Producing content that ranks well on Google is an important goal for most marketers. But having a dedicated budget for SEO sometimes is seen as risky, because it’s so easy to waste time and money on SEO if it’s done wrong.
It doesn’t matter whether a marketer has a budget of $10,000 a year, or $100,000 a year, nobody wants to spend time and money on an activity if there is little to show for it. But SEO is not risky if you do it the right way.
It is possible to get reliable, predictable growth in organic traffic and outrank your competitors, and here are three reasons why:
In spite of Google’s incredibly sophisticated, machine-learning and artificial intelligence-powered algorithms—designed to recognize user intent and stop sites that spam search results or those that provide poor content—it’s still possible to drive growth in organic traffic.
In fact, these ML/AI-powered algorithms actually level the playing field for people who may have found organic SEO very difficult in the past.
Think about it: 15 years ago, SEO ranking factors were clear, and they could be manipulated. SEO efforts were focused on placing keywords in the “right” places, acquiring backlinks from the “right” sources, domain authority, and brand strength. By focusing on these factors, companies with technical chops could rank well even if they didn’t publish the best content.
But for small or new companies, brand recognition and domain authority were nonexistent. Spammy backlinks could be purchased and were effective for a while, but legitimate backlinks were difficult to acquire. Without technical knowledge or a budget for organic SEO advice and execution, small companies could not compete with established competitors for organic traffic.
Five years ago, the rules were not as clear, but some companies could still figure out the ranking factors and manipulate them. On-page SEO and technical SEO sometimes were promoted as crucial difference-makers. Google’s algorithm updates made it more difficult for spammers and websites with low-quality content to manipulate the SERPs, but established companies with technical know-how and large SEO budgets still had quite a leg up on newer or smaller companies.
Today, Google’s myriad ML/AI algorithms obfuscate any ranking factors that might be manipulated. While Google still announces major algorithmic changes, most updates are unnamed and they happen constantly, making it difficult for scammers/spammers to pivot effectively. For the most part, we’re all competing to present the best content to users.
More than ever, it’s the content that matters; if you can create exceptional content, you can beat the competition. After all, that is what Google’s business model relies upon: Users repeatedly coming to Google to find answers to their questions and content that is very useful.
The algorithms look at factors unseen, but if you produce the most useful, helpful content Google will send traffic your way.
The second reason successful companies are able to drive predictable SEO growth is that they are able to move beyond technical SEO and focus on producing content that really will drive growth.
Technical SEO factors include:
… and much more.
In the past, technical prowess played an ongoing role in SEO; a website had to be nearly technically perfect. A technical SEO analyst could identify a huge list of improvements to make, but struggle to identify the ones that would make a difference in the rankings and organic traffic. And—in addition to that list of improvements—there could be a bottomless pit of technical changes that weren’t identified.
Today, Google knows how to identify the best content without relying on a strict formula of these technical factors. Technical SEO is important, and for a large website it could be extremely important.
But technical SEO no longer is a huge, endless roadblock, and it usually is not a main factor in SEO success, or lack thereof.
Rather, technical SEO is a foundation to earning organic traffic. If foundational technical requirements aren’t met, a website won’t earn any traffic—it may rank #20 or #99, but both of those are meaningless. With technical foundations established, a website gets onto the playing field and, with exceptionally helpful content, it can compete to win.
For a company with a small- or medium-sized website, a developer, and a reliable CMS, it’s possible to achieve baseline technical proficiency, complete the technical SEO work, and move on to what’s really important—exceptional content.
Recently, a global technology company came to Profound Strategy because its marketing leaders knew that SEO should be driving more organic traffic, and they were convinced there was a technical issue to blame.
The client has multiple properties and websites including marketing, communities, and docs, and they assumed one or more technical issues were negatively affecting the SEO.
They’d worked with two agencies who’d performed technical audits. Even though the previous audits hadn’t identified any major issues, the client stopped working with those agencies when they were unable to find a technical “smoking gun.”
Profound Strategy performed 15 technical audits on the clients’ properties, and our summary presented the same conclusion: Nothing to see here. We worked with their lead engineer and recommended a few items that should be addressed, and many more that we and the client agreed were trivial in nature.
Ultimately, because of the thoroughness of our audits, the client was able to move on and focus on building a content engine. Today, they continue to work with us, and they’ve blown their organic traffic goals out of the water every quarter ever since then.
The companies that are successful in driving organic traffic are the ones that meet that technical SEO baseline, then double down on the production of exceptional content.
The third reason it’s possible to drive predictable SEO growth is that Google’s sophisticated ML/AI algorithms are always looking for the best content.
Always. Even when Google has content that ranks #1 across several keywords and receives tens-of-thousands or hundreds-of-thousands of clicks per month.
Many people look at that and think, “There’s no way to beat that content.” Yes, Google really prefers that content, but Google’s preference for that content was earned over time.
For every piece of content that Google prefers, the algorithms have already tested sending traffic to hundreds, if not thousands, of other competing URLs. Over time, Google came to prefer the URLs that are ranking well on the SERP.
And it is a constant process: the algorithms are constantly testing and comparing content to see what happens.
For example, let’s say that one of the engagement metrics that Google looks at is time on page, i.e. the longer a user lingers with a piece of content, the more useful Google believes the content is to the user.
If users click on a particular link and proceed to spend a certain amount of time with that content, Google is likely to send even more traffic to that content. And with enough traffic, that page will emerge the “winner” on the SERP.
Now, if a typical user spends 1:25 on that page, Google’s algorithm is constantly looking for—and sending traffic to—new content to see if it will compete with its “winner.” If someone publishes better content that keeps users on a page for 1:31, that page’s traffic will grow over time as Google continues to send more and more users to this new content.
In the example below, a Profound Strategy client published a piece of content in January, 2018. For the first six months it seemed unremarkable. But, seven months after publication, it took off and now it regularly earns more than 7,500 sessions per month from organic search.
A marketer might believe that a piece of content is unbeatable because that content has been around forever. But if that marketer’s content is exceptionally valuable to users, over time, it can outperform the competitor’s content.
Bottom line: Google is never satisfied. It’s always looking for more-engaging content. New content may or may not reach #1 on the SERP, but it can outrank competitors and begin to build significant amounts of organic traffic right now.
Profound Strategy does SEO the right way—we create Certified Content that consistently outranks competitors by following a proven, repeatable process that works every time. We work with clients to plan and execute any technical changes or adjustments for a website, and then focus relentlessly on creating exceptionally helpful content that drives organic traffic.
Want to learn more about how we can help you craft SEO-certified content that can stand the test of time? Contact us to speak with one of our SEO strategists today.
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