Back to School Hacks for SEO and PPC

Do you get nightmares about being back at School?

Do you still get nightmares about Back to School? It may be several years since you left, but there is something almost primeval about the way we feel as August slips into September. On the one hand it’s quite exciting and stimulating – that lovely new uniform and stationery kind of feeling. But lurking in the background is that dismal expectation that it will be yet another year of “could do better”.

Thank goodness you’ve left that all behind. You are in a trendy digital marketing job that you love and don’t need to feel that Back to School pressure any more. Or do you?

Many of us do still feel the need to make some kind of a fresh start in autumn, whatever stage of life we are at. So in this article we are going to take a quick look at some of the new tricks of the trade in terms of SEO and PPC.

Brand building

The fundamental key concept that both SEO and PPC need to keep in focus is brand building. We should never forget that the essence of marketing is to create not just demand for a product but also brand loyalty. You need to work hard to establish the relevance of your brand with Google.

Three ways of doing this are to :

  • initiate discussion whenever and wherever possible to generate brand mentions;
  • monitor brand mentions as well using listening tools so you can get a picture of customer sentiment;
  • develop quality backlinks from thought leaders and key content in your area.

SEO and PPC are not just for Google

When purchasing online goods, over half of all users now go to Amazon first before Google. In fact, in every respect Amazon is continuing to go through a period of growth of gargantuan proportions. So if your brand is selling products via online retailers you need to make sure that you are optimising SEO not just for Google but also for Amazon plus other relevant channels.

Wesley MacLaggan, SVP of Marketing at Marin Software, confirms the relevance of this for PPC:“We expect Amazon to continue its hot streak in 2019, with Sponsored Product Ads and other formats being a key aspect to a successful PPC strategy, especially for CPG and retail brands.”

Integration of audience and keywords

Whilst keywords are still undoubtedly important, increasing emphasis for both SEO and PPC needs to be placed on targeting demographics and advertising to specific types of people. The key thing is to progress a dual approach where SEO focuses on determining a user’s search intent for specific keywords (see our recent article Optimising for User Intent) then PPC uses audience targeting to show relevant ads to the right people at the right time. The style of ads used needs to be dynamic and interactive, that will engage the target audience, for example video ads and remarketing display ads.

Be mobile-friendly

Yes we know that you know this. But just a gentle reminder that Google are now rolling out mobile-first indexing, so you need to give priority to the mobile-friendliness of your site. Also ensure that your mobile page loading speed and mobile UX are both fully optimised.

Featured snippets

So did you know that featured snippets now appear roughly in every other search? Featured snippets answer specific questions BUT the key point is that they do not necessarily correlate highly with the relevance algorithm of Google search. Therefore they may not be taken from the top-ranked result.

So you are highly likely to see visible results if you optimise for featured snippets. You need to include the answer to a likely search question in one of the following three formats:

  • paragraph snippets: answer a question as a block of text;
  • list snippets: answer a question as a bulleted list;
  • table snippets: answer a question in the form of a customised table.

Structured data

Structured data is now recognised as not just being important for rich snippets (see our article How to benefit from rich results) but also to prepare for the AI dominated future of search. Structured data will enable the meaning and relevance of your content to be interpreted more easily in AI searches, so using schema markup will give you an advantage in this respect.

Voice Search

Still on the subject of schema markup, in a recent article – Alexa, what’s the schema markup for voice – we also covered the topic in relation to voice search. It’s estimated that 50% of all browsing sessions will be voice-conducted by 2020. This means that searchers will increasingly be asking natural language queries, and SEO agencies and marketers will need to up their game in terms of long-tail keyword strategies to stand a chance of becoming the featured paragraph answer.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps – PWAs – have been proven to show improvements on SEO ranking factors. PWAs combine the best features of a native mobile application and a mobile website. Because PWAs store some content – HTML files, CSS files and images – in the browser cache, they are faster to use than native apps, so usually enjoy a reduced bounce rate and higher conversion rate. They can also be loaded offline.

PWAs are definitely a successful feature to incorporate if you have not already done so.

These are just a few of the current trends in SEO and PPC that we recommend it would be worth you investigating further this autumn. So why not set yourself a Back to School homework task to implement some of the above as you gear up for autumn? You’re sure to be top of the class and firmly out of that dreaded “could do better” zone!