Posts about search engine optimization

Intro to Local SEO

If you’ve spent any time in the world of search engine optimization (SEO), you know it’s always changing. For geographically bound businesses, building out local SEO is an excellent strategy for capturing additional market share. Local searchers, both on desktop and mobile, often know exactly what they’re looking for, and your business needs to be ready for them. By using local SEO strategies and services to your advantage, you can be at the top of Google results at the right time and place for your customers. Learn how to rank highly in local SEO results and beat out your competitors.

What is Local SEO?

Local search engine optimization is all about effectively marketing your business online to customers in a close radius. Using local SEO strategies like building out reviews, using business directories, and creating localized content can help companies to rank highly on search engine results pages, where web users will discover them. 46% of Google searches are local, 50% of local mobile searches are looking for a specific business, and 78% of local mobile searches result in an offline purchase, according to BrightLocal. Mobile search and online shopping are increasing each year rapidly, so developing a strategy to convert mobile buyers is essential for success.

There are many advantages to local SEO, as it has a much higher return on investment (ROI) than other advertising methods. Local search relies on proximity and convenience. Customers native to your area and those visiting rely on search engines to find businesses and reviews, and if they can’t find your information, they won’t purchase from you. A solid overall SEO strategy will help you in local search results, but there are additional steps you can take to boost your rankings and attract more business in your area.

How Can I Boost My Local SEO Rankings?

Succeed in local SEO marketing by engaging with your customers and becoming verified locally. Taking these steps will help your business on its way toward the top of the page for local SEO results:

  • Garner Additional Reviews — High-quality reviews with pictures and text on your Google My Business page and other platforms like Yelp and Facebook build up your profile. You can ask customers to write reviews but can’t offer them any compensation.
  • Reply to Those Reviews — Answering reviews, both positive and negative, can help boost your position. You’re actively engaging with customers, which shows you care about your business to Google and potential customers.
  • Use Google + Local — Link your Google My Business page to a Google + Local page and use the social media platform to post new content and engage with customers
  • Utilize Social Media — Depending on your business, use different social media platforms to connect with your customers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Post photos of your business, upload new content and reply to questions and reviews.
  • Link to Qualified Data Sources — Many potential customers trust third-party websites like Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau to verify the authenticity and trustworthiness of a business. If these types of organizations link to your site, it can help you show up on Google’s radar.
  • Consistency for Structured Citations- It’s vital that your business’s Complete Name, Address, and Phone Number (known as NAP) are correct and consistent across all uses online. A “structured citation” is your business’s listing on an online local business directory. If your company has multiple incorrect phone numbers, different names, and wrong addresses, it will lower your ability to show up in results.

Take these steps, and you’ll be on your way to ranking highly for local search results. Your business type and competition may require additional steps to push your website to the top of the rankings and into Google’s local three-pack (the three local sites near the searcher’s GPS location).

How Can I Differentiate My Website from Competitors?

By following many of the previous steps, you probably already have an advantage over competitors in your local market. Many businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing and are therefore decreasing its usability. Using additional local SEO tactics can help you claim one of the top spots:

  • Encourage More Reviews — Getting high-quality reviews will help you beat out the competition. Aim for detailed, five-star reviews.
  • Use Specific Google My Business Categories — Google allows you to specify categories for your business website and to be precise and intentional can help you flourish. Don’t overload Google with categories, but do target all areas of your business.
  • Research Your Competitors — Employ simple market research. If a competitor is beating you, see what they’re doing and do it better. If you’re an ice cream shop and your competitor is offering a loyalty program, create a more seamless program with better rewards.
  • List a Physical Address — Whether you have an actual store for customers to visit, a real address that’s not a P.O. Box or virtual is necessary. Google values individual addresses in the city of search.

If you need additional advice on how to beat out rival businesses, talk to Leverage Marketing about our local SEO services. Our SEO team will implement a strategy based on your goals, growing your organic traffic and helping you get discovered in local search results. Contact us today to see how the Leverage Way can make a difference for your business.

Are Featured Snippets Better than Other Rich Search Results?

If you’re looking from the perspective of SEO, featured snippets are better than other rich search results for one reason:

Featured snippets are among the last externally linking rich search results in Google SERPs.

externally linking cloud

There are still some Google search results that require a clickthrough to get all the information you want (for example, news articles have rich listings in Google, but you can’t get a full article without clicking through). However, Google has started to provide most information through its extraordinarily-sized database.

Many of today’s rich search results link internally back to other Google pages, and even more still provide an answer to a query almost immediately – which means that the user no longer needs to click through to your website to receive his or her answer.

But featured snippets strike a balance: they often answer a question, but leave the remaining content that explains the answer on the page to which the link provided leads. That way, users looking for a quick answer have no need to click through, but those who want a full explanation (and perhaps your product or service) must visit your website.

Why Are Featured Snippets Better (for Businesses & Websites)?

Google’s featured snippets are better for businesses and websites than other rich search results because they bring happy and informed customers to your site. Customers who have their initial questions answered but want to know more are often ideal customers, and the featured snippet does a lot of the filtering for you.

But when comparing featured snippets directly to rich search results, there are additional reasons:

Because Google Still Dominates Most Rich Search Results

Google collects lots of data (anonymously) on its users and their behaviors. But they also collect information, reviewed and tested against other information, and provide it to searchers through their rich search results. For example:

People Also Ask

Drop-down question-and-answer menus provide quick answers from website content to common queries that follow an initial query. Like featured snippets, they do link externally, but also feature an additional link to a further Google search and provide quick answers to questions.

Here, we searched for how to invest, and the provided information is plentiful.

how to invest google question and answer

No need to click through – I already know what to invest in and can find out how to get started right here.

Celebrity & Movie Profiles

Google a decently well-known celebrity and odds are good that Google has a host of information on him or her readily available on the right side of your search result. Here, we’ve Googled comedy actor Nasim Pedrad:

nasim pedrad celebrity profile in google

Her images lead to a Google Images search result, her provided profile information links to Google searches, and so do her well-known movies and TV shows links. Her social media links (below the frame of the picture provided) link outward, but everything else is an internal Google link.

Carousels (Movies, Sports, Music)

Google carousels are handy since they pack in a lot of easily accessible information, but they also predominantly feature internal Google links. This search for 80s pop brings up a dense carousel through which you can scroll:

80s pop songs google carousel result

And, you guessed it, every link is a Google search result. Vevo, a YouTube partner, gets top priority on the video search results at the top of the music pages.


Since Google now owns YouTube, they also own all the data that comes with it. That means that you can get all the info on beloved songs and artists just below a video pulled straight from YouTube or a YouTube partner.

youtube video result in google SERPs for jackson 5 song

But all links contained in the rich video result are internal links – nothing from anywhere but Google.

Other Information-Seeking Queries

The same goes for definitions and medical panels – each result is highly customized to prioritize already existing data from Google or to pull the most important information from Google’s web index.

Featured snippets are superior to these types of rich media for businesses and websites because they pull info straight from your website and quickly link directly to it. But those snippets are also better than the few outwardly linking search results that are still around.

Because There Are Only a Few Rich Results that Still Link out

The bit of information provided by featured snippets is superior to most of the existing outward-linking rich results. Shopping and news results link out to retailers and news outlets, respectively, but don’t provide the small bit of information that helps filter potential customers.


While certain shopping results still provide Google-dominated panels that look much like a celebrity or movie result, the shopping carousel is still the most common rich result.

google tv shopping search result

It continues to provide pricing information straight from manufacturer and retailer websites, and transactions still occur straight through those sites.


As they were most likely originally designed to do, news results on Google entice potential readers with headlines and featured images.

political news carousel google search result

Clicking on any part of the rich result takes you to the news outlet’s website, where you can experience the entire story.

