Our annual health conference is one of our most popular events all year! The speaker line-up for this year’s #BlogHer20 Health is HOT HOT HOT — including the two panelist we have lined up for our SEO session. Typically one of the most well attended panels at our conferences, we brought SEO A-listers in, Stephan and Chloe Spencer. I first met Stephan and Chloe back in 2016 when I sat on my very first BlogHer panel with Stephan. We’re excited they’re back and as a teaser for their panel topics, they agreed to let me interview them.
Their answers did not disappoint, read on for some excellent advice on SEO!
Hi Stephan and Chloe, it’s been awhile since we’ve talked! We’re so excited for your upcoming panel at #BlogHer20 Health, but before we dive into that, catch us up on what new and exciting things you have planned in 2020.
Stephan: Thanks, it’s great to be speaking at another BlogHer conference. It’s been a busy few years. I’m writing a self-help book about how to transform yourself (my before and after photo here is pretty surprising). I’ve also been updating my WordPress plugin which is called SEO Title Tag an am producing two additional online courses (I already have six courses here). I’m also excited to share that I’m expanding my team and am continuing to consult with some amazing clients helping them with their SEO.
Chloe: I run an SEO agency and I work with clients in all industries helping them improve their SEO and online presence, as well as get them results with Facebook and Instagram ads. I am always bringing on new clients who want to revolutionize their SEO. I am also an SEO coach, and offer 1-on-1 coaching as well as group coaching, my SEO Mastery Academy. Intake for the next group is in mid February! I am also kicking off 2020 this month with multiple speaking engagements (Affiliate Summit West and BlogHer), and will be speaking at various conferences across the US throughout the year, so stay tuned!
As you know, we work with thousands of bloggers in the SHE Media Partner Network. We not only manage their ad programs, but we also help to educate them on SEO, social media and other traffic driving strategies. What do you consider the three most important parts of modern day SEO?
Stephan: The three pillars of SEO remain as fundamental today as they did a decade ago: content, architecture (i.e. the techie stuff), and links. These days there are some important nuances/caveats though:
* Building great links is hard, and it’s getting harder. You need to build links that enhance your blog’s E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). I wrote an article about this on Search Engine Land. Bloggers are not proactive enough in regards to acquiring links that convey trust and authority. It requires ongoing outreach. Social media links don’t count (because they are nofollowed). More on all this below.
* It’s not enough to go after page one rankings. It’s important to go after featured snippets (position zero) because it’s the featured snippet that gets read aloud as “the” answer by Google Assistant / Google Home. The future of speaking to our computers / devices more than typing on them is coming faster than we think. Either you are THE voice answer to the user’s query, or your not. It’s a winner-take-all scenario.
* Go beyond thinking about keywords and instead think about entities. These are groups/clusters of keywords. In other words, it’s a topic space. Some of those words/phrases will be critical, some recommended, and some optional. Searchmetrics’ Topic Explorer and Market Muse are two great tools for identifying entities, and thus, groups of keywords to target. It’s still helpful to track the clicks, impressions, and rankings of individual keywords, to know what terminology is driving visibility and traffic, so you can use a tool like RankRanger for that.
Many partners are concerned with getting a certain amount of keywords into their posts. How has your recommendations on keyword targeting changed between now and when you first started speaking to the BlogHer audience?
Stephan: It’s not about numbers of keywords, it’s about quality, depth and salience. You can run your content through the Demo text box on the Google Cloud natural language API page and see how well Google’s AI scores your salience for the entities (topics) that you’re targeting. I bet you’ll be surprised how low your scores are. The way to boost those scores is not to repeat the keywords, but instead to go deeper into the topic you’re trying to cover. For example, if you’re writing about lawnmowers and your copy doesn’t include any related keywords such as grass, yard, lawn, clippings, weeds, landscaping, riding, weed whackers, etc., then your post is going to look very shallow to both humans and Google. These related keywords are referred to by some SEO practitioners as “LSI keywords”.
Chloe: The first time I spoke at BlogHer was at age 16 — 12 years ago! And it’s the same today as back then; it’s not about how many times your keywords appear in your content, but what keywords you’re targeting and where they are placed. The most important spots for your primary keywords on any given page are your title tag, H1, and first sentence/first paragraph. The same keywords do not need to be repeated elsewhere! This myth about “keyword density” can lead to “keyword stuffing”, which is against Google’s guidelines and can get you penalized.
The idea of website authority and trust signals is one of the newer concepts to come up over the last 5 years with bloggers. What are some of the most important things they can do to be considered authoritative in their niche?
Stephan & Chloe: A lot of it comes down to link building. But it’s about quality not quantity. One high trust, high authority link can be more valuable than a thousand run-of-the-mill links.
To identify high trust, high authority websites to acquire links from, you’ll need to use a link analysis tool that breaks out trust into a separate metric. Majestic.com and LinkResearchTools.com are two such tools. It’s important when you outreach to them that it doesn’t come off as self-serving. Don’t offer to contribute a guest post or pay for a link, for example. Instead, be genuinely helpful. Look for opportunities to collaborate. Make introductions to people they’ve been wanting to meet/interview/partner with. Mention something you appreciate that they posted and be sincere. Have something insightful / thought-provoking to say about what they posted.
Stephan: One example is I spoke at Stanford University for free (and paid for my own travel too) and got several links from their Tech Briefings site. Though I would have done the gig anyways even if I didn’t get the links.
Chloe: And one of my favorite ways to increase website authority for clients is to go after all sorts of different press and media opportunities — usually resulting in fantastic links.
I rarely work with a blogger who doesn’t have thin content on their site and it’s such an important issue to fix. So one, how do you define thin content? And what is your recommendation to bloggers on how to fix?
Stephan & Chloe: Thin content is content that is unsatisfying to the reader because it’s too minimal or too “surface level”. It’s not about word count, though low word count is a symptom / side effect. Essentially it’s like consuming empty calories. Google defines it as “content with little or no added value.” Content that is repetitious of other content is an example of this. All those tag pages on your blog should go. Those are just noise. Image attachment pages are the worst. There’s no text on those pages. Articles that are shallow, inaccurate, scraped, poorly written, poorly researched, keyword-stuffed, useless, written for bots, or otherwise flawed should also go. Two great options for tools to help with writing deep, valuable, optimized content are Searchmetrics’ Content Editor and SEMrush’ SEO Writing Assistant.
Don’t miss their panel at BlogHer20 Health!
#BlogHer U: SEO Masterclass | Learn the ins and outs of SEO, so you can rocket up to the top of the Google search results! Hear from SEO Experts, Stephan & Chloe Spencer, on how to handle problems with authority, trust, duplicate content, thin content, toxic links, over-optimization, page bloat, keyword targeting, and so much more!