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Optimizing and Updating Your Content for B2B Success – Lillian Haase // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview: Most content requires some technical tweaks or edits after publication to truly maximize any content piece’s reach. SEO strategies and data acquisition are integral to these processes. Join host Ben as he continues B2B SEO week with Searchmetrics’ Director of European Marketing Lillian Haase as they discuss how B2Bs can boost visibility and increase traffic by identifying SEO optimization opportunities in their content strategy.

Summary

  • Google rewards sites that cater to the user experience, including providing quality content and ensuring the website is user friendly.
  • Strategically place call to actions, popups and notifications where they make the most sense and genuinely contribute to improving the user experience.
  • Utilizing software like Hotjar can help you identify where user attention is and isn’t, which helps inform your content strategy to remove, edit or add elements to your content.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                  Welcome to B2B SEO week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, discussing what you need to know to optimize your SEO efforts to reach business partners and prospects. Joining us for B2B SEO week is Lillian Haase, who is the director of European marketing at Searchmetrics, which is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions.

Ben:                 So far this week, Lillian and I have talked about why SEO matters more than ever for B2B brands, how to build a B2B content strategy, and how to use that content to generate leads for B2B businesses. And today, we’re going to talk about optimizing and updating your B2B content for SEO success. All right, here is the fourth installment of B2B SEO Week with Lillian Haase, director of European marketing for Searchmetrics. Lillian, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Lillian:          Thanks, Ben. Great to be here again.

Ben:                Great to have you back on the show. So far we’ve talked a lot about building a content strategy, about how to get leads into your pipeline. And really what we’ve been talking about is content. Today I want to talk a little bit more about SEO, actually getting visibility and driving traffic through your search content. Lots of brands already have content.

Ben:                They’ve been building blog posts and landing pages, and every word that can have on a page, they got plenty of them. And the problem is they’re not seeing great SEO results. Talk to me about how brands that are already doing content marketing can look at their content and optimize it or update it for SEO success.

Lillian:           Yeah, actually, I’ve seen this quite a lot, especially when I worked in agencies. I would just come across websites that had thousands and thousands of visits per day, but it really wasn’t generating business for the company. And so the idea was there, “Hey, we need to create content. We’re always publishing blog posts. We need to explain every single feature about our product. We need every product to have its own page and its own video.”

Lillian:           And they would really build it thinking that automatically that the business would come from it. And sometimes they got lucky of course, but a lot of the time actually they weren’t seeing the results. And so for an SEO, it often goes beyond just a SEO when you work in the industry or as a specialist. You need to think about what happens after they get to the website.

Lillian:           And this is also where Google is going with the way they’re developing and have been developing for quite some years, is ensuring that they are rewarding … Businesses that give people a good experience on the website are seeing better results with inorganic search. It comes back to best practice UX. Best practice. Look after those people once they get to the website.

Lillian:            Give them that good experience, invite them through good content to keep exploring the website, to go further, to find out more. Read more, watch more, follow on social media. And this is all about calls to action. So very strategically placed calls to actions. Don’t kill them with popups and notifications and call to actions after every sentence, of course, but think about what’s going on in that experience when people arrive on the website through a search result. This can be also done strategically. So if we take this example of a website, that’s getting thousands of thousands of visits per day through to their blog.

Lillian:           We could also set up a call to action at the end and the middle of the post encouraging people to read or download something on a similar topic to that blog post, just to interconnect those two topics. But in the second click, so after they’ve read the post or they got bored and didn’t read the post, they went to this other page and there’s a form as the gated content. And we therefore get them into the database. If they decide to keep going after they’ve downloaded, we can also encourage them to stay on the site longer in the thank you page. The thank you page is very underused for a lot of businesses, but it’s a nice chance to also keep the conversation going with those people.

Ben:               The biggest takeaway for me here is that there’s data that you’re looking at to understand where the content is breaking down. The first thing you said is let’s make the assumption. You’re getting traffic. Well, that’s a data point, right? If you have content, you can look at what the traffic patterns are and that helps you understand what problem number one might be. Are you getting people to the website or do you need to optimize the content to make sure that it has more visibility?

Lillian:            Right.

Ben:                 And the second component is when someone does come from organic search, what is the usability of that page and are you driving the right calls to action?

Lillian:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:                 Let’s break that up into two different parts. When brands are struggling to get visibility, when they’re creating content but they’re not seeing traffic, what are some of the common things that they can do to start editing, optimizing? Should they be creating new content or optimizing their old content?

Lillian:           Yeah, great question. So this is when … For example, the scenario, they’ve got this content idea, they know where they need it. But it hasn’t been optimized, which is actually the perfect situation for anyone in SEO, I would say. So of course our area of expertise is to do some keyword research and ensure that the landing page, the metadata is actually optimized for those keywords that make sense for this piece of content. It’s a big topic, keyword research.

Ben:                Some people have made entire podcasts on it.

Lillian:           I wonder who that is. Yeah. Yeah, me too. I haven’t done podcasts, but I’ve taught entire workshops. Yeah, for years. Of course it’s too big for one center of the answer, but I would just say for this particular question … For answering that one, I think it is yes, do keyword research. Yes, optimize for the basics.

Lillian:          So your metadata, your on page content based on keywords. However, you still want to think about a topic. So the future of the way search engines is working is absolutely topic based. It’s been like this for quite a while. We want to be careful of things like keyword stuffing, overdoing it, making the content look really silly by throwing all your keywords in there. You want to think this through from the user perspective, from a search engine perspective and general health from an SEO perspective.

