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The Top 5 SEO Software Suites For Agencies

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The Top 5 SEO Software Suites For Agencies

Reliable SEO software suites help agencies plan campaigns, prove results, and demonstrate value to clients.

These technologies can provide technical insights, performance reports, and even assistance with content creation.

SaaS subscription costs can stack up and become difficult to manage, so it’s vital to ensure you’re using the best SEO software for your needs.

The following five options are some of the best on the market, each with its own strengths. This overview will help you evaluate the key features of each suite.

What Is An SEO Software Suite?

The phrase “SEO software suite” covers a lot of bases.

There are so many potential components to an SEO strategy that covering them all – and covering them well – in one platform is a sizable task.

So, first of all, let’s draw some boundaries for our guide.

When we say “SEO software suite,” we mean technologies that perform at least a majority, if not all, of the following:

  • Keyword opportunity research.
  • Keyword rank tracking.
  • Universal search analysis.
  • Page reporting and recommendations.
  • Content optimization recommendations.
  • Competitor tracking and analysis.
  • Backlink analysis.
  • Site crawl functionality.
  • Technical SEO crawling and recommendations.
  • Core Web Vitals analysis.
  • Social media metric tracking.
  • Analytics integrations.

That is a broad spectrum of capabilities, but it is what modern marketers require of an SEO software suite.

As identified in the Search Engine Journal State Of SEO survey for 2022, SEO professionals split most of their time across technical, strategic, and content tasks.

It is also worth stating that no SEO platform is the standout performer in every single one of these areas.

As a result, it is important to weigh up the factors that matter most to your marketing strategy before deciding on the right solution.

Where a platform perhaps falls short of being the industry leader, search marketers may also want to complement their SEO software suite with a specialized tool to compensate for this.

Ultimately, this guide will highlight the areas in which each platform excels to help you navigate this highly competitive landscape.

Botify

Botify‘s DNA is in technical SEO, which has won the platform a significant number of fans in the advanced SEO community.

Along with its proprietary crawling tools that use log file data to analyze search engine behavior, Botify also provides user-friendly dashboards that tie technical SEO fixes to business performance.

Historically, that has been the SEO equivalent of squaring the circle.

However, technical SEO remains fundamental to improved website performance.

A tool like Botify helps get those essential messages across.

The platform has developed into a full-service SEO software suite that goes beyond technical SEO to provide content recommendations and track social media metrics.

The core Botify Analytics product that uses the company’s proprietary crawler to report on site performance is now tied to Botify Keywords, a product that reveals the rankings impact of SEO and content issues.

Botify Intelligence uses machine learning to assess a company’s raw data and automate the prioritization of website fixes based on their potential performance impact.

Botify's DNA is in technical SEO.Screenshot from Botify, December 2022

As an SEO software suite, Botify has entered the market differently than the other platforms in this guide.

Where others have started as rank trackers that branched out into intent signals and content idea generation, Botify is a technical SEO software that is building organically on that platform over time.

All of these areas combine to create an advanced SEO strategy, but it is worth noting where Botify’s core strengths lie in comparison with the competition.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Exceptional technical SEO analysis, including a crawl budget report and log file analyzer.
  • Botify Keywords helps to tie technical SEO to performance improvements.
  • Botify Intelligence automatically surfaces opportunities to increase website traffic.
  • The frequency of crawls and availability of data are both at a very high level.
  • The ability to segment website content and isolate issues is invaluable.
  • Intuitive dashboards that communicate technical issues to non-technical audiences.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a popular, all-in-one set of SEO tools built on top of the Ahrefs Bot – a web crawler that maintains the platform’s index of 12 trillion links. That makes it the second most active web crawler (after GoogleBot), and the most active in the commercial SEO field.

This platform has grown rapidly over the last few years to include access to over 170 countries and 10 search engines.

The Keyword Explorer tool is the highlight when searching for new content ideas and keywords to target.

Ahrefs SEO DashboardScreenshot from Ahrefs, December 2022

The Content Explorer allows Ahrefs to diversify beyond its initial strengths in link tracking and keyword analysis.

This tool surfaces trending content from across the web, which can then be segmented to identify new topics that fit with your marketing objectives.

Overall, Ahrefs is an increasingly complete set of SEO tools. It is user-friendly for novices, yet it provides endless opportunities for SEO veterans to dig deeper into the data and create new tactics.

