's where your different phrases and your different variations of the topic are going to be really important, and that's why long form content becomes so important, because it's really hard to rank for those LSI clusters if you have a really short piece, because how can you address lots of different areas of the topic in a thousand words and make it really, really good for the end user? It's almost impossible. That's why the longer form pieces are winning.


That brings us to number six. This is perhaps the most techy of the tips that we have for you today, but I'm going to make it simple for a non-techy person to understand what's happening for you here. This is, Google doesn't care if your users search on desktop. It's a mobile first world, whether your website agrees or not. I know that sounds a little bit harsh, because I everyday have people in our industry, people in the safety industry, tell me, "Well, ninety percent of my searches happen on a desktop."


Unfortunately for us, Google doesn't care, because seventy-seven percent of searches happen on mobile devices, and so they are moving to a mobile first indexing system. Now, we first started hearing about this in November of 2016, which is why most website builders, most companies building new websites, have started to push this mobile first methodology over a year ago, but we're still hearing a lot of people saying over and over again, "But my searches are happening on desktop. I don't need to worry about the mobile experience."


That's simply not true, because Google has said now, that going into 2018, they are going to rank you based on the mobile experience first. What I want you as a non-techy person to do, is stop looking at your mobile to desktop usage, and thinking you're okay with just a great looking desktop site. I want you to actually take out your phone and check how your site functions on a mobile device. Is it easy to read your content? Do your images load quickly? Have you thought at all about the scary word, amp-enabled, where things load almost instantaneously? Is it easy to check out on your mobile device?


If any of these things don't work well, or if most of your message is lost as soon as you go to a mobile environment, you're going to lose in 2018 SEO. That makes it a lot easier for a non-techy person to think about. It's not about is your site technically mobile friendly. Take it out and use it. Does it work the way other things you use on mobile do? That's the question you need to be asking yourself to know if you're going to pass this test.


Here are a few things you can do to improve that as a non-techy person, even while you're waiting on maybe your budget to catch up to fix some of the tech issues with mobile. The first thing is, optimize your content. Do you have a headline or an image every hundred and fifty words anywhere that you have long form content? That's going to break up those text blocks and make them more mobile friendly. Have your images been optimized? Did you run them through a tool and will link our favorite tool that's called Cracken, we'll link it in the show notes, run them through a tool to squish them as small as possible so that they load as fast as possible on a mobile device?


Have you broken up your paragraphs into a couple of sentences so there's plenty of white space? Have you increased the text size of your fonts, from maybe the traditional eleven or twelve point, to fourteen or even sixteen point, so it's easier to read on a mobile device? I know these things seem small, but they make a huge difference. That brings us to number seven, which is a really great tip if you're a content person, but not really a tech person. FAQs are your best friend. One of the ways here at SMS that we have won really well in 2017 for a number of our clients is with what I like to call epic FAQs. Which is basically, going out to our sales team and asking the sales team, what are the questions that you are hearing all the time when you're out in the field? What are your customers or your prospects asking you about?


Compiling all those questions and using them to compile a big FAQ page on your site. That page is going to help you hit a lot of the tips that we covered because you're going to hit search in the way that people talk because you got those questions from your sales rep. You're going to hit LSI, that latent semantic index issue, because you're going to have lots of different topics, because you got them from your sales rep. You're going to hit long form epic content because there'll be lots of questions being answered, so all you have to do is bring that together and organize it in a way that is friendly to the user and you can really win at content without any real tech skills. If you can format a blog, you can format a giant FAQ page and is one of the easiest ways I know to win in 2018 SEO.


I want to give you one final tip, because this is one that I think we don't really spend a lot of time thinking about as marketers. I want to encourage you to be bold about link building. I think a lot of times we put out good content and we maybe mention someone hoping that they will share it, or we really would like it if somebody links to our content on their blog, but we kind of let it happen by accident, and we're kind of afraid to ask people. I want you to think more like a sales person when you are thinking about building links, which means asking people to share your content on their blog, link to you on their website.


If you talk about someone, if you do a case study, if you mention one of your customers, if you write something about one of your partners, you should be emailing that person, your contact there, their marketing person, and asking them to link to your piece, and you can do this in a friendly way. "Hey, we really enjoyed talking about this with you," or, "Just thought you ought to know that we mentioned you here, would you be up for sharing it, or linking to it on your blog?"


Most people will do that for you, because you've given them exposure, and it's a really great way for you to get some links and a really simple way. All it takes is an email, and you know what? If people say no, think of it like we think of it in the sales world, which is, nine out of ten people might say no, but if that one right person says yes, you're going to get that great link, and those links still really matter for SEO.


Those are eight things that you can do that don't require any real technology know how to win at SEO in 2018, so let's just recap them real quick. Number one, is understanding Rank Brain, which is improving your click through rate and your time on page, and you do that through number two, customizing your metadata so that when someone searches and finds your search, they know why they should click on it.


Number three, capitalize on the longer meta descriptions that are new before anybody else does. Make sure that you're trying to answer the question that you think someone is likely to be searching for. Number three is ditch the short pieces and commit your team to long form epic content. I'd rather see you have one twenty-five hundred word piece a month than five thousand word pieces. Number five, is understanding LSI cluster structure. Your latent semantic indexing. That's just a big form way of saying how topics relate to each other, and using different variations of that topic in your content.


Number six, test your mobile experience. Do you get your message across on a mobile device as well if not better than you do on desktop? Number seven, create an epic FAQ, or if you're really ambitious, lots of them. This is the easiest way for a non-techy marketer to win an SEO in 2018. Number eight, once you create that epic FAQ or any other great piece of content, be bold about link building. Ask people to share it, ask people that you mentioned to link back to it, so that you can get those authoritative links.


I know that's a lot to cover. I highly recommend that this may be one to grab the YouTube video and listen back to and take some notes, but what I want to see you do is pick one topic per month, and execute on that one thing. SEO doesn't have to be hugely overwhelming. Just do one thing at a time. Maybe you commit to those meta descriptions and spend one hour a day writing twenty-five meta titles and descriptions, and in twenty days, you'll have your top five hundred pages done. Start there, start small, start with one little thing and add something new every month, and by the end of 2018, you too can be winning the SEO game.


Next week, Matt will be back with a pre-Christmas sprout-isode. He's going to share with you his three predictions for safety marketing in 2019. I'm going to be on vacation, hopefully watching him from the road, but I really appreciate you guys letting the nerds take over today, and if you want any more help with this topic, I'd love to talk to you about it, so you can reach out to us at growwithusms.com, and schedule a consultation.


Thanks for being with us. Merry Christmas everybody.


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Topics: SEO, Grow Live, digital marketing, resources