According to the Content Marketing Institute’s Video & Visual Storytelling Survey, 83% of marketers say video has become more important in the last two years.
Videos were always a powerful tool in the storytelling arsenal. But maybe it’s time to re-examine our content marketing matrix.
What is a content marketing matrix and do we need one in 2022?
Well, a content marketing matrix is a planning tool to help marketers generate ideas for the most engaging content types for their audiences.
A number of them have been created over the past decade, including one that I contributed to Guy Kawasaki’s book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, which was published in 2011. Here’s what it looks like:
As you can see, my Content Marketing Matrix has two dimensions:
- Awareness through to action on the horizontal axis
- Rational through emotional on the vertical axis.
And content marketers are supposed to use the four quadrants – entertain, inspire, educate, and enlighten – “as a starting point” to review how their content can support the goals of their B2B, B2C, or not-for-profit organizations.
Do We Need A Content Marketing Matrix In 2022?
A decade later, I don’t have a problem with using a 2×2 matrix “as a starting point.”
But it reminds me of the scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982) when Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) analyzes the tactics of Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán) and observes, “He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking.”
That’s why I believe experienced content marketers need a three-dimensional matrix to compete successfully in a world where:
- YouTube has more than 2 billion monthly logged-in users.
- 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
- Video content is playing a starring role in all four quadrants.
I don’t have a problem with putting “Branded Stories” (e.g., short films, series, documentaries, inspirational videos) in the upper left quadrant of the matrix above, either. I’ve seen some entertaining branded stories go viral.
I’ve also seen some inspiring, educational, and enlightening branded stories go viral, too.
And last month, we looked at how several major brands in the U.K. use nostalgic Christmas ads to build brand awareness and connect with customers on a deeper level.
Viral Marketing: The Science Of Sharing
So, maybe it’s time to share the secret of how to create branded video content that is more likely to go viral.
Actually, it isn’t a secret. It is the subject of Karen Nelson-Field’s book, Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing, which was published in October 2013.
Back then, Dr. Nelson-Field was a Senior Research Associate at the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.
Today, she’s the founder and CEO at Amplified Intelligence.
Her book used original research from more than two years of work, five different data sets, around 1,000 videos, nine individual studies, and a large team of researchers from Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.
Her research found that “an emotional response is important in driving further cognitive or behavioral responses. Reactions to advertising – or anything for that matter – are rarely purely rational.”
And the data she shared shows the most engaging content types for your audiences are branded videos that can elicit intense, positive, emotional responses, using:
If you read Dr. Nelson-Field’s book, then you’ll also learn that:
- On average, videos that elicit intense emotions are shared twice as much as those that evoke moderate emotions, yet more than 70% of all branded videos evoke moderate emotions.
- Branded videos that evoke feelings of exhilaration are shared more than any other intense positive emotion.
- While professional video creators may be aiming to create hilarious branded content, most are falling well short of the amateurs.
The most engaging holiday ads of 2021 indicate that Dr. Nelson-Field’s findings are still valid today.
Unruly Reveals Top Emotionally Engaging Holiday Ads Of 2021
Each year, Unruly tests holiday ads and measures them based upon emotional intensity, brand favorability, happiness, and an overall “EQ Score.”
Unruly is a global video and Connected TV (CTV) advertising platform. But, content marketers can learn some important lessons from them about how to generate ideas for the most engaging content types for their audiences.
And it’s worth noting that Dr. Nelson-Field worked with Unruly a decade ago to develop an earlier version of their methodology.
This year, Unruly analyzed the emotional responses of approximately 9,700 consumers around the world to more than 50 holiday ads using its content measurement tool, UnrulyEQ.
This tool helps advertisers maximize the impact of their video content across multiple screens, lift brand metrics more effectively, and target receptive audiences at scale.
Unruly’s annual Christmas Ad Effectiveness Chart uses their combined metric, EQ Score, to rank the most popular festive ads based on their emotional, social, and business impact.
It also benchmarks them against the average level of emotional response to advertisements in each market. And the intensity of emotions, brand favorability, authenticity, and purchase intent that viewers felt while watching an ad all contribute to its final score.