Unique Selling Points:

  • An impressive web crawler and a vast link database.
  • The Content Explorer brings social media and content marketing into the Ahrefs suite.
  • Simple enough for novices, complex enough to satisfy advanced SEOs.
  • Great coverage for international markets.
  • Site Explorer is one of the best competitive analysis tools out there.

BrightEdge

BrightEdge has gone through many evolutions over the past decade. Most recently, it moved into AI-assisted content generation.

The core BrightEdge product is its rank tracking software, which updates weekly and produces automated reports that can be customized to each brand’s needs.

This is complemented by the StoryBuilder, which helps marketers to make sense of the masses of data available in such a platform.

Perhaps the real game-changer for BrightEdge in the last few years, though, has been the creation of Data Cube:

BrightEdge Data CubeImage credit: BrightEdge.com, December 2022

Data Cube makes use of BrightEdge’s own index. It suggests new keyword ideas and also creates an overview of SEO visibility over time.

The latest AI-driven innovations in the platform include an Insights product, which automatically surfaces new site developments for marketers – and there is a new content platform that can optimize content as you create it.

BrightEdge is undoubtedly a leading contender for enterprise sites with integrations available for various analytics software packages.

It covers a significant number of the bases in our initial list of criteria – and plenty of new innovations are on the horizon.

BrightEdge Search Opportunity ForecastingImage credit: BrightEdge.com, December 2022

One point to consider for the largest sites out there will be cost, as many BrightEdge packages are based on the number of keywords tracked.

As we move into a mobile-first, highly localized, personalized version of organic search, monthly fees for a BrightEdge license can grow quite quickly for marketers needing accurate tracking across devices and territories.

Tracking a query on desktop and on mobile will count as two keywords from your total allocation, for example.

Furthermore, it is worth corroborating some of the findings in BrightEdge with other tools.

The technical SEO recommendations are somewhat limited, and rankings pull weekly based on normalized values from a number of crawls over that period. In the case of the latter, you can end up with a ranking position that does not tell the full story.

Rankings can be pulled daily and at a local level, but again, this typically comes at an extra cost.

Those are not hesitations about the platform’s technological capabilities. However, they are worth considering for marketers looking for an all-in-one SEO platform.

BrightEdge does a lot of things – and does them well. But it is still a good idea to use specialist tools for technical SEO and backlink analysis.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Intuitive, customizable dashboards with many API integrations available.
  • Can track rankings in more than 76,000 locations.
  • Data Cube is great for keyword and competitor research.
  • Universal search rank tracking is very useful.
  • Latest AI-driven developments could prove invaluable for time-poor digital marketers.

Conductor

Conductor is another enterprise-level software that has developed significantly beyond its initial offering as a rank-tracking platform.

In terms of its positioning in a crowded market, Conductor’s focus has shifted slightly more toward understanding audience intent and the importance of strategic insight for SEO performance.

Many of the dashboards within this platform are devised with the aim of helping you prioritize your workloads and emphasize the areas that will drive performance.

Conductor dashboardScreenshot from Conductor, January 2023

I have always found that Conductor excels in its usefulness as an SEO platform. That may seem a trite observation, but it is the most fitting phrase.

When you are working on an SEO campaign, you can use Conductor to get things done.

Of course, it may just be that it tallies well with my particular way of working, but it has the feel of a technology built by SEO pros to help others overcome daily challenges.

For example, Conductor has tools that map content to a particular phase in the purchase journey, highlighting where a site performs well and where it performs poorly. This leads to actionable insights through a simple but effective visualization.

Conductor does not excel when it comes to technical SEO analysis. That said, it is possible to integrate the tool with DeepCrawl.

Furthermore, it is arguable that Conductor’s performance dashboards are not quite as visceral and effective as those of Searchmetrics and BrightEdge when it comes to driving home the top-line numbers.

Overall, Conductor offers a sophisticated package. It nurtures a healthy approach to organic search, beginning with a more nuanced understanding of consumer intent.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Insightful audience and content planning tools.
  • Dashboards help to visualize and simplify the SEO and content marketing workflow.
  • The Business Case tool is handy when trying to demonstrate SEO potential to senior management.
  • Lots of integrations with external analytics and SEO technologies.
  • Support for over 100 international markets.

Moz Pro

Moz Pro is one of the most popular all-in-one SEO software suite contenders for small businesses.

