We’ve seen a few questions pop up around the often mysterious and misunderstood world of SEO and in last week’s round-up, we promised to dig a little deeper. So here we are.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it’s the art of getting your content - whether that be a blog post, landing page, video or customer case study - as high as possible in search engine rankings.
Remember: Google doesn’t rank websites, it ranks webpages.
While there are lots of immediate tactics you can use to generate sales leads - like email, PPC, referrals and outbound calls, for example, SEO is more of a slow-burner but comes with tonnes of exclusive benefits, like:
- It’s generally more cost-effective. Aside from the manpower needed to implement all the on and off-page actions (more on this later) it doesn’t rely on a cost per lead. Whereas with let’s say a PPC campaign, you’ve got to invest time into picking, backing and analysing your chosen words and money into placing your bid.
- It’s pretty long-lasting. There’ll be ongoing maintenance work, of course, but other than that you *should* reap the rewards of your SEO efforts for some time. Picking on email marketing this time, once you’ve sent that initial email that’s your shot and it’s unlikely lots of people will go back and rummage through their inbox to find it.
- It closes more deals. On average, 14.6% of SEO leads close compared to just 1.7% of outbound leads, and the reason for this is people who land on your site organically are already pretty qualified. They typed in their search terms, they’re after something specific and there’s a good chance you meet that need.
- It boosts your brand awareness and increases your credibility. If you’re sitting pretty in position one, two, three or four, you’re exposing your product to potentially 100s and 1,000s of prospects day in, day out. Owning those top spots usually gives off an aura of superiority over your competition, too.
We could reel off a whole load more but for now, hopefully, they’ve twisted your finger to keep reading.
There’s no such thing as shortcuts
The first thing to remember is there’s no such thing as quick SEO success and cutting corners will only come back and bite you in the ass down the line. The groundwork you put in now will often come into play a few months down the line so don’t be disheartened if your targets aren’t hit overnight.
Tip: if your company’s new to SEO it might be worth doing a bit of an education piece around it to get everyone understanding how it works and why it’s normal not to see results right away.
Things Google doesn’t like
1. Keyword stuffing
If keywords are the main aim of your game and you stuff keywords into every sentence to rank for that keyword because you think it’s a case of the more keywords the better, you’re wrong. See what we did there? 😉
It’s a blackhat technique, Google hates it, and they penalise companies who try it. To stay on the right side of the line, aim for a keyword density of around 2-3%.
Don’t forget: the same principle applies to your meta descriptions and page titles too (more on this in a few mins).
2. Irrelevant links and anchor text
Links that point people to genuinely useful pages (in or outside your website) are good. They enhance user experiences and that’s what Google’s all about. Nonsensical links with forced anchor texts aren’t.
❌ Repeatedly use the same anchor text in a bid to rank for those keywords.
✅ Use relevant text that relates to the linked-to page. For example, if we were to say “Check out PMA’s Slack channel” that anchor text and link make perfect sense. If we were to say “This week’s blog is all about SEO” that anchor text wouldn’t fit the final URL.
3. Duplicate content
Aside from being outright plagiarism, copying content from someone else’s site doesn’t do your SEO efforts any favours because Google doesn’t know which one’s original or to rank. Although there’s not a direct penalty around it, in the words of John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google:
“There’s no duplicate content penalty [but] we do have some things around duplicate content…that are penalty worthy.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t use other sites for research purposes, but just make sure you’re not copying anything word-for-word and that what you write is well and truly unique.
Remember: this applies to content on your own site too and a common culprit is multiple event pages promoting the same agenda but at different locations. It’s important to make sure each venue has different text though, otherwise, you’re harming each’s ability to rank.
4. Poor quality content
It pees visitors and search engines right off and that’s not what anyone wants. In the words of Google itself, you should be focussing on:
- Creating compelling copy,
- Making sure your text is easy-to-read,
- Organising your topics clearly,
- Producing fresh, unique content, and
- Writing for users, not search engines.
There are more, but they’re just a handful of the biggies.
7 hacks to improve your product’s ranking
1. Use keywords - correctly
If you’re worried factoring SEO in’s going to dilute the impact of your messaging, don’t. Good SEO is natural and so most of the time, relevant keywords are weaved in with little thought. For example, if you’re a data security company, odds are, you’re already mentioning data security a bunch of times because it just makes sense to.
Anyway, on your product page itself, make sure you incorporate the right amount of relevant keywords (emphasis on the s because there should be more than one). Without them, you’ll struggle to rank for the search terms potential customers are using.
Here are some tools to help you with the job:
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Google Search Console
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keywords Everywhere
- Keyword Snatcher
- Google Trends
Once you’ve got your keyword lists and segmented them by relevancy and volume, pay attention to the type of intent behind longtail queries. Generally, there are four different types:
When you know this, it’s much easier to gauge whether or not you even want your product page to rank for certain words. For example, someone searching with informational intent’s probably more suited to a blog post or webinar, and someone searching with transactional intent’s better off with a product or pricing page.
If you’ve not already, another idea worth exploring is adding Q&As to your product pages. As well as being just generally useful in giving prospects more info, they can help your page’s SEO in two ways:
- If you regularly revisit and refresh your Q&As you’ll be ticking Google’s ‘fresh content’ box, and
- Usually, the questions mirror what users are searching for anyway, which can help with relevancy and ranking.
If you’re interested: there’s an interesting Q&A in one of our round-ups all about SEO in relation to feature names.
2. Keep people on your site longer
Although not direct ranking signals, there are lots of studies out there indicating bounce rate and time on site metrics can impact your rankings.
So, to keep people exploring your site for longer, consider including product suggestions (if you have more than one and the others are relevant), adding a reel of your latest, applicable blogs, and linking to other pages of your site within the copy.
