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Navigating SEO is a DrivingSales.com exclusive series by Timothy Martell, CEO of Wikimotive. In this series, Tim breaks down ways dealers can improve their SEO and offers insight into how it will benefit business.
You're probably confused as to why a guy who runs an automotive SEO company would be out to make a case for SEO to come last in the content creation process. But before you get your torches and pitchforks, hear me out!
Below, I'll detail of few of the techniques you can use to create great content without being overwhelmed by SEO:
The whole point of SEO is to attract visitors from search engines to your website, typically for the benefit of business. But when you're creating content for SEO, where does that leave the user?
Are you even thinking about how they'll use and react to your content before you publish, or are you more focused on going through an "SEO checklist" aimed at creating the most optimized pages possible?
Take a look at any "optimized" content page on your site and put yourself in the position of a visitor. Ask yourself these three questions:
When you stop thinking about SEO and start thinking about users, you're able to discover ways in which you can improve your content. These improvements to the overall user experience will also indirectly benefit your site's SEO.
As Google and other search engines become more sophisticated over time, they're less likely to rely on signals, such as keywords, which can be easily manipulated. Instead, search engines are relying more and more on data from users to shape the SERPs of tomorrow.
These results are based on a few core metrics:
But why are these metrics so important? For one, they're all a signal of quality that can't be easily manipulated by outside forces.
A site with a high click-through rate is clearly presenting information that aligns with the user's intent. What this means is, a user searching "2016 Chevy Cruze Specs" is more likely to click on a result that uses that specific phrase in the title, description, or URL, than one that just says "Chevy Cruze Info."
If you happen to click on that "Chevy Cruze Info" result thinking it's sure to provide you with specs for the 2016 model, what do you do? Instinctively, I'm sure you'd click the back button and try another result. That's counted as a bounce, as you did not view more than one page before exiting the site. This tells Google that it is very unlikely that you were provided with the information you were looking for, and that is likely to affect the ranking of that page.
Another metric Google takes into consideration is "time on site." This represents the amount of time a user spends on a site after clicking through from a search results page. When comparing multiple results, users are likely getting better quality information from a page where the average time on site is 3 minutes, compared to one where the time on site is less than 30 seconds, right?
When creating content, it's a good idea to create custom metadata for each page in order to properly represent your content in search results, create ways for users to easily navigate to other related pages, and create content that engages users so they stay on your site longer than your competitors.
It's been nearly 20 years since Google was first conceptualized as a Stanford University research project for students Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It was the first search engine to use links as a relevancy and quality signal to rank pages in search results.
At the time, most search engines relied solely on keyword density. But Page and Brin's idea wanted to dig into the way websites were connected, in order to present better results to users. This was the beginning of advanced search algorithms.
Since that time, there have been hundreds of updates to Google's search algorithm and a countless number of other factors added to the mix. Recently, one of the most important changes was made with the "Hummingbird" update, which allowed the search engine to better understand intent when providing results.
What this means is, results for queries such as "buy a used car" and "buying a used car" turn up two types of results based on the implied intent. When you search "buy a used car," you're likely looking for results that will get you listings of used cars in your area. "Buying a used car," on the other hand, implies you want information about buying a used car, including advice.
Because of this intent-driven search update, it's important to only create content that's valuable when matched with the related intent.
For example, if I want to rank for "2015 Cruze vs. 2016 Cruze," I should provide a detailed breakdown of what separates the new 2016 Cruze from the outgoing 2015 model. This would include exterior and interior design changes, mechanical changes, upgrades, pricing changes, and more.
Someone searching this type of query is likely considering the 2015 Cruze, but is wondering if it's worth waiting on the 2016 model . You should also play both sides, giving the reader reasons why they should wait, and reasons why they should buy now.
It sounds ridiculous, but it's true. Most of the advice you'll hear from influential SEOs is how people need to be more genuine with their SEO efforts. While true, you can still optimize for keywords, add engaging metadata, link out to relevant resources, link internally to related content, and utilize an on-page SEO checklist without falling into the pit of "overdoing" SEO.
Modern SEO is all about balance, and that's the one thing you absolutely need to keep in mind when creating content, building links, and optimizing your pages.