Episode 46: SEO Best Practices 2022: Why Hub Pages and Content Matter
In last week’s episode, we asked whether SEO was still relevant in 2022. The short answer was yes. As promised at the end of last week’s podcast, we have continued the discussion.
SEO strategies and trends are often dictated by the current state of Google search, and Google has changed greatly over the years. These changes have been driven partially by weeding out spam content, but also by the emergence of new devices and competitors. Competition fuels Google’s need to maintain its status as the best resource for finding anything online. To be the best resource, they need to understand search intent and get the most useful information in front of its users as quickly as possible. With this general philosophy, we’ve seen Google Search evolve to include shopping carousels, maps, videos, and rich snippets like FAQs.
Google advertising initiatives also play into changes to SEO strategy. Google’s ongoing efforts to increase the number of sponsored results with organic results have influenced layout changes within search engine results pages (SERPs). This in turn affects SEO. Organic results have slowly moved down the SERPs, with more ads appearing at the top of the page.
Google’s goals can be summarized as increasing ad revenue while maintaining its reputation as the best resource online. Nefarious SEO tactics that used to work, like excessive backlinking and content scraping, not only don’t work anymore but actually hurt your rankings in 2022. The amount of spam created through bad practices made for a bad user experience. This, if not corrected, would have cost Google many users. In general, anything that negatively impacts user experience is now penalized, including technical issues such as site speed and lackluster hosting. Google maximizes the visibility of accessible and helpful content.
In this week’s Digital Marketing Mondays, Hans and Devin discuss SEO strategies that work in 2022 and old techniques that should be left in the past.
You’re listening to Digital Marketing Mondays. Each week we bring you new and exciting content from around the marketing industry and help give you, the marketer, insights into what’s happening. We’ll offer our advice and share some takeaways to help you develop better strategies for your marketing. Ideally, this will also help you improve your ROI as well. So with that, let’s tune into this week’s episode.
Okay. Devin, last time around we talked about is SEO still relevant? Should you be doing search engine optimization? And I guess the one phrase summary is that yeah, it still works. Doesn’t work quite like the way it used to, but it’s still worth doing. And we promised in the last episode that this episode we would talk about some of the things that you should be doing to boost your organic traffic. With that thought, I’m going to hand this over to you and why don’t you inform us on a couple of areas where you find that people are putting an effort and it’s still bearing some really good fruit.
Yeah, absolutely. This is a big tricky topic, and in 2022 especially, and going into 2023, you can tell that Google is really deprioritizing light, non-informational, non-helpful articles. Google still claims that more new search terms show up every day than not, which is wild considering how long the search engine’s actually been around and in place. I think it goes to show that the ways people think are going to be different and the ultimate goal is still to absolutely provide the most helpful content and context that you possibly can. And with that, I think gone by the wayside are doing these kind of short 300 word blog articles that don’t really say much other than buy my product, or by my service, that’s got to go. If that is part of your strategy, get rid of it. It’s not going to work moving ahead. The thing that I think all businesses should be really thinking about is, what does your target audience need and what information are they looking for?
What is going to make their lives better, or help improve their knowledge, or give that aha moment to make their lives better and easier? That’s the context from which you should be creating content for. So if you use that lens, and even looking back at your most recent blog post, does it help answer questions? Is it truly helpful content? And does it provide all of the context around that topic that’s going to be relevant more so than anything else? If you have that heart of helping educate and give the right amount of resources, and you do it in a meaningful way, I think you’re going to see some good results from it. To give an example: resource pages, really meaty resource guides that are couple thousand words or more, that really go all in on topics and provide hubs for other pieces of information, should be a core part of this strategy for your content moving forward.
It should be providing as much context as possible. And what’s cool is that Google is still going to, I believe, personally reward you if you are developing that content well. You’re answering key questions that most people would have, and you’re giving other links or insights, both internal and external, that would be helpful for that particular user or searcher. One of the more interesting or better examples to actually look at is HubSpot. They really invested in SEO in the late 2000s, and you can see the number of terms and the amount of search traffic that they get purely just from answering marketers’ specific questions, or sales team specific questions, it’s off the charts. And certainly a huge smear against Salesforce. Salesforce will almost never be able to catch up to them, because of the amount of clout and domain authority that HubSpot’s site and blog has compared to Salesforce.
