Content shouldn’t be created in a vacuum.
When you consider SEO when building your content strategy, you’re much more likely to actually provide value to your audience.
International SEO Consultant Aleyda Solis explains how your content research, creation, and auditing should all be assessed with an SEO lens in order to get the best ROI.
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In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to prioritize content topics
- How to strategically set up a content calendar
- How to rework/update content in a way that’s meaningful for your audience
- How to get buy-in using soft skills
Amanda: This week on the show, I'm very pleased to say the guest is a Aleyda Solis, an international SEO consultant who's spoken at more than 100 conferences, in 20 different countries, was awarded the European search Personality of the Year award in 2018, was featured in Forbes as a top 10, online marketing expert in 2015, and an entrepreneur as one of the 50 online marketing influencers to follow in 2016. Needless to say, she is a force in this industry. And I'm very excited to talk about how to use an SEO lens to make your content exponentially better and grow your brand. Welcome to the show Aleyda.
Aleyda: Hello, thank you very much for having me. I'm very excited to be able to participate today.
Amanda: I'm very excited that you're here too. So, I'd like to start with a little bit more of a general question. And as we know, SEO is not just a way to get your content to rank. I feel like that's an old way of thinking about SEO, just how do you optimize content so that it ranks in Google, but it's also a way to figure out what you should write about in the first place? Can you talk a little bit about that?
Amanda: Yes, indeed, I believe that actually, SEO or those activities that are included into the SEO process with a goal to run better and get more traffic and get more conversions at the end of the day are often very useful and aligned, and can be quite profitable also, to take into consideration for many of the areas. So, for example, when you do a keyword research, which at the end of the day is an audience research and competition research, to better understand how your audience searches on the web, right. What do they care about? What are their pain points? Which are the most common questions that you should address with your FAQs, with your copy, at different levels of your website through their customer journey? So, yes, I believe that those research activities that are content related in SEO can be quite useful, not only for SEO purposes, and there's quite a line also where there's user experience, because at the end of the day, we should not forget that what Google is trying to do is, first, it has the goal to provide the best search experience to users in general. And although they had a win actually crawls the website and try to find and rank the content of our site, at the end of day, they take into consideration, which is the content that would provide the best user experience and how the user is able to see that content, to perceive that content, to assess that content. So, they try to also replicate that in their algorithm, right? So, we have come off really, really long way since that age, where like, yeah, for SEO purposes, many people believe that they should stuff terms and keywords right on the content, that's very long gone. The Googles and search engines algorithm in general, they are much more sophisticated in order to replicate human behaviors. So, at the end of the day it's yours. What we also want is to make sure that this content also has certain type of characteristics, what we call E.A.T, right, it's to show expertise, to show out the repetitiveness, that is the use of it, because it's very aligned to what we also want to provide the best user experience.
Amanda: Right. And like you said, a lot of the keyword research side is just understanding what an audience wants, looking to see if you can meet that intent of what are they searching for, and how can you answer that. So, when somebody goes in and they do all this initial keyword research, and they're getting an understanding of what people are looking for. And they have it listed out, marking it with things like where in the funnel it is and how relevant it is. How do you go about prioritizing which ones to go for first?
Aleyda: Yes, that is a really good question and it depends a little bit on your context, right and your goals at the end of the day, what do you want to achieve? Which of those much more prominent areas or products or lines of business that you really want to prioritize because of your business goals, specifically because of seasonality, because of specific objectives that you may have, like a new launch, things like that, right? And then although the hand also of course search volume, how popular one category or subcategory or one product or another or certain characteristics that even if in your website, they are through level categories, you realize that you should link to them and feature them and go for them in a much more prominent way because there is a crazy popularity and demand for them, right. This is about supply and demand at the end of the day. So, I will say that it's very aligned to your goals, the debts In general, you have criteria, like search volumes, it's a neology level of competition, your own specific goals too that you want to achieve with timelines, and then learn about how to handle.
