Episode Overview: Jockeying for the top ranking spot, known as position zero, on Google is no easy feat and requires a level of content optimization finesse to realistically achieve. Although securing the top spot is ideal, there’s no guarantee it can surpass the traffic numbers competitors ranked in spots two and three can gain. Join Ben and Searchmetrics’ Content Lead Marlon Glover as they continue their High Value Content Week discussion on how to edge past the competition with your existing high-value content to secure the coveted top ranking spot on Google and the different ways you can optimize your current valuable content to competitively draw traffic to your site without achieving position zero.
- Optimizing for position zero is no guarantee you’ll receive more traffic, whereas a small change such as adding photos can significantly boost traffic.
- Optimizing your highest-performing content for position zero ranking becomes less about content and more about the technical aspects of your site, which includes site speed, internal linking and more.
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Ben: Welcome to High Value Content 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 talking about how you can find and optimize your highest value content. Joining us again today for High Value Content Week is Marlon Glover who is the content team lead here at Searchmetrics. And today Marlon and I are going to talk about evaluating the opportunity to optimize your existing high value content. But before we hear from Marlon, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions and to support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a free trial of the Searchmetrics suite. That’s right. You can now start a trial of both the Searchmetrics SEO suite and our content experience tool without paying a dime. To start your free trial, head over to searchmetrics.com/freetrial. All right, onto the show. Here is my conversation with Mr Marlon Glover content team lead at Searchmetrics. Marlon, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast. It’s High Value Content Week. Let’s talk about the important stuff today, buddy.
Marlon: All right, let’s get into it.
Ben: So yesterday we talked about how to identify an opportunity for a piece of content that could be valuable down the road. Today I want to talk about evaluating the content that you know is already performing, and figuring out if it makes sense to continue to optimize that content. When you’re looking at one of your clients content, how much do you think about optimizing content that isn’t performing and how much do you think about taking the content that is performing and making it more performant?
Marlon: Yeah. Another great question and I apologize because I’m probably going to rehash some of the same things that we mentioned in yesterday’s episode, so if you didn’t hear that episode definitely go back and listen to it because I think it’ll help close the loop on some of these points. For me there’s a couple of things that we’ve been experimenting with for some of our existing clients. And maybe experimenting is the wrong word to use here because we’re looking at data in a few different ways to determine the potential, again, using that terminology we use yesterday, the potential for optimizing existing content that I think using your terms that could be ranking well the ones that we have found as high value. And correct me if I’m wrong, Ben, you did mention that we’re looking to optimize content that is already performing?
Ben: The idea here is that, look, we talked about yesterday how you have the piece of content that’s ranking in the 100th spot. You’re on page 10 and if you get to spot 10 on page one, you’re going to pick up a tremendous amount of market share. There is no point in ranking on page 10 for most queries. What about the content when you’re ranking in spot two? Does it make sense to continue to optimize to try to get to spot one? How do you figure out for the content that is your highest performer, what you can do to make tweaks when something is already working?
Marlon: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s a great question. So I think one of the things that we want to look at is going back to this idea of traffic potential. So understanding the value of the total sum of let’s say search queries that page one is ranking for, what is the incremental value that we attain from taking that page from position, a weighted average position, to position one? So I mean there’s ways that we do that looking at the data that we have available to us in terms of search volume and then again using that dynamic click-through model. Maybe at position two you could expect to receive somewhere between 13% of clicks to that particular URL as opposed to a position one where you could expect to receive 16% click-through rate from attaining that position. So I think that there are some binary metrics that we could look at based off of our data. The other thing to keep in mind is, is that more and more today we’re seeing SERP features become much more integrated within the search results for a lot of our clients ranking keywords and their pages. So that’s something else that we need to keep in mind and consider when we’re thinking about increasing positions of our existing content.
Ben: So the takeaway from yesterday was when you’re farther down the page when you’re not on page one, you could look at some of the content that’s on page one and you can start to replicate what Google is saying they like for a specific piece of content. When you’re super high up, you’re above the fold. You’re in the position two or three. There’s not a lot to look at to copy, right? You can’t say, “Oh well there’s 10 pages ahead of me that have more images or better formatting or longer content,” or you know, a different type of segmentation for the content. There may only be one competitor ahead of you. How do you think about optimizing when you’re not getting a lot of data? What are some of the tweaks that you can do when you’re really already very competitive for a specific query?
Marlon: Yeah, well, oftentimes I start with tapping the shoulders of my colleagues over here on our SEO consulting team. I think at scale, what we want to understand is on a technical SEO side, how is our site performing? Again, some of our competitors that may be ranking and beating us in that number one position, what can we be doing if anything, to make sure that our site is performing well from a technical aspect. After we’ve checked the box on that, and assuming that all things are performing well, other things I’m looking at is what are some of the elements on those pages, particularly if we’re thinking about e-commerce, maybe on a category level, what are some of the other elements on that page that we can be including in our content that we’re not today? So a good example of that is, let’s say I’m an e-commerce business that is selling clothing, and I recognize that for this particular category of content, we need to include things like size charts, versus another category, which it makes more sense to include things like videos. So at a category level, and then looking at these things at scale. What I’m looking to do is to understand what are some of the other elements that we need to include on this page to more adequately answer questions that are going to be more easily crawled by Google and to build the authority of this page.