So I think in that respect, they’re going to see that long game, and they already have, they’re seeing that long game play out, because they’re a trusted resource. And so you need to think like HubSpot, and you need to think about what’s the most helpful content that I could possibly produce that will help give answers to the people, your ideal target audience, based on what people are searching for. There’s still value in obviously doing the keyword research and identifying what are the terms that are going to be good to search for. You should still be focusing on that as you’re developing your content and optimizing your content around that, and still making sure that you’re formatting pages well, and that your site loads fast.
I think if you do those several things, you’re going to see some good successes from SEO and drive pretty good value for the amount of effort that goes into it. To answer that question though, yes it is. SEO is still going to be effective. It’s just the name of the game is changing. And I would say for the most part, it’s a good thing. Marketers especially should be thinking about that. The content that they produce, is it answering questions? Is it truly helpful, or is it some crappy listicle that only drives to other service pages or other not helpful content?
Thanks, that’s great. You mentioned something in passing, which I just wanted to focus on just for a moment, and that was the site load time. How fast do your pages load? And we’ve mentioned before that user experience is a ranking signal, and if somebody clicks an organic listing, comes to your site, and the page loads slowly, they may get bored and head back to Google to find somebody else that can provide that information, and that sends a signal to Google that your page is not pleasing to the user. So you can imagine what that does. So that to me is really low-hanging fruit, because creating a lot of really excellent content, that’s a lot of work.
So it costs a lot of money, or it takes a long time or whatever. Fixing your website, that’s pretty low-hanging fruit, that’s a pretty easy thing. If you’ve got some technical help on that, look at your hosting provider, look at how your site is built. There’s a lot of ways that you can go in there and tune that up without spending too much time or money to do it. So I would really focus on that early in the process and then build out the content if you haven’t done that already.
And quick pro tip by the way, for those marketers that may not be paying attention to that too much, we’ll put a link in the show notes, but go to GMetrix with an X, not a C, GMetrix.com and just punch your URL into the site, get the free report that they have. It’s really good. Honestly, take that, you can export it into a pdf, send it off to your developer and have conversations with them, because I guarantee that your site is probably not loading fast enough. There’s 1, maybe 2% of you listening that has a really fast loading website, in which case kudos and congratulations, you’ve reached Nirvana; and for the 99 to 98% of you that haven’t, or don’t have a website that loads within three seconds, you’ve got some work to do. Make that a top priority as well going into 2023. You need to have a great seamless, frictionless website experience moving forward. No excuses.
Sounds good. And all the other stuff, getting referrals from other websites, those still count. But again, we’re recommending don’t do that kind of stuff just for the sake of getting backlinks and things like that. Those days are over with. Google’s gotten real smart on that stuff, because there was a lot of overwrought efforts that try to move the needles and so they’re very sensitive to that. But if you can get good backlinks that are relevant and meaningful from folks that should matter to your business, then by all means do so. And you’re mentioned about the length of articles.
I personally believe, and maybe you can comment on this, Devin, but I personally believe the length of the article should be related to the information you’re trying to get across and the degree of detail that you want to provide in that article. Or you might be providing a high level summary at one point and then go into more depth in another article. But it should be really designed around the user and not so much, “oh, we got to have 1500 words minimum to please the search engines” and things like that. I don’t think there’s a hard, fast rule there anymore like there perhaps once might have been. What do you think?
Yeah, I would say that’s true with an asterisk, or with a caveat. And your goal should not be just to answer one specific question and by default that would create a very short article. Don’t do that. What you should be doing is finding more holistic topics, or things to write about and then really coming at it from different angles inside of the post. So you’re not just saying what this thing is, or what the solution is; you need to explain it thoroughly. You need to provide context around why it’s important, et cetera, et cetera. The word count is not necessarily more a hard and fast rule at this point, but you need to be adequately explaining things. It reminds me of writing an essay for school. They put the minimum word count on there and they are going to be students that just hit that minimum and that’s what they’re going to do. But the reality is the ones that get the higher grades are typically those that do more homework and write a little bit more and have more context around it. Think about it like that.
Yep. Great one. All right. I think we’ve covered the basic bases. We could go on all day about this, but we wanted to just give people a couple of pearls of wisdom that they can apply. So thanks, Devin, and let’s call it a wrap.
Sounds good. Thanks Hans.
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