Signing up for a license provides access to:

  • A backlink checker (Open Site Explorer).
  • A rank tracking tool (Rank Tracker).
  • An on-page analyzer (On-Page Grader)
  • And quite a few other helpful tools.

Moz Keyword Explorer is perhaps the highlight and is the newest addition to this particular software suite.

I particularly like this tool for keyword research as it fits in with the new landscape of obscured search volumes and topic-driven content generation.

While still sticking to the SEO fundamental of pinpointing search queries to target, Keyword Explorer goes further to suggest new topics and highlight their level of priority for the business in question.

These keywords can then move to the Moz Rank Tracker, allowing marketers to keep track of their progress.

Moz ProScreenshot from Moz Pro, January 2023

Where is Moz a little weaker than the competition?

Given the significance of backlink analysis for SEO performance, it would be advisable to pair Moz with a tool like Ahrefs or Majestic.

None of these tools lay claim to a “full” index of URLs, and there is significant overlap between them, but the differences are significant enough to merit the use of more than one backlink checker.

Moreover, some of the tools (such as Moz Local) are best for sites with a smaller footprint, as a license will only provide access to a limited number of locations or keywords.

Nonetheless, a Moz Pro subscription starts at just $99 per month, making it a worthy addition to your SEO toolbox.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Access to a range of SEO tools at a low cost.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer is a fantastic tool for keyword research and SERP analysis.
  • Open Site Explorer remains a useful competitor analysis tool.
  • Moz’s proprietary metrics, such as Domain Authority, are illuminating for SEO strategies.

Summary

The SEO software suites in our guide have all invested heavily to keep pace with the demands of the industry.

Marketers require access to machine learning tools to help them surface new content and keyword opportunities in real time. The likes of Botify and BrightEdge have made this a priority for their recent and upcoming technology upgrades.

Marketers also require assurance that the basics are covered, and all these platforms do this very well. The SEO fundamentals of keyword tracking, technical audits, and content ideation are as important as ever.

SEO agencies will derive maximum value from these powerful tools by first identifying their own needs.

Although every strategy must cover the same areas, each accentuates some areas over others.

For instance, it may be that a huge retail website requires robust technical and keyword support over content recommendations. Those criteria will dictate which of these SEO software suites is, in fact, the best choice for you.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024

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The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024

Choosing the right website builder may depend on your goals. They have a variety of features, and some platforms excel in areas that others don’t.

Not all builders will fit if you need advanced SEO or ecommerce capabilities.

We compared 10 website builders based on price, data limits, core use cases, and whether they provide domains.

The 10 Best Website Builders Compared

Website Builder Starting Price Free Option Premium Content Gates Limits Free Domain Great For Extras We Like
WordPress.com $9/month Yes Yes 1-50 GB Yes (annual plans only) Blogging and text-based sites
  • Easily work between the .com and self-hosted sites.
  • Customizability.
Wix $17/month Yes Yes 2 GB-Unlimited Yes Small businesses & entrepreneurs
  • Educational programs and support.
  • Scheduling.
  • Ad management.
  • Email campaigns.
Duda $25/month 14 days Yes 1-4 sites No Getting started
  • Excellent help and support.
  • Zapier integration.
  • Multiple language sites.
  • Content library and free assets.
HubSpot $15/month Yes Yes Up to 30 pages on the free plan No Scaling
  • Conversational bots.
  • Wide range of free tools for sales, marketing, and services.
  • Extensive site and business owner education.
  • Mobile app.
Squarespace $25/month 14 days Yes Unlimited bandwidth, 30 minutes of video storage Yes (annual plans only) Quick, no-fuss sites
  • Custom product creation without worrying about fulfillment and shipping.
  • Integrated ecommerce on larger plans.
Webflow $18/month Yes Yes Starts with 1 GB bandwidth and 50 CMS items Yes Designers & Agencies
  • Schema markup and structured search support.
  • Pre-built interactions.
IONOS $6/month No No 50-75 GB Yes Small businesses on a budget
  • Affordable.
  • Competitor tracking.
  • Online booking included.
  • Built-in privacy and SSL.
Shopify $5/month 3 days No Unlimited products, bandwidth, and online storage No Ecommerce
  • Wide range of ecommerce features.
  • Large app store for extensions.
Weebly $12/month Yes No Unlimited storage Yes Beginners
  • Ease of use.
  • Built-in SEO tools.
Hostinger $2.99/month No No 25,000 visits,
100 GB SSD storage,
400,000 files
Yes Budget sites
  • Very affordable plans.
  • 24/7 customer support.