But featured snippets still have more pulling power, especially since most people already have preferred news outlets through which they search for and consume news.

Because They Establish Serious Authority for Your Website

It’s not necessarily measurable through Google’s wealth of user data, but the featured snippet builds a certain level of trust with your audience. Google has done well to create trust in their users, and that trickles down to the search results that Google’s advanced algorithm deems worthy.

We returned to our how to invest search query for its featured snippet:

how to invest google featured snippet

Investopedia is already trusted by countless customers, and they rewarded those customers with quality content that now sits at the top of the SERP. Should you achieve a featured snippet, you’ll be in good company; extremely well-trusted websites such as and the United States Census Bureau claim featured snippets across Google SERPs.

You’ll earn extreme trust points from your customers if you continuously provide featured-snippet-worthy content to Google and put it in front of your customers’ eyes. There’s absolutely no harm in reaching for other rich search results, as well, but remember that the featured snippet is, in this SEO climate, your best externally-linking friend in Google SERPs.

Learn about structured data and how you can take advantage of it by using Google’s guidelines.

We’ve got blogs in featured snippets, and we’d love to put yours up there, too. Talk to us about getting some help with your SEO or content marketing today!

5 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your SEO

For many business owners new to the world of digital marketing, there is often a common misconception that SEO and social media are separate entities, each operating in their own world with distinct goals. SEO and organic social media marketing work together to create value and provide relevance for your audience. Any good digital marketing strategy should do its best to have both SEO and social media working together, in tandem. In this article, we will look at five ways that SEO works together with social media to bring more visitors to your site.

1.)  Social Media Allows for Content Promotion

social media amplifying SEOThe first way that social media can (indirectly) help your search engine ranking is through content promotion. We might write, film, or record tons of great quality, keyword-optimized content but still not get many eyes and ears consuming it. Social media allows you to take the quality content you have worked hard to produce and promote it on several channels.

Social media is the easiest and most effective way to push out your SEO-based content. While the incoming links from your social media shares don’t have the same impact as authentic links from high-quality sites, they can influence your bounce rate and time-on-site engagement. If your content is good and people stick around to read it, those engagement metrics communicate value to search engines. Your goal should be to turn your best organic content into social media content so you can then encourage engagement and drive traffic back to your site.

2.)  Social Media Encourages More Engagement

The second way that social media can improve your site’s SEO is through increased engagement. If somebody finds our content useful and shares it within a social media platform, this is not a ranking signal for Google or Bing. However, the good news is that engagement is!

If you take full advantage of social media to promote your top quality content, you want to keep in mind that engagement matters for SEO. Engagement helps to not only improve your online reputation but also to make connections and generate leads for your business. Content that gets tons of engagement on social media platforms will rank for the topics they cover. According to Moz, “to determine success, an algorithm looks at whether users engaged. If more people engage that’s a clear sign that their algorithm is showing this right content; if not, their systems will audition other content instead to find something that generates that interest.”

3.) Social Sharing Can Lead to Link Building

link building through social mediaSocial media can also lead to authentic, high-quality links from influential websites. Influencers use social media as much as (or even more than) anyone else. With your content out there on the same channels they’re on, there’s a good chance they’ll see it and link to it from their own websites or blogs. That kind of high-value link building from influencer marketing can be impossible to land at a high rate without social media.

Social media is also useful for SEO because it encourages more external sites to link to your content, and the more diverse external links you have, the more authority you’ll gain in Google’s eyes. The catch is that you have to have high-quality, authoritative content or you will have nothing of real value to attract links.

4.) Increased Brand Awareness Improves Your SEO Rankings

The fourth way that social media contributes to SEO is through increasing brand awareness. This may seem like more of a branding advantage than a specific SEO advantage, but the SEO benefit is huge! Increasing your reputation on social media, through increased engagement and publishing consistent, high-quality content, will lead to increased online brand presence. An ever-increasing brand presence will lead to more branded searches on Google over time. The more branded searches your brand receives, the higher it’s likely to rank for non-branded keywords.

5.) Google’s Partnership with Twitter

Twitter bird Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that Google has a partnership with Twitter. We do not know precisely what this means for the future of social and search marketing. However, we know it is common to see relevant tweets in the Google search results, for branded searches. Having your Twitter posts showing up in the search results does not impact your site’s SEO, but it can improve your brand awareness, authority, and lead to increased link building with other sites. According to the renowned marketer, Neil Patel, there are several ways one can take advantage of the Twitter/Google partnership with the most obvious one being to remember to tweet and to tweet often. As long as this partnership exists, user search will lead tweets (and Twitter hashtags) with similar keywords.

Wrapping Up…

Although social media often works to improve your website’s organic rank in Google, it has the ability to serve as an invaluable tool over time! Whether it’s through content promotions, boosted engagement, more link-building, increased brand awareness, or taking advantage of Google’s relationship with Twitter, you will leverage social media to increase your organic traffic and conversions via search.

Leverage Marketing’s SEO and social media marketing teams are ready to help you improve your site’s traffic and engagement. Contact Leverage today to learn more about our services.

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Old School vs. New School SEO Strategy

There’s no question that the world of search engine optimization (SEO) has changed drastically since the advent of Google and its original competitors like Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, and AltaVista back in the 1990s. SEO marketing strategies have adapted to modern user trends, Google’s algorithm updates, and today’s technology. Old school SEO relied on agencies and websites gaming search engines to pull in customers and become first in the rankings. Even though many outdated SEO techniques no longer work, they’re still common advice given to new content creators and SEO specialists.

These outdated SEO strategies and content writing can penalize your sites, as Google recognizes and demotes websites with low-quality or irrelevant content as of its Panda and Penguin updates.

Google large SEO

Old School SEO (late 1990s-late 2000s)New School SEO (early 2010s-forward)
Ranking for all keywordsRank for relevant keywords
Use multiple variations of the same keywordKeywords are secondary to content
Keyword stuffingUse keywords sparingly
Continuously reuse evergreen contentWrite new, relevant content
Put links, keywords, and tags into footerUse a clean footer with important information
Cloaking (one page to search engine, another to users)Never employ black hat SEO practices
Overusing internal links with same anchor textOnly employ internal links when pertinent, use anchor text that fits within content
Dedicated pages for every keyword variant, separate microsites, and domainsAppropriate landing pages for content, but no additional pages to rank
Unstrategic linkbait to get users to clickAppropriate titles that draw users in

Learn how to avoid the black-hat methods of old-school SEO and use updated SEO techniques to target your customers.

How Did Old School SEO Work?

SEO content has evolved drastically in the two decades since we started using search engines, but it had to start somewhere. While some examples of “how it used to be” are exaggerated, writing for SEO used to mean:

  • Keyword Stuffing– Jam keywords everyone you can—in the content, into tags, into locations. The more keywords you could fit onto a page, the higher it would rank.
  • Keyword Variants– If your primary keyword target was “engagement ring,” you’d use dozens of variations on that—like “diamond engagement ring,” “engagement rings,” “engagement rings jewelry,” etc. It would go on endlessly to attempt to hit any keyword match possible. Without the power of broad match keywords, exact matches were a necessity.
  • Cloaking and Writing for Engines– Back in the early days of SEO, cloaking was common. You’d develop a set of SEO keywords for the search engines and show the users something totally different on the page. Sometimes this created instances where the keywords didn’t match the content at all.

SEO strategy evolved over the 2000s, as keyword stuffing become less common, domain names were no longer keyword intensive, and links become the most important part of SEO content writing. Google’s algorithms grew more sophisticated, and the search engine market started to shrink. By the end of the decade, only Google and Microsoft were real players in the market—and SEO specialists were developing their techniques to suit their algorithms.

penguin google

How Does SEO Work in 2018?