Carol Gillard, the VP of Marketing & Communications at Unruly, observed several interesting trends:
- “As December 2020 approached, brands went out of their way to relate to the uncertainty of holidays amidst a global pandemic. Messages last year reflected the change in storied traditions and adaptability of consumers as they still attempted to bring cheer into their holiday season.
- “By comparison, many in the 2021 crop of holiday ads do not reference or allude to Covid-19, and instead seek to create nostalgia for Christmases past, and excite consumers about gathering and celebrating with their nearest and dearest.”
Gillard also spotted several other trends in this year’s top-rated ads:
- Top-performing ads have high EQ scores (above 6 or 7), and demonstrate a combination of intense emotional response, brand favorability, and purchase intent by viewers.
- Several top ads use animation, including Chick-fil-A’s “Whoopsery” ad, and Macy’s “Tiptoe and the Flying Machine,” which is reminiscent of the iconic stop motion animation holiday movies of the 1960s and 1970s.
- Nostalgic pop music, like repurposed hits by Queen and Hall & Oates, tested very well this year.
- Top ads featured a lot of diversity (both in age and race, often together), particularly in the US as well as in the UK and the Philippines.
Let’s start with “Wegmans Holiday Commercial 2021,” which was ranked #1 in the US.
The video’s description says, “The holidays are about sharing, caring, and enjoying great food. Watch as a little boy shows us that you don’t have to be all grown up to be a big helper. Let’s get back to happy, together.”
The ad from Wegmans Food Markets scored 61% in Emotional Intensity, 53% in Brand Favorability, and 38% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 7.3.
Wegmans Food Markets selected Optic Sky, an advertising and digital experience production company, to produce this ad.
I asked Aaron Gordon, the CEO of Optic Sky, “What was your thinking/strategy behind the Wegmans approach to holiday advertising at this particular time in history?”
Gordon said, “This holiday spot is part of the Wegmans ‘Back to Happy’ campaign, which comprises three ads in total. It’s the first ad campaign Wegmans has run since the start of the pandemic, so it was important to consider the state of Covid-19 at the time.
On one hand, it seemed as though we were making real progress; vaccines were finally available, the economy was rebounding, and schools and stadiums were opening back up. On the other hand, we knew that Covid was unpredictable.
He added, “The Wegmans internal creative agency decided to focus all three ads on the values they as a company share with their customers, who represent all walks of life.
The Optic Sky team worked closely with Wegmans to create ads that evoke a warm, human, and nostalgic tone, while touching upon our shared yearning to leave the pandemic behind (as the campaign name, ‘Back to Happy,’ implies).
Together, we emphasized our common humanity, love of family, and hope for the future with scenes of joy, sincere caring, and family meals.”
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year | Frito-Lay” ranked #2 in the US.
The video’s description says, “Share more joy this Holi-LAY’S season with Jimmy Fallon and your Frito-Lay favorites.”
Frito-Lay’s ad scored 55% in Emotional Intensity, 45% in Brand Favorability, and 36% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 7.3.
“The Whoopsery | Stories of Evergreen Hills | Created by Chick-fil-A” ranked #3 in the US.
This video’s description says, “Sam is back for another adventure this holiday season, and she brought a friend! After an unfortunate mishap, while decorating Cece’s family Christmas tree, Sam and Cece try to make it right and end up in a magical place called The Whoopsery.”
Chick-fil-A’s ad scored 56% in Emotional Intensity, 49% in Brand Favorability, and 36% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 7.1.
“Macy’s Presents: Tiptoe and the Flying Machine” ranked #4 in the US.
The video’s description says, “This is the story of Tiptoe. A little reindeer with a big problem. She’s absolutely terrified of flying. So her friends get together and teach her a very important lesson: if you believe in yourself, there’s no telling how high you can soar.”
Macy’s ad scored 53% in Emotional Intensity, 48% in Brand Favorability, and 33% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.9.
And, “OREO ‘A Holiday Twist’ :30” ranked #5 in the US.
This video’s description says, “The holidays’ favorite cookie #OREO #StayPlayful.”
And, Oreo’s ad scored 45% in Emotional Intensity, 41% in Brand Favorability, and 29% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.7.
