The post Beyond SEO: B2B Content Optimization for Trust and Customer Experience appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
Siloed and segmented SEO and content strategies work against B2B marketing success, but can they come together and work to compliment one another?
The best SEO specialists can use their skills to make even the most boring B2B content shine in the search engine spotlight — for better or worse, as the case may be.
The very top content creators can craft fantastic digital assets that are often able to rise to the heights of search success with little to no accompanying SEO.
Both of these scenarios are all-too-familiar in B2B marketing efforts, however segmented SEO and content don’t need to be so separate, and indeed the best efforts occur when both SEO and content practitioners or teams work together in harmony.
Let’s take a look at why it’s important for SEO and content marketing to achieve harmony, including actionable steps to help start making the change.
SEO Specialists Gain By Reaching Out To Content Teams
Just as old-school account-based-marketing (ABM) has evolved into the type of marketing automation journey that Jon Miller, chief marketing officer at Demandbase, recently spoke about in “Find, Engage and Close: Demandbase’s Jon Miller on Recasting the B2B Marketing Automation Journey,” savvy practitioners of SEO are also evolving their processes to learn more about the content marketing landscape.
In the ABM world it’s the sales and marketing teams that benefit from learning more about each other’s unique goals, struggles, and strengths.
Similarly, SEO and content marketing stand to see improvements when their teams can see each other with greater clarity and understanding.
Some of the ways SEO practitioners are increasing their understanding of content marketing and cross-team learning include:
- Scheduling regular formal or informal time together with content teams
- Streamlining the process of sharing between SEO and content teams
- Bringing in live or viewing taped virtual content marketing guest speaker presentations
When SEO specialists are able to work more closely with content creation teams, they’ll learn just what it is that sets the organization’s content apart from the competition, which makes it much easier when it comes time to focus SEO efforts on specific areas.
We put together a list of top SEO trends from 12 search industry influencers, which can offer insight for content marketers looking to learn more about the latest concerns than SEO professionals are facing today — you’ll find it in a recent infographic, “Infographic: SEO In 2021 — 12 Influencers Share Their Best Tips For The Road Ahead.”
Additional resources that content marketers can use to learn more about the importance of SEO include the following articles we’ve published on the subject:
- Why SEO & Influence are Critical to Pandemic Era Content Marketing
- The B2B Marketing Force Multiplier: Integrated SEO and Influencer Marketing
- 5 Unheralded SEO Tools for Content Marketers
- 12 Top B2B SEO Trends & Predictions for 2021
- Best Of B2B Search Marketing: Optimize Your 2021 With Our Top 10 SEO Posts
[bctt tweet=”Marketers need to break free over the next 10 years by radically changing how they work with sales, stopping the baton hand-off model and moving much more of an integrated team. ” — Jon Miller @jonmiller” username=”toprank”]
Audience Insights Benefit Both SEO & Content Marketing
Organizations can strengthen both SEO and content marketing efforts by giving each team accurate audience insight data, whether it’s what potential or current customers are seeking to learn more about, or demographic information that can help better inform SEO targeting efforts.
What barriers prevent this audience insight data from reaching the SEO and content teams at organizations?
Sometimes it’s simply that this data isn’t being actively collected, so often there isn’t anything new to share. Other times communication process hurdles prevent the sharing of helpful audience insight information.
Aligning interdepartmental communications is an important part of any company’s success, and not only in marketing. As Jon Miller has noted, with today’s B2B buyer journey being so complicated, a simple baton hand-off approach doesn’t work, Jon observed, and instead has encouraged a team approach more like the way a soccer team functions, passing customer engagement and insight data back and forth as needed, in a coordinated way.