So how has writing for SEO changed in two decades? Should content writing even focus on SEO and keywords anymore? The goal today is to solve the searcher’s query. Content should answer questions people are asking, helping them accomplish their task. That can be purchasing a product, learning how to complete a DIY task, or educating themselves about a new topic. Content that performs these goals will be most successful. Additionally, some SEO strategies have gotten simpler, and some more complex in response to Google’s changes in its Panda and Penguin updates. Panda can detect lower quality, and thin or plagiarized content and Penguin can easily detect link and tag manipulation. Algorithmic updates affect site rankings and SEO content writing, but good writing is more likely to rank highly.

  • Intent Matching– Inserting every single keyword variant is no longer necessary. Instead, think about the searcher’s intent. Write a piece of content and use keywords that factor that intent in. Using the engagement ring example, a single page about how to purchase the perfect engagement ring would suffice, incorporating several relevant keyword phrases.
  • The Tags that Matter– Whereas all tags used to be stuffed with keywords, only a few really matter anymore. Those are the title element and body content. These are the areas in which you need to use your keywords. It’s still valuable to use keywords in other places, like the URL field, meta description, and image alt attributes, but they’re not necessary.
  • User Experience Reigns Supreme– With Google Analytics to view engagement data, you can see how users interact with your content. That means that the experience of reading content and engaging with your website is more important than ever before and contributes to Google’s rankings. High-quality writing that your users interact with provides results.

Develop SEO Optimized Content

When developing content in 2018, create a workflow that incorporates SEO strategy for the modern age. Follow some basic steps, and you’ll be on your way to crafting first-class content that your users want to read.

  1. Develop a keyword list you want to target
  2. Determine what searchers want to achieve with their queries
  3. Create an outline and draft your piece
  4. Write primarily for the audience, integrating the keywords
  5. Figure out why people will want to share this—make it exciting

If you’re still employing old school or black hat SEO tactics at your company, Leverage Marketing can help you start employing new techniques. Our content marketing team knows how to write for SEO and connect with your audience.

How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

Repeat after me: There is no such thing as a “magic SEO snake oil” that will rank your site #1 on Google by tomorrow. Plenty of non-reputable internet companies promise SEO results in a practically-instant time frame, but let’s be realistic – SEO is a wine that gets better over time. Like a fine Cabernet Sauvignon from the south of France, you’d be doing it an injustice to judge the results after one month. SEO and red wine are both usually much better after years of care and development.

Wine metaphors aside, you no doubt want to know how long SEO will take so you can determine how soon to expect your investment to pay off. SEO analysts like me want to know too, which is why there’s a lot of research out there on this relationship between SEO and time. There are a lot of different ways to look at the data, butfor this article, I decided to focus on the power of content.

At Leverage, we’re big believers in content as a cornerstone of good SEO. Telling search engines and users what each page is about is a win-win: both humans and search engines need language to understand what’s on the site. With a good content-driven SEO strategy in place, a site can be optimized for search queries that match up with your offerings.

Content’s potential is often underrated and misunderstood by digital marketing industry insiders and outsiders alike. That’s why I’ve taken a dive into some of our agency’s data to get a better idea of how quickly SEO works with a content-focused strategy, and how long the strategy takes to increase site visibility and drive traffic to individual pages of a site.

What We Looked At

After noticing trends in the performance of the blog posts on the Leverage Marketing website, I wondered about the link between keyword-optimized content and organic search performance. How long after publishing an article did SEO take? How long did our blog articles take to start showing up on the search result pages on the first, second, or third pages, where someone would find them and click on them?

I was also interested in the relationship between time and SEO results for our clients, and knew we had the data that would help me get the full picture of Leverage’s SEO success.

I looked at a small sample of key landing pages from three sites – one lead-generation focused site, one ecommerce site, and our very own site,

I wanted to isolate the impact of adding optimized content to individual pages (while performing standard technical SEO optimizations to ensure top performance).

It’s easy to point at total organic traffic levels and say, “there, that’s where we started performing SEO, so that’s how long SEO took to work for my site.”

SEO improvement over time concept

Obviously, this growth is the bottom line that you want to see when starting an SEO campaign. However, it’s interesting to drill down and look at growth on a more specific scale – in this case, the growth of traffic to an individual page after a big SEO improvement, such as adding keyword-optimized content.

When you look at keyword-optimized content’s impact page by page, you can watch how quickly your SEO strategy really worked to start changing the way people find your site.

How We Defined “Success”

There are a lot of different ways to measure “SEO success”. The average SEO analyst knows that there’s an endless number of variables that can be analyzed to determine success – traffic levels, keyword rankings, leads/sales, site engagement, and much more. Asking “how long SEO takes to work” only has meaning if we define what it means for SEO to “work”.

For these cases, I chose to look at the number of organic entrances to certain pages.

Why? I wanted to be able to specifically isolate the effect of publishing good content on important pages. Total traffic is, of course, important, as are visits coming to your site via any page. But by just watching the growth of 5 fledgling pages into full-grown, highly-trafficked pages, I can get a much more granular look at the time frame of SEO results driven by that content improvements on a site.

What about conversions? Let’s be real – the reason you, as a website owner, care about SEO, is not higher traffic or lower bounce rates. You care that people are completing desired actions on your site, such as purchases, lead form completions, phone calls, newsletter signups, etc. The increased traffic level that SEO drives to your site is only important if those visitors are converting. We know this, and are by no means discounting that fact by just looking at site entrances in this article.

However, in all the examples I looked at, the increase in traffic also resulted in an increase in the conversions that keep these sites in business. Assuming that your offering is honest and is something people want, and that your site’s design makes it easy for visitors to get that offering, good SEO = more traffic = more conversions. But for the sake of demonstrating how long SEO takes to work, we’re just looking at the time it took to drive more traffic to the site, because that was good traffic that did translate into conversions.

What You Should Consider About This Data

You can get really in the weeds trying to judge different sites’ SEO successes next to each other. It isn’t as simple a task as it might seem. There are a lot of factors that can impact how long SEO will take to work on a site, such as:

  • Site upgrades, redesigns, domain moves, CMS updates, etc. – Were there any big technical changes that impacted SEO-related facets of the site? Big changes can affect rankings and site visibility in many, many ways.
  • Investment – How much time has been spent investing money and time into SEO for this site? Higher investment can often mean quicker results.
  • Starting point – How much work was needed to solidify the technical aspects of the site before core SEO activities like content creation and implementation could take place? How old is the domain? If there was a lot of setup work taking up resources early on, or if the site is brand new, sometimes it takes time to gain momentum.
  • Competition — How competitive are the queries that you’re trying to rank for? It’s going to take longer to see results if you’re looking to rank for something highly competitive or something that is already dominated by a large set of strong websites – the higher the mountain, the longer the climb.
  • Conversion-friendliness/site design — How good is the user experience of the site? If the design is poor or the calls to action are not clear, people are going to bounce off your site, which will not help SEO.

That’s just a shortlist. There are many factors that play intosite rankings, and even the most seasoned of SEO professionals are still trying to determine the exact algorithmic minutia. The results we saw in these three cases are by no means standards, guarantees, or expectations – every single site is different, and therefore, the time frame for SEO results is going to be different, too.

That being said, I listed all the underlying factors that affected how long SEO took for each of these cases so you could get an idea of how much variation we have to take into account, even just across three sites. There’s no one great way to “hold all other factors constant” as you would in a classic scientific experiment, so I’ve taken care to state the facts, make conclusions about their effects on our data, and to give you the opportunity to do the same.

Case #1: Lead Generation for a Local Service Business

For a client with a local business and several strong competitors in the area, we knew before beginning our SEO campaign that we needed to strengthen the sparse content on their site to grab top local rankings. To do this, we began to build out pages that addressed each specific service the business offers. Let’s look at the effect that expanding and editing all that content, along with making technical improvements in the background, had for this site.

