Hootsuite is the world’s largest social media management platform. But if you think that meant the brand ranked easily and had tons of organic search visibility, think again.
Surprisingly, the smaller competitors outperformed them everywhere on Google. Why? Because Hootsuite didn’t have a built-in SEO strategy.
Apart from that, they also had a plethora of technical responsibilities that kept them from performing well in search – until an SEO expert Zak ramdani came on board and turned it around.
Ramdani, the SEO big owl at Hootsuite, joined SEJ think tank on July 26 to discuss how Hootsuite beat organic traffic metrics for seven consecutive months, doubled blog traffic using techniques on page to respond to Google’s response box and has rolled out mindset SEO across all communication channels within Hootsuite.
Here is a recap of the webinar he gave.
Take advantage of the changing SERP landscape
In the span of five years, Google has rolled out several important algorithmic and feature updates that have caused a massive shift in the SEO landscape. Now we are in the middle of another transition that is affecting the way we produce and consume content.
One search element that many SEOs want to rank for is Google’s Featured Snippets.
Own the SERPs for information requests
On December 7, 2016, Google updated its desktop results to more accurately reflect mobile results, which introduced a greater propensity to show Google Maps.
Google will read the presented snippet aloud when using Google Home, Android Auto, or from your mobile device. This change represents a new opportunity for the SERP property that has not been seen since the domain congestion updates in 2012/2013.
2x your traffic with on-page SEO
Using on-page techniques in an effort to rank in Google’s answer box has helped Hootsuite double their blog traffic. Some of the Hootsuite content that landed in Google’s snippets are standard responses, as well as ordered and unordered lists.
As well as providing succinct answers to search queries, structuring and formatting your content properly, just like Hootsuite did, can also help you rank for Featured Snippets.
Optimize for Featured Snippets
According to Ramdani, there are general rules for how you can optimize your site for featured snippets:
Should be classified on page 1
You don’t have to rank first, you just need to be on the first page.
Perform a target keyword search
You will need to evaluate the results for the following:
- Is there a Google response?
- If so, which format does Google prefer based on the query?
Short content structure
It’s important to structure your content in a way that clearly shows the answer and the steps to get there. You should create your title / subtitle in such a way that it accurately reflects the user’s question.
What if your competitor for a term is a huge site?
If your competitor is a huge site, like Wikipedia or WebMD, ask yourself: Does this huge giant effectively answer the question and could I do it better?
If your competitor is doing a good job, chances are they have a higher level of domain authority than you.
The future might not look so bright if that’s who is currently in the feature snippet location. If your competitor is one of those big guys but either doesn’t answer the question succinctly or isn’t optimized, then there is a chance you can beat them.
Why you might not get featured snippets
Take a close look at how your competitor’s content is structured relative to your own.
- Are the question and answer higher on your competition’s pages than yours?
- Is yours buried three pages lower than your competitor having it near the top of the page?
- Does your competitor have their content structured in such a way that Google can easily take it and replicate it or put it in a snippet of yours?
Some achievable steps
- Get back to basics. If you’re not even on the first page for the terms you want to go to, you’ll need to work on them first. Grow your linking profile so that Google thinks you are more important, keep writing content, and make sure that your website, from a technical standpoint, performs as it should compared to your competition. Featured Snippets will play a role once you can start going to the first page for the terms you want to rank for. That said, you can still write content for the featured snippets from the start. You will never know for what type of terms you will be classified outside of the terms that are directly visible to you.
- Optimize for topics, not so much for keywords.
- Incorporate optimization techniques into your blog content and include them in your regular process.
- Respond to user queries in snippets featured in a degree, but leave enough to get them to click on your organic result. You should be aware of this when creating content that you want to showcase.
Optimizing Google Snippets is an opportunity SEOs should consider seizing. There is a huge opportunity to adjust content to meet queries for information, especially now that Google prioritizes content that is valuable and relevant to readers. Using the right on-page optimization techniques and adopting a consistent SEO strategy can go a long way in driving organic traffic metrics in today’s SERP landscape.
#SEJThinkTank SEO Case Study: A Hootsuite Search History Webinar
This article is based on a webinar by SEJ’s think tank on Hootsuite’s Search Success, with expert advice from Zak Ramdani, the great SEO owl at Hootsuite.
Here’s a video recap of the webinar Q&A:
Here is also the SlideShare of the presentation.
Join us for our next webinar!
Best Practices and Tips for Landing Page SEO Success
Learn how to optimize your landing pages and make better use of the traffic you are already getting. Join our next webinar on Wednesday, December 15 at 2 p.m. ET, and learn how to rank higher on Google’s SERPs.