10 Best Website Builders For 2024

1. WordPress.com

Screenshot from WordPress.com, June 2024

With 62.7% of the market share held between WordPress.com and .org, WordPress is the largest and most prominent website builder.

Key Features

  • Over 50,000 plugins and 8,000 themes for customization.
  • Ability to transition between hosted and self-hosted options.
  • With paid plans, custom domains, site security, and advanced features are available.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • User-friendly interface suitable for beginners.
  • Flexibility to create various types of websites.
  • Built-in SEO tools and options to optimize your site for search engines.

Cost

  • $0-$70/month ($0-$45/month, billed annually), plus custom options.

2. Wix

Wix webpageScreenshot from Wix.com, June 2024

Wix controls only 4% of the CMS market, but that small number translates into hundreds of millions of users and makes it one of the most popular website builders.

It offers ease of use and flexibility, making it suitable for creating professional websites with expanded functionality.

Key Features

  • Customizable templates with drag-and-drop editing.
  • Wide range of elements and third-party apps for added functionality.
  • Comprehensive business solutions, including ecommerce and marketing tools.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Suitable for beginners and those needing advanced features.
  • SEO Wiz tool for optimizing your site’s SEO settings.
  • Extensive help, resources, and guides for website creation and promotion.

Cost

  • $0-$159/month, plus custom options.

3. Duda

Duda.coScreenshot from Duda.co, June 2024

Duda is a website builder that balances ease of use with advanced customization options, making it popular among designers and developers.

Key Features

  • Drag-and-drop interface and customizable templates.
  • Widgets and add-ons for expanded functionality, including ecommerce.
  • Mobile editor for creating mobile-friendly versions of your site

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Suitable for businesses and individuals seeking a professional website.
  • Built-in SEO optimization features, including meta descriptions and sitemaps.
  • Excellent customer support with live chat, email, and resources.

Cost:

  • $25-$199/month ($19-$149/month, billed annually), plus custom options.

4. HubSpot

HubSpot webpageScreenshot from HubSpot.com, June 2024

HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing, sales, and customer service platform with a powerful website builder.

Key Features

  • Drag-and-drop interface and customizable templates.
  • Pre-built modules for forms, CTAs, and social media integration.
  • Integrated CMS, marketing automation, and sales tools.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Ideal for businesses seeking a comprehensive solution.
  • Built-in SEO tools for keyword research, on-page optimization, and analytics.
  • Scalable platform that grows.

Cost

  • $0-$450/month, plus custom options.

5. Squarespace

SquarespaceScreenshot from Squarespace, June 2024

Squarespace is a website builder that offers beautifully designed templates and powerful ecommerce features.

Key Features

  • Customizable templates that work across devices.
  • Ecommerce tools for inventory management, order tracking, and payment processing.
  • Marketing tools for SEO, video, and audience management

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Ideal for businesses focusing on ecommerce and brand promotion.
  • Built-in SEO features and integration with Google Analytics.
  • Mobile app for managing your site on the go.

Cost

  • $25-$72/month ($16-$52/month, billed annually), and enterprise plans.

6. Webflow

Homepage of webflow.comScreenshot from webflow.com, May 2024

Webflow is a website builder offering advanced design and development features suitable for users of all skill levels.

Key Features

  • Free plan for getting started with basic features.
  • Ecommerce plan with advanced tools for selling products and managing orders.
  • Team plan with collaboration features and client billing.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Suitable for individuals and teams looking for advanced customization options.
  • Advanced SEO features, including schema and Open Graph.
  • Unique features like scheduled publishing, logic flows, and animations.

Cost

  • $0-$235/month ($0-$212/month, billed annually), including enterprise plans.

7. IONOS

Homepage of ionos.comScreenshot from: ionos.com, May 2024.

IONOS is an affordable and simple website builder that offers all the essential features for creating a functional and beautiful site.

Key Features

  • Three-step site design process: choosing a design, adding content, and promoting.
  • Search engine-optimized templates built for performance.
  • Presence Suite for managing and promoting your site

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Ideal for quick website setups, test projects, and DIYers.
  • Templates are pre-optimized for search engines.
  • Affordable pricing plans with essential features.

Cost

  • $6-$15/month ($4-$8/month billed three years in advance).