Search practitioners looking to gain new insight into the world of content marketing and the concerns content professionals are facing today can learn more in the following articles we’ve published on the topic:
- 4 Ways B2B Marketers Can Spring Forward And Grow Content Marketing Success
- 5 B2C Content Marketing Techniques that B2B Marketers Should Steal (And 5 They Shouldn’t Touch)
- Problem Solved: Increase B2B Content Marketing Success by Conquering 4 Conundrums
- 6 Eye-Opening B2B Content Marketing Statistics for 2021
- 5 Ways to Humanize Your B2B Content Marketing – And Why It Matters
[bctt tweet=”“Segmented SEO and content don’t need to be so separate, and indeed the best efforts occur when both SEO and content practitioners or teams work in harmony.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
Content Teams Thrive By Making SEO A Fundamental Concern
Content creation teams at organizations with dedicated SEO departments often have a certain amount of fear when it comes to the technical intricacies of search optimization.
By nature SEO works in an ever-changing environment dictated by the ceaseless updates and refinements implemented by Google and other search engine firms, which leads many to see SEO as being more of a math and programming oriented job than the generally word-smithing and grammar-driven practice of content marketing.
When it comes down to it, however, the two aren’t so different when we consider the commonalities that both practices share. Both SEO and content marketing teams strive to:
- Increase content visibility
- Raise audience engagement levels
- Surface best-answer content
Just as SEO teams can learn more about great content marketing from occasional guest speakers or lunch-and-learn sessions, content professionals can gain newfound understanding of the search optimization process when search industry expects can share their knowledge and passion.
By demystifying the sometimes murky waters of SEO efforts, search professionals can enlighten content marketers with data and other insight that will make content marketing efforts more streamlined and ultimately more effective.
[bctt tweet=”“By demystifying the sometimes murky waters of SEO efforts, search pros can enlighten content marketers with data and other insight that will make content marketing efforts more streamlined and ultimately more effective.” @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
United SEO & Content Form A Powerful B2B Marketing Union
The more aligned your organization’s SEO and content marketing efforts can become, the greater their combined power is, to build and promote content that can reach heights that aren’t possible when using just one of these two important ingredients.
Most B2B efforts include both SEO and content marketing elements, yet until both teams have truly understood what each does, campaigns will likely suffer from a lack of a cohesive and united marketing front.
We hope that the ideas and practices we’ve shared here will help unite and harmonize your own search and B2B content marketing efforts.
Creating harmonious and award-winning B2B marketing takes significant effort, which leads more firms than ever to choose working with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Engage with us today and let us know how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.
The post SEO Harmony: Why B2B Marketers Need To Integrate Search With Content Strategy appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
Search marketing has matured in many ways throughout this pandemic year of 2020. At each shift and change along the journey, we’ve done our best to not only cover each twist and turn thoroughly, but to also offer insight and research-based strategy to help savvy B2B marketers meet the challenges this year has placed in front of us.
We’re lucky to have a wealth of talented B2B marketing professionals contributing to the TopRank Marketing blog — which will celebrate its 18th year in 2021 — including our CEO Lee Odden, Joshua Nite, Elizabeth Williams, Anne Leuman, Nick Nelson, Debbie Friez, Birdie Zepeda, the author of this post, and Alexis Hall, among others.
To help our blog community grow its search marketing knowledge, we’re thrilled to offer this list of our most popular search marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) posts of 2020.
Our Most Popular Search Marketing Posts in 2020:
1. 5 Unheralded SEO Tools for Content Marketers — Lane R. Ellis
In our most popular search marketing post of 2020, I shared popular and little-known SEO tools to help B2B marketers refine and augment their search engine optimization efforts.
From Google Lighthouse to WebPagetest and more, there SEO tools offer insight that will be just as relevant to marketers in 2021.
Sorting through lists of the seemingly endless number of available SEO tools can be frustrating as well as a hit and miss proposition, however this collection lets skip the search and get right into SEO tools you can use today to help you create amazing content marketing stories.
[bctt tweet=”“How can you be the best answer for your audience if you don’t understand what questions they’re asking or what problems they’re trying to solve?” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
What good is being found if your content isn’t credible? In the second most popular search marketing post of the year, our CEO Lee Odden shows why SEO is not enough, and why optimizing for trust and credibility serve as a force multiplier for B2B marketers.