So, you're on current optimization of your content. So, for example, let's say if you're already ranking, and section 20, or 15, was already existing content that you do have and you're already ranking with the relevant page, and it's a matter of optimizing what you already have. So, it's a low hanging fruit. I would say, yeah, probably, you should definitely prioritize that if you are targeting a query that is very important already for your process. It's very prominent, and very relevant from a business perspective, and it has a good search volume, let's definitely prioritize that one, because it's better to start leveraging and optimizing something that you already have done, rather than starting from scratch and trying to target a query for which you don't have any content, and you will need a process to start from scratch with content creation, etc., right. That will take a while to rank in the first place and to even index in the first place, right. So, it's a lot of factors, as you can see. But yes, we need to align those that have to do with your own business goals, with your current rankings, with your current positions, how to achieve and reach those goals in the fastest, most cost effective way. And of course, the polarity of those queries. And those all go hand in hand. And something important too, the format of your content. Content is not only text, right, but we may have videos, we may have many other types of contents. And now that is Google, of course, it's not just 10 blue links, right. They have search features, they feature videos, they feature images, if a que has a specific particular format that are given or provided highlighted via the implementation of structured data.
So, we do have this type of content. So, formats and features like this being shown in those search result pages, we may want to prioritize also, to target these pages, because we will be able to get a better picture rate. And because we may have the capacity right away to create a video for that page for which we are already ranking in a position organically. But we are not included in that, let's say in the video card. But it's completely doable and quite easy for us to optimize a video or prioritize a video that we have already in the pipeline, things like that, right. So, as you can see, it should be very well aligned with our goals, with our capacity, with the content, with the restriction also that exists to make sure that with all of these efforts, we can end up achieving those goals that we have in the SEO process, right.
Amanda: Right. So, how far in advance do you plan when you come up with these strategies? Do you allow a little bit of flexibility? Because like you said, sometimes things can become popular all of a sudden, or maybe your competitors are doing things simultaneously and they come out with something before you're able to do it yourself. How much time do you actually start to plan?
Aleyda: Well, there is of course, ideal worlds. And that is the actual one, because everybody loves to do planning, like yearly planning, or every quarter to update and also etc. Of course, you need to have some sort of typical traffic, projection forecasts, etc. To be able to show that, yeah, you're improving from time and what you expect to achieve based on these resources and the goals that you have to show that you are ROI positive at the end of the day within the organization, which is what everybody wants, but at the same time and of course, you may have your core areas, your top core topics, core terms. So, for example, you may say, okay, I am on this website, I know that I want to grow in x percentage year over year for this top five categories, transactional oriented, but you know that in order for that to happen, you need to also not only to improve the content, and let's say the speed or implement structured data, improve the metadata in these pages, but these pages are so in need of many more backlinks in order to be competitive and rank for this type of stuff. And then you understand that for this type of queries, there are many connected to all type of searches that are not only sectionals but are also informational.
So, you may also want to consider just start creating content that is much more informational into the area, for example, the support area or the blog of your side. And for that you have much more flexibility and in that case, yes, you should have a Forza content calendar etc. But you may be able and should be able to be flexible to identify trends, to identify trending topics, to piggyback certain or high alert, certain type of news within your sector right and also to be all the time flexible and to have certain type of flexibility, to be able to react based on changes in the industry. So, for example, there are many industries that have gone through major changes this year because of COVID, right. So, one of my clients was Chris Line, my major first line. So, you can imagine how everything change one day to another, right. And one of the first, every projection or every forecast went to the bin directly, unfortunately, and the search behavior of the entire audience of that sector changed. And what we started to do is to identify all this queries, the topics that were being researched by your customers, all of a sudden, like, yes, searching for reimbursement, support, etc. So, there was a huge shift going on to provide a really good Q&A system, if a que, revamping that area. And that was very content heavy, I have to say. And of course, if you think about that, and if you try to say like, oh, what is the ROI of that? Very likely, they are still unfortunately, losing money, but not because the effort didn't pay off, or the other way around, right, it's very likely that they didn't lose, at some point even as much as they could have, because they provided a really good user experience, they were able to provide alternatives to users to keep their reservations, to provide alternatives, and also at the end of the day, to give good service as a business right, and to keep their customers happy, despite the whole craziness going on, right.
