How do you follow a high-energy keynote speaker and keep a room full of marketing pros
hanging on your every word? If you’re Janet D. Miller, President and CEO of Marketing Mojo, it’s easy. You break down that shiftiest of moving targets — SEO ranking factors — and pack your presentation full of actionable advice aimed squarely at the needs of B2B marketers.
If you find yourself mystified by the arcane world of SEO and all that data you’re supposed to be analyzing, you’re not alone. The beauty of Janet’s B2B 2016 “What You Don’t Know About SEO Ranking Factors CAN Hurt You: The Most Important SEO Ranking Factors Today In B2B” talk was the way she broke down every mysterious Google update so you can handle SEO like a pro.
How Google Changed in 2016
It’s no secret that marketers live and die by Google’s ranking algorithm, but there’s way more to it than getting clicks. Janet opened her talk by encouraging B2B marketers to create a solid SEO foundation instead of chasing fads. “SEO takes time to build, so you want it to last,” she advised.
In February, Google changed its results page to eliminate the “right rail” that was full of sponsored ads and links related to search terms. Today, those ads are right at the top of the results list, making it even harder for your business to end up on the first page — there’s simply less real estate left with sponsored results in the coveted spot “above the fold.”
To make the most of your SEO, pay close attention to these important factors:
Embrace Semantic Search
Semantic search was part of Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update, and it’s getting better all the time. The algorithm is now smart enough to recognize when similar phrases have the same meaning. For example, Janet reminded us that no normal human types “certified pre-owned vehicle” when they’re on the hunt for a used car. The good news is that Google now recognizes that “used car” means “certified pre-owned,” so you can worry less about keyword stuffing and variations to focus instead on writing high-quality content.
Make It Mobile-Friendly
Janet warned B2B marketers not to assume that their users don’t care about mobile, pointing out that fully half of all searches worldwide are done on mobile devices. More than that, Google uses a different algorithm for ranking mobile and desktop versions of your website. The upshot? You need mobile visibility or you’ll get dinged in the rankings, regardless of how often your target audience uses mobile.
Janet’s advice: Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool on every page — not just home! — and keep title tags to 55 characters instead of 70.
Remove Duplicate Content
Google’s Panda update doesn’t allow leeway for duplicate content, so it’s time to scrub your website of anything that has been republished elsewhere: blog posts, interviews, etc. If it makes sense for you to have different departments pointing to a similar piece, try redirecting traffic with a “canonical tag” that will give all the SEO value to the original source when republished.
On the bright side, Panda now runs regularly, so you have a big incentive to get cracking on removing duplicate content: You can recover from any penalties in search rankings much more quickly than in the past — typically in a just a few weeks.
Think Twice About Gated Content
Gated content makes good sense for lead generation, but be warned: Content hidden behind a form can’t be accessed by Google, so you’re getting zero help from it on your search engine ranking. Janet also reminded marketers that gates can be avoided, so if you’re dead set on keeping that amazing white paper under wraps, be sure to tell Google not to index it.
“White papers and other gated content is a balancing act,” Janet explained. She recommended splitting the difference by offering preview page of your white paper that will show up in searches and attract more people to your form to find out more.
Stop Experiencing Technical Issues
Site speed has been a factor in the rankings since 2010, so it’s in your best interest to test the load time of your pages regularly using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, which will tell you what to do to fix both desktop and mobile issues. Janet pointed out that uploading to an CMS can cut your website’s speed by a whopping 20 percent if it’s not optimized. Because this is a potentially involved IT fix, she recommended starting now to prepare for 2017. When you build something to last, you need to invest the time!
Another major issue with CMS comes when multiple users can publish to your website. You might trust their content, but you should think twice about the images they use: Large files can really gum up the works. Janet recommended installing a plug-in to automatically resize images and keep your site speedy.
Janet’s final piece of sage advice for B2B marketers: Plan an annual SEO audit before it’s time to budget so you can make room for IT fixes and optimization ahead of time. [Tweet This] When you keep an eye on these SEO ranking factors, you’ll be able to take control of how Google — and the rest of the world — sees your business.
Ginna Hall is the Director of Marketing at WriterAccess. An experienced marketing writer and editor, Ginna has helped corporate, academic and non-profit organizations develop strategic messages and roll-out content that connects with audiences of all types.
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