Often, the thought of SEO conjures up visions of code snippets and keyword density—the technical details that used to be the bulk of an SEO strategy. But how much does the technical side of SEO really impact results today? Do things like keyword density matter at all if your SEO strategy doesn’t focus on engagement?
Engagement SEO, a strategy that aims to deliver the best experience possible for search engine visitors, is more impactful in search ranking studies because it feeds Google the content they want to deliver. Search engines have evolved, and everyone is winning.
Technical SEO is a valuable piece of SEO. It’s the qualifier that gets you in the door, but it’s not the skill or strength that wins gold.
Technical factors like keyword density, strategic links, and clean code/URLs are necessary to help search engines find and understand your site. Any problems should be taken care of quickly, but then it’s time to move on. There will almost always be some technical SEO work that can be done, but most of it won’t really improve SEO metrics that the C-suite is interested in.
An impactful, modern SEO plan is about 20% technical considerations. The rest—a full 80%—should be focused entirely on user engagement.
Some website issues can hold you back regardless of how well you SEO. This is especially true if your website is a few years old. Before you get started with your SEO plan (or as soon as possible if you’ve already started), make sure that these “red flag” issues are resolved:
Cleaning up these issues won’t catapult your landing page to #1, but ignoring them will keep you off of Page 1 no matter how great your user experience/engagement SEO is.
Google’s #1 priority is user experience. And for good reason: when users are happy, ads space—by far Google’s greatest source of income—on their pages sells.
Google users were not happy when a widespread use of black hat SEO gave low-value and even outright spammy sites the highest rankings. (Neither were marketers who created genuinely worthy content that didn’t get rewarded.) Google evolved at a furious pace for years, until the recent announcement of a machine learning (basically artificial intelligence) program called RankBrain that updates Google’s algorithms 24/7. Google mastered the art of measuring high-quality content, and SEOs were forced to submit.
Today, Google knows what sites people engage with, and can tell when users are having a good experience. If a site is not giving users what they’re looking for, it will struggle in the rankings.
Creating engagement is more complex than technical SEO, and requires more creativity. Marketers need to, in effect, get inside their demographics’ heads and anticipate their needs. It might sound impossible, but Google has already done the hard part for you:
Ready to get started? Lay out a strategy that utilizes both technical and engagement SEO, but weight it toward engagement. Remember, a strong SEO plan should be 20% technical and 80% engagement. That means the main focus will be on content, quality, and user interaction.
What is great content? It’s content that encompasses three key content goals:
When these three goals are met, the desired results will follow. It takes work, focus, and commitment, but the payoff is far ahead of what you can expect using technical SEO alone.
All SEO work is not created equal. A traditional, technically-oriented SEO consultant or agency can always find “SEO work” to do, but if it’s not based on engaging an audience, it won’t drive real results. Ready to get to work?
For a more detailed description of the qualities of effective engagement SEO, a step-by-step guide to developing your strategy, and a complete framework for modern SEO, check out our latest ebook: The CMO’s Guide to Modern SEO.
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