3 content marketing strategies to support SEO success

“When we think about [SEO] success, we often think about ranking on the first page of Google,” said Jon Lightfoot, founder and CEO of Strategic SEO Solutions, in a recent webinar. “But beyond ranking [at the top], there’s something more [important], which is ranking for the right keywords.”

Ranking for the topics your target audience is searching for doesn’t come from keyword stuffing or overemphasizing keyword density. Success in this area relies on crafting quality content that audiences love and search engines recognize as authoritative.

Here are three effective content strategies Lightfoot recommends marketers enact to support SEO success.

1. Identify user intent

“Intent is the purpose behind the [user’s] search,” Lightfoot said. “There are four buckets to understand and nurture when it comes to your strategy.”

The four areas of user intent he identified relate to specific content or services searchers are looking for. They are as follows:

Informational: Searchers looking for information, such as an answer to a question.Navigational: Users looking for a specific website.Commercial: People researching a product or service.Transactional: Those who are searching for products or services to purchase.

Source: Jon Lightfoot

“How do we harness this and use it in a way that’s effective for our companies? The first step is to perform keyword analysis,” he said. “The epicenter of this is understanding what people want to receive from these queries so you can then create the content that serves them.”

Analyzing keyword data to glean user intent means looking at more than just volume. It requires a thorough analysis of the types of content those words and phrases bring up in the search results and getting a sense of what audiences want from these searches.

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2. Prioritize content quality, not quantity

“If you rank at the top of search, that’s only part of the battle,” Lightfoot said. “The real battle is staying there. You have to be mindful of content quality signals.”

Metrics such as bounce rate, time spent on page, number of page views, while telling little by themselves, can give marketers more context into user behavior when analyzed together. They can show how engaged readers are with your content, letting you know which pieces need to be reworked or scrapped altogether.

“It’s about [optimizing] in a qualitative way so that we nurture the core metrics and Google rewards us by maintaining our rankings,” Lightfoot said.

Instead of focusing on pushing out loads of articles, marketers should spend more time improving the quality of the content they’re already producing. This means making the most important on-page elements as well-written and user-centric as possible.

Here’s how SEOs can improve the content quality in a few of these areas.

Page titles: Use target keywords in the title element, placing the primary terms in the front. Craft them in ways similar to competitors that are performing well in search.Heading tags: This element defines your page’s body text, so make it specific to that information. Internal linking: Use descriptive, keyword-rich anchor text to prompt readers to explore relevant pages on your site.

3. Focus on E-A-T through external linking and footnotes

E-A-T – building expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – is going to come from not only the things you say but the areas that can support what you’re saying,” Lightfoot said. “If you use external linking to provide more information to users, it shows that what you’re saying is validated by other sources.”

“Linking to trustworthy sites proves your value and credentials,” he added.

Source: Jon Lightfoot

Linking to authoritative external sources shows readers you took the time to make your content the best it can be, especially when that content is linked with relevant anchor text. But more than that, this process helps improve your own content’s credentials.

Lightfoot also recommends providing additional information with footnotes, which many sites fail to include. Incorporating these resources adds more contextual content to your articles and shows that the data is coming from trustworthy sources.

Source: Jon Lightfoot

“Footnotes are great ways to fortify your content, building that expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and Google certainly celebrates it,” he said.

Watch this webinar presentation at Digital Marketing Depot.

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SEO success relies on high-quality content. Learn how to ensure that your content meets this standard.
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Google Analytics 4 guide for PPC

Like many of you, the first time I looked at Google Analytics 4, I immediately closed it and said, “nope!”

A year passed. Then we learned that Universal Analytics was going away in 2023, which finally forced me to explore GA4.

It feels like going from Windows to Mac. You just have to know what you’re looking at.

Universal Analytics is going away

You really need to install GA4 on your website and set up goals.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to install GA4 now, even if you’re going to wait until July 2023 to fully learn how to use it.  

In July 2023, UA will go away. You will need to be able to compare year-over-year data. You can’t do that if you haven’t installed GA4 on your website this year.

You will have to export reports from UA and GA4 and somehow combine them. You can do that in Data Studio, but it is a huge hassle.

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GA4 uses an event-based model as opposed to the old session-based model that UA uses. This allows for a lot more data to be sent to your analytics.