Some factors playing into how long SEO took to work for this site:

  • This website had some less-than-great SEO work performed on it before becoming a Leverage client, spammy link-building being the main issue. Our team was able to resolve existing problems, but a domain’s past can never truly be erased.
  • The site already had some thin content on most of the pages we looked at here, but our team expanded and optimized these pages upon beginning the SEO campaign.
  • We performed a redesign of the site to improve and simplify many factors, SEO and otherwise.
  • This is a local client, so traffic tends to be relatively light, as it is with most specialty local service websites.
SEO over time first case study

Fig. 1: Percentage growth in organic page entrances for 8 studied pages, as compared to pre-campaign benchmark (week 0)

We spent several weeks at the beginning of the campaign (weeks 0-22) redesigning the look and feel of the site, as well as squaring up technical issues and cleaning up bad links and citations. Content was implemented at the same time the redesign of the site was launched. Afterward, the number of entrances to the site via those pages over each following week was an average of 357% higher than it was in the weeks before content optimization.

organic page entrances by month

Fig. 2: Number of organic page entrances each month, with each page represented by a different color line.

We’ve built a lot of new pages on this site since we began our big SEO campaign changes in February 2017, so we just looked at pages that had been on the site for a while rather than new ones that we added as we continued the campaign. As you can see, there’s a big lift after the date where we implemented SEO-optimized content. We did a lot of the technical clean-up behind the scenes over the August 2016-January 2017 period so that the foundation of the site would be as clean as possible when we relaunched it with a new look and new content.

Another interesting note is that some pages performed significantly better than others – notice the dark blue line representing one page that obviously took off, while the black line representing another only saw small improvements. That’s going to happen in any SEO campaign – some pages are simply searched for more often than others. In this case, the black line is a main page speaking to commercial services, while the blue line represents a specific residential service page. In this client’s industry, a lot more people are searching for residential services than commercial ones, so we weren’t surprised to see a lot more growth on the residential page.

So how long did SEO take to work for this site?

From the time frame when we launched the core content implementations, SEO results tended to grow more impressive each month. The biggest jumps in growth, when compared to our benchmark monthly entrances, occurred 1 month after the initial improvements, where entrances were ~200% higher than benchmark, and saw more growth about 8-9 months after implementation.

growth in organic page entrances

Fig. 3: Percentage growth in organic page entrances over 8 studied pages, by month, as compared to pre-campaign benchmark.

Case #2: Ecommerce in a Niche Industry

Next, I looked at a slightly different scenario. This client’s website is a large ecommerce store that offers many products in a high-dollar, high-demand niche industry.

For our SEO strategy, we focused on strengthening this client’s content resources, mostly on product category pages. By indicating to search engines what each category was offering, we hoped to see an improvement in rankings as a reward for providing more information.

Some factors playing into how long SEO took to work for this site:

  • This website contained little to no content before the SEO campaign began.
  • The site is quite large, containing hundreds of categories and subcategories of products.
  • The domain has been operational for a relatively long time, giving it a great amount of authority.
  • No SEO practices had previously been pursued on the site.
  • Traffic levels are very high on this site.
  • The client has pursued SEO for a shorter time – 7 months.
percentage growth of organic entrances

Fig. 4: Percentage growth of organic entrances over 5 studied pages, as compared to pre-campaign benchmark.

After adding optimized content to 5 core product categories, we saw an average of 164.53% more organic entrances to the site each week through these pages.

I noticed that one of the pages I studied was a serious outlier. “Page Z”, as I’ll call it, performed significantly better after adding content than the other four pages did, though those four pages still performed far above benchmark.

organic entrance comparison

Fig. 5: Total number of organic entrances to Page Z (blue) as compared to the total number of organic entrances to the other 4 studied pages (orange)

Page Z saw entrance numbers that were, on average, 204.39% higher than its pre-campaign number of entrances, while the other four pages averaged about 44% higher each month than the benchmark. While all 5 pages represent a great improvement for this short time period, the outlier is an incredibly high performer!

Since the site previously had little to no content for search engines to crawl, we suspected that search engines weren’t truly getting the best understanding of what each page was offering shoppers, and therefore wasn’t ranking the pages all that well in the search results. Once we added some optimized content to these 5 top-priority, high-traffic product category pages, we saw huge growth. From May (pre-SEO) to July 2017 alone, there was a 79.1% increase in entrances through these pages, and the rest of 2017 saw weekly entrances to these pages about 165% higher than before the campaign started.

In Page Z’s case, there is a ton of relevant search volume that the page simply wasn’t capturing before we added content, because Google didn’t fully understand the offerings of the page without written content. Once we added content, results showed up almost immediately.

So how long did SEO take to work for this site?

combined organic entrances

Fig. 6: Percentage growth in organic page entrances over all 5 studied pages, by month, as compared to pre-campaign benchmark

With this site, we’ve only been running the campaign for a bit over 6 months now, so time will tell how much more growth we’ll get over the next few months. The reason I chose this client to look at, despite the short time period, is that some of the pages we observed performed incredibly well once content was added to the page.

The boost in entrances to the site via this single product category was as close to “instant” as exists in the SEO world. Why? Well, it’s never possible to be 100% sure, but this is a big site on an established domain that receives thousands of visits a day. It already held pretty good authority and has a healthy amount of good backlinks. For big, established sites, the time frame of SEO results may be a little shorter – in this case, big gains only 1-2 months in.

Case #3: Blog Post Performance on the Leverage Marketing Website

I also looked at the performance of content on this very site to get an idea of how long SEO efforts were taking to work for our site – in this case, how long it takes our articles to gain value and show up in the search results. We decided to look at some of our top-performing blog posts from the past couple of years to see how long it took for content pieces to really take off.

Some factors playing into how long SEO took to work for this site:

  • These blog articles aren’t being posted in a vacuum – we’re always updating other things on (and off) our site.
  • We obviously didn’t post every one of these studied blog posts at one time, so I compared their progress by the time for which the article has been published on the site – not the exact dates, but the time elapsed.
  • We only looked at brand-new blog posts for these numbers – these are our top-performing posts excluding posts that were older and updated by a member of our team. The effect of making changes to content is not comparable to creating all-new content, so refurbished content performance is another SEO analysis for another day!
organic growth of Leverage blogs

Fig. 7: Percentage growth of organic entrances over 13 studied blog posts, as compared to the first full month of having published each page. (“Month 1” is the first incomplete month of blog’s existence, “Month 2” is first full benchmarked month)

The percentage of improvement from the first full month of each blog post’s existence is notable – out of 13 of our top-performing new blog posts, we saw an average of 691% more entrances to the site via those posts than the month they were published.

So how long did SEO take to work for this site?

The biggest average improvement from initial entrance measurements were around the 7th and 8th month since the blog was published, and again around the post’s one-year anniversary. We did see growth right off the bat, as with the other cases, but it took over half a year to see things REALLY pick up.

To get an even better idea of how these blog posts affected the SEO results on our site, we also looked at what effect these blog posts had on the site overall. To do this, we compared three things:

  • Percentage growth in organic entrances to the site as they are now (orange)
  • Organic entrances to the site not counting the entrances via the 13 blogs we looked at in this analysis (blue)
  • Organic entrances to the site without any of our blogging efforts counted (gray)
site entrance benchmark

Fig. 8: Percentage growth in total entrances to any page of the LM site, as compared to a benchmark in August 2016

The most interesting note here is how much our digital marketing blogs have contributed to the growth of our site. If we hadn’t started focusing more on adding content about digital marketing on our blog’s site, the organic entrances to our site wouldn’t have grown nearly as much – or possibly even at all. Again, this test is somewhat impossible to truly recreate, as each page of our site affects the health of the others, so it’s hard to say that the entrances to our site really would have been looking like those sad gray bars. However, it is clear that our blogging matters – to the long-term health of our site, our company, and our readers. (Don’t believe it? I wrote more about why blogging matters here)

What Does It All Mean?