Unruly also tested ads in the UK. But, their methodology is different than Kantar’s, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Unruly’s results differ from the ones that I wrote about last month.
“This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us l Tesco #NothingsStoppingUs” ranked #1 in the UK.
This video’s description says, “After last year, we’re determined to make it a good one. This Christmas, #NothingsStoppingUs.”
Tesco’s ad scored 36% in Emotional Intensity, 40% in Brand Favorability, and 20% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.9.
“Spread The Merry” ranked #1 in Australia.
The description says, “The members of our letterbox choir are spreading the merry far and wide this year. Head to auspost.com.au/christmas to find out how you can #SpreadTheMerry.”
Australia Post’s ad scored 30% in Emotional Intensity, 37% in Brand Favorability, and 20% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.5.
The video’s description says, “We are proud to reveal our Christmas advert, a heart-warming new story; #TheStepdad.
“This year’s story follows Nicole, the granddaughter from last year’s ad, who is now all grown up with a family to make Christmas traditions with. We follow her and her two adorable children, Max and Ella, as their new stepdad Mike moves into their family home.
“At the heart of the story is a very special storybook – a precious item belonging to Max from his birth father.
The book celebrates the power of storytelling and how it can deepen family bonds; as the family are shown delighting in the magic of Disney storytelling, beautiful animation springs off the pages, igniting the true spirit of Christmas.
Follow their emotional journey as we see them combine existing festive traditions with wonderful new ones. We hope you enjoy this special Christmas ad, celebrating the joy that the stepdads of the world bring us.”
Disney UK’s video scored 88% in Emotional Intensity, 86% in Brand Favorability, and 73% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.9 in the Philippines.
“FAMILIE IST DAS SCHÖNSTE GESCHENK | DISNEY WEIHNACHTS-SPOT 2021 – lange Version | Disney HD” ranked #1 in Germany.
Disney Deutschland’s ad scored 40% in Emotional Intensity, 32% in Brand Favorability, and 23% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.3 in Germany.
Finally, “Smile. Your special table is set” ranked #1 in Singapore.
This video’s description says, “This holiday season, connect with loved ones both near and far away over the dinner table. Dress your party table with elegant dinnerware, handmade glass, candles and twinkling fairy lights.
Exchange baskets filled with gifts and enjoy quality time with friends and family, even if they are an internet connection away.”
IKEA Singapore’s ads scored 41% in Emotional Intensity, 55% in Brand Favorability, and 23% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.7.
“You can observe a lot by just watching”
Now, some content marketers are going to look at the top emotionally engaging holiday ads above, scratch their heads, and say, “But, those are YouTube ads!”
Yes, they are. And, according to the Content Marketing Video Survey mentioned above, re-purposed ads (long-form versions of TV ads) are one of the video types that produced the best content marketing results in the last 12 months.
And, as Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”
Besides, a content marketing matrix is supposed to help us generate ideas for the most engaging content types for our audiences.
So, if we mistakenly think that we can’t learn lessons from the top emotionally engaging holiday ads of 2021, then we’ve got to ask ourselves: “Does this pattern indicate two-dimensional thinking?”
While we’re at it, we’ve also got to ask a couple of other related questions:
- If our lawyers will approve the content of emotionally engaging ads, then why can’t we get them to approve emotionally engaging marketing content?
- If executives will okay the budget for emotionally engaging ads, then why can’t we get them to okay the budget for emotionally engaging marketing content?
To transform this situation, we need to go beyond producing more videos in 2022. We need to make videos worth watching and create content worth sharing.
And, there are plenty of examples of branded videos that are emotionally engaging even though they aren’t ads.
If you want to see one, just watch “Google — Year In Search 2021.”
The description of Google’s branded video says, “In a year that continued to test many, the world searched “how to heal” more than ever.
Whether they’re taking care of mental health, honoring a loved one, or reuniting with family, people are finding ways to come back stronger than before.”
Uploaded on Nov. 22, 2021, it currently has 223 million views and 167,000 engagements (e.g. likes, comments, shares).
And, if you mistakenly think that B2B videos have to be rational or boring, then check out “‘Zero Tolerance Machining’ with the Wire EDM – Part 1 | US Digital #Shorts.”