“At a minimum, content marketers should leverage the keyword and topic research done for SEO as inspiration for the queries used to find relevant influencers on those topics,” Lee observed, suggesting several ways marketers can think about influencers from an SEO perspective:
- Identify influencers that already create content on the topics of interest that already have great visibility on Google
- Pick influencers identified by Google as entities
- Evaluate influencer’s likelihood of attracting links when they publish or contribute content
- Provide influencers with SEO audits of their blogs so they can improve their search visibility
[bctt tweet=”“By integrating SEO and Influencer Marketing marketers can attract and engage buyers more effectively.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]
3. 12 Top B2B SEO Trends & Predictions for 2021 — Lane R. Ellis
In the number three spot on our top search marketing posts of 2020 list, I asked 12 subject matter experts how SEO will change next, and what search marketing will look like in 2021.
Learn from industry leaders as they share their top predictions for 2021, including Barry Schwartz, Lily Ray, Dixon Jones, Melissa Fach, Tim Mayer, Aleyda Solis, Jordan Koene, Roger Montii, Melanie Mitchell, Neil Marshall, and our own Birdie Zepeda and Seth Epstein.
“We need to incorporate intent into the keyword mapping exercise by matching keywords with the right intent to the right document,” Tim Mayer noted in this, our third most popular SEO post of 2020.
[bctt tweet=”“2021 will see B2B marketers taking SEO and search marketing into not only a new year but perhaps a new boundary-pushing era, especially among B2B brands.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
How do you do marketing during a pandemic? One way is to stop pushing and start pulling, and in the fourth most popular search marketing post on our blog in 2020, Lee shows how SEO helps customers find information on their terms, without the alienation of tone deaf marketing.
In infographic format, this post explores 10 top SEO tips from industry pros Barry Schwartz, Jono Alderson, Aleyda Solís, Jesse McDonald, Britney Muller, Ayat Shukairy, Dixon Jones, Hamlet Batista, Tiffani Allen and others.
[bctt tweet=”“Instead of being tone deaf or completely opportunistic about marketing, companies can double down on their SEO efforts to become the best answer for customers at the very moment they need a solution.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]
5. Best SEO Tips for Marketing During the Pandemic Plus 9 Top SEO Platforms — Lane R. Ellis
SEO platforms can be a vital part of successful marketing efforts, and in the fifth most popular search marketing post of 2020 I asked nine top platforms for their best tips to help weather the pandemic.
It’s been a prime year for exploring the power of search optimization, and in this post we also share top SEO tips, from top industry firms including:
With 51 percent of primarily B2B global marketing professionals seeing data insights and analysis as the single most important element when implementing a marketing technology stack, SEO platforms are poised to deliver the martech information businesses are eager to get, and we dig in and show how here.
[bctt tweet=”“Marketers have incredible power to spread some calm in a chaotic world right now. Use it wisely.” — BritneyMuller @BritneyMuller” username=”toprank”]
6. SEO Strategy: 5 Reasons Why It’s More Important Than Ever For B2B Marketers — Lane R. Ellis
Why has SEO been more important than ever for B2B marketers during the global health crisis? In our sixth most popular search marketing post of 2020 I examined how SEO has showed its strength, stability and resiliency, including five of the top reasons to double down on B2B SEO:
- SEO is Performing Better During the Health Crisis
- SEO Helps as Pandemic Consumers Are Shopping Primarily Online
- SEO Platforms Help Maximize Remote Worker Efficiencies
- Doing SEO Now Will Strengthen Future Brand Efforts
- SEO’s Stability Is Important For B2B Brands
[bctt tweet=”“With more people visiting B2B websites, it’s never been more important to have online content that’s properly indexed, easily findable, and that swiftly answers customer questions.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
7. How Influence and SEO Can Drive Customer Experience — Lee Odden
How can influence and SEO drive customer experience for B2B marketers? In our seventh most-read search marketing article of the year, Lee shares how genuine, authentic, and impactful influencer content collaborations combine to build CX success and best-answer search experiences.