So how long will you have to wait for SEO to start working and for those newly-optimized pages to start driving big growth to your site? The answer is the same here as in other aspects of SEO: it depends.

I’m not going to tell you that you’re always going to need to wait 8 months to see big jumps in results, like we did in Case 1 and Case 3 – because as we saw in Case 2, the time frame for SEO results isn’t always that long! On the other hand, I would never advise you to expect certain results in month 1 or 2, because as we saw in Case 3, our posts saw very few organic entrances until long after that. If we’d given up and deleted them in month 3 (or not even posted them at all), imagine all that traffic we would’ve missed out on!

The Disclaimer

Don’t forget: there is no secret SEO success formula. Optimizing content and adding it to your site may not always be enough – if your site has a lot of underlying technical issues that are preventing or hampering indexation, affecting the way your page renders to search engines or users, or causing users to bounce off your site, all the content optimization in the world isn’t going to really impact your site as much as you’d like it to. Sometimes, we SEO analysts find ourselves fixing many problems clients didn’t even know they had, but that were hurting their rankings badly.

Content itself isn’t really an easy win either – if you optimize your content for too many or too few keywords, use keywords that aren’t quite the right fit, or optimize without a clear strategy, you aren’t going to see results, and you might even run into site penalizations for trying to “trick” search engines.

If you’re waiting on your current SEO strategy to start driving results, it’s possible that it’s just going to be a long game – but it’s more likely that you should think about bringing in the experts to make sure your time and money are being maximized the way they should be. Getting a holistic and detailed review of your site’s current SEO standing can help not only get your site on the right track, but can also help you uncover the underlying problems that may be holding it back.

So, how quickly does SEO work? Work with Leverage and find out for yourself.

Special thanks to my fellow Leverage Marketing analysts Michael Holeman, Dan Valle, and Madeline Jacobson for pitching in some of their time and brainpower for this article!

Ready to see big SEO results sooner rather than later? We can help with that. Get in touch with our all-star SEO specialists today to get your site up to speed, or sign up for our email newsletter to get more SEO knowledge like this dropped into your inbox every few weeks.

What Does an SEO Analyst Do for You?

SEO analysts are experts at presenting your website to major search engines. They prepare your website for indexing and improve its rankings by poring over the wealth of data available through analytical tools. Then they draw conclusions, brainstorm ideas for improvement, and implement those ideas.

The process sounds simple, but once you start breaking down the individual tasks that an SEO performs on a daily basis, you’ll find that the big picture for search engine optimization is actually made up of thousands of tiny little pictures. Each task that an SEO performs is part of a smooth-moving engine, and those tasks require analysts to pull skills from wildly differing fields, such as:

  • upward trending line for seo analysisHTML and CSS
  • Web Design
  • Content Creation & Curation
  • Statistics
  • Data Analysis
  • Business Administration
  • Management
  • Information Technology

Want to appreciate the lengths that SEO analysts go to when working on your website and business? Take a closer look at what technical skills they are using and deep analyses they are performing nearly every day.

Data Analysis

Using tools such as Google Analytics, SEMrush, SpyFu, and ahrefs, SEO analysts watch and organize countless charts and tables rich with data about your website. On a daily basis, they monitor such dimensions as:

  • Unique entrances to your website
  • Time spent by visitors on specific pages
  • Rises and falls in organic traffic
  • Demographics of website visitors
  • Traffic acquisition types and sources
  • Marketing campaign successes and failures

line graph with two upward trending leverage colored lines

Using the data they collect, SEO analysts develop a picture, over time, of what kind of people are visiting your website, how they are interacting with it, and why. Watching and building an understanding of what types of web content bring in traffic and keep it there helps augment the success of your website and the knowledge of your brand.

Technical SEO (Making Sure Googlebot Can Read Your Site Efficiently)

You may have heard the term technical SEO if you’ve worked with a digital marketing agency before. We use the term because the technical part of search engine optimization comprises so many tasks that an umbrella term for those tasks has become necessary.

spectral lines representing multiple seo jobsTechnical is a fitting term because SEO analysts have to use a breadth of technology-related knowledge to accomplish tasks under the category of technical SEO. The goal of technical SEO is to prepare and maintain a website that can be read efficiently by web crawlers such as Googlebot.

Sitemapping and Hierarchy

Reorganizing and mapping out your site allows web crawlers to extract information from your website that helps index the site properly.

For businesses who already have a website, SEO analysts take a look at what pages are important to your site and how they are organized, then come up with a plan to restructure the site so users and web crawlers can enjoy simple navigation in a logical hierarchy.

For businesses who are just getting started, SEO analysts gather information about your most important products

and services, then plan a website structure based on a seamless user experience. The plan is made with bots and users in mind.

Activity Moderation

As users engage with your website, you’ll have to provide feedback to those users to keep them engaged. SEO analysts help by moderating comments on websites, ensuring smooth interaction with ecommerce integrations, and refining email marketing campaigns and outreach campaigns.

Whitelisting & Blacklisting

The realm of moderation goes even deeper into whitelisting & blacklisting.

Blacklisting is the creation of or addition to a list of users or websites that have been disavowed by your business. A disavow is a denial of responsibility or support for entities that interact with your website, such as other websites who link externally to your website.

More simply, blacklisting is the same as severing ties with people and websites who are destructive to the success of your business. Similarly, whitelisting ensures that entities that have been incorrectly identified as disavowed are allowed to access and interact with your business.

Content Planning

whiteboard for content planningThe content of your website is one of the first things major search engines such as Google look at when deciding how and where to rank your website. Optimizing your site for search engines relies heavily on the creation and curation of quality content that helps your visitors make that vital decision whether to purchase your product or service.

Content Additions and Changes

Creating that content starts with the content plan of a seasoned search engine optimization expert. After reading and analyzing your data, SEOs decide what kind of new articles, service pages, product pages, graphics, and videos your website needs to help your potential customers interact with your business. They can then offer solutions to you for improving website rankings and customer interaction through new or repurposed content.

Keyword Research

SEOs dive deeply into researching trending keywords (words used by searchers to find web content) and their value in major search engines. They spend time and effort deciding what keywords are most relevant to your business, how users are searching for those keywords, and what kind of content will help draw visitors to your website according to those keywords.


Once the content is created by an online content specialist, your SEO takes care of implementing the content into your website. Analysts help minimize code so the content is crawlable, integrate it into your web design, and optimize it for user interaction.

Business Expansion

blocks representing the growth of business

The goal of search engine optimization is to bring in organic traffic. Organic traffic is traffic that comes to your website free of charge

through the use of a search engine. Doing so naturally helps your business grow by increasing the number of available and potential customers. But a quality SEO analyst is aware of more than just organic traffic increases and is invested in helping your business grow in whatever ways with which he or she can help.

New Content

Analysts don’t just plan for content that’s already relevant to your site; they can also help you discover new avenues of reaching larger audiences through new content. SEOs may bring potential new audiences or products and services to your attention, and sometimes have ideas about how to create content that markets to and for them.

Implementation of Your New Services and Products

Similarly, when you have a new idea for a product or service, SEOs will help you integrate that new product or service into your website in a way that is search engine and user friendly. Using their specialized set of skills, they will analyze how customers are already interacting with your website and find the best way to ensure that your new products and services see as many eyes as possible through today’s search engines.


clipboard representing seo reporting

Often, your SEO analyst will prepare a report for you that lets you take a look at the most important data regarding the performance of your website. He or she will observe relationships between page visits and interactions, pair that data with engagements, and explain to you how all the pieces fit together.

