Thank you to those who joined us at BlogHer’s very first virtual conference, #BlogHer20 Parenting. There were so many great sponsors, panels and discussions over the course of the day. The SEO panel, led by PMC’s Constance Ejuma and myself (albeit some technical difficulties on my end — thanks for covering, Constance!) was on the topic of building a brand that users can trust. Strength of your brand isn’t something that has always been a part of SEO strategy, but in recent years it has been apparent that brand does matter.
Watch the full SEO Best Practices For Profit and Growth Session Below
Google began talking about E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trust), with the idea that for content covering topics that have the ability to impact a user’s life in any meaningful way (health, finance, news, legal, etc.), it should be written by an expert and the information should be accurate and trustworthy.
By focusing on your brand reputation, the quality of your content and your user experience, you will over time build a brand that both users and Google can trust. This should be a top focus for any blogger or small business, as they think of long-term growth and profit. Here is a recap of our SEO panel.
When you think of a major brand, what comes to mind? Constance began with a slide that covered some common traits of brands that have been around for many decades. Over the course of their existence, long before digital was a thing, these brands focused on valuing their customers. They created quality products and turned casual purchasers into brand loyalists (think: Apple, Nike, BMW). They’ve been consistent in messaging and quality. They value their customers. They’re passionate and dedicated. And it’s these characteristics that brands of all sizes should try to emulate.
Next, Constance went a bit deeper into how each of these characteristics can be turned into actionable tasks for our audience.
1. Customer Loyalty
The best brands focus on the long-game, valuing their users over any short cut revenue gains. When we work with SHE Media publishers on their content strategies and SEO, it’s easy to tell when someone’s trying to cut corners and capitalize on the moment. Slow loading pages with generic content, yet every ad unit available running isn’t what’s best for your user. Each generation of digital users is savvier than the last, they know the difference between a poor digital experience and one that made it easy on them. Take care of your users.
• Invest in your website: seamless user experience + memorable design
• Put your user before your monetization
2. A Quality Offering
This goes for products or content, but you’ll never last without providing a solid product. This can be through your content, through online courses or podcasts or can be a physical product but no matter which one applies to you, it must be exceptional. Today’s users have many options to choose from and don’t have the patients for poor quality products. Google has made it easy for people to leave reviews and ratings online. These signals particularly play into local SEO. For publishers, having the reputation of inaccurate content or a poor user experience may prevent people from returning to your site.
• Between ratings, Google reviews or word of mouth, a bad reputation is hard to hide from
• Publishing is a privilege, handle with care.
Google wants to favor reliable brands that users can trust. Make sure you respond to user feedback and comments, be engaged with your users. Do your headlines exaggerate? Do your products arrive on time? Be as transparent as possible with your customers.
• Do you deliver on your promises?
• Exceptional customer service will always set you apart
4. Unique Value Prop
There must be a unique and specific character to the brand that separates it from its competitors. The search results are a crowded place! You can’t afford to be another average voice among the rest of the world’s bloggers, fight to stand out.
• Create something outside of just content – podcasts, products, collaborations
• Find a way to define your voice, be interesting and relatable
From publishing content, producing video or podcasts, or posting on social media, it’s better to do less of it on a consist basis than more in a haphazard manner.
• It’s better to post less consistently than 5x in a row and then nothing for weeks
• Over time, consistency leads to trust from users
Passionate creators generally lead niche sites and businesses. For these people, it wasn’t a question as to what they would blog about or create content around. It’s their expertise because it’s a passion of theirs. They don’t struggle with content length because whatever they’re writing about is their passion.
• Google has greater trust in bloggers or businesses dedicated to 1-2 singular topics
• Niche websites tend to be looked at as more authoritative in their topic by Google and users
Google has opened more top of the results placements, particularly on mobile. This gives opportunity to more sites in the search results. Keep a close eye on sites that you’re constantly competing with in search results. For topics and terms you’re targeting in your content, do a quick Google search to see who is currently in the top positions. What information does their post include? Make yours better.
• Be well versed in your latest industry trends, tools and advancements
8. Brand Identity
Decide what your core identity is, this will help you find your audience. Don’t be afraid to pivot strategies as your business evolves, but take time in selecting things like domain or business name and the content verticals you want to write about.
• Clear and concise messaging and invest in marketing
People trust brands who are proven experts in their industry. If you have guest writers on your blog, make sure they’re qualified on the topic they’re writing about.
• Content should be written by experts and include author names and bios on each piece of content
Only those who are fully dedicated have a chance to build a brand Google wants to rank at the top. Dedication also ties into consistency and passion – it takes both to fuel your dedication to publish on days you don’t feel like it and engage with readers when you’re exhausted.
• You must be 100% dedicated
I ended the panel by talking about business strategy in the post-pandemic world. As businesses hopefully begin to open again and get back to normal hours, things may look different. We don’t know quite yet all the ways this pandemic will impact the businesses around us, but here are some trends we expect to see.
11. Back to Start-up Mode
We must work harder than ever to create meaningful content. Stay humble and expect to have to work hard at all times.
12. Reliant on Radical Innovation
You must focus on iterating and experimenting very quickly in the coming weeks
• Fail, but fail fast
• Don’t be afraid to take risks when it comes to innovation
• Get creative with your digital offerings
13. Greater Value of Human Connection
Don’t forget the value you’ve seen during quarantine of personal connection. I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned to value face time with co-workers more than I did before. In person meetings may have to be smaller than they were before but these connections can be the most meaningful.
• Smaller groups and 1-1 connections matter
14. Mission is a Must
People are more interested in supporting brands with a deeper mission than making money. Through this, people have taken on a greater responsibility to impact the future in a positive way.
In order to find our way to the new playbook for our audience, we need to act at every moment in ways that build on, and build up, trust.