So, as you can see, it's important to be there to identify the opportunities, I have to say, Dell tools are doing an amazing job here, to identify the topics that all of a sudden, are arising and to facilitate the analysis of the before and after. So, for example, at a macro level, as your monitor has created something that is called S.U monitor alerts, that allow you to search for any term, and you can also assess for niche, I believe, or per website category to see if it is increasing or decreasing, which are the connected topics or queries for each that are increasing or decreasing. And they show you right away, what was the trend a year before and before COVID, right. So, before and after COVID, and you can see how it had changed versus last year. So, that is nice. And then on the other hand there are other tools, like, S.U zoom, right. S.U zoom has a very powerful keyword analysis feature showing right there also, for any query for any keyword, what was the trend last year, before COVID, right, and the one this year overlay, and you can really easily see how it had changed, how it was, in fact since March. And then they also have this other tool that is sort of cure planner or content planner, that shows you the keywords for seasonality. So, I can see right now, segmented already prefilter, which are the terms that are in my sector, da, whether targeted by B or by my competitors, or that I am monitoring that are going to be having the highest peak and trends or top season in December, or in November or in January, right, to be able to have this very helpful input in my content calendar, in my schedule, right. So, this type of tool really facilitates all these tasks.
Amanda: That sounds fantastic. I'll be sure to include the links to those in the show notes. Thank you for sharing them. And I love your cruise line example, because it goes back to what you were saying earlier about how your goals are the most important. And in that case, it's not only about ranking for those keywords anymore and getting the traffic it's about, like you said, the branding, the customer experience, which are completely different goals that might have been set up from the beginning. Earlier, you mentioned the low hanging fruit of optimizing posts. I want to come back to that because you've talked in the past about how, even if you're ranking page one, number one, it still could be worth updating. Why is that?
Aleyda: Yes. So, you know what? It's funny that you asked me about that, because I don't know if you asked me about that, because you have seen it. But a few days ago, last week, actually I did this presentation, a live presentation. And I actually created a graph after that, to show potential reasons why the click through rate is very low, besides for rankings, right, and how to fix that, right. So, for example, you may be targeting non relevant queries or also you kind of do much about those. But if it is a relevant query, and you are ranking with a relevant page, right, maybe your title and meta description is not attractive or really not optimized. So, it's important to take into consideration what your other players, the competitors are showing in terms of titles and descriptions. Maybe there's a feature that is being shown in those search results, right. So, for example, there's a big maps results being shown at the top. And so, you realize like the share of clicks, the click through rate, even if you are in position first or second, it's very, very low. So, if you really want to maximize your visibility and construct more traffic from the search results, you better get included in those map results or top news, latest news carousels or the video card results, in case it is relevant for from content form perspective and the business model, of course, to attract also that traffic in another way, or maybe you're in a defy, that is because you are ranking with a non-relevant page, or directly, maybe you adopt two different type of scenarios. In that case, maybe it's because you have cannibalization issues, you have many different pages targeting the same query. And in that case, you realize that Google doesn't know which ones to rank, maybe it's ranking one, that is not necessarily the best one. And the way to address that is, rather, by consolidating that into only one page, by trying with one redirecting one to the other, live into much more powerful one, as the one index, and of course, like updating all internal links, etc., towards that one, sending all the popularity towards that one. And if that doesn't make sense, and it's because you truly have sort of counter duplication issues, it's about simply, just literally like canonicalizing one to the other, in case you cannot redirect, for example.
So, there are many different potential reasons, as you can see, but as far as I can see, like, there's always like good reasons, potential reasons for you to not necessarily maximize or have the best possible creature rate or maximize the clicks or the value that you may have for certain query, right. And in some cases, it doesn't necessarily have to do a few, not being ranking to the position, sometimes you do. And even despite all that, you're not getting good grades, I have to say too, more and more we see that for certain, more basic type of informational queries, read us very basic type of searching 10. So, for example, these are factual type of searches. We have the zero type of results, right. And they're resulting on clicks. Because, the searcher then is satisfied with the data that Google already provides in the search, right. So, yeah, I will say, it's important to understand what is the intent of the query, the importance of the query, because of all of this, what is the type of value that this can end up bringing into the website, because also it's another factor to take into consideration prioritizing, right. The efforts that you should pay to all the different type of pages and contents that you need to optimize for.
Amanda: Right and you wrote a post, I think this is like in 2016, on your site, that I really loved, that was about content reusage. And you had a workflow, where you basically looked at some of these old posts or said that people should look at their old posts, and assess different things like it should be updated, expanded, reformatted, curated. Do you still use this workflow? Have you changed anything about it?
