In this appearance he and James break down a case study where Gert doubled a client’s website traffic in just six months, recovering and boosting their previous Google rankings.
Gert attributes the success to both understanding the right SEO strategies and the client’s swift execution of his proposed plans.
Together, he and James will examine the reality of “evergreen” content.
They’ll discuss the benefits and potential pitfalls of an SEO-oriented website redesign.
And they’ll talk about the long term commitment that is essential to the success of SEO.
Table of contents:
1. So can content really be evergreen?
2. When you forget what’s working…
3. Is SEO worth thinking about?
4. Are there other things you can do?
5. The realization something was amiss
6. A need to reduce
7. The stuff that can go wrong
8. What else needs doing
9. An ongoing process
10. How it’s all panning out
11. Who stands to win most?
12. Brand awareness and conversion
13. How AI could impact branding
14. In wrap-up…
So can content really be evergreen?
So what happened in the case of Gert’s client, James asks? Their Google rankings seemed to have somehow decreased – for what reason?
One, Gert says, people have a misconception that content can be evergreen. And while true in a way – some content might remain valid over the years – the way consumers want to access and understand this content evolves.
People often overlook updating aspects such as content layout, design, and detail placement, even if the core message remains consistent. This oversight can impact the content’s relevance and engagement with the audience.
When you forget what’s working…
Could it also be, asks James, that the positive results of other strategies drew focus away from the client’s SEO?
Indeed, says Gert. It’s natural that businesses should double down on platforms or strategies that show promising results. In this case, his client became quite famous on YouTube. This attention shift, however, can lead to neglecting foundational strategies, such as SEO.
Gert touches, too, on the dangers of relying solely on a single platform or source. If something happens to that particular channel, like YouTube, a business might find itself vulnerable, especially if previous strategies, like SEO, have been overlooked. Also, says Gert, valuable content accumulated over years shouldn’t be disregarded, as it can still offer value.
James agrees. He’s heard much about YouTube’s increasing power as a search engine. However, he stresses the importance of recognizing and measuring what works and not becoming complacent with success. Often, businesses might undervalue a strategy that’s working well simply because it becomes routine.
To avoid such pitfalls, James’s team employs a stop-start-continue methodology. This method helps them recognize what’s working and ensures they maintain focus on their successful strategies.
Is SEO worth thinking about?
The importance of SEO is only growing, says Gert, especially with the rise of AI technologies that try to interpret and make sense of brand content online.
Ensuring a consistent brand message is crucial, as all information available about a brand can potentially be used in ways that might not align with the brand’s intended messaging. To effectively communicate with search engines, brands should be consistent in their messaging, use structured data, and provide adequate context in their content.
This technical approach to content creation is becoming increasingly vital as search engines require specific information to accurately interpret and categorize content.
Are there other things you can do?
How one should allocate resources, asks James? Is it better to diversify efforts across multiple platforms, or concentrate on just a few?
Gert advocates for using Google ads in tandem with SEO, suggesting that the information from one can directly benefit the other. Before embarking on an extensive content strategy, he often advises clients to test their offers with Google Ads, ensuring a better understanding of the keywords that resonate most with their audience.
Remarketing campaigns can also utilize SEO traffic, giving users another chance to opt in.
Although Gert believes in the omni-channel approach and the importance of having a widespread brand presence, he also emphasizes the need for strategic decisions. Organic rankings, according to him, remain a top priority. When someone searches for a product or service a business offers, that business should ideally be one of the first results displayed.
Combining Google ads with a robust SEO strategy can help reduce the average cost per acquisition, balancing out the costs associated with each lead or sale.
Key, says Gert, is understanding the data behind one’s strategies. Many don’t realize which keywords drive their traffic or even understand the current effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, highlighting the need for expert intervention.
They need a Gert in their life, quips James.
The realization something was amiss
How did this particular client realize something was wrong?
Says Gert, they noticed declining leads and slower growth on their YouTube channel, despite assuming their content should still be relevant and ranking. By examining the data, they realized something was amiss with their search marketing.
To understand the current status and potential of a project, Gert and his team first establish a scorecard, breaking down the data to get a clear picture. This involves assessing content, user experience, and understanding what Google currently favors in terms of ranking. As part of the audit, they found that a redesign of the client’s site was necessary to align with Google’s preferences.
A need to reduce
An important part of the redesign, says Gert, was content pruning and organization – common for websites that have accumulated a large amount of content over the years.
By categorizing and analyzing the content, they determine which pages have overlapping information. Clients with industry-specific knowledge then help decide which pages can be merged to streamline the content.
Gert notes that while Google might seem to have unlimited resources, it actually incurs costs to process websites, and therefore tends to favor sites that are efficiently organized and make information extraction easier.
James recalls his surprise when Gert told him having too much overlapping content was a hindrance to his SEO. Large websites like Wikipedia rank well, but it’s essential for most other sites to consolidate content to be more comprehensible for Google. The goal is to simplify the site’s structure and content to enhance its visibility in search results.
The stuff that can go wrong
James imagines a website relaunch can be tricky.
Gert concurs. While redesigns can be beneficial, they come with their own set of challenges, such as potential usability issues and old links not being redirected.
Launching a redesigned site can be fraught with pitfalls. He recalls an incident where a company failed to remove a “no index” command post-launch, resulting in decreasing website traffic as Google began deindexing their pages.
Gert stresses the importance of a structured approach to website migrations and relaunches. His team has developed comprehensive frameworks to guide this process, ensuring safe transitions. When changing website designs, even minor alterations in titles, headers, or descriptions can influence Google’s perception. Having an experienced hand to oversee the relaunch can help mitigate risks and ensure continuity in website performance.