US Digital designs and manufactures motion control products for OEM manufacturers as well as end users. The description of their branded video says, “Our machine shop can cut metal so precisely using our wire EDM that two parts fit together with virtually no gap between.”
Uploaded on Oct. 27, 2021, it currently has 31.1 million views and 1.4 million engagements.
We Need A Three-Dimensional Content Marketing Matrix
Looking forward, the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022 report produced by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs says, “The top content marketing-related area of investment for 2022 is expected to be video (69%).
This makes sense, as businesses have shifted online, and marketers look for new/more ways to tell compelling stories to capture and keep audience attention.”
And, during a webinar on “International digital marketing strategy for 2022 and beyond,” which was held Dec. 14, 2021, Gemma Houghton, the Director of Marketing at Webcertain, shared the following stats to illustrate why this may finally be “the year of video”:
- “By 2022, 82% of global internet traffic will come from streaming videos and downloads” (Cisco Annual Internet Report).
- “Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and image content” (Wordstream).
- “50.9% of B2B decision-makers use YouTube to research purchases” (Hootsuite).
All of this is – potentially – good news. Hopefully, most content marketers won’t blow this opportunity by cranking out more branded videos that evoke moderate emotions.
Now, I realize that eliciting intense emotions sounds risky. So, let me close with an excerpt from an interview in WARC’s “Insights from the 2021 Creative Effectiveness Lions winners.”
WARC asked Ann Mukherjee, who is Chairman and CEO at Pernod Ricard North America and was President of the 2021 Creative Effectiveness Lions jury, “What stood out to you about the Grand Prix winner, Nike’s Dream Crazy?”
Mukherjee said, “We felt that Dream Crazy was the next chapter in advertising, helping the industry think about what’s possible and redefining the roles brands can play in making a positive dent in the universe.”
She added, “It’s also important to remember that Nike was actually solving a business problem around its relevance to younger consumers.
This audience does not only want to buy brands, they want to buy into brands. Nike took a risk because it understood that’s what it took. With many of the award winners this year, we wanted to send a message to the industry that they should take a risk.
A lot of these campaigns start with a business objective but go on to change lives. It’s a virtuous cycle that we wish to see more brands embracing: touching lives is what makes people come to your brand.”
That’s why we need to use a three-dimensional content marketing matrix “as a starting point” to generate ideas for the most engaging content types for our audiences. Then, we’ve also got to think outside the box.
Featured image: Shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi
Google’s Advice For Targeting Multiple Locations With One Website
Google provides detailed advice for websites that need to target multiple locations, such as a business with offices in different states.
Their idea is to create landing pages for each state they operate in, and automatically send visitors from the homepage to the appropriate landing page via dynamic geo IP redirection.
On top of that, they also plan to add a noindex tag to each of the separate landing pages.
If you hear alarm bells ringing, your instincts are correct. This is not a good strategy.
Mueller explains the SEO implications of following through with this plan, and explains various ways it can be done better.
See his advice in the sections below.
First Consideration: Google Crawls From One Location
The first thing to consider when targeting multiple cities or states with the same website is Google only crawls from one location.
That means dynamic geo IP redirects, as Gail’s client proposes, would not help Googlebot find the different landing pages.
“I think there are a few things to keep in mind there. On the one hand… we generally just crawl from one location. And probably for most systems, that would map back to California.
And essentially what that would mean is that the content that we can look at would be the content for California, and we would not have access to the content for the other states, which depending on what kind of content you have there, for the other states, that might be okay but it might be problematic.
So that’s kind of the first thing to keep in mind is when you search for your company it’ll look like this is purely in California, or maybe even in San Francisco, I don’t know how the IP addresses would map there.
So I think that’s something that often throws people off, especially with geo IP redirects or dynamically swapping the content.”
While redirecting visitors based on their IP address may work in practice, it’s not optimal when it comes to Googlebot crawling.
Second Consideration: Do Not Redirect To A Noindexed Page
The second, and more serious, consideration of the plan proposed by Gail’s client is what happens when redirecting to a noindexed page.
