Having a strong SEO strategy is critical for reaching new audiences and generating leads for your business.
In fact, 43% of marketing directors, VPs, and C-suite executives reported SEO as one of the most effective strategies their companies currently leverage.
Creating a powerful SEO strategy requires consistent testing and iteration. Over time, certain metrics can help you identify which areas of your strategy are working — and which aren’t.
It can be difficult, however, to determine which SEO metrics actually matter. To truly evaluate the success of your SEO, what should you pay attention to? Organic traffic? Leads? Keyword rankings? Conversions?
Here, I sat down with Semrush’s VP of Brand Marketing, Olga Andrienko, to discuss the SEO metrics she’d advise leaders pay attention to in 2023. Let’s dive in.
The SEO Metrics That Matter Most, According to Semrush’s VP of Brand Marketing
1. Focus on the metrics that tie directly back to revenue — like conversions and new MRR.
You might’ve expected Andrienko to start with organic traffic or rankings as a top SEO metric, but instead, she advises leaders to start with the bottom line — revenue — and work backwards.
Andrienko told me, “When we discuss quarterly goals, we always look at new user monthly recurring revenue (new MRR). And, in that case, conversion is the only thing that matters. I think the metrics that matter are the ones that can tie back directly to revenue.”
She adds, “For instance, using analytics, you can see where the user came from, and how long it took them to convert and become a customer. So if we know most users come from organic search, then organic would be the metric I’d be focused on measuring. Whatever your success element is is the most important outcome. Rankings don’t matter much. People need to land on your website, and they need to buy or show they’re interested.”
Hearing ‘rankings don’t matter much’ from the VP of Brand Marketing at Semrush, a platform often used for online ranking data, initially surprised me. But it makes sense.
Let’s say you rank #1 for the keyword query: “What is marketing?” If your company sells products or services related to marketing, that’s great. But if that same post isn’t driving the right kind of traffic, or isn’t converting that traffic into qualified leads and revenue for the business … Does it matter, really?
Focusing on the metrics that tie back to revenue can greatly impact where you spend your time and resources. To effectively evaluate your content based on revenue, consider making a spreadsheet that tracks all your top-converting posts. Even if those posts aren’t the ones that bring in the most traffic for your site, those are the posts you’ll want to focus your historical optimization attention on — since those have proven most valuable to your business’ bottom line.
2. Don’t forget about branded keyword search volume.
Andrienko admits this next metric likely matters to her because of her role as a brand marketing leader, but it’s worth mentioning since it’s a metric that can demonstrate your brand value.
As she puts it, “For me, being a brand marketing leader, I specifically focus on branded keyword search volume — which means how many impressions and search volume the keyword ‘Semrush’ is getting over time. That gives me an understanding of how good we are at strengthening the brand and growing brand awareness.”
This is a particularly important metric if your goal is to grow brand awareness for your business. As you test strategies meant to increase brand awareness, such as co-marketing campaigns, sponsored events, or new types of content like podcasting, you’ll want to obsess over branded keyword search volume. Is it going up over time? If it is, this is a strong indicator that your brand awareness strategy is working.
While this can seem like a more superficial metric, it’s not. Consumers want to buy from companies they trust — and familiarity is a powerful factor when it comes to developing trust with your prospects.
3. Consider click-through rate and how it correlates to organic traffic.
“If you see a lot of people are searching for select keywords, but your CTR isn’t growing, then that means something is off,” Andrienko told me.
She continues, “For instance, we noticed the organic CTR on one of our keywords was dropping, and we discovered it was because Google added an AdWords top search feature — so we bid on the keyword. Ultimately, we saw that even though organic CTR was dropping, we were able to get the clicks anyway in a different form.”
“It’s important you don’t just look at organic traffic … But also how it correlates with the click-through rate. That’s a very important connection to make.”
In a world where almost two-thirds of Google searches end without a click, it has become increasingly difficult to achieve high click-through rates. And Andrienko admits it’s not always feasible. Consider, for instance, a user who searches “How can I measure click-through rate?” They’ll be shown this featured snippet, which concisely answers their query:
This is where the power of long-tail keywords comes into play.