The GA4 tag can send up to 25 event parameters. UA could only send four per event.

GA4 can have up to 500 distinctly named events. The 500 event limit is only for events you set up. This limit does not count toward GA4 events that come by default like page_view, click or video_start.  

I’m not going to go into detail on how to install GA4 because lots of people have already done that.

One thing you should do is turn on Enhanced Measurement.

You do that by going to Admin > Data Streams of the property you are working on. Click on the Web tab and make sure the slider for Enhanced measurement is on.

If you click on the gear icon on the far right you will see all the different things to measure like Scrolls and Outbound clicks.  

Setting up conversions

If you already have goals set up in Universal Analytics, Google has rolled out a tool to move your conversions over to GA4. If you don’t have this you will need to use Google Tag Manager to set up a Custom HTML tag to push your conversion data to the data layer.

Some plugins and third-party services may already do this for you. Once the events exist, all you have to do is go to the main menu and click on Configure and the first thing you will see is Events.

Always check here first when you want to create a conversion. What you want to count as conversion may already be in here. Just find your event and click the slider to activate. 

New concepts

One of the main concepts of GA4 is differentiating between user engagement and session engagement. The main difference is that user engagement statistics can span more than one session.

A session engagement includes data for each session. GA4 is all about engagement.

The biggest difference you will notice in GA4 is that the bounce rate is gone. It has been replaced with “Engaged Sessions.” A session is either engaged or not.

To be counted as engaged, the user must stay on the website for more than 10 seconds, trigger a conversion or have 2 or more page views.

Instead of Average Session Duration, we now have Average Engagement Time per Session. If what you are looking for is not available in GA4, and there are a lot of things not available, you can go to the Explore tab and create a custom report. Custom reports are a lot like Data Studio or the Analysis Hub in Universal Analytics. 

Google Ads

The first thing that you will notice in GA4 is that the menu on the left is much smaller and there are fewer sub menus and many things are missing or buried.

Another thing I noticed is that not all sections have the ability to change the time period you are viewing. Specifically, if you are running a custom report in the library, you can’t change the time period for that report.

The solution is to navigate to another section like the Report main menu that has the ability to change the time period. Then go back to your report and it will reflect the change. 

For paid search, we are missing the Google Ads section. The Google Ads section can be found in the Acquisition Overview submenu under Report > Acquisition on the second row, the third box on the bottom right.

One of the biggest problems with GA4 is that it no longer allows you to easily see reports that show tables that you can click on and drill down to see more detail. If you go to the Google Ads report that I mentioned above, it defaults to show statistics about your campaigns.

You can no longer click on them and see Ad Groups. You have to change the pull-down menu to see Ad Groups, Keywords or other Google Ads items. 

If you select Ad Groups it will just show you all Ad Groups. There is no way to see just Ad Groups from a specific campaign.

It is the same with any dimension you pick. If you want to filter the table there is a very simple search box at the top. It does not allow regex or have the nice visual filter that you have in Universal Analytics.

This functionality, or lack thereof, is on all table reports. You will notice that every table has a little blue plus sign that lets you add an additional dimension like browser or city.

For some reason, this is not available in the Google Ads report. To see this information you have to go over to Report > Acquisition > User Acquisition and look at the table on the second row of the report. You only have access to the Ad Groups dimension here. Now you can use the secondary dimension dropdown.

Advanced reporting is extremely limited

The default GA4 seems to be designed for novice users to get overview information quickly.

Many of the detailed reports that were easy to get to and easy to use are no longer available without advanced knowledge of GA4. The custom reports that you can build under the Explore menu are extremely powerful if you know how to set them up.

There is a gallery of pre-made reports, but not many at this time. Once GA4 has been around longer there will be more custom reports and articles on how to create specific reports.

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Want to use Google Analytics 4 for paid search. This article walks through you get right out of the box.
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Marketing winners and losers of the week

“Price is Right” cashes in on a nationwide tour and Seventh Generation gets purpose plaudits—plus why it was a bad week for Walmart, State Farm, Jif and Klarna.

 

“Price is Right” cashes in on a nationwide tour and Seventh Generation gets purpose plaudits—plus why it was a bad week for Walmart, State Farm, Jif and Klarna.

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