8. Shopify

1721393763 166 The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024Screenshot from: Shopify.com, June 2024.

Shopify is a comprehensive ecommerce platform that enables businesses to create online stores and sell products easily.

Key Features

  • Customizable templates and drag-and-drop editing.
  • Powerful ecommerce tools for inventory management, payment processing, and shipping.
  • The app store has thousands of apps to extend functionality.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Ideal for businesses of all sizes looking to create an online store.
  • Built-in SEO features and the ability to edit meta tags, URLs, and site structure.
  • 24/7 customer support and extensive documentation.

Cost

  • $19-$399/month ($29-$299/month billed annually).

9. Weebly

1721393763 174 The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024Screenshot from: weebly.com, June 2024.

Weebly is a user-friendly website builder that offers a wide range of features for creating professional websites and online stores.

Key Features

  • Drag-and-drop interface and customizable templates.
  • Ecommerce functionality with inventory management and payment processing.
  • Blogging platform and app center for additional features.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Suitable for beginners and small businesses.
  • Built-in SEO tools, including meta descriptions, alt tags, and sitemaps.
  • Responsive customer support and community forum.

Cost

  • $$0-$29/month ($10-$26/month billed annually).

10. Hostinger

1721393763 885 The 10 Best Website Builders To Consider 2024Screenshot from hostinger.com, June 2024.

Hostinger offers an easy-to-use website-building tool in its web hosting plans, designed to help users get sites up and running fast.

Key Features

  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface.
  • Suitable for beginners and those needing a website up and running quickly.
  • Free domain, website migration, email, and SSL are included in the hosting package.

Benefits & SEO Highlights

  • Optimized for speed using LiteSpeed Web Server technology, advanced cache solutions, and Object Cache for WordPress.
  • Advanced security features, including unlimited SSL certificates, DDoS protection, automatic backups, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

Cost

  • $2.99-$9.99 for the first month ($7.99-$19.99/month on renewal).

Find The Right Website Builder For Your Needs

When choosing a website builder, consider your needs, budget, and skill level.

  • WordPress.com offers flexibility and customization for bloggers and content-heavy sites.
  • Small businesses and entrepreneurs may prefer all-in-one solutions like Wix or HubSpot for marketing integration.
  • Ecommerce stores should evaluate dedicated platforms like Shopify for robust selling tools.
  • Beginners can start with user-friendly builders like Weebly, while designers and agencies may prefer more advanced options like Webflow.

With the variety of website builders available, there’s a solution for every need.

More resources:


Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

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How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

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How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

Getting to the top of Google can be quite slow. Especially so for small, new websites. And the competition can often be too strong, which makes it quite unlikely for you to outrank your rivals in the first place.

Well… if you can’t win, change the rules.

There’s a very simple trick for getting search traffic for the keywords that you want to rank for—without actually ranking for them.

Enter…

One of the most common pieces of marketing advice is to “go fish where the fish are.” Whatever product or service you want to sell, you have to follow three simple steps:

  1. Figure out who your ideal customers are.
  2. Find the places where those people are hanging out online.
  3. Go to those places and find ways to promote your product.

Quick example: if you want to sell fitness gear, it would be good to figure out how to tap into the r/Fitness community on Reddit, which has over 12M members.

What does it have to do with SEO though?

Well, whatever search traffic you want to drive to your own website… someone is already getting it to theirs, right? And their website is not necessarily your direct competitor.

If you own a bagel joint in Singapore, you definitely want your website to rank in Google for “best bagels in Singapore.” But the pages that actually rank for this keyword are listicles, which give readers a bunch of different suggestions. So your job is to get featured in as many of those top-ranking listicles as possible.

Ranking for a keyword with your own website isn’t the only way to get customers from Google. Getting featured on other pages that rank for this keyword is incredibly effective too.

I call this tactic “second-hand search traffic”.

The underlying idea is not new though.

You might have heard of the concept called “Barnacle SEO,” shared by Rand Fishkin back in 2014. There’s also a concept called “Surround Sound,” coined by Alex Birkett. And another one called “SERP Monopoly strategy” by Nick Eubanks. There’s also a reverse concept, called “Rank & Rent.”

The idea behind all of these tactics is practically the same: if a page gets a lot of relevant search traffic from Google—you have to try and get your business mentioned there.

1721330765 614 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything1721330765 614 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything
Source

But that’s easier said than done, right?

Why would anyone bother to feature your business on their website?