Andrienko told me about one of Semrush’s customers, a dentist. After struggling for a while with attracting audiences to his website, the dentist decided to search for any dental-related queries. Then, he took those keywords, grabbed a recorder, and went to his doctors. After recording their answers to his questions, he put them up on his blog and started ranking for the long-tail keywords related to his industry.
While this strategy might not work for everyone, it’s worth noting that creating content that requires users’ to click on the link to get the full benefits is critical for optimizing your SEO strategy.
For instance, rather than writing a post that answers the query “how can I measure click-through rate?”, you might also create content that answers more long-form queries, like “What are the best strategies to increase CTR?”.
Informative, helpful content that leverages long-tail keywords isn’t just for attracting audiences. It’s also vital for building trust and creating stronger relationships with your audience. In fact, Andrienko told me her favorite type of content is informational. “It’s where you can really help the user because the information is a direct answer to a problem they’re experiencing. It’s not about your company. It’s about helping them, which is where trust is built.”
4. Don’t ignore rankings, backlinks, domain authority, and user behavior metrics.
Finally, Andrienko provided a list of a few other metrics that she believes still deserve a mention in this post.
For one: Rankings and positions.
She told me, “I wouldn’t focus on rankings and positions as the first metric, but you still need to see how you’re performing against competitors. So it’s an important day-to-day metric to watch.”
A few other metrics Andrienko encourages leaders to watch:
- Domain authority
- User behavior metrics, like page load speed
There are other metrics she uses for more qualitative purposes too, like bounce rate. She says, “Bounce rate is important to track because it indicates whether the content is actually interesting and compelling to your readers.”
She continues, “And pages per session is another metric you’ll want to pay attention to — because let’s say users land on ‘What is SEO?’. We know they won’t immediately convert on that page. We need to encourage them to go to another page, and another page after that, so we’re able to grab their attention and ultimately convert them. If they only visit one page per session, it means we didn’t do a good job of retaining them.”
The SEO metrics you care about ultimately depends largely on your goals as a marketing leader. As you approach 2023, you’ll want to consider your goals, and then work backwards from there to identify which SEO metrics will help you evaluate how aligned your strategy is with those goals.
Not sure which goals to focus on? Take a look at The Top Goals of Marketing Leaders in 2023, or find other helpful content related to leadership in 2023 in the post, Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader: Data from 300+ Marketing Directors on How to Take Your Team to the Next Level.
How to Create Evergreen Content That Generates Traffic to Your Site
Every digital marketer understands that publishing articles or blog posts on your website is an excellent way to create content for your SEO strategy and build awareness. On top of that, you also get to connect to your audience on a deeper level.
However, many marketers focus on publishing seasonal content or articles on trending topics, which can drive traffic, but only for a limited time.
According to HubSpot’s State of Marketing Trends Report (2022), 83% of marketers say it’s better to focus on quality rather than quantity of content, even if it means publishing fewer blog posts.
But if your content depends on trending topics, how can you create quality content that lasts? Enter evergreen content.
First, let’s be honest; creating evergreen content isn’t a walk in the park. Many marketers have tried creating this type of content on their websites but can’t seem to get the results they need.
So how do you create something that doesn’t age?
In this article, I’ll discuss what evergreen content is, why it is important to have one, and how you can create one that will give you lasting results.
Let’s get started.
Evergreen Content Explained
I’m pretty sure many of you have heard this term many times already, and some of you might have an idea of what it is.
But for those still unfamiliar with it, evergreen content is search engine-optimized content that is relevant all year round and can stay fresh over an even longer period. Some may argue that any content is sustainable, given that it remains published once you upload it to your site.
But evergreen content isn’t just any other content. It continues to be of interest to your target audience even after its publication date, attracting more visitors over time.
The topics used in evergreen content are those that many users will search for at any time of the year, making it an excellent strategy for SEO and content marketing.
This type of content comes in many shapes and sizes. Depending on your products or services, evergreen formats can range from listicles, how-to guides, tips, reviews, and videos. Something to note is that producing these formats doesn’t automatically make your content evergreen.
The main ingredient to making evergreen content is the topic, which should stand the test of time.
To understand this better, let’s look at seasonal content. This type of content contains topics tied to a specific time of the year, a trending item, or even in the news or social media. The hype on these topics usually dies down once enough time is passed.