Mueller explains this would cause the site’s homepage to drop out of search results:
“The other thing is if you noindex the individual state landing pages, then, of course, the state landing page that someone from California would go to would also be noindexed, which would basically mean that your homepage would drop out of search results. So that would be a pretty bad thing.”
Again, this plan might’ve worked for human visitors, but would cause major problems as far as SEO is concerned.
Here’s what Mueller recommends doing instead.
Mueller’s Recommendations For Targeting Multiple Locations
Instead of redirecting visitors to pages based on where they’re located, Mueller says it’s better to offer visitors links to relevant pages with a dynamic banner.
“My general recommendation for these kinds of situations, instead of redirecting automatically to a specific location, is to make it so that the user can find that content much easier.
So something like a dynamic banner on a page when the user goes to the homepage, there’s a banner on top that says: ‘oh, it looks like you’re in Texas, and we have an office in Texas, and here’s the information, and click this link to find out more.’
And that way the user has the ability to go to these individual pages. And ideally those individual pages would also be indexable, because that way if someone looks for your company name plus the state name they would be able to find that landing page, which would be essentially ideal.”
Another way of handling this situation, Mueller says, is to dynamically swap out some of the copy on the homepage based on visitor location.
Instead of multiple landing pages for different states, you could set the homepage to display different text for visitors that pertains to where they’re located.
“The other approach that you could take is to swap out some of the content dynamically on the homepage. So instead of having separate state landing pages, you have your general homepage and you have that state specific information dynamically swapped out.
The important part here is to make sure that overall that homepage still has enough generic content so that it doesn’t come across as like everything is for California, but rather it’s like this is lots of information about your business, and since it looks like you’re in California here’s specific information for California, or whatever state that you’re in.
So those are generally the two directions that we recommend there.”
Mueller clarifies that there’s nothing wrong with creating individual state landing pages if Gail’s client chose to go that route instead.
It’s not a great idea to create landing pages for every city in every state, but having landing pages for each state where a business is located is okay.
“With regards to the individual state landing pages for a handful of versions, we wouldn’t really see that as being problematic. If you had landing pages for every city in every state, then that would start looking a bit iffy for our web spam algorithms.
But if you’re talking about a handful of states, or maybe even all states, it’s something where you have 50 different versions of the homepage with your local address with phone numbers, opening hours, kind of that additional local information on them. From our point of view that’s generally fine.”
Hear the full discussion in the video below:
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, January 2022.
Searchmetrics’ CMO Talks Enterprise Volatility, SEO Careers & CWVs
And just how important are Core Web Vitals, anyway?
If you’re in the market for employment with a leading search data, software, and consulting solution, you’ll want to check out her tips as to what Searchmetrics looks for in new hires, as well.
1. Core Web Vitals (CWV) has been a hot topic this past year.
What do enterprise marketers need to know about CWVs now that the dust has settled?
Lillian Haase: “For marketers in any business, focusing on reducing friction for users when they arrive at your website is the name of the game — with or without CWVs.
Before the official announcement that CWV’s page speed signals would become ranking factors, fast-loading and easy-to-navigate websites saw better results in the search engines. The CWV rollout just made it official.
I will say, too, that the dust has only settled in terms of Google talking about CWV.
The work for many brands is still colossal.
Our team sees many large companies still experiencing major problems with site speed and shifting layouts. Until domains can fix those issues, they’ll struggle to excel in competitive SERPs.
Having a decent CWV will be the price for entry onto the playing field.
If your CWV is far worse than your competitors, you’ll struggle for rankings – but CWV goes beyond SEO. The gains are much more concrete when it comes to revenue and conversions.”
2. We’ve seen you write before on volatility as an opportunity in SEO.
Can you share a few ways these volatile times may translate to opportunities for enterprise SEO?
Lillian Haase: “At the start of the pandemic, we had major shifts going on in marketing. This necessitated a pivoting of methods to adapt to a new, uncertain environment.
When it came to SEO, we had clients with unprecedented traffic drops and increases. The world had changed and so had their web traffic.
My advice remains the same as then.
When you’ve experienced a sudden drop in traffic, analysis of where the drop occurred is the first step towards recovery – but it’s not the last.
It’s crucial to understand why it happened.
Was it a change made to your website?
A loss of keyword rankings for a specific page or group of pages — or something else?