Reporting helps you understand how the SEO work that you don’t see is helping to improve the performance of your website. It also helps you understand how and why your SEO is making essential decisions regarding the future of your website and your business. The opinion of your SEO analyst is well-informed, and we encourage all digital marketing customers to pay careful attention to his or her reports.

Search Engine Optimization Directs the Future of Your Website

It’s difficult to trust, initially, that an SEO has your best interests in mind. It takes sustained effort over long periods to see results, and you rarely get to see what’s happening in the back end of your website. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of an SEO and a content team, major search engines such as Google may even drop rankings for websites. Part of the reason the digital marketing industry exists is the closely guarded secrecy of search engine algorithms, and legitimate, white-hat SEO teams have to contend with the whims of an automatic indexing system.

Still, it is the efforts of search engine optimization analysts that are shaping a better future for the internet – in conjunction with the ever-improving indexing of search engines, of course. The goals of SEOs and search engines align to create ever-improving web content that is easy to find instantly. SEO shapes the future of the internet, and we encourage you to find an SEO analyst you can trust to put forth his or her best effort.


You guessed it – we’re experts in SEO at Leverage Marketing. Our agency is built on trust, and we’ve got client success to back it up. Talk with us today about what SEO can do to improve your business.

Why User Experience Is Vital to Your SEO Strategy

Gone are the days when website owners can simply stuff targeted keywords into their website, write catchy, keyword optimized title and meta tags, and then expect to rank on the first page of Google. Our team at Leverage Marketing has proven time and again that SEO works best when a holistic strategy is used – user experience, site speed, content, and site crawlability all play an enormous role.

User experience (UX) and SEO depend heavily on one another to achieve a desired outcome: better organic rankings and higher conversions. Let’s explore how user experience and SEO are inseparable from one another.   

First, understand that Google’s SEO algorithm is always changing. Only focusing on SEO rules as a strategy is simply not enough.

Many of you might be thinking, “But if I just write lots of quality content, get a ton of backlinks, and use the right keywords, then my SEO should be great. A good UX is just a bonus for the user, right?” This is the wrong way to look at the importance of UX as it relates to SEO.

It’s true that by only focusing on Google’s algorithm, you can still drive traffic to your site. However, by not focusing on providing the best possible user experience to your desktop and mobile site visitors, you are limiting the effectiveness of your website.

Think of it this way: understanding your customer is much more important than understanding Google’s algorithm (which is constantly changing). 20,000 website visits per month mean nothing if those visits aren’t contributing to your conversions, revenue, or other site goals.

The Relationship Between SEO and UX

If you look at both SEO and UX, you will see that they are actually very similar in their goal: to make it easier for users to find what they want and be satisfied with what they find. Today, we have many indications that Google cares about user experience and accounts for factors like time on page and bounce rate. What is important to Google must also be important to you if you want to rank competitively.

For starters, we already have numerous page elements that influence both SEO and UX. Let’s take a quick look at a few examples:


<h1> Headers are used by search engines to determine what a particular page is about, but they are also used by visitors to do the same. Furthermore, <h2> and <h3> tags are used by both site visitors and search engines to scan the page and determine the subtopics.

Great Content

Quality content results in users sticking around for longer on the page as well as potentially clicking deeper in the site. This is excellent for the SEO and also shows that the site is providing a strong UX.

Easy Navigation & Site Structure

website navigation conceptA solid navigation and logical site structure allows Google’s bots to easily crawl a website and determine what it is about and which keywords it is targeting. A website that has an organized, intuitive structure and navigation also provides a more pleasant user experience. Visitors are more likely to stay for longer on the website, to convert, and to possibly later link to or share a valuable piece of content.

Some other examples of where SEO and UX meet on your site include:

Beyond the previously mentioned common page elements that affect both UX and SEO, we also know that Google can currently understand other aspects of a website’s UX, such as page layout.

Recently, Google’s Pierre Far shared a post on Google+ telling publishers to make sure that they expose Javascript and CSS files to Google. Apparently, Google is able to use this knowledge to value links differently based on where they are placed on the page. Links that are placed in areas where the user can easily benefit from them will be given more SEO value.

The Future of UX and SEO

As Google becomes better at mimicking human behavior, UX is becoming more relevant in its search engine rankings. Its importance is only going to increase as we move into the future of search marketing.

Beyond this type of measurement of content quality, at this point in time, little is known for certain about the other UX aspects that Google might use as ranking factors both now and in the near future. According to Eric Enge at Stone Temple Consulting, the following are a few likely possibilities:

future of UX and SEO conceptThey could look at user engagement data.

“Search Engines may look at something more specific than just ‘bounce rate’ as a ranking factor.” Enge believes that Google could possibly look even more closely at how users behave once on a website.

They can do other types of on-page content analyses.

“For example, they can try to evaluate whether or not your page provides complete experiences: i.e., if they send 100 users to your page, what percentage of those will be satisfied?”

Think of the relationship of SEO and UX like this: UX targets your website’s visitors and SEO targets search engines. Both share a common goal of giving users the best possible experience. They are (and will remain) inseparable as we move further into the future of search marketing. Embrace them both!

The Big Picture for SEO

We know that a winning recipe in search marketing is not just SEO, but a great user experience combined with an excellent SEO strategy.

Will Reynolds, the director of digital strategy at SEER Interactive, agrees.

“The biggest way UX impacts SEO is simple. I think most of us can agree that Google is trying to understand user behavior and interaction with content. They might not have that completely figured out TODAY, but we know where that puck is going.”

At the end of the day, having a high SEO ranking and getting a user to your website is only part of the equation. You must be equally as interested in making sure that your website is providing solutions and solving user problems. A high quality user experience helps in making this a reality.

Leverage Marketing’s SEO and web design teams are ready to help you improve your site’s user experience. Contact Leverage today to learn more about our services.

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Debunking Myths About Writing and Blogging for SEO

“Blogging” sometimes earns an eye roll from business owners. This is probably at least partially because a lot of business blogs have a reputation for being:

  • Woefully neglected
  • Run by a cadre of proofreading-averse interns
  • Run by someone who has read about the importance of blogging for your business, but who doesn’t know quite how to execute for maximum effect

The reason that a lot of company blogs are unloved often has something to do with the fact that businesses don’t have the time or knowledge to execute a great blog strategy, and without a great strategy, blogging doesn’t always demonstrate a lot of value. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Blogging is just as much about building your site’s SEO value as it is about engaging your customers. Blogging and SEO are a match that is meant to be, and neither is quite as good without the other involved. If you’re pursuing some SEO tactics on your site but not blogging, you’re missing a huge opportunity to expand your SEO work, and if you’re blogging without an eye to SEO, you’re not getting all the value out of your blog that you could be.

With all this confusion about how blogging and SEO are actually related, a lot of myths about blogging for SEO have begun floating around in business’s collective consciousness—hence the spread of intern-run company blogs. Don’t fall prey to these myths: get the full scoop on how blogging does actually help SEO.

Myth #1: Blogging for SEO reasons is a waste of resources – search engines don’t care about my business’s blog.

Contrary to what you may think, search engines care a lot about what you’re blogging about or if you’re not even blogging at all.

Search engines are a lot like your customers—they’re more likely to trust information from sources that look authoritative. Think about it; if you were shopping for something, would you rather buy a product from a site with no product description, or would you rather shop at the well-organized site with lots of helpful information?

Search engines would rather serve up a site that’s full of useful info for searchers. This is a simplified explanation of a concept known as “authority”, and it’s one reason why blogging is important to the long-term prosperity of your site. Blogging is a straightforward method of building up your site’s stock of useful info, which helps make your site look like an industry authority, no matter what your industry is.