For instance, marketers often produce content for various holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Content around these times can often generate traffic, but once the holiday is over, it’s unlikely that level of traffic will continue.
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Why Is It Important to Have Them on Your Website?
It’s no secret that seasonal content can quickly generate a lot of traffic to your site, but it can become irrelevant even quicker as new trends emerge.
Evergreen content can give you lasting results and so much more. Here are some reasons why you should start creating one:
- Great for SEO. Evergreen topics are usually searched, which means your content will likely rank on search engines. On top of that, it will always drive traffic to your site and keep on doing so, especially if it’s high quality.
- Lead magnet. Since you’re showing your expertise through evergreen content, it can encourage visitors to check your product or services. And because it’s relevant all year round, you can use it to attract new leads every time.
- Excellent marketing material. This is one of my favorite benefits of evergreen content. You can promote it repeatedly, making it a versatile marketing tool.
- Add value to you and your customers. Since it answers a common problem that your target audience has, you can help them address their issue. At the same time, the steady traffic it provides can help your website grow.
- Impactful investment. Creating evergreen content takes time. This ensures that you provide high-quality content that will always be interesting to your audience. That’s why it’s an excellent investment by providing significant returns in the future.
- Lasts for years. The idea that evergreen content can last for years ultimately means less work for you. A single high-quality post can give you a real bang for your buck, compared to seasonal ones that only last for a week or, if you’re lucky, a couple of months.
Step-by-Step Guide: Creating Evergreen Content
Now that we’ve established how critical evergreen content is for your digital marketing strategy, it’s time to learn the ropes of creating one that can be impactful for years. Follow these steps to begin:
1. Find a Problem to Solve
For evergreen content to succeed, it should solve a problem your customers face. It doesn’t have to be a major problem, but it’s something that many people may encounter in their lives.
For example, if you sell car parts like tires, one problem many car owners can encounter is changing their tires. You can create an article or a video showing your customers how they can change their tires and how often to rotate them to avoid wear and tear.
Now you’re not only solving their problem but providing extra value!
But I get it that you just don’t magically stumble upon a problem, and you need to put in some work to find the right fit for your website. So here are some steps you can take to find out the best problem you can address in your evergreen content:
- Ask yourself. You know your business well, and you can use this first-hand knowledge to look for pain points your customers are facing.
- Ask your customers. Don’t be afraid to send surveys to your customers. The worst thing that could happen is that they won’t answer it. But the benefits? Learning about their problems and what they expect from your business.
- Check your competition. While some may tell you to copy what your competitors are doing, I think many other opportunities are available to avoid doing this. Instead, check to see what they’re doing so you can understand what works and what doesn’t. From there, it’ll be easier to come up with an idea of what problem you want to solve for your customers.
- Check the internet. The internet is an excellent tool, especially if you know how to take advantage of it. One way is to check frequently asked questions about a particular industry through platforms like Quora and Reddit. You’ll be surprised by what information is waiting for you.
2. Conduct Keyword Research
Since evergreen content is a search-engine-optimized piece, it requires some keyword research to make it as effective as possible. This will also allow you to determine whether the problem you want to solve has merit, and people are actually searching the internet for answers to it.
So how do you go about this?
First, you need to invest in the right tools. While there are numerous tools, like Google Trends and Keyword Surfer, that can provide you with basic keyword research features for free. You might miss out on opportunities that only paid tools can provide. But if you’re not ready to shed some cash, the free versions can also give you valuable insights.
Next, you need to understand what to look for. The monthly search volume is the most important metric you have to check when conducting keyword research. This can tell the potential amount of viewers you can reach with a particular keyword or phrase.
However, note that there is yet to be an actual benchmark on what a healthy monthly search volume is, especially since niches and industries vary in size.
For instance, if you are working on a popular niche like fashion or beauty, you can see that the search volume is high. But a very specific niche, like bass fishing, may have a lower volume. Be sure to only compare different keywords in your niche.
Lastly, use long-tail keyword phrases instead of just keywords. Almost everyone we know uses the internet for answers to just about anything. So, when you optimize your content for longer keyword phrases, you can get their attention easier since it usually focuses on a more specific topic.
