C3, Conductor’s annual search and content marketing conference is hands down one of my favorite moments of the year. It’s where I get to catch up with industry friends, long time clients and frankly geek out with my search peeps (yup I said search peeps). One of my favorite parts of the conference is that Patrick Reinhart and I hold a session where we try to rattle off 30+ quick SEO tips and tricks in under 30 minutes.
Then came Covid-19. While we couldn’t have all our search friends, customers or even Conductors in the same place we did what all best marketers do… turn the challenge into an opportunity. We invited industry experts, customers and Conductors’ amazing search team to share their most pressing tips and tricks direct from their quarantine to yours. With that, I give you the written edition of C3 2020 SEO Tips & Tricks hosted by Stephan Bajaio and Patrick Reinhart:
Know Your Audience
#1 Duane Forrester, VP Industry Insights at Yext
Let’s talk about audience. You have to engage with your audience where they are, and that means being where they are. Read surveys, respond to reviews, do focus groups. Take them seriously. Look for trend data based on cohort analysis.
#2 Chris Jones with Conductor
Forums are great places to see how your audience talks about you. Quora or Reddit for industry names and buzzwords.
#3 Jay Mize, SEO Manager for BaylorScott&White Health
One of my favorite ways to understand our audience is to understand the specific vocabulary customers use in online forums. Read what real people are saying on online patient communities, health forums, and sites like Reddit. Their vocabulary informs not only our keyword research but our page content as well.
#4 Lily Ray, Director of SEO at Path Interactive
It’s really important to get to know your audience and the ways they search online. There are a handful of different tools you can use to surface the questions they’re asking, not only on Google but on different search engines like Bing, Twitter, and Youtube. Take inventory of your own content and see if you have answered those questions.
#5 Veronica Falzone with Conductor
Connect paid search and content marketing teams. Use high-conversion paid terms to inform content creation. Your marketing team should use paid search insights to update content and target converting keywords. When there is synergy across teams, you get the best results.
#6 John Shehata, VP Audience Development Strategy at Conde Nast
Google Discover has been a very important source of traffic, not only for publishers but for lots of sites. While a majority of our site is newsy, there is a fair share that is evergreen. The four things I want to share are:
- You must have large, high-resolution images for your content to appear in Google Discover.
- Your content must be mobile-friendly (though you don’t necessarily need AMP).
- Understand the topics that drive Google Discover traffic to your site. What entities in your topics drive the traffic.
- There is a strong correlation between social engagement and Google Discover, especially in the U.S.
#7 Miriam Bornstein with Conductor
It’s important to use custom reports in Google Analytics, particularly the “Next Page Flow” to see where users land and where they go after that.
#8 Ryan Metcalf with DoctorLogic
Often we have to distinguish between the consumer patient term and the medical patient term. The patient may not always know the medical vocabulary, so our process is two-fold: we do keyword research and check those keywords against a manual search in Google to see what related words Google thinks we should be aware of. That helps us see what the common vocabulary is.
If the top results are journals, we know those aren’t for our customers. If it’s a competitor website, we know that’s a keyword we should be going after.
#9 Samantha Pena with Conductor
Check for top ranking reviews for your website to see what customers like and don’t like about your products. Pay special attention to sites that rank on page one. Then pass that info on to sales and product development.
#10 Mark Zimmerman SEO Supervisor at Razorfish
To find trending keywords, we keep a close eye on Google’s auto-populated search suggestions. Sometimes when keywords are trending you won’t see them in tools that look at historical averages, but Google’s auto-populating function is more responsive to immediate trends.
Unlock the Wisdom in Your Organization
A lot of amazing brands have come to realize that they have the answers but they need to get that wisdom to prospective customers. Here’s how some of the best do it.
#11 Duane Forrester, VP Industry Insights at Yext
First, it’s a priority that you build your own knowledge graft. You have to take every fact about your company — its people its products and its history, and you have to compile a knowledge graft that compiles the truth about your company and projects it outwards.
Second, make site search a priority. The amount of data you learn through site search is massive. It’ll inform all your other areas of work.
#12 Anant Choxi with Conductor
Answer boxes are a great way of showing your command of information within the industry and your thought leadership.
- Target keywords that already have answer boxes in their SERPs. Be sure to place those keywords in your titles or header tags — wherever it fits best.
- Make sure that once you place that keyword in your title or header tag, be sure to answer the question as succinctly as possible — with 100 to 150 words.
To own answer boxes, define the terms that have them and answer them better.
#13 Ashley Bentlage with BraunAbility
Use the experts in your company. Talk to people within the walls for content ideas and ask if they would be willing to become authors. Don’t forget to thank them!
#14 Melissa Nicolich with Conductor
Write for humans first and search engines second. Create content that’s going to help someone. If you’re writing useful content, search engines will recognize that you will naturally rank higher.