Ben:                 I totally agree with you that you need to start with, “Is the topic relevant.” Right? Are you writing about something and is there demand? And I think that the indicator there is what’s the search volume?

Lillian:           Right.

Ben:                What’s the search volume, and is the topic you’re writing about relevant to your brand?

Lillian:          Absolutely.

Ben:                There’s a couple of different things that Google is going to look at. How does your content rank, but also who are you, and should you be the business that they’re driving traffic to? I think the other consideration is … You mentioned keyword stuffing, what’s the content on the page. You can have the right topic, but you can write for SEO or you can write for the consumer or the customer.

Ben:                This is really tricky. I use Searchmetrics’ content experience to help me navigate this, to understand what are the words that I need to put on the page to have the best probability to rank, but we don’t write every word that Searchmetrics or any other tools suggest should be in every blog post because-

Lillian:          Right. It could look pretty silly, right?

Ben:                We can’t figure out where to put them all. Sometimes you got to write what you want to write. How do you find that balance?

Lillian:          Right. Yeah, common sense at the end of the day. Really, a mix of common sense and actually knowing the architecture of your own website. The architecture is the core of everything, and this is where topics should be very clearly laid out in advance as much as possible so you know where those topics live on your website.

Lillian:          And so in this scenario where content experience has given you 50 different keywords that you should put on the page, but there’s no way you could write about all of those things and have your content make sense for your purposes, for whatever the purpose is. As an example, therefore you take those topics and separate them out and look, “Okay. Do I already have a home for these topics somewhere else on the website, or should I create one?” And a content map or a topic map is the key to not only understanding where to put content about certain topics, but also ensuring you’re not doubling up on topics as well.

Ben:              So then you get to the problem of, okay, we’ve optimized our content. We’re getting the most that we can out of what Google is syndicating for us, but the traffic isn’t converting. How do you think about optimizing your content for B2B success when you’re getting people to the site, but they’re not completing the desired interaction?

Lillian:          Yeah. It depends on what’s going on. It’s a tough hypothetical. I love to work with data. So if I could see the data, I would definitely dig into it. And perhaps that’s the answer to the question, is look at what’s going on. You could even consider installing software such as Hotjar, where you can understand what that person is doing while they’re on the page or get patents.

Lillian:           Not just from one person, but from those people who do find the page and really see where they’re dropping off. You can see where the attention is and where the attention isn’t, and consider changing the layout of the page, changing the content, changing the headlines, changing the call to action, whatever it is that’s going on. Something has to change and should change, starting … Also of course, making sure you know your benchmarks before you start changing things. At the end of the day, like any good CRO project, start with your benchmark. Identify the parameters of the test, change something, and then see the outcome when your test has enough data to be assessed.

Ben:               Data-driven marketers, there you have it folks. I think that’s important that you’re getting access to the right data. You might be getting lots of traffic to the page, and to me, this is an investigation of what is the user intent for a given page.

Lillian:          Right.

Ben:               What are the queries that they’re searching for to get to that page, and how are you placing the right call to action in the right place to provide value to the customer to get them to want to take the next step. And so if you’re not getting the conversion volume, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the content is not valuable. You can look at data-

Lillian:         That’s true.

Ben:                … understand your time on site, right? If everybody’s getting to the page and they’re bouncing, you got to fix the top of the page. If everybody’s getting through the bottom of the page and they’re spending lots of time on it but there’s just no interaction, that’s clear. There are just no conversions. You need to rethink what your calls to action are, where they’re placed and how they function.

Lillian:          Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly.

Ben:                I guess the last question I have for you is lots of brands already have content. Some content good, some content bad. How do you make the decision of whether you should optimize your existing content or create new content?

Lillian:          Oh, I love this question. Again, this is something we face a lot working in agencies, where you’ve got all kinds of different websites and you need to take a look at what can we do to get quick wins or is there a bigger problem. And yeah, you need to start with that audit. You really need to see a content audit and a general SEO audit to find out what is there right now that could be better.

Lillian:          This is for the quick wins side of it, where to start for sure. But in terms of developing content, I think it also comes back to your conversion question. If you’ve got content but it’s not converting or people aren’t engaging with it, maybe it’s not the right content.

Lillian:          So we can optimize that until we’re ranking on position one in the search engines and still not get conversions for it. This is a sign for sure. Okay, yes, maybe the page needs to be fixed, but maybe we’re looking at the wrong content for our product and service. So a mix of choose your battles, pick your battles, I would say.

Ben:               It goes back to our first part of the conversation. You have to understand who your customers are, and you have to understand what their intent is and what provides value to them and where they are in the buying journal to present them with the right offer. Right person, right place, right time, and I think that’s really the secret to dating and also to SEO optimization.

Ben:              That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Lillian Haase, who is the director of European marketing for Searchmetrics. Join us again tomorrow when we wrap up SEO B2B marketing week and talk about how to evaluate your B2B SEO efforts. We’d love to continue this conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Lillian, you can find a link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact her on Twitter.

Ben:             Her handle is @LillOnline. It’s L-I-L-L-O-N-L-I-N-E. Or you can visit her company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com. Just one more link on our show notes I’d like to tell you about, if you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests.

Ben:              You can also send us your topic suggestions, your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is @VoicesofSearch on Twitter, and my personal handle is @BenJShap.

Ben:             And if you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. Hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.