Blogging also helps SEO by building up the amount of information on your site that other sites could link to. This is one of the ways that search engines determine which sites should rank highest in search results. If there are lots of different relevant and trustworthy links pointing back to your site, Google is going to see you as an authority and will grant you higher rankings in the results pages because of it.

creative blog conceptMyth #2: Blogging is only for companies with “fun” offerings – nobody’s going to read our blog, ever.

People have questions about pretty much everything, even boring stuff. I don’t get really excited about filing my taxes, but I still have questions about it that I turn to Google to answer—which a lot of big companies know, and why they spend time and money writing blog content that targets confused taxpayers like me who are looking for answers. I can almost guarantee that your product or service isn’t more boring than taxes, and even if it is, that probably just means there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it.

This is where blogging, SEO, and content marketing all need to work together to achieve results. Even if you answer tons of relevant questions and impart lots of relevant info in your blog, your content is still going to be hard for people to find without a great SEO-focused keyword and content promotion plan. That’s a big and multi-faceted topic that doesn’t quite fit into this post, but we write a lot about this kind of stuff on our blog.  We can also just do all this hard work for you, because we know you have plenty of other things to do besides trying to learn how to write the perfect blog post for a business.

Myth #3: Blogging isn’t necessary if you’re doing other SEO stuff.

Run your business however you want, but if you focus solely on product and service pages, you’re missing the benefits of an SEO-focused blogging effort. Why? Well, like trying to scratch an itch on the middle of your back, there are just some search queries you can’t target with your top-level site content.

For example, pretend you have a website for your llama rescue ranch. Obviously, your homepage, “About Us” page, and other key pages on your site will target search queries such as “llama ranch” and “llama rescue”. But think about a long question query like “what do llamas eat”.  This search query gets 500+ searches a month, not a lot of other sites are trying really hard to rank highly for it, and it’s relevant to your industry. You can’t really target that query on your homepage without sounding awkward, but you shouldn’t just give up on those 500 searchers a month that could be learning about your ranch, either. Why not write a blog post for your business that targets this query?

Sure, maybe those searchers aren’t actually looking to visit a llama rescue ranch today—but maybe they’re really into learning about llamas, and they didn’t even know your llama rescue ranch existed until they read your blog post. That’s a future visitor you just ensnared with the power of blogging for SEO.

Myth #4: We should use every single blog post to directly promote our offerings.

Promotional blogging for SE) mythThis is a myth best busted by putting yourself into a non-digital scenario. Say you want to buy a car but have very little idea what you’re looking for, which model or features you want, or even what your budget is. You’re just kind of scoping out the market—you’re not even sure you’re going to get a new car. Then you head to a used car dealership to just walk around and look at the selection of cars for a bit, and the salesman pops out and says, “I CAN SELL YOU THIS CAR FOR $5,000 LESS IF YOU BUY THIS CAR RIGHT NOW, NO QUESTIONS ASKED!”

That’s essentially what you’re doing to potential customers when you try to make every blog post into a big promotional sales pitch. It’s a version of a bait-and-switch technique, in that you’re working to draw in a reader who is likely just seeking information or tips, and then you try to close a sale with someone who isn’t even close to ready to buy. By doing this, you’re practically asking visitors to bounce from your site.

Let the main product or service pages on your site be the sales pitches. If you want to use your blogging for long-term SEO impact, spend your time more wisely by giving readers answers and information and a call to action that will either keep them on your site, or will stick your brand name in their mind or in their browser’s bookmarks bar. That way, when they’re actually ready to buy something, they’ll know and trust your site, and they’ll come to you first.

Myth #5: Blogs don’t ever convert readers into customers.

There’s a nugget of truth to this SEO blogging myth: blogs aren’t good at converting customers right on the spot. If you are expecting your blog to immediately turn casual readers into paying customers, you are going to be disappointed, no matter how good your call to action is.

Most people aren’t going to enter your site for the first time through a blog post and slide right into the checkout process or lead form fill, and it’s a little unfair to expect them to. Think about it – how many times have YOU done that? We’re willing to bet it’s not many.

We get it: you want to pursue marketing activities that deliver immediate ROI and boost results sooner rather than later. But blogging for SEO benefit is a long game—and there are a LOT of perks to running a long game. While a reader may not make a purchase or submit your full form after reading one blog post, think about what DOES happen when someone hops onto your site for the first time via a blog post.

  1. They see your brand name.
  2. They get a sense of what your site offers, and associate your brand name with that offering.
  3. They may feel some level of affinity for your brand for answering their question, providing them with information, or offering a solution to their problem.
  4. They could sign up for your newsletter, download your eBook, or perform another action that allows you to keep their contact information and convert them down the line.
  5. They could share the post with other people, extending your reach and repeating the cycle.

Advertising agencies are literally paid thousands of dollars just to get companies’ brand names in the consumer’s mind. A good SEO-driven blogging strategy accomplishes this, and you don’t have to pay for an ad on a billboard or stick your logo on the rear end of a bus. Sure, following a bunch of SEO blogging tips and strategies is going to take some of your time and resources, but the reason why blogging is important for your business is because it is a sustainable method of building your site’s authority and bringing in first-time visitors. Show me a bus sticker that does that.

Still not convinced blogging for SEO is worth your time? We get that you don’t want to put money into something that doesn’t give back. That’s why our team has become experts at squeezing every drop of SEO value out of your blog. Get in touch with the Leverage Marketing team today and let us do the lifting with your blog for a while.

The 4 Most Critical SEO Strategies for 2018

With the new year just a month away, most digital marketing blogs and other SEO thought leaders are publishing their “Top SEO Trends for 2018” articles in droves. More often than not, these articles will contain some key SEO trends to focus on in 2018 but also reiterate many traditional ones as well.

Backlinks, rich, quality content, and focused keyword usage are essential for a healthy SEO ranking. However, these are tactics that have been crucial to search engine optimization for years and are not going anywhere in 2018 (or the foreseeable future). Let’s take a minute to move beyond these long-standing trends and take a focused look at the most critical, up-and-coming SEO strategies for 2018 and what you can do to ensure that your organic Google presence is as strong as possible next year and beyond.

Strategy #1: Focus on Creating a Superb User Experience (UX)

SEO strategy is all for nothing if visitors come to your site only to leave after a few seconds. Thus, our first vital trend for 2018 is creating an excellent user experience on your website.

It is essential for your website to have an easy-to-navigate design, quick load time, and a mobile-friendly user interface. As we will see, making sure your site functions seamlessly on mobile is no longer optional, but rather the new law of the land in the SEO world (more about this later).

The main goal of a business website is typically to draw in the largest amount of visitors possible and get them to convert. This conversion usually comes in the form of the visitor providing some personal information in exchange for receiving some sort of value in return, such as a newsletter, free course, audiobook, or study guide. Another type of conversion (our favorite kind) is a purchase. Google is increasingly gravitating towards approaching SEO and websites more as a real user and less as just an algorithm. Conversion matters!

To prove the claim that UX is a top, critical SEO trend for 2018 and beyond, look no further than Google’s recently launched UX optimization platform, Optimize 360. This should be a clear signal that Google is invested in a continued, growing convergence of user interface and SEO goals. Focus on having the best all-around user experience possible for your website and you will be setting the foundation to not only rank higher in the search engine results, but also have customers who will be much more likely to convert.

Strategy #2: Begin Optimizing Your Content for Voice Search  

voice search SEO trend for 2018

The next important trend that you should prepare for in 2018 and beyond is the rapid emergence of voice search. If you look closely at the rapidly budding technologies like Apple’s Siri,  Amazon’s Alexa, and Google voice search, you will agree that it’s only a matter of time before voice search dominates the billions of queries made every day. Most business owners are unaware that, according to Google, 1 out of 5 searches already come from voice queries. This is vital for business owners who want their website to rank competitively.

