The funnel, the flywheel, ecosystem, the-WTF-are-we-doing-diagram. Whatever you call it, we’re all on the same mission: Convert, convert, and oh yeah, convert. What are we converting to? For some of you it’s leads, some members, some paywall customers, some event attendees. Whatever our conversion metric may be, we’re all on the same path, and we’ve got all the tea on making conversions happen. Over the next few weeks we’re going to walk you through how and why to optimize each precious element of the path to conversion. First up? Melissa with SEO. Think a friend could utilize the info here? Make sure you encourage them to sign up here. We’ll also be highlighting some takeaways in our social channels so be sure to follow us here and here.
Content Focused SEO
An important part of top-of-funnel marketing includes getting it right in search. Search traffic carries a lot of weight in supporting your website. More than likely, over 50% of your website traffic is coming from search. It’s important. It drives the bulk of your brand’s exposure online.
In search, small changes can make big impacts (think bumping up from page 2 to page 1). There are dozens of ways to affect your on-page SEO, but in this blog post we’re talking about how impactful it can be with one case-study and one keen observation (or a free piece of advice) to one major publisher in our market.
Aggregate recurring content into evergreen URLs
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again, content that you produce on a recurring basis should live and be optimized on a single URL. Why? If you’re publishing content on a new page every time you produce it, those pages compete with each other for placement on the Search Engine Results Page or, even worse, (you’d rather have pages competing with each other than not at all right?) they don’t even get a chance to break out in search before the content becomes outdated.
If you’re publishing a new page for things to do, top stories to read, places to eat every weekend then you’re doing it wrong. If you’re a B2C title, think about your “Things to do this weekend” or “Best Restaurants in your region” pages. You end up with older content outranking your most up-to-date versions of recurring content. That’s a nuisance too -- not just for your traffic numbers, but for your intended user. Nothing is more annoying than going to an event list page and realizing all of the events are over (except maybe Google blocking our ability to monetize via paywall).
Moral of the story: if you have a high traffic URL, with content that gets updated regularly (weekly, monthly, annually), you should be recycling that URL and republishing it with new content. You’ll keep your domain authority, won’t compete with your own content for the first page, and users can come directly back to the URL to find the content they’re looking for.
Take a dmagazine.com’s update as an example. Instead of publishing a blog post several times a week with what to do that day, we suggested instead to create a single page that would always hold the most up-to-date information about what to do that day or weekend in Dallas.
After adopting that change, the URL gained steam in search, and is now ranking on the top half of page one for “things to do in Dallas this weekend” a coveted keyword searched almost 20,000 times a month, likely by the target audience of the dmagazine.com website. The page itself now holds over 1,200 keywords since making the change just over five months ago.
Pay Attention to Search Volumes and Page Titles
Your page title is the number two ranking factor (second only to the content you’re producing) in ranking your on-page SEO. It’s that little window of text (Google advises it’s somewhere around ~60 characters in length) that you see in search results that tell the user what the content is about.
This small piece of text is often overlooked but it can be quite impactful. Take, for example, this just-discovered observation (hot off our slack channel!) about Texas Monthly’s BBQ page. For those of you not in Texas, Texas Monthly has made its brand almost synonymous with BBQ in Texas. Certainly, they would own that keyword in search, right? Surprisingly, they didn’t (gasp).
Thrillist, a national brand that I never think of when I think of barbeque owns the top spot for a publisher in search. Thrillist is following some pretty fundamental and basic rules for its page title, most importantly, the target keyword is first and up-front.
Some simple keyword research showed me that “Texas BBQ” is the keyword to win as it’s searched over 9,900 times per month. (If you need a tool for keyword research, we use and love a tool called SEMRush, but it does have a heavier price tag. Wordtracker is a great option at only $27 a month and can give you a leg up by telling you which keywords to optimize for.) The variation, “Texas barbecue” is searched only a quarter of the time.
Thrillist used the page title real estate to put that keyword upfront in the title and in the meta description as well and they are winning the game. And the kicker is, the Texas Monthly page UX blows the Thrillist page out of the water. The Thrillist page is littered with programmatic ads and is slow to load. The Texas Monthly page is clean and easy to read. Plus, it’s packed with content. But Texas Monthly isn’t even using the target keyword in the page title at all. “Texas BBQ” does not show up despite that being entirely what this page is about.
Google may be reading some other factors here but my gut is telling me that the page title is playing a very important role here and some simple tweaks might be able to help Texas Monthly win their franchise in search. @TxMo, we will work for BBQ.
Up next, I'll talk about all things technical SEO and it's role in effectively getting eyeballs to your site. Later in the series, we’ll cover how to drive these users down your funnel to become newsletter sign-ups, event ticket purchasers and subscribers. Interested in chatting more? Email me at email@example.com.