“For optimal SEO performance, best answer content experiences should be delivered with relevant, fast loading pages that are mobile friendly and deemed credible by other websites that link to them,” Lee noted. “Even better is when that content is optimized for trust with relevant third-party experts,” Lee added.
[bctt tweet=”“For brands, delivering a great user experience in search means understanding searcher intent and providing content that meets those expectations at the very moment of need.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]
8. 8 Virtual SEO Conferences for B2B Marketers — Tiffani Allen
Attending virtual conferences is a great way to not only stay connected to the B2B marketing and SEO communities, but also to learn how SEO helps customers find your brand on their own terms. In our eighth most popular search marketing post of 2020, Tiffani Allen shared a collection of eight virtual SEO conferences to put on your agenda.
Attending conferences – even in a virtual setting – is a great way to stay connected to the marketing and SEO community, and many of these digital events will also be held in virtual formats during the coming year.
[bctt tweet=”“While many of our favorite search conferences are being postponed to later dates, there are still plenty of excellent virtual conferences to attend in the meantime.” @Tiffani_Allen” username=”toprank”]
How can your brand be the best answer? This year SEO and influencer marketing have played increasingly important roles as B2B brands look to become and stay the best answer for their customers, and in our ninth most popular search marketing article of 2020 Lee shares why and offers an array of helpful insight.
“Understanding that B2B buyers already prefer to pull themselves through most of the sales experience with their own research and content, B2B marketers are increasingly emphasizing SEO for the current time when field marketing, events and experiential marketing are no longer an option,” Lee noted in this insightful post.
[bctt tweet=”“Marketing is about optimizing for improved performance and the role that organic search plays in pulling customers to your brands solutions at the very moment of need is clear.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]
10. 10 SEO Books for B2B Marketers in 2020 — Birdie Zepeda
B2B marketers understand SEO’s importance, but do they understand its inner workings? Rounding out our top ten list of search marketing posts for the year is our SEO strategist Birdie Zepeda’s insightful look at 10 SEO books that help demystify some of the practice’s inner workings, and also provide plenty of practical advice.
The SEO books on this list help B2B marketers to better understand the technical optimization intricacies of your company’s website and to further develop an SEO strategy that will best serve your audience and their needs.
[bctt tweet=”“Some SEO questions are worth buying, borrowing, or downloading a book for a deep-dive into the subject.” — Birdie Zepeda @birdie_zepeda” username=”toprank”]
Thanks TopRank Marketing Writers & Readers
Thanks to all of our top search marketing authors for contributing these top 10 SEO posts of 2020 — congratulations on making the list!
Additionally, we publish several marketing influencer lists every year, and we wanted to share them here as a helpful way to find and follow some of the leading digital marketing influencers:
- 25 Top B2B Marketing Influencers To Follow In 2021 #MPB2B
- 50 Top B2B Content Marketing Influencers To Follow in 2021 #CMWorld
- 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands
- 32 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers To Follow
Another helpful resource for B2B marketers to learn about crafting a successful B2B influencer marketing program is our recently-launched Inside Influence series, featuring interviews with top industry experts such as the latest episode with Paul Dobson of Citrix.
We published dozens of posts this year specifically about search marketing, and plan to bring you even more in 2021, so stay tuned for a new year of the latest helpful search industry research and insight.
Please let us know which search marketing topics and ideas you’d like to see us focus on for 2021 — we’d love to hear your suggestions. Feel free to leave those thoughts in the comments section below.
Many thanks to each of you who read our blog regularly, and to all of you who comment on and share our posts on the TopRank Marketing social media channels at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The post Best Of B2B Search Marketing: Optimize Your 2021 With Our Top 10 SEO Posts appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
What will search marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) look like in 2021, and where will it take B2B marketers and brands when a post-pandemic world eventually arrives?