The continued rise of voice search means that there will be a rapid increase in long-tail keyword research and a focus on natural spoken language. More and more, long-tail conversational search queries will become the norm. For example, in the past, a local business might want to rank for the SEO keyword phrase ‘downtown bars Austin’. Soon, in order to solidly rank consistently for something along these lines, a keyword phrase will perform better if written in a more conversational way. For example, the search phrase “Where’s the best place to grab a drink in downtown Austin?” is a much more natural, conversational sentence structure.

The sooner you begin taking action to implement voice search into your SEO strategy, the further ahead of your competition you will be as we move into the 2020’s, where voice search will become the norm for the vast majority of all search queries.

Strategy #3: Prepare for Mobile-First Indexing

It’s official. Google mobile searches now make up for the majority of all search queries. According to Google, between 50 to 60% of search queries now come from mobile devices. This is why the third crucial SEO strategy for 2018 is to fully optimize your website for mobile. You must optimize the mobile version of your site in such a way that it is a true equal to your desktop version in terms of content and user experience.

Note: If you have a mobile version of your site or if you have a responsive site, don’t worry. There is nothing special you need to do in regards to mobile as of 2018.

Many SEO articles today mention that a “mobile-first index” is coming soon, but what does this mean exactly? To put it simply, an index is just another name for the database used by a search engine, and Google will soon begin to index data (taking it from the site and adding it to Google’s database) from a mobile site instead of the desktop site as it has always done.

We know that most Google searches are now mobile, but Google’s ranking is still focused on the desktop version of the website. Google wants to fix this, and fix it they will. Google’s mobile-first index began live testing last year, in 2016.

An official mobile-first indexing for all websites will happen more quickly than you or I probably expect. 2018 could be the year that a full-fledged mobile-first index goes into effect. If you want to invest in SEO and truly have your efforts pay off, you must begin taking action to ensure the content, user experience, and web design of your site is fully optimized for mobile users.

Strategy #4: Begin Strategizing to Rank for a Google Featured Snippet

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to rank in spot “0” of the search engine results page without having to pay for advertising? Google’s Quick Answers, or “featured snippets” as they’re more commonly referred to, make this a possibility. Getting your site into this highly valuable spot can do wonders for your organic visibility.  

First, what is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet is a summarized answer to someone’s search query, and it is placed at the very top of the Google search results page. You have probably seen them many times before when casually searching for “how to” do something.

Example: “how to bake chicken legs”

This is going to be the first thing that you will see in Google’s search results page:


Most SEO experts agree that as voice search continues to grow, quick answer featured snippets will become more prevalent on Google search results page.

Second, how do you rank for a featured snippet?

Although featured snippets have been around for years, many SEOs and business owners are just now wising up and starting to take a serious interest in how to go about ranking for them. Let’s quickly look at a few fundamental things to keep in mind when building a strategy to rank for Google’s quick answers. For more detailed information, check out this helpful article featured in the Search Engine Journal that covers 9 Steps on How to Rank for Featured Snippets.

If your goal is to achieve a spot as a featured snippet, it’s important to know how Google operates.

“When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.”

The core thing that you can do to increase the likelihood of landing a spot as a featured snippet is to create value by answering questions that people are asking in search engines. The following are mediums by which you can provide value by answering questions online: graphs, lists, tables, and quality Q&A information about your area of expertise.

Dominating SEO in 2018

As we move towards 2018, it is evident that SEO is rapidly moving in a new direction. Traditional SEO tactics such as quality content, backlinks, and focused keywords will remain as powerful fundamental SEO strategies for the foreseeable future. However, we must embrace new trends as well. In order to succeed, SEOs and business owners must integrate a strong user experience, voice search optimized content, mobile optimization, and focus on developing content that it’s in line with the requirements to compete for a spot as a featured snippet.

6 Steps to Rank for Competitive Keywords Using Long-Tail Keywords

One of the essential metrics that a clever SEO uses to determine how viable it is to pursue ranking for keywords is keyword difficulty. Various SEO tools use custom algorithms to determine keyword difficulty for words or word strings in their databases, but most of them agree on which keywords are most difficult to rank for in today’s search.

As a rule, we try to avoid going after highly-competitive keywords with a high keyword difficulty. That’s because the most competitive keywords are dominated by websites with a long history on the internet and vast, nearly unmatchable resources. But if you have the patience, you can take the slow-and-steady approach to ranking for competitive keywords by building your authority (over time) for long-tail keywords related to your target keywords.

Try these six steps with several different keyword sets. Tweak and experiment to find a strategy that works consistently for your target market.

Identify Competitive Keywords

moz keyword research result for space

Find highly-competitive, high-difficulty keywords using keyword research tools. Most tools are designed for use by marketing agencies or large businesses, and they require a subscription to use. However, you can do limited keyword research with free accounts on some keyword research websites. Try some of these:

Most sites label the metric you’re looking for as keyword difficulty, but you may also find it labeled as keyword competition or something similar. Keywords with a difficulty factor of 70+ (usually on a scale of 100, but may differ between sites) are well-established keywords that you’ll need to employ long-term strategies to rank for.

Find Related Searches

related keyword suggestions from moz keyword research tool

Using the same keyword research tools, plug your competitive keywords into a search that looks for and indexes related searches. Most keyword research tools are very clever and have an advanced understanding of the semantics of searches, which allows them to produce lists of less-competitive keywords that searchers use to find the same or very similar results.

Discover Long-Tail Keywords with Similar Meanings

related searches for space with similar keywords highlighted

Log the related searches and check their search volume. Start compiling lists of long-tail keywords that are nearly identical. Look first for keyword strings with minor lexical or grammatical differences. Then tack on strings with similar meanings, and find minor variants of those as well.

Be as thorough as you can – the object is to build lists of low-competition long-tail keywords around which you can base your upcoming content strategy.

Produce Content that Targets Long-Tail Keywords

keyword list in excel for brainstorming long-tail keyword targeted content

Once you’ve recorded a few lists of low-competition long-tail keywords, use your lists to build a plan-of-action for content. Consider themes that the long-tail keywords represent and brainstorm concepts around those ideas. Vary your content style between written content and visual content, and create similarly-themed content pieces that have a unique message but overlap in subject matter.

Build Authority

example SERP for long-tail technobabble space keyword search

Put your targeted content out on an ongoing basis and keep your expectations grounded. Again, the objective isn’t to immediately push high-authority sites out of top-ranked positions for competitive keywords; your mission is to dominate associated long-tail keywords, then begin to target the most competitive keywords.

It’s a win-win: You get traffic and leads for searches related to your high-keyword-difficulty keywords, and you build domain and page authority (two vital SEO metrics) over time. Most of your competitors don’t have the patience or resources to do so, which gives you a distinct advantage that will take your competition years to catch up to.

Produce Content that Targets Competitive Keywords

keyword list in excel for brainstorming competitive keyword targeted content

It’s going to take lots of time, but long-term strategy is at the heart of business success. Once you begin to rank highly for long-tail keywords, start producing content aimed at your short-tail, high-competition keywords.

Because you’ve spent time building your authority for the highly-competitive subject matter, you’re likely to get an automatic and significant boost in authority for high-keyword-difficulty keywords. You’ll benefit from:

  • An audience who trusts your expertise on the subject matter
  • A measurable history of content production for the subject matter
  • A hearty page authority and domain authority that gives you an automatic edge in search algorithms

However, it’s vital to stay realistic in your expectations. Keyword difficulty measurements exist to allow marketers like us to weigh the risks of pouring resources into target keywords against the benefits. Be prepared for a tough road with plenty of bumps – but if you make it to the end, you could achieve rankings and business growth unmatched by even the most robust SEO strategies to date.

How do we know so much? We’re no-kidding, all-out masters of SEO. Start ranking better with our help.

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