Ben: So as you get into optimizing your highest performing content, this becomes less about the content optimization and you get into the true technical SEO components. For the most part you’re looking at site speed, you’re looking at your internal linking, you’re looking at your domain authority. There’s also the concept of moving from position one to position zero and it’s not necessarily always binary of one to zero. You could be in position three and rank for position zero. Talk to me about how you think about moving above the actual search results and creating your content. When you have a high value piece of content, is there a way that you can start seeding Google to include that content above the fold in the rest of their search experiences?
Marlon: Well, I think the question is, and some of these positions, zero, these SERP features. The question I want to ask myself first is, “Do I want to prioritize this content now? Is it worth it for me to move into that position?” I mean we know that some of these features no longer drive traffic to your site. So in that case, was it worth it for us to just answer this question and become a featured snippet in Google or is it worth it for us to simply include images? In some cases I will say it is worth it. But other times I’d say, “You know what, let’s prioritize some of our other content so that we can drive more dynamic clicks to our site by moving up to position zero.” So I think that that’s the factor that we’re including in terms of optimizing some of our existing content.
Ben: I mean this really becomes an exercise in understanding your business. I had a conversation yesterday with Jordan about the recent Google car update where he mentioned that Spotify is moving up for a lot of really non-clicked queries, high volume queries about searching for artists’ names or genres of music and where they’re giving content is basically position zero fodder. And that’s great for Spotify because they’re getting all of this visibility. You’re still getting that brand impression. You’re still known as the, the preeminent music service, even if it’s not driving traffic to their site. So it’s a question of what you’re trying to accomplish with some of these pages.
Ben: At the end of the day, when you’re evaluating the opportunity to focus on your high value content, optimizing your existing content that doesn’t get a lot of value or creating new content, how do you prioritize the amount of time you should spend thinking about those three categories of content?
Marlon: Yeah, it’s an interesting question and it’s one that I still today, I want to say I struggle with, but it really depends. And I hate answering that question with it depends-
Ben: But it depends.
Marlon: … but it depends. I often go back to some of my initial research. So depending on where my site is today in terms of its authority in a given topic, I’m often going back to that infinite question of “What questions are my perspective customers asking, what is the demand for those questions, what can we realistically rank for?” And then that is guiding my content strategy around optimizing the high value content on my site, the existing content that may not be performing as well. And maybe some of the gaps that we need to close from a competitor standpoint. Because what that tells me is that one, if I know that this particular category of content has pretty low competition but moderate to high search volume and we know within a given category that we have content within it, then I’m going to begin optimizing that content first.
Marlon: If I see within that same category that we’re missing some opportunities, then I’m likely going to start creating new content within this category first. So for me it’s important to close the gap and to adequately create content within the low competition, moderate to high search volume categories and tags first. Whether that’s optimizing my existing content, creating brand new content, or even deprecating content that shouldn’t even be on the site that we intended on performing for, for some whatever question but it’s not. So even cleaning up some of our site around given categories. So it’s less about categorizing it in terms of what’s ranking well, what exists that may not be performing well, and what doesn’t exist, it’s more along the lines of what is the market asking and what gaps do we need to close based off of our existing content that we don’t have today.
Ben: Yeah. I think at the end of the day, yesterday we talked about identifying opportunities to make content that isn’t performing to start to perform. And today we’re talking about, hey, we’ve got some really high performing content, can it be better? The process is actually pretty similar for both of these, which is understanding what is the size of the opportunity in front of you. If you move up, what is the value? And then matching that with how difficult is it going to be to move up into the rankings and being realistic about what the competitive nature of the keyword is and what assets do you have to be able to eventually rank. So whether you’re optimizing existing content that isn’t performing or you’re just trying to tweak your high value content. The process is pretty much the same, but as you get farther up the rankings, the more you’re getting into some of the technical SEO components, you’re looking at your entire domain authority. It is less about the words, and the image and the formatting of the page and more about your whole domain, about some of the technical things that are happening to make sure that you are the best piece of content for Google to put in the top spot.
Marlon: Well said, Ben.
Ben: All right, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Marlon Glover, content team lead here at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Marlon, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is, Marlon_Glover, or you can of course reach out to him through the Searchmetrics website.
Ben: If you have general marketing questions or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast, or if you’re interested in being a guest on the show, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can shoot me a tweet at Benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H_A-P. And if you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over to searchmetrics.com/freetrial for a test run of the Searchmetrics SEO suite and content experience platform.
Ben: And if you liked this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss the keys to optimizing your content to reach its maximum efficiency. Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.