Going back to our example on the car parts business, your keyword phrases for tire changing content can include “how long does it take to change tires” or “how often should you change tires.” They also have high search volumes, meaning many people are interested to know the answers to those questions.
3. Create a Topic Using Your Chosen Keywords
Now, let’s go to the fun part. Once you have all the details you need and have collected all the keywords you want to use, it’s time to think of a topic for your evergreen content. To help you out, here are some questions you can ask yourself when coming up with a topic:
- Will it be relevant to your customers after a year?
- Will your customer and potential customers always search for this topic?
- Will it be easy to reshare this topic on various platforms over and over without seeming outdated?
If your answer is all yes, then you found your golden ticket. You can frame this as your working title to see how to structure and position the content and think of any other related topics you might want to touch on along the way.
Important Things to Remember
Creating evergreen content may sound easy, but there are other things you need to consider to make it successful. You already have a topic in mind, and that’s a good start. However, there are other things that you need to remember when you’re putting it all together.
1. Make It Informative
Always remember quality over quantity. While longer blog posts can rank higher in search engines, it’s better to provide value to your audience than the search algorithm. As an example, if you were writing about the benefits of Google My Business software or social media marketing trends, your articles should still give some value to the readers. With this in mind, ensure your evergreen content is as long as it’s supposed to be—no fluff to achieve a particular word count. Your content should be made for humans, not robots.
2. Don’t Forget the Layout
Even if you have the best evergreen content piece in the world, if it doesn’t have good design and proper formatting, your efforts are put to waste. So, apart from ensuring your content can rank, you must deliver a memorable reading experience.
This will not only build customer trust but can potentially convert visitors to customers.
When it comes to optimizing the layout and design of your evergreen content, make sure that there is enough white space between the paragraphs. This makes it easy for your visitors to consume the content.
Next, don’t put a lot of distractions. If you do, they won’t be able to finish the content and will jump to another page. Lastly, make it visually appealing. You can add relevant images or videos to break walls of text. Just make sure you can get your readers at the end.
Remember, the longer readers stay and read your content, the higher your chances of turning them into qualified leads.
3. Regularly Update Your Content
Just because evergreen content can last for years doesn’t necessarily mean you can just upload it and never touch it again. Since your main goal is to provide information to your customers, you must ensure that those details are updated every time. It doesn’t have to be every week; you just need to ensure that the information is not outdated so you won’t mislead your readers.
You can also use this opportunity to link other website pages from your content. This can help with your overall SEO strategy, especially if the piece generates a lot of traffic. If you have already created evergreen content, here are some things you need to update:
- Data and Statistics
- Screenshots and images
I don’t recommend adding dates to your evergreen content URL if you can help it(e.g., Best-Apps-for-Video-Editing-2022), as it will quickly become outdated, and your SEO efforts are going to waste every time you change the link.
But if you’re using one in your title, make sure you update that too. You can also use the help of AI writing software to add extra paragraphs and beef up your post a little.
4. Write for Beginners
This may sound counterintuitive, especially if you want to assert your expertise in the field. But people who search for broad topics are usually not experts, so ensure your content can cater to a large audience.
That’s why it’s best to avoid technical jargon. It’s okay to mention it when necessary. Just ensure that you give a brief explanation about it. At the same time, keep your tone conversational. Read your sentences and paragraphs to check if they sound natural.
5. Promote Your Content
Now that you’ve put together your winning content piece, it’s time to put it to work to reach your audience—it just doesn’t automatically give results after you publish it. This is where content promotion comes in.
There are various ways you can promote your content. This can be through social media sites like Facebook or Instagram. You can also promote it via email, especially if you have an extensive mailing list. Or even via guest blogging.
Since this can stand the test of time, you can promote it repeatedly, which is perfect for times when you just don’t know what to post.
Before evergreen content can give you the desired results, you must ensure that Google knows your site exists. If not, then you should index your site first and then work from there.
Creating evergreen content that lasts requires a lot of work, and you should be willing to do it. By following these practices I’ve shared, you can make an effective piece to drive ongoing growth to your site.
The results may not be quick, but if you do things right, you’ll reap the benefits far longer than you think.
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