Aleyda: Yes, I still use it. Because I do believe, because of what I mentioned before, sometimes you realize that oh, I am ranking, and second position was this blog post. And yes, indeed my click through rate is really poor. I'm not getting the traffic that I expected from this, and its important query and then you realize, oh, there's a huge video carousel above. And again, it's important to understand your client, your customer, your audience, right. And it's a how to type of query. And then if you put into your user’s shoes, this will be totally a query for which you will much prefer to watch a video rather than read an article, right? So, it's like, oh, this is the perfect opportunity. And it makes total sense for you to actually create a video for that. So, this is the problem. I do believe that many of us fail unfortunately, many people see you yes, you're like this, they only see what the ranking say, oh, what else you can get right? What else you can bring? And you say, oh, I am in position first already, or I am already in the top three. And so, I won't necessarily get much more by targeting this type of term, I will move forward with all the ones and there's still huge opportunities, great opportunities, by continuing to target these certain topics, by expanding your visibility in many other ways, and sometimes it's by reformatting and repurposing. A lot of people I do believe also is that they don't pay enough attention to the content that they have written, let's say three years ago. And they think that they're already targeting this topic, and they have a page ranking for it, and that's it. But they don't realize that after a certain time, this page starts getting less and less traffic because it's less and less accurate, because it doesn't potentially provide an accurate information anymore. Because time has passed by, right.
Maybe there's a term for which Google considers, that the results deserve freshness. And I have this very specific and interesting example of something that happened to me. I don't know if many people know, but besides doing SEO consulting, I have my own web project that is called "Remote Resources". This is our remote work, website resources, right and we have a remote job board. We have a lot of how to remote tools etc. It's like a hop for remote work. Anyway, one of this post that we publish every year, every January, we have this remote work trends that we refresh. And this is the type of content that definitely needs to be refresh by default every year, right. With the latest trends, we do analysis of what is happening in the industry, we do a survey, etc. So, this is something for which we reuse, again, we use the same URL also every year to keep the URL popularity, etc., right. Also, we have this archived system that after what we have found we would refresh the page, we archive the previous content in a new URL, which we would see from last year, etc. So, we have that properly optimized to make sure that we always run with the same page for remote trends, and the current year or remote trends in general. The thing is, we updated that page in January this year. And this happens every year, once we refresh that page, this page, it's not because it is better, has more content or anything like that, it's because it's more accurate, and provides more updated information. And Google identifies that, right and it's better connected with the new searches for remote work. Plus, this year, too, because it has this year, natural integrated with the year name, we're not really integrated into the content, right? So, Google can identify that too. So, anyway, after we update this content, it's still ranking better and get more traffic, than this year, and that keeps for a while, right.
But then this year, it happened that, after COVID happened in March, it started to lose and lose, not only traffic, but also ranking. So, I went out took and took a look, in June, and I realized it was too late, because we had crazy amount of work, and not only because of SEO clients, myself, but also on the website with my partner in it because of the remote work craziness, right. And then I say, oh my God, how come we are losing traffic with this page? This page should be the top one at this point. And I saw that it was getting tons of links also from major publications, Linked In for instance, because it used to be like the first one ranking for remote work trends. And then I took a look. And then I realized in June, and I was like oh my God, we created actually an additional past analysis, analyzing how COVID had impacted remote work. But we hadn't integrated that topic or the COVID novelty and latest updates in the remote work page, the remote work trends speech, right. So, that remote work trends, it was like all the information didn't include anything about COVID anymore. So, literally it took me five minutes, and I took a paragraph, like the summary paragraph of the older analysis posts that we had only done for COVID specifically, and copy paste that, rephrase that, summarizing us and saying like, yeah, this has happened, this has changed everything, there will be a before and after, we have done a proper analysis about this, and this is our article, you can go and check it. But of course, now it was more accurately reflecting what was happening in the sector. We had a purple section on the article in the past, I included in the index, too, that we had on the post, updated it, refreshed it, like that for to be re index. Like literally within hours, that post was ranking again in top positions. It was huge, I actually took a screenshot and asked over Twitter, I asked people right, like, what do you think happened here? Because literally, the spike that it caused was like if something had been launched, right, like an immigration or before and after all of the traffic that the website had gotten just because of that, right. So, it's crazy. So, you can see that how updating that information, in certain cases is critical. It's important to keep the rankings, to be able to keep accurate, to be able to be perceived as accurate as you were before, right. So, my recommendation here is like check, not because you already targeting certain terms, you think that it's all done, right. Recheck those pages for which you identified that the click through rate is poor or used to rank better, get more traffic in the past. And of course, all of this topic that are closed, like recurrent topics, it's important that you set an alert there and to be aware when something crazy happens like this that may have an impact into those topics to also update accordingly.