What else needs doing
When James redesigned his sales page with the help of designer Greg Merrilees, he realized that all related materials also needed updates for consistency. This included podcast banners, social media page banners, and more. When undergoing such redesigns, ensuring uniformity in branding across all platforms, including YouTube and Facebook, is crucial to maintain a cohesive brand image.
You need to understand what drives your results, says Gert, before implementing changes. Using the example of two e-commerce sites, he highlighted how one site heavily relied on Google image search for sales, while another didn’t. Thus, changing image URLs could severely affect the former’s revenue. It’s vital to recognize the platforms and tools that impact your business the most, and prioritize them during migrations.
Furthermore, Gert stresses the importance of thoroughly analyzing data sources, especially through tools like Google Search Console. This helps determine which elements significantly influence results. During migrations or changes, retaining as many elements as possible helps ensure a smoother transition, reducing potential impacts on website performance.
An ongoing process
So at what point can you celebrate?
When launching a new site, Gert explains, the process doesn’t simply end. SEO is an ongoing journey, often filled with updates from Google.
After a relaunch, it’s typical to experience a temporary dip in site performance, which businesses can counteract with strategies like Google ads.
To ensure continuous growth, it’s crucial to stay proactive, adapt to changes, and consistently refine the content based on current trends and Google’s preferences.
Regularly revising and updating content based on Google’s current rankings can result in improved performance. Committing to a long-term strategy that includes constant content refinement, link-building, and structured content ensures sustained SEO success.
How it’s all panning out
In a span of six months, the website traffic for Gert’s client has doubled and he feels, optimistically, there’s potential for it to triple due to improved design and user-friendliness.
Gert emphasizes the current strategy’s success lies in a strong foundation, which will allow further refinement, closing content gaps, and building up relevant content libraries to attract more visitors. The design phase primarily focused on cleanup, setting the stage for more significant advancements.
James asks about the importance of updating external links, especially given the changes to the website. Gert affirms the ongoing relevance of link building in the SEO world, but it has evolved to prioritize relevance and authenticity.
Google has become adept at discerning the value of a link based on its context and relevance to the site it points to.
While there might not be an immediate need to change existing links, Gert emphasizes the importance of ensuring old URLs redirect to new ones. This strategy, combined with consistently building new and relevant links, strengthens the website’s authority and overall online presence.
Who stands to win most?
Who stands to benefit the most from an SEO overhaul, asks James?
Gert suggests those who feel their SEO has declined, or sites with substantial content but dormant potential, particularly if they’ve been active for a couple of years. He directs cases like this to SEOLeverage‘s scorecard tool for an initial assessment, implying that more extensive audits can uncover hidden issues and potential.
When discussing ROI, Gert underscores SEO as a long-term game, stressing the free, high-quality traffic that can lead to substantial leads and sales.
Drawing a parallel between SEO and weight loss, James says that while quick results can be tempting, they often aren’t sustainable or safe. Much like a thoughtful weight loss journey that yields additional health benefits, a meticulous approach to SEO not only improves rankings but can also amplify other marketing campaigns and overall brand visibility.
Brand awareness and conversion
Gert emphasizes the importance of brand awareness in SEO, noting how often it’s underestimated. He observes that higher traffic often correlates with an uptick in branded searches and conversions.
Gert stresses the need to understand conversion paths, whether it’s drawing users to YouTube and converting them into subscribers or introducing them to a tool, ensuring they recognize and subsequently search for the brand directly.
James cites recent news where Elon Musk’s “X” brand overshadowed an existing brand called “X Social Media.” James relates this to a personal experience where his former brand faced dilution due to a larger company using the same name.
James also underscores the power of personal branding, mentioning how he effectively ranks for his name. And he reiterates the continued relevance of SEO in 2023.
How AI could impact branding
With the rise of AI in various digital tools, there’s a growing emphasis on brand control, notes James. Certain chat tools, such as Bard, allow users to verify search results by redirecting them to search engines like Google. This creates a scenario where search engines gain traffic from chat tools, raising questions about the accuracy and intent behind the information provided.
Gert emphasizes the transitional phase that AI tools like ChatGPT are currently in. These language models generate content based on probability, predicting the next word based on the preceding ones. This system is highly dependent on context; providing more context yields more accurate results. When fed inaccurate or biased information, these models produce flawed outcomes.
Gert predicts that while Google currently prompts users to verify facts, in the future it may automatically fact-check or provide a probability score for the correctness of information. This further underscores the importance of brand monitoring, ensuring that brand mentions online are accurate and favorable.
There’s an increasing overlap, says Gert, of AI’s evolution and reputation management. He hints at the importance of closely monitoring and managing what’s being said about brands online, as this information will inevitably be used by AI tools, potentially determining how brands are perceived in the digital world.
There was, for example, an instance where an AI tool poorly assessed Nike based on a single negative customer review, showing how sensitive these tools are to the quality of their training data.
In summary, says James, proper SEO can significantly increase website traffic, especially for those who have seen positive results in the past.
Initiating with a scorecard or gap analysis can highlight areas of improvement, leading to targeted strategies and better outcomes. This is vital because Google search traffic, with its organic nature, often brings users who feel they’ve made independent decisions, translating to higher conversion rates and purchase intent.
Gert reaffirms this, stressing the authenticity users feel when they find information without being influenced by ads, which ultimately drives better engagement and trust.
If you’d like an initial assessment of your SEO situation, check out the scorecard on Gert’s site.
And if you’d like Gert’s help with your SEO, head over to SEOLeverage.com.
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