Take steps to improve, or reverse an earlier change, depending on what you find.
The opposite happens, too, and you may experience a sudden influx of traffic and better rankings.
While celebrating is certainly not to be neglected (after all, teams work for years to see increases in traffic, so be sure to enjoy it when it happens!), it’s still important to ensure it’s the right kind of traffic, and that visitors are engaging with your web content.
Look at ways you can optimize your top-traffic pages to keep visitors engaged and moving through your website. Take advantage of that extra traffic with conversion rate optimization.
In addition, update your keyword research around topics that are ranking well to determine if you missed anything.
There might be something new uncovered through research that you haven’t optimized for.
Cover all your bases and see how much more extra traffic you can get on top of those already good results. Good can always get better.”
3. What do you think is the most underrated optimization or tactic in enterprise SEO today?
Lillian Haase: “The basics, such as optimized headers and user experience, are still the same.
But the bar for great content and high-performing websites is much higher.
Your content needs to be heads and shoulders above the rest.
For example, the Google Product Reviews Update impacted many affiliate sites.
With these and other Google Updates, the days where you could write basic copy about a product and hoping to rank are gone.
Now, you make your expertise on the topic very clear by providing a truly informed opinion about the product’s performance.”
4. What advice or recommendations do you have for junior SEO professionals who might aspire to a leadership role?
“My advice would be to learn to tell the story of SEO’s impact on the business in terms of revenue.
In other words, if you can communicate the value of organic traffic framed in business terms, you will be heard by leaders in other teams who do not understand the ins and outs of SEO.
They’re looking for the value (often, in financial terms) the channel is bringing the company.
One of the most difficult things I see SEOs struggle with is that they go into unnecessary detail about search engines.
As SEOs, we’re so interested in the many moving pieces of the work, and we get overly excited with the minutiae.
But if no one understands what we’re talking about or they think it’s boring, the message is lost.
Try to focus on business results in your presentations, reports, and in meetings with your superiors, instead.
In most organizations, organic search is undervalued when compared with other channels such as paid search.
If you can find a way to elevate the conversation to business metrics and stay out of the technical details, you’re well on your way towards future opportunities in SEO leadership.
If you can also consistently increase organic traffic, leads, and sales for your organization, you’re also setting yourself up for success.”
5. What does it take to succeed in a role at Searchmetrics?
And are you currently looking for any specific types of talent?
Lillian Haase: “We’re growing our services teams globally, so thanks for asking this and giving me a chance to share a little more.
While we have a variety of roles open, we’re actively recruiting SEO consultants and account executives.
One of the benefits of working for a company of our size is having the opportunity to have your voice heard.
We understand the next great idea can come from anyone at any level.
Successful team members adopt the mindset of builders and innovators and seek out opportunities for growth. Then they present those opportunities with a clear focus on the bottom line.
In general, we look for people that are not just looking to “do the job.”
Yes, we want people skilled in a particular area. However, we want people that are looking to push the envelope by asking, “How can we be better in our function?”
When it comes to culture, we’re looking for a culture add, not a fit.
We understand having a true diverse Searchmetrics family not only includes diversity in gender and ethnic background but also experience and thought.”
Featured Image: Courtesy of Searchmetrics
What To Focus On This Year
As the ball dropped in Times Square at midnight on January 1, 2022, many search engine marketers were tempted to check their analytics and rankings.
It appears that Google has replaced Santa as the purveyor of the “Naughty or Nice” list in the online world.
Some sites receive the gift of better rankings before the New Year.
Others are cleaning the coal dust out of their stockings, running frantic analyses on why they were put on the naughty list.
And I don’t know who needs to hear this, but next year the update will be there after Christmas.
Don’t feel guilty about taking a few days off.
Take some time to think about how you can be even better in the New Year.
That’s what I did.
Below is my list of SEO resolutions for the New Year.
1. Remember To Have Empathy
In my experience, most search engine marketers are very “left-brained.”
Sure, there’s a ton of creativity in the search engine marketing world – but most search engine marketers would rather figure out why a piece of code isn’t loading as fast as it should versus trying to understand the intricacies of a searcher’s mind.