Amanda: That's a really powerful example. I can't believe that you saw results back quickly, literally within hours.
Aleyda: Yes, yes. It's crazy. I was also in shock and the results were non trivial too. Yeah, I never expected it to be honest.
Amanda: Wow, well, that's all extremely insightful, and I think excellent advice surrounding the show. There's something else I wanted to ask you which was related to a recent interview you did with, "Women in in tech, SEO", and you were talking about how, at the end of the day, if you are in SEO, you can't just get by on pure SEO understanding, you have to learn some of the other skills that are out there, including communication with decision makers. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Aleyda: Yes, I think that in SEO, we are a little bit. And of course, it's necessary. And it's something that is not trivial, it's complex. And it's more like, it seems that it's seen as fundamental and is it is fundamental in our work, technical skills, right. But something that is also fundamental in our work to make things happen, to make those technical skills pay off, that are recommended, implementations are actually implemented is that our message can come across, right, that what we recommend is actually understood, that what we try to prioritize, that's critical from the mental for the business. The other side also is seen in the same way and understand why we want to prioritize it, right. Unfortunately, I do believe that when we work with clients, whether with clients or in house, right. So, a lot of egos involvement, unfortunately, because as a multidisciplinary specialization, we need to recommend on contact. So, we need to give certain guidelines and recommendations and request changes to copywriters, right. Then the same with developers, then the same, what potentially even the signers, right. Because of how things are displayed that have an effect in SEO. So, fortunately, it's critical. It's critical that the message that we provide and the relationship that we built with all of these different areas, and then of course, the decision makers that sometimes are not technical at all, and cannot understand why core ability is so important, why index ability plays such an important role, why that internal link, that seems so trivial, is fundamental to make sure that this page ranks better, right?
So, we need to be able to communicate across so many different areas, in so many different ways, trying to not step on toes, trying to also gain support, to influence people and then communicate in so many different levels. So, this is why I do believe that good communication skills are critical, that really people support. And so, this type of so called soft skills are critical in SEO in a major way, in a way that we never mostly don't even talk about, right. But it's critical to make sure that our work is at the end of the day, effective and is successful, because without these skills, it's like you may be doing a super accurate and comprehensive analysis. And even that doesn't matter if it is not implemented. And it won't be implemented, if you're not able to communicate the value of that, what can be achieved, and you don't get the support or gain the support, in a way to other people that you will be implementing your recommendations. Right.
Amanda: Right. So, somebody is facing this kind of daunting task of getting by and around the organization. Like you said, it could be so many different people, or just the top decision makers who aren't as familiar with the intricacies of SEO, what advice would you give those people?
Aleyda: Yeah, actually have to say something. I actually have presented about this. So, you can go to my SlideShare and look for a couple of decks or presentation first, why SEO fails, where I address at a more general level, why your processes failed? First it's the lack of fit with a client, because of course, especially audiences, they need to sell, sell, sell, keep fit, available, profitability, cash flow, etc. Right? And sometimes there isn't that good fit in the first place, right? That shouldn't have been in the first place unless you are a client potentially, but social ads, or PPC or whatever else first, right. So, that is the first reason, second reason is because of the way that we sometimes address the outlets in a way that are not necessarily prioritized, or actionable or easy to understand, or visual enough, or well documented in a way that shows exactly how it should be done. And also show exactly what is the value of each action, by the impact on traffic and impact on money that you will have, right. And so, you can show for example, screenshot of something of how much traffic your competitors are getting with this same type of page or how your competitors are ranking you for this same type of page or for these queries that you will like or you will love to run for, but you're not. So, there are many different ways how you can show value and to try to communicate, how important it is, this recommendation. It is not because of the sake of being well optimized, it's because you're leaving money on the table and the worst is your competitors are profiting from that right. So, the way that we format, I believe outdates recommendations, and this is all for communication at the end of the day, how we communicate our recommendations, plays also a major role here. And then of course, a Deanna data, also how we coordinate and manage the day to day, right. Sort of the player management type of activities and skills that we have with our clients, or all the team members or stakeholders if we are in house, right. How we coordinate, collaborate, how we prioritize with them, how we engage, like, make a point or learn to make a point, things like that, right.