Well, one simple answer is money.

If a website owner can make money from mentioning your business on their page, there’s a good chance they’ll do it. This money could come in the form of an affiliate commission or a flat fee for an annual or permanent placement. Sometimes these things can also happen as part of a broader partnership deal.

Getting listed for free is very, very hard. Especially so if you’re not already a big and respected business that people naturally want to feature on their website.

And yet—it’s not completely impossible to get listed for free.

Case in point, we just published our own “best SEO conferences” post, in order to rank for relevant search queries and promote our upcoming event, Ahrefs Evolve Singapore.

And then we went ahead and reached out to all websites that rank for the “best SEO conferences” keyword and asked them to add Ahrefs Evolve to their listicles. So far 10 out of 17 featured us on their pages, without asking for any payment whatsoever.

1721330766 734 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything1721330766 734 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

The most straightforward way to execute this strategy is to compile a list of highly relevant keywords (with high business potential scores), pull all the top-ranking pages for each of them into a spreadsheet, and start your outreach.

But there’s one other fruitful source of pages to get second-hand search traffic from. These are pages that are linking to your competitors, while getting a decent amount of search traffic themselves.

Here’s how to find these pages in 3 simple steps:

  1. Put the website of your competitor in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
  2. Navigate to the Backlinks report.
  3. Apply the “Referring page > Traffic” filter.
How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for AnythingHow to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

Here’s an example of a page I found while trying this out for the ConvertKit website:

1721330766 665 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything1721330766 665 How to Get Search Traffic Without Ranking for Anything

As you can see, this page is not about “email marketing” (the primary topic you’d go for, if you wanted to promote an email marketing tool). And yet, this page is receiving 2.6k visitors per month from Google (as estimated by Ahrefs), and it recommends a bunch of email marketing tools to its readers.

So if you own an email marketing tool—like ConvertKit—you definitely want to get mentioned on that page alongside your competitors.

The moral of this story is that you should look outside of the topics that are immediately relevant to your business. Any page that gets traffic and mentions a competitor of yours should become your target.

And Ahrefs makes it super easy to find such pages.

That’s it.

I hope you found this tactic useful. Don’t sleep on it, because there’s a good chance that your competitors won’t.

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What SEO Should Know About Brand Marketing With Mordy Oberstein

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What SEO Should Know About Brand Marketing With Mordy Oberstein

For the SEO industry, the Google documents leak offered an important view behind the scenes. Although the leak was not a blueprint of how the algorithm worked, there was considerable confirmation that SEO professionals were right about many elements of the algorithm.

From all the analysis and discussion following the leak, the one insight that got my attention was how important the brand is.

Rand Fishkin, who broke the leak, said this:

“Brand matters more than anything else … If there was one universal piece of advice I had for marketers seeking to broadly improve their organic search rankings and traffic, it would be: “Build a notable, popular, well-recognized brand in your space, outside of Google search.”

Mike King echoed this statement with the following observation:

“All these potential demotions can inform a strategy, but it boils down to making stellar content with strong user experience and building a brand, if we’re being honest.”

Mordy Oberstein, who is an advocate for building a brand online, posted on X (Twitter):

“I am SO happy that the SEO conversation has shifted to thinking about “brand.”

It’s not the first time that “brand” has been mentioned in SEO. We began to talk about this around 2012 after the impact of Panda and Penguin when it first became apparent that Google’s aim was to put more emphasis on brand.

Compounding this is the introduction of AI, which has accelerated the importance of taking a more holistic approach to online marketing with less reliance on Google SERPs.

When I spoke to Pedro Dias, he said, “We need to focus more than ever on building our own communities with users aligned to our brands.”

As someone who had 15 years of offline experience in marketing, design, and business before moving into SEO, I have always said that having this wide knowledge allows me to take a holistic view of SEO. So, I welcome the mindset shift towards building a brand online.

As part of his X/Twitter post, Mordy also said:

“I am SO happy that the SEO conversation has shifted to thinking about “brand” (a lot of which is the direct result of @randfish’s & @iPullRank’s great advice following the “Google leaks”).

As someone who has straddled the brand marketing and SEO world for the better part of 10 years – branding is A LOT harder than many SEOs would think and will be a HUGE adjustment for many SEOs.”

Following his X/Twitter post, I reached out to Mordy Oberstein, Head of SEO Brand at Wix, to have a conversation about branding and SEO.