#15 Alston Lim with Conductor
Having multiple pages rank can be a good strategy when used wisely! You know why consumer product companies have ten brands of shampoo? Because that means you’re more likely to reach for theirs on the supermarket shelf.
#16 Brent Watters with Ariat International
Your customer service team holds valuable knowledge about your product, so talk to them! Hop on the phone and listen to calls. Do whatever you can to listen to customers directly.
#17 Katie Greenwood with Conductor
See where you’re ranking behind Youtube in the SERP. It’s not just a way to come up with new content, it’s also a place to see where your competitors are having conversations with customers — and you’re not.
Show Them The ROI
#18 Doug Cirillo with Conductor
Make sure SEO objectives and insights tightly tie to your company’s revenue and overall goals. Getting people to the site is just the first step. Help your marketing people convert and show off the ROI.
#19 Jake Adelman with Conductor
Google search console can be used to measure search demand for your brand. Use filters to find queries containing your brand name and set date ranges to compare. You’ll be able to see impressions and clicks. To visualize the data, export it to a spreadsheet like Excel or Google Sheets.
#20 Nick Gallagher with Conductor
Breakdown your work and connect it to return. You made optimization in month 1, you made it to SERP page 1 in month 2, and you saw a revenue boost in month 3.
#21 Duane Forrester, VP Industry Insights at Yext
A critical place to show ROI is the correct measurement. Review all the KPIs, determine if you need new ones and if you need to drop old ones. Are people contributing to the knowledge of the site graph? You have to make roles responsible to the KPIs to drive investment.
#22 Corbin Faber with Conductor
You have to agree on what ROI means to you and your team. Defining the metrics you’re reporting on, and making sure everyone knows those objectives will make it easier to communicate how you’re hitting your targets — or if not, why not.
#23 Max Bennet with Conductor
Focus on the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle). Identify the 20 percent of pages that are driving 80 percent of impact and focus your efforts there.
Share and Evangelize Your Knowledge
#24 Mary Palumbo with Conductor
Break down the silos and make sure to provide insights from across departments.
#25 Lily Ray Director of SEO at Path Interactive
Make sure you know who you’re reporting to and what KPIs they care about. Don’t overwhelm other teams with vocabulary or data that doesn’t pertain to them. Consider having a short definition next to KPIs to help explain them.
#26 Max Bennet with Conductor
Implement a Lunch and Learn session to share knowledge across the organization
#27 Zach Kadish with Conductor
Create an internal newsletter to report on high-level metrics.
#28 Jessie Xu with Conductor
Be proactive with your SEO recommendations to make sure SEO is a first thought and not an after-thought when producing content.
#29 Mark Zimmerman with Razorfish
When presenting to management, remember the KISS method — wear makeup. Just kidding! KISS stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. High-level impacts only unless your audience asks for more.
Getting It Done
#30 Sam Lee with Conductor
Don’t over-analyze every recommendation. There are too many players, stakeholders and opinionators in every organization. Pick the ideal state and work backwards. Make sure to attach ROI to every recommendation.
#31 David Osrow with Conductor
When it comes to technical SEO audits, a picture is worth a thousand words. If your goal is to get executive buy-ins for large-scale projects, I recommend including engaging visuals in your deck. Even screen recordings can bridge the gap for stakeholders.
#32 Greg Gifford with Searchlab
For any business with a physical storefront — Google attribution isn’t accurate, and a lot of clicks from mobile devices will show up as direct traffic. If you add UTM tracking to your website link, you will force Google Analytics to correctly track it as organic traffic. Set your UTM source to “gmblisting” and your UTM medium to “organic” and you’ll be all set!
#33 Steve Macchia with Conductor
When you launch a new site, make sure you remove any blocks you may have had in your staging environment, such as in the robots.txt file. Migration robots need not be blocked.
#34 Corbin Faber with Conductor
When you make a recommendation, use outside examples on a competitor’s site to validate it. This will add urgency to the recommendation, and the rec becomes tangible.
#35 Duane Forrester VP Industry Insights at Yext
Make other people the hero. When you leverage other people, their expertise and insights, to get your work done, This is about getting the work done. They’re the ones on the front lines, and you’re helping them get their work done. It also helps you build a network, and your boss will know you were the catalyst to get it done.
#36 Jay Pillitteri with Conductor
Expected ROI can help to convince others to execute your SEO strategy. You can approximate your site’s click-through-rate curve based on position and click data, narrow it down to a target keyword, and estimate the expected traffic from ranking higher for that keyword.
#37 Mari Irby with Condutor
It’s important to understand the types of results that populate the SERP for a given search when targeting a keyword or topic. You can use the information on the SERP to optimize your content.
There’s something to be said about seeing and hearing these tips and tricks in video format (plus I have some pretty great dad jokes mixed in you surely won’t want to miss). Check out and share the C3 SEO Tips & Tricks Video