Don’t get me wrong, the technical aspects of SEO and paid search are essential – and without technical savvy, what we do doesn’t work.
But technical fixes are not enough to show continued improvement in your search engine marketing results.
I believe that the best tool any marketer can have is empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of others.
If we as marketers can understand the feelings, motivations, intent, and actions of search engine users, we can create webpages and content that not only provides value to visitors but also increases our site’s bottom line.
I have always prided myself on my ability to empathize with searchers.
But with every core algorithm update or IT person screwing up a site, I find it very easy to put my empathetic impulses on the back burner to chase technical fixes.
Those technical fixes are for Google, not the searchers.
I need to remember to spend as much – or more – time understanding those who make a query as I do looking at ways to improve a site’s performance.
The dividends that come from empathetic marketing practices are usually greater than those gleaned from technical fixes.
All of us in search would be wise to remember this.
2. Automate All The Things
Python, in the hands of a competent programmer, is a powerful tool that can cut the amount of time required for search engine optimization significantly.
Python can help you scrape data to come up with content ideas, analyze common on-page SEO issues, track and analyze issues in your backlink profile and much more.
Those interested in some of the possibilities with Python should read this article: How To Use Python To Analyze SEO Data: A Reference Guide.
As I’ve stated in the past, by definition I am not a coder.
However, I’ve been around code for so long I know what to look for when I’m analyzing how the code will react with the search engines.
For those like me, I encourage you to dig in and learn the basics of the Python language.
No one is going to care if you master the intricacies of the code.
In fact, I would argue that spending too much learning the language is a waste of time.
For me, the end goal of learning about any new technology is to learn its full capabilities and limitations.
If you understand what a piece of software can do, you can then plan what you need and either figure out how to program just what you need or hire someone to program it for you.
It’s almost impossible to hire someone to automate your SEO tactics if you don’t understand how Python (or any other software) can help you achieve your goal.
My goal in 2022 is to learn everything python can do.
If you are a freelance python developer, feel free to hit me up around May, as I suspect I’ll have some projects by then.
3. Get Your Tracking Right
The introduction of Google Analytics 4 has thrown a wrench in a lot of sites’ tracking codes.
Many went from somewhat high confidence that their analytics data was correct to uncertainty.
When you don’t trust your analytics numbers, you can’t make proper decisions.
You can’t plan properly.
We often have prospects that show up with poorly executed tracking.
This has become so much of an issue that we recently implemented a policy where we don’t move on to any other work until the tracking is set up.
And it needs to be set up so everyone in your organization trusts the data.
If you increase traffic by 140% but the boss doesn’t believe the numbers are accurate, no one will get credit. There is a good chance that the tactics used to achieve the increased traffic won’t be approved again in the future.
Why would anyone approve activity that, based upon their worldview, isn’t effective?
On the other hand, if traffic falls and no one trusts the data, it will be almost impossible to accurately diagnose what is causing the traffic decrease – at least in a way where the whole team is on board with the diagnosis and action items to fix the issues.
4. Embrace The Grind
Good SEO is a grind.
In many cases, we are implementing tactics and must wait several weeks before we know if our efforts worked or not.
We’re a lot like farmers – planting our seeds in the code of our sites, watering and caring for the code while knowing that storms from Google or drought from lack of consumer interest may mean a disastrous harvest.
Successful SEO pros embrace the daily grind.
We work on content to bolster our authority.
We check the code daily to make sure nothing is broken.
And when Google announces an upcoming update, the net looks like a town that just heard a storm is coming – SEO professionals work to batten down the hatches, even if we aren’t exactly sure what to do to prepare for the storm.
All-in-all, SEO becomes a list of daily chores.
Those SEO pros that embrace this daily grind are successful.
Those that look for magic bullets and quick fixes end up chasing their tail.
Embrace the grind.
It’s how you show long-term, sustainable SEO success.
If you’ve read this far, I’d love to hear your search engine marketing resolution.
Feel free to post your SEO New Year’s resolution on Twitter using the hashtag #seo2022.
I am looking forward to reading all the new year’s resolution inspiration I’m sure the readers of Search Engine Journal can provide.
Featured image: LanaSweet/Shutterstock
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