To help answer these questions and more we’ve gathered 12 top B2B search marketing insights from both industry experts and our own team, and present our annual look at SEO predictions and search trends for 2021.
When I first went online in 1984 operating a 300-baud bulletin board system, it would be six years before Archie’s FTP site search arrived in 1990, followed three years later by Excite and the other early web search engine innovators, and if there’s one aspect of search that has remained constant throughout the ensuing decades, it’s been unending change.
The search marketing landscape has always been one of rapid changes, and keeping up-to-date with ever-shifting SEO machinations and technical search intricacies can be more than a full-time job for top B2B SEO professionals. Luckily, for 2021 we’ve got a wealth of SEO insight from 12 of the world’s leading search subject matter experts that you can use to hit the ground running as a new year of search unfolds.
Let’s jump right in and see how top search marketing practitioners expect 2021 to change the way we do business, and why it could quite likely be a groundbreaking year for search.
1 — A Greater Understanding of Search Intent
Founder, Search Engine Roundtable
In 2020 we really saw advances in search engines understanding queries better and the content on the page — i.e. BERT (bidirectional encoder representations from transformers) is now used in all queries. This is helping Google, as I wrote last year, in understanding voice queries and responding to those queries but also in serving better results.
I am excited to see how passage indexing rolls out and how SEOs react and adapt, if necessary, to that roll out. The Page Experience update is rolling out in May 2021, so that should be exciting to watch as well.
Search is in a very exciting place right now, we are at the verge of really being able to understand the true intent of queries and 2021 will be an expansion of that in so many ways.
[bctt tweet=”Search is in a very exciting place right now, we are at the verge of really being able to understand the true intent of queries and 2021 will be an expansion of that in so many ways. — Barry Schwartz @rustybrick” username=”toprank”]
2 — The Rising Importance of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
SEO Director, Path Interactive
Google has already provided some clues as to what they will prioritize in 2021 from a usability and performance standpoint: Core Web Vitals and the final push towards mobile-first indexation for all sites. There are also new Google products and features worth focusing on, such as Web Stories and Google Discover (the two go hand-in-hand); advancements with indexing video and podcast content; and improved experiences in Google Shopping and Images.
But from my perspective, the biggest overarching trend in SEO in recent years which will undoubtedly continue in 2021 is the focus on E-A-T: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. E-A-T has become a necessity for sites in many categories to perform well, but especially for YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) sites, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the rampant rise in misinformation online.
[bctt tweet=”The biggest overarching trend in SEO in recent years which will undoubtedly continue in 2021 is the focus on E-A-T: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. — Lily Ray @lilyraynyc” username=”toprank”]
3 — On-Page Analytics, Microsoft Clarity & Google’s Forthcoming Offering
Whilst I’d love the SEO world focused on BERT in 2021 to give InLinks.net cover (As SEOs should be!) — I think the new gig in town will be heat maps and UX improvements.
Whilst these are not new ideas for Internet marketers, it looks like “Clarity” —Microsoft’s new and free UX tool — will not be taken lying down by Google, who have announced something that sounds remarkably similar to roll out in May 2021. Google rarely give us this much notice, which suggests that this will be the new SEO playground.
The Clarity tool, from Microsoft is already up and running, though, and I cannot imagine any SEO not at least taking a look. It will be interesting to see if paid tools in a similar space — such as Hotjar and Crazy Egg — will benefit or suffer from this newfound interest in on-page analytics.
[bctt tweet=”The Clarity tool from Microsoft is already up and running, and I cannot imagine any SEO not at least taking a look. – Dixon Jones @Dixon_Jones” username=”toprank”]
4 — Create Content with Stages of Intent to Move Beyond Keywords
Senior SEO Analyst, Cox Enterprises
Google will continue to improve and perfect the ways it determines the right results for a query. For years they have been indicating — in pretty good detail — what they are looking for and need to find in content. While keywords are important and always will be, Google has moved beyond mere keywords when they provide results.