What Do SEO Pros Need To Know About ‘Brand’ To Make The Mindset Shift?

I asked Mordy, “In your opinion, what does brand and building a brand mean, and can SEO pros make this mindset shift?”

Mordy responded, “Brand building basically means creating a connection between one entity and another entity, meaning the company and the audience.

It’s two people meeting, and that convergence is the building of a brand. It’s very much a relationship. And I think that’s what makes it hard for SEOs. It’s a different way of thinking; it’s not linear, and there aren’t always metrics that you can measure it by.

I’m not saying you don’t use data, or you don’t have data, but it’s harder to measure to tell a full story.

You’re trying to pick up on latent signals. A lot of the conversation is unconscious.

It’s all about the micro things that compound. So, you have to think about everything you do, every signal, to ensure that it is aligned with the brand.

For example, a website writes about ‘what is a tax return.’ However, if I’m a professional accountant and I see this on your blog, I might think this isn’t relevant to me because you’re sending me a signal that you’re very basic. I don’t need to know what a tax return is; I have a master’s degree in accounting.

The latent signals that you’re sending can be very subtle, but this is where it is a mindset shift for SEO.”

I recalled a recent conversation with Pedro Dias in which he stressed it was important to put your users front and center and create content that is relevant to them. Targeting high-volume keywords is not going to connect with your audience. Instead, think about what is going to engage, interest, and entertain them.

I went on to say that for some time, the discussion online has been about SEO pros shifting away from the keyword-first approach. However, the consequences of moving away from a focus on traffic and clicks will mean we are likely to experience a temporary decline in performance.

How Does An SEO Professional Sell This To Stakeholders – How Do They Measure Success?

I asked Mordy, “How do you justify this approach to stakeholders – how do they measure success?”

Mordy replied, “I think selling SEO will become harder over time. But, if you don’t consider the brand aspect, then you could be missing the point of what is happening. It’s not about accepting lower volumes of traffic; it’s that traffic will be more targeted.

You might see less traffic right now, but the idea is to gain a digital presence and create digital momentum that will result in more qualified traffic in the long term.”

Mordy went on to say, “It’s going to be a habit to break out of, just like when you have to go on a diet for a long-term health gain.

The ecosystem will change, and it will force change to our approach. SEOs may not have paid attention to the Google leak documents, but I think they will pay attention as the entire ecosystem shifts – they won’t have a choice.

I also think C-level will send a message that they don’t care about overall traffic numbers, but do care about whether a user appreciates what they are producing and that the brand is differentiated in some way.”

How Might The Industry Segment And What Will Be The Important Roles?

I interjected to make the point that it does look a lot like SEO is finally making that shift across marketing.

Technical SEO will always be important, and paid/programmatic will remain important because it is directly attributable.

For the rest of SEO, I anticipate it merges across brand, SEO, and content into a hybrid strategy role that will straddle those disciplines.

What we thought of as “traditional SEO” will fall away, and SEO will become absorbed into marketing.

In response, Mordy agreed and thought that SEO traffic is part of a wider scope or part of a wider paradigm, and it will sit under brand and communications.

An SEO pro that functions as part of the wider marketing and thinks about how we are driving revenue, how we are driving growth, what kind of growth we are driving, and using SEO as a vehicle to that.

The final point I raised was about social media and whether that would become a more combined facet of SEO and overall online marketing.

Mordy likened Google to a moth attracted to the biggest digital light.

He said, “Social media is a huge vehicle for building momentum and the required digital presence.

For example, the more active I am on social media, the more organic branded searches I gain through Google Search. I can see the correlation between that.

I don’t think that Google is ignoring branded searches, and it makes a semantic connection.”

SEO Will Shift To Include Brand And Marketing

The conversation I had with Mordy raised an interesting perspective that SEO will have to make significant shifts to a brand and marketing mindset.

The full impact of AI on Google SERPs and how the industry might change is yet to be realized. But, I strongly recommend that anyone in SEO consider how they can start to take a brand-first approach to their strategy and the content they create.

I suggest building and measuring relationships with audiences based on how they connect with your brand and moving away from any strategy based on chasing high-volume keywords.

Think about what the user will do once you get the click – that is where the real value lies.

Get ahead of the changes that are coming.

Thank you to Mordy Oberstein for offering his opinion and being my guest on IMHO.

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Featured Image: 3rdtimeluckystudio/Shutterstock

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