Podcast: Deep Dive into SEO and Conversion with Jeff Ferguson

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In this episode of Landing Page Optimization, SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash and Fang Digital Marketing CEO Jeff Ferguson discuss search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization, and the disconnects and overlaps between the two fields.

SEO Evolving

Tim opens the discussion by asking what many in the conversion field have been asking: why are SEO practitioners oblivious to conversions? 

Jeff notes that even within the world of SEO, there’s a significant disconnect about what SEO is. Not the definition, per se - it’s more that the general goals, the services agencies provide, vary more now than before. Jeff says he’s fortunate to have worked on companies where conversion is a focus, and that has helped build his take on it: SEO is a collection of best practices in marketing and site development, and many of the activities that you do, you would do even if Google and Bing did not exist.

But the agencies that are out there to just make pages rank by doing just technical tweaks, they’re out there trying to trick the system - they are cheating, and that’s not what SEO is.

Ranking Alone Will Not Cut It

Tim then asks Jeff what companies can do to tie their search efforts into conversion.

Jeff discusses that when clients approach him, when there’s a discussion around goals, clients tend to bring up that they want to rank for a search term. But as he notes, that’s a really bad goal - what you want is more sales from the organic channel. The ranking can be a vanity metric - and by chasing after the wrong metrics, companies can hurt their overall efforts.

He recommends a more nuanced approach - for instance, the search terms that drive traffic are great, but you need to study how they are performing. Is your web site answering the questions related to the terms? What’s the bounce rate for the main terms that drive traffic? What’s the average time they spend on the site?

Jeff recommends looking at a more holistic approach, and Tim notes that that appears to be the general direction Google seems to be taking as well. The bounce rate from landing pages appears to be strong signals working against certain sites.

You Should Avoid Poor Visibility for Rich Content

Tim then asks about potentially using rich media to make sure certain types of content needs are met, and whether or not that hurts SEO. The web started out with hyperlinks and pages, but there’s a slew of great content behind javascript, or videos that directly address people’s concerns, and both of those have poor spider visibility.

Jeff begins by saying that there’s something that humans should be able to see, and something that spiders should be able to see. Those are not necessarily at odds. For videos, having a transcript may help the spiders see the content, but it also helps deal with people’s preferences. Some people like watching the videos, others prefer to read, and having the text allows people to skim or consume the text out of the pocket.

Tim and Jeff note how HubSpot use this effectively for content marketing by taking a central piece of content and adapting it to videos, text content, SlideShare presentations, and being where the potential prospects are regardless of how they consume digital media.

Don’t Ignore Multimedia

Jeff goes on to discuss how the right content, placed at the right venue, can help people - and a lot of that is images and videos. For certain terms, image results will dominate the top section of the results page. Tim observes that people are wired to pay attention to that. Paying attention to being present for those searches can help companies draw a disproportionate amount of attention.

For the same reasons, Jeff notes it helps to have the authorship tag so the author’s picture shows up next to the results.

Jeff also talks about how music has always been part of his build, his musical past, and how it’s a creative outlet that works when you’re dealing with a lot of spreadsheets.

First Air Date: August 12, 2013

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