So, these are three major areas that I think that have a major role. And yes, as you can see, it's like sometimes it's a matter of, instead of doing an audit of 100 pages, trying to be as accurate as possible and comprehensive as possible and not leaving nothing out is about, of course, if you want to start seeing results as fast as possible, I want to give you the top five things that you need to start doing right now to start seeing results in the little amount of time as possible, right. So, what I will do sometimes is, I will say, I will give you the top priorities in a couple of weeks. And I will give you the full thing in a month, right. Because I want you to start implementing and advancing as fast as possible, right, things like that. And then when prioritizing is critical that we don't think just purely from a technical perspective of oh, my God, the link redirected pages, that is so bad. But literally, our budget might be an issue, a huge issue for a marketplace of I don't know, like 500 million URL, things like that, or 10 million, let's go nuts, not so much for the train, right. But if you have a small website, if you have a SAS website, that is literally 5000 URLs, per budget, and having a few really rather active pages is not going to kill you. If our help pages are not the critical ones that you want to rank right now, right. Mind and focus on those top categories, the product pages, key pages, that you are already more or less ranking with, that are targeting important queries already, or that you really want to prioritize because of your business and searcher polarity and align the recommendations accordingly.
Sometimes, indeed, like the recommendations that need to be prioritizes, optimizing the metadata of these pages or optimizing the speed of these pages, because it's terrible. And it takes like 20 seconds, right. So, again, context is super important, it's critical. And that is why it is going to be very, very difficult without the priorities of the SEO recommendation, the priorities of our website are exactly the same as other websites, even in the same sector. And the same type of website because the maturity of the SEO process might be different. Maybe one has been already doing SEO for five years, another one is just starting. So, the priorities, the level of work, what should be managed and should be tackled, this is completely different in order to make things happen from scratch, right? The other one is much more sophisticated, you might be thinking on, already not necessarily improving the metadata, because that is already done, right. Oh, no, you're thinking on how you can leverage all the opportunities for absurd features and implementing structured data on the other hand, right. So, you can see that this is critical for me, this is what actually makes or breaks SEO. It's to make SEO strategical and tag your context into consideration, your goals into consideration, your restrictions, your requirements, what you're good at, what you're not good at and what is the stage within the process where you are, right. And be ready to prioritize well, to make the effort, highly impactful. And then although they had, to be able to show results as much as possible and communicate those expectations and those recommendations and potential resource icons accordingly. And of course, this is the thing, right. This has a lot to do with the project management skills that I mentioned before, right, and why they are important for SEO, if you don't get the support to implement this, it's important that you also say, okay, if it isn't viable to implement this, if we don't have the resources to implement this, as expected in this the timelines for doing it, we won't be able to achieve this and this results. Because, of course, we depend, and we want results, we need to implement stuff in the first place.
Amanda: That was an excellent breakdown, I really appreciate you sharing that insight. And I'll make sure to link to the SEO fails deck in case people want to dive into this further. Because I completely agree if you can't get people's buy in and get them to understand what you're trying to do and be able to do the activities that will reach your goals, then it's kind of all for nothing. So, thank you. And to wrap things up, knowing the objective of this show is to help people understand the value of their work and get buy in for it, especially in the content side of things. Who would you recommend being future guests on the program?
Aleyda: Content? Let's see. I will say content and SEO, well, Joel Pletka. He's amazing in content. I don't know if you have already--?
Amanda: No, I haven't.
Aleyda: You can interview him in content, he knows SEO, but he's not so much SEO, but he's much more an amazing copywriter, conversion focus, b2b copywriter, from business casual copywriting, you should definitely interview him.
Amanda: Awesome. Thank you so much for that recommendation and thank you Aleyda for coming on the show and sharing your insights with us.
Aleyda: Oh, thank you for the opportunity. It was fun.