SEOs and marketers need to be smarter and invest the time and money to create solid pieces of content with intent and stages of intent in mind.
With the indexation of passages, it is important to have content that is organized, comprehensive, and authoritative. Google didn’t take the time to breakdown all aspects of E-A-T, YMYL, and Needs Met for no reason. Anyone that is creating or commissioning content and is not considering everything I mentioned above will struggle in the future. That being said, you don’t always have to have a huge article to meet all these requirements; sometimes a proper explanation or definition is enough.
[bctt tweet=”SEOs and marketers need to be smarter and invest the time and money to create solid pieces of content with intent and stages of intent in mind. — Melissa Fach @SEOAware” username=”toprank”]
5 — Adapting Keyword Research & Content Creation Practices to Include Intent Signals
Consultant, former Yahoo VP of Search, Overture, FAST Search & Transfer, Inktomi
Search engines have and will continue to understand the intent of queries and categorize content to match the intent of a user’s query. We as SEOs must better align with these new practices by evolving our keyword research and content creation processes to better integrate these intent signals. We must add intent categorization to our keyword research process so once we have conducted our keyword research to figure out what searchers are looking for we should then attempt to classify the intent of these queries by looking at the top 30 results.
Once the intent has been determined we need to incorporate intent into the keyword mapping exercise by matching keywords with the right intent to the right document. We will also find that there are keyword/intent pairs that are not being fulfilled currently on the web site, and these will be seeds for our content creation roadmap.
It is also good to look at ranked documents that are classified with transactional/informational/navigational intent and understanding what they provide to create “templates/instructions” for content creation for each intent type.
[bctt tweet=”We need to incorporate intent into the keyword mapping exercise by matching keywords with the right intent to the right document. — Tim Mayer @timmayer” username=”toprank”]
6 — Prioritizing Content Optimization Efforts
International SEO Consultant & Founder, Orainti
A few trends within SEO I see getting much more importance next year are:
- Search Features Optimization: With an expanding inclusion of features within Google’s search results, it has become a key aspect within the SEO process to maximize a brand’s search engine results post (SERP) visibility and market share. It’s now an additional criteria to prioritize our content optimization efforts (eg. if we should also leverage video or images), structured data implementation (eg. for carousels or snippets inclusions) or even leverage further Google integrations (eg. merchant center for eCommerce sites or jobs feeds).
- Search intent analysis and understanding: In the last few years we’ve seen how Google has become more dynamic and sophisticated in the way they show and blend results to better connect with users’ intent. Integrating intent analysis in keyword research has become a must now to identify not only the type, structure and format of the content we should create and optimize, the search features to leverage, and which are the queries that are satisfied directly in the SERPs and which we should push forward to target to bring visits from.
- Video search: Video carousels are included more and more and beyond purely informational queries of certain sectors on one hand, and most of these are being pulled from YouTube, which is the second most used search engine. I expect more SEOs and marketers will become more aware of this and better leverage video content as part of their content optimization efforts.
[bctt tweet=”It has become a key aspect within the SEO process to maximize a brand’s SERP visibility and market share. It’s now an additional criteria to prioritize our content optimization efforts. — Aleyda Solis @aleyda” username=”toprank”]
7 — A Return to Performance
Growth Executive, Former CEO, Searchmetrics
In 2021, Google will return their focus to performance — speed and user experience — ranking factors. In connection to Core Web Vitals, Google will expect websites to improve quality signals essential to a great user experience.
[bctt tweet=”In 2021, Google will return their focus to performance — speed and user experience — ranking factors. In connection to Core Web Vitals, Google will expect websites to improve quality signals essential to a great user experience. @jtkoene” username=”toprank”]
8 — Optimize For Sales & Reexamine Longstanding SEO Rituals
Independent, Search Engine Journal
Some in the SEO community have commented on how it seems like Google search results are randomized. What they are seeing are sites ranking as a result of algorithms that kind of side step ranking factors like links.
