Recently, the organic search team at Embryo have been working on SEO strategies for a few new clients that we have the privilege of working with. One of the sites is a huge monster, full of thousands of pages of relevant, unique content. One site is very small in terms of SEO content and audience, in a community of around twenty other ‘sister’ sites, and another website is a huge potential e-commerce website.
You would think that the ‘monster’ site would require the most in-depth, strategic online marketing tactics, wouldn’t you? However, this is not the case at all. The digital marketing strategy required for success in Google and other search engines turns out to be very simple indeed.
Because of a very large, established, historic paid search (PPC) campaign, alongside a fresh paid social campaign, on-page search engine optimisation tactics had been left to the wayside for far too long. Our ‘gut’ feeling is that previous agencies managing the very sizeable Adwords and Bing pay per click campaigns have ignored quite glaring on-site SEO fixes that would have probably diminished their PPC management fee. The previous agency’s ignorance and/or reluctance becomes our pleasure, however, because to this writer, there is nothing quite as beautiful as a ‘sleeping giant’ of a website that needs the ‘SEO taps turning on’ to turn it in to a real digital marketing success.
So, what was the search engine marketing strategy required for this content monster?
Well, we take great pride in believing that we have one of the most stringent SEO audit procedures of any UK search agency. We currently assess 159 intricate potential issues that would stop a website from ranking as well as it could do in Google. This audit of crucial search engine ranking factors takes up to eight hours to complete – and while it is painful for our search marketing team to produce, we know that it is very much worth the effort.
So, the first part of the strategy to improve SEO for the site was to be ran through our extremely intense SEO audit.
The second part of creating a solid, strategic SEO campaign…was simple on-page SEO
Yes, you heard it right. The various pages on the site were some of the most under-SEO’d pages that we have seen in maybe 10 years. Now, there are hundreds of thousands of very successful under-SEO-optimised websites out there, but many of the features of this website were not just under-SEO’d, they were simply badly done. Just one example is having a homepage (and other key pages) with 40+ image alt tags including the word ‘thumbnail’. Basically, lots of unnecessary stuff.
Add to this large blocks of duplicate content that appear on all pages, and you have many pages across the site not being fully understood by Google. Actual page content started only at around 65% of the way through the homepage, with the first 65% of the content the same on almost all web pages.
So, simple, but thorough, on-page SEO fixes from an experienced web developer formed the second part of the SEO strategy. Nothing complicated at all.
The third part of a simple but winning SEO strategy campaign…was strategic longform content
The site in question has over 10,000 indexed pages – ALL unique in content. This is a dream for any half-decent SEO team right?
Well, despite many thousands of unique subject matter expert profiles, the main pages of content on the site were very flimsy indeed – and the structure of these pages provided Google with almost no contextual way of explaining what the site as a whole was about.
With under 10 key pages of the site (pages on the main menu of the site), those pages not exactly covering the main topics of the industry well, and all being very short of content, it was very clear that sorting out these key pages in terms of architecture and of great longform content would be the third part of the ‘online marketing success triad’. This triad consisting of improvements from our audit actions, relentless (but small) on-page SEO tweaks, and longform content.
Obviously, the longform content had to be well-researched, verbose, entertaining, useful, interesting, correctly structured, and interlinked very well with other pages if it was to be successful.
And…just these three things were the entire SEO strategy required for huge online marketing success.
Is an in-depth SEO audit (and the actions from it), simple on-page SEO changes, and longform content REALLY the only SEO strategy required for a huge ‘monster’ site?
Yes and no. What we do know is that 80% of the success of the site will be derived from such changes. Some success will be immediate (in SEO terms, immediate is 1-3 months), and some will be longer in their ultimate effectiveness.
Much of the next 20% will, however, be full of more great content that will help them to build the brand. The strategy for SEO success so far is to turn on the taps for the site, to show the company behind it just what the site could be. You could argue that the real beauty of the site isn’t the unlocking of the 80%, but the potential of making the next 20% work, which is where the brand could double or even quadruple in value over time. It will move from being a well-oiled PPC machine, to a valuable brand that has very solid feet and lots of future value.
But what about links?
Links are crucial for a website success, but I have not mentioned them so far. Don’t worry, link building from important sites from both the client’s industry, and from influential websites such as universities (could be tough) and media outlets are very much part of the ongoing strategy for online success…it’s just that the ‘quick SEO wins’ from the triad of services that I write about in this article are what will set the site on the road to not only longterm PPC success (that it already has), but to a become the content behemoth that it always has been – but now awaken.
James is a digital industry veteran, and has worked various roles from SEO, head of research, to director level.
He is a content nerd, and loves nothing more than demanding that evermore content is added to client sites – as well as the Embryo blog!