3. Master your meta data
The words used in your page title and meta description are uber important. They matter to Google because they help it understand what’s on the page. They matter to you because they’re another opportunity to target relevant keywords. And they matter to searchers because they help people decide whether or not to click-through.
The harsh news though, is your meta tags won’t always necessarily be used:
“Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page's visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user's query.”
Basically, if you don’t have your own or they don’t think what you’ve got is good enough, they’ll automatically replace it.
Here are the do’s and don’ts:
✅ Keep both within the recommended character counts. For page titles, this is 50-60 characters and for meta descriptions, it’s 155-160. Any longer and they’ll probably truncate.
✅ Reference the keywords your page is referring to.
✅ Provide searchers with everything they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to enter your site.
❌ Go keyword crazy. One mention is enough.
❌ Just copy and paste text from the correlating page.
❌ Use the same title or description across lots of different pages.
The good vs the bad
So, let's take a practical look at the power of metas in action:
Hardly riveting, right? With a couple of tweaks, this could've easily been much more eye-catching:
Want to keep up with the evolving role of product marketing? From what it is & why it’s important to role responsibilities & how-to’s, we’ve answered it all.
Same context. Different words. Greater pull.
Last bit of advice on page titles and meta descriptions: don’t be tempted to overegg your content with the aim of simply luring searchers into your site. All you’ll achieve is a swift exit, higher bounce rate, and potentially damaged rankings.
4. Look at your page load time
In the world of SEO, site speed (which ultimately includes page speed) is a direct signal used by Google’s algorithm to rank webpages, so if you’ve got a slow product page, you could be being punished for it in search results.
What’s page load time? It’s the time it takes for all the content on a page to be displayed.
To see how your page(s) speed is fairing, check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It’ll give you a mobile and desktop score out of 100 and a list of opportunities and diagnostics.
So, although animations, widgets, videos and visuals etc. are great in terms of enhancing experiences, it’s important to make sure they’re done right to prevent your ranking slipping.
This one’s probably more reliant on a developer to fix but some pretty common workarounds include:
- Enabling compression
- Reducing redirects
- Leveraging browser caching
- Improving server response time
- Using a content distribution network
- Optimising images.
Even if you don’t care about SEO (which you really should) this one’s definitely worth looking into because did you know, a one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions? You can find more stats like this here.
5. Create complementary content
Producing product-relevant blog posts, guides, webinars, podcasts, videos and infographics will increase your website’s overall relevancy which will inevitably trickle down into individual pages.
If you’ve got a copywriting team on tap this might be something you can pass over to them but if you’ve not, here’s what you need to do.
Step #1: brainstorm a bunch of ideas that a) factor in the search queries you know people are using, and b) relate to your product in some way.
Sticking with the data security example, if your product’s anti-virus software for businesses and one of the highest volume search queries is ‘how to prevent viruses’, your topics could be:
- 5 of the most common online viruses - and how to prevent them
- How to educate your employees on online viruses
- 3 of the best ways to prevent viruses in your business
- Everything you need to know about anti-virus software
- Our CEO [insert name], talks about all things virus prevention
Step #2: reference and link out to your actual product in the blog, guide, podcast page, etc. to point people back to your money-making page and boost your site’s internal linking infrastructure - don’t worry, we’ll explain this in our next point.
Usually, it’s best not to make informative pieces overly sales-y so it might be something as simple as this at the end:
Is your business at risk of being exposed to viruses? If the answer’s yes, check out our anti-virus software and/or give the team a call on [insert number] to find out more.
Step #3: then, as we mentioned earlier, create a carousel of all your latest, most relevant content on your product page (you may need to set-up tags or categories to do this).
6. Look for linking opportunities
We’ll start with internal links. These point from a page on your site to a page on your site and they help:
- People find their way around,
- Establish a solid hierarchy, and
- Spread link equity.
In an ideal world, here’s what best practice internal linking looks like (the largest dot is the homepage):
In Layman’s terms, spreading link equity helps individual pages (i.e. your product) rank.
- Check your product page(s) is linked to from key pages from above - e.g. the homepage and umbrella product pages.
- Make sure you maximise any opportunities in both new and old pages (i.e. blogs, guides, case studies, etc.) either in-copy or as a CTA.
Remember: we talked about it earlier but to reiterate, linking should be natural and anchor text relevant. Sticking 10 random links to your product in a blog from last month isn’t going to do you any favours.
Moving onto inbound links (i.e. a link to you from someone else’s site), these help you build your authority - think of each as an endorsement if you will. Generally speaking, people don’t link out to cruddy sites so Google views inbound links positively - providing they’re quality, of course, 100s of links from spammy sites won’t benefit you.
Now this one’s probably more relevant for your PR and dedicated SEO teams (if you have them), but some quick wins you could go after yourself include links from your partners or suppliers - if you don’t ask you don’t get!
7. Add reviews
We all know reviews help sway buyer decisions, but did you also know they inject a bit of juice into your organic rankings? Because research shows they can:
We touched on Google’s craving for fresh content earlier and reviews are a low-effort way to achieve this; your customers quite literally do the work for you.
Not only that, but they also offer up additional ranking opportunities because more often than not, the review itself will include one or more of your keywords plus relevant, supplementary text to support it.
And finally, they validate your site and product as legitimate in the eyes of visitors, automated search engine spiders and search quality raters.
Tip: if you’re dealing with multiple products, segment your reviews so only excerpts that are relevant to the page in question appear.
That’s all from us
The field of SEO’s pretty comprehensive and often complicated and there’s lots more that can be done, of course, but hopefully these seven easy and actionable tips have given you a bit of food for thought.
And remember, as with any type of marketing tactic, nothing’s forever. To maintain and improve your SEO position you need to be continually analysing, refining and tweaking your page(s).