BERT, Passages and so on are changing what the SERPs look like. That has to have an impact on SEO. The Passages ranking algorithm will impact the SERPs because it broadens the amount of sites eligible to rank. Passages helps long form and poorly optimized pages rank.
Google’s Martin Splitt said in the SEJ Passages Q&A that he doesn’t expect the Passages ranking algorithm to push out well optimized sites. But obviously, sites are going to be pushed down or off the first page of the SERPs when that kicks in. And that’s going to contribute to the sense of having the ground pulled out from underneath what is understood to be SEO. Where do you stand when that happens?
It’s already happening and in 2021 it’s going to intensify.
In the past people used to optimize for search engines by salting their titles, top of page sentences and headings with keywords. They used to buy links with keywords in the anchor for the search engines to consume. Those are rituals of SEO.
They performed all of these rituals to optimize for the search engines at the expense of appealing to potential customers, overlooking opportunities to build an audience because audience-building activities didn’t necessarily result in SEO tangibles like links.
The focus on SEO rituals has become so bad that publishers actually needed to be incentivized with speed as a ranking factor before they lifted a finger to make a faster downloading website. How crazy is that?
SEO is so consumed with SEO rituals, optimizing for Google, that it forgets that the end game to all of these shenanigans is increasing sales.
So maybe having the ground pulled out from underneath the efficacy of “SEO Best Practices” can be a good thing if it forces people to remove the letter “S” and the letter “E” from their title and simply be optimizers. And by optimizers I mean optimizing for sales.
There are many online opportunities for becoming a destination, increasing awareness and so on. There is video, offline opportunities, podcasts, newsletters, and local type opportunities that can help increase awareness and increase sales.
My prediction is that Google is increasingly ranking sites that users want to see — sites that solve problems for consumers. That trend is going to increase. And that trend has little to do with author bios, anchor text, or disavowing scraper sites — the rituals of SEO.
The challenge for SEO, going into 2021, is determining whether sticking with rituals that seem to work less well as time goes on is a good strategy.
And if these practices aren’t producing the desired results, then taking the next step to see if there are opportunities related to building sales and encouraging a dialogue with potential customers exist.
I don’t think Google is purposely making links and anchor text less viable in order to thwart SEOs. But that’s kind of the net effect of all these AI-based algorithms that continue to roll out.
[bctt tweet=”SEO is so consumed with SEO rituals, optimizing for Google, that it forgets that the end game to all of these shenanigans is increasing sales. — Roger Montii @martinibuster” username=”toprank”]
9 — You Need to EAT Your Content
Director of Acquisition Marketing & Head of SEO, Chewy
SEOs who concentrate on keywords versus a broader content strategy focused on the EAT principle (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) will miss out even more going into 2021. Those that will win will build content around a firm understanding of their audience’s intent and how their content might fulfill that need — not primarily researching top keywords. That approach isn’t good enough based on how algorithms have evolved and will continue to evolve in 2021. A meaningful SEO strategy requires a closer examination of your consumer personas and the typical customer journeys.
- Writing content aligned with your target customer’s intent
- Develop clear, natural language content focused on what your consumer wants to know. If you have a customer service team or a way to get feedback from your customers, that is a great place to start.
- Researching the types of content users want and expect for a given intent
- What content works best for your different personas as they are going through the purchase process? Do you need to have an optimized video strategy in addition to longer form content? Or do your buyers want to hear from your customers in a form of review?
- SERPs can help you understand what consumers may want with what your competition is serving up, but you can also dive into your analytics to see what your consumers are engaging with now.
- Developing FAQs that have your company stand out from the crowd
- Use schema to send stronger signals for this content to rank when tied to your brand. Consider questions around your company’s offering and why it is different. What results has your company produced or what unique solutions has your company delivered? Is your company involved in philanthropy or “giving back” in some meaningful way?
