I have begun my fifteenth year in the search engine marketing industry. Since day one we have been told that “Content is King”, but there are so many other factors involved to succeed at SEO and PPC that we often chase down the latest ways to exploit the weaknesses in the Google algorithm, which is constantly being tweaked to better understand what the best answer is to a searcher’s question. Links are extremely important and hard to get, but the days of cheating at them have been somewhat algorithmically eliminated. Google values real, reputable links, and sort of ignores the others. They are better and better at eliminating cheaters (though those in the local arena may argue against their ability to weed out “Crap on the Map“) and we are sort of getting back to the basics. Through all of the noise, content is still king, and maybe more so than ever.
Pruning Content for SEO
My first session dug into methods to prune old content so you can focus your site on the content that is really working for you. Google is only going to look at so much of your content, so you want to make sure to make the most of the pages in their index. You have to be careful about what and how you hack your lower value content by measuring the traffic, those important inbound links, and rankings. Pruning is important, but pruning the right pages can be the difference between sharp jumps in organic traffic and a sharp decline.
Testing the Content of Your Ad Copy for PPC
We don’t think of “Content is King” as much with PPC, but even with your Google Ads, it is important. Several consecutive sessions took me down the road of testing best performing ads, including research that showed the old fashioned shorter text ads converted at a much higher rate than the newer, longer options. Testing your ad content and matching ad copy to user personas has shown significant improvement over the bland old matching of the keyword directly to the headline. Think about the different types of people searching that keyword and what their intent is. With the new responsive search ads, throw in headlines that would match each of these user intents and see how they perform. You may see a drop in performance in the early going as Google weeds out the horribly ineffective combinations, but it will eventually start combining your content in efficient ways. Another tip is to leave your high performing expanded text ads in the adgroups as a benchmark for Google to compare performance against with the RSA’s.
Content Structure and Performance
Once I had gone through a few solid PPC focused sessions, I returned to a content-based session on performance and structure. We all know speed matters and learned some nice tools to help speed up the delivery of your content, but structured data (easier presentation of your content to the search engines) and information architecture, or the structuring of your content into important content or topic silos leads to big gains in how Google and users can access your content. With the proper content architecture, you can strengthen the content you have to create more E-A-T.
Dominating Your Topic Areas with Great Content
The final session before a great keynote finale by Roger Dooley (author of Friction, check it out) was about dominating your topic categories. Tony Wright took us on a tour of the SERP’s and all of the places you should be aiming to show up by building content on your own, and other sites, that gets you all over the search results and all through the funnel from exploration to buying. Great insights by Tony followed by a compelling presentation by Chris Scherting, guiding us step by step to how she overhauled her marketing department with everything she learned at a prior Pubcon, and by hitting the fundamentals of SEO and content marketing, saw dramatic increases in solid traffic and positioning in Google. A great talk that really simplified the process and made the complicated feel achievable. Great simplification for smaller business marketing departments.
I went to Pubcon unsure of what to expect. I am an annual attendee to SMX Advanced, which I find extremely valuable for me and my business. I had heard good things about Pubcon, and with all of the recent Google updates, I thought this was the year to try it out. I will likely be back. I would recommend it if you can get to one. They hold a few throughout the year. Find one convenient for you on their website.