[bctt tweet=”A meaningful SEO strategy requires a closer examination of your consumer personas and the typical customer journeys. Develop clear, natural language content focused on what your consumer wants to know. — Melanie Mitchell @MelanieMitchell” username=”toprank”]
10 — Strengthen Branding by Getting Exposure from Trusted Sources
Co-Founder, Marshall Jennings PR
Few could have predicted the 2020 pandemic which has affected many businesses around the globe, yet technology continues to advance. 2021 is likely to continue that advance.
I believe there are still opportunities for marketers to make full use of voice search, both on mobile and on smart speakers. The heavyweights in the market, such as Amazon and Google have to use sources from others to supplement their systems, and marketers should put every effort into getting exposure from the trusted sources. It’s great branding.
One educational topic I wanted to mention is Google’s Core Web Vitals:
The page experience signals in ranking will roll out in May 2021 and combine with Core Web Vitals, and the existing search signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and Google’s intrusive interstitial guidelines.
Webmasters invested in AMP pages, but that signal benefit is now going to be leveled with the confirmation that any non-AMP page meeting the Google News policies will become eligible to appear, as long as there’s what Google calls, “a great web experience“, and it says this will also roll out in May 2021.
[bctt tweet=”The heavyweights in the market, such as Amazon and Google have to use sources from others to supplement their systems, and marketers should put every effort into getting exposure from the trusted sources. It’s great branding. @engine” username=”toprank”]
11 — Growing Dependency (and More New Features) on Google My Business for Storefronts
SEO Strategist, TopRank Marketing
2020 brought many roadblocks and forced marketers to respond and adapt to unforeseeable changes. Businesses with storefronts experienced the most disturbances to their operations, with ever-changing public safety guidelines that affected if or how customers visited their locations.
We saw Google My Business features launch quickly starting in April in attempts to address businesses’ new needs to communicate with customers that developed seemingly overnight. Updates included new features like a COVID-19 post type, support links for businesses (“buy a gift card” or “donate to this business”), new link options for virtual appointments, health and safety attributes, and adding secondary hours (like seniors-only hours). Food and retail business listings saw even more feature updates.
With our way of life changing unpredictably, I predict search engines will continue to create local features that allow businesses to better communicate updates and allow customers to anticipate expectations. For SEOs, this means new local optimization opportunities and new ways to help businesses connect with their clients.
[bctt tweet=”SEOs will have new local optimization opportunities and find new ways to help businesses connect with their clients. — Birdie Zepeda @birdie_zepeda” username=”toprank”]
12 — Increased Emphasis on SERP Real Estate vs Rankings
Director of Search & Analytics, TopRank Marketing
We’ve continued to see increases in both the number of search terms that yield SERP features, and new types of SERP features, and we expect that to continue. Google, for example, rapidly launched features to answer questions people had about COVID-19 directly in the search results page. Due to this continued evolution of SERPs, conversations about SEO ranking success are transitioning to talking about search results page real estate.
That means targeting featured snippets, people also ask, video, images, etc. Brands will win by creating content that solves the searchers intent for each of the different SERP features and adopting more use of schema to indicate what content is meant for those features.
[bctt tweet=”Brands will win by creating content that solves the searchers intent for each of the different SERP features and adopting more use of schema to indicate what content is meant for those features. — Seth Epstein @SrirachaForAll” username=”toprank”]
Putting 2021 B2B Search Marketing & SEO Trends to the Test
2021 will see B2B marketers taking SEO and search marketing into not only a new year but perhaps a new boundary-pushing era, especially among B2B brands, and although the 12 insightful predictions we’ve examined here are sure to play out in altogether new and sometimes unpredictable ways, they will also help your organization’s own SEO efforts in 2021 and beyond.
Thanks to all of the top search industry professionals who contributed trends and predictions to our annual look at the year ahead in SEO.
Search is only one facet of a well-rounded B2B marketing strategy, yet one that plays an important role in campaigns that attract, engage, and convert. Find out why firms including Adobe, LinkedIn, SAP, AT&T, Dell, 3M and others have chosen to work with TopRank Marketing — drop us a line.