Industry Insights

The Goods; SEO Strategies, Techniques, and Trends

In the first of a four-post series, we dive into several recently released reports­ from GoodFirms on all things digital marketing with the first looking at SEO strategies, techniques, and trends. GoodFirms recently conducted a survey of over 100+ SEO companies, experts, and gurus to learn what strategies, techniques, and trends they recommend, as well as the challenges facing their digital marketing strategies.

Get to Know SEO 

Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO, is a marketing method that focuses on growing visibility (traffic, SERPs, etc.) of organic, non-paid search engine results. This method encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase overall awareness of sites in your search engines. SEO has many different components to its makeup:

  • The content on your site

  • The backlinks and how other companies link to your site

  • The keywords and how they are optimized throughout the content

  • The way in which you write your metadata

  • Ensuring your business site is structured in a way that is easily read and understood by search engines

Although most of the tactics are technical in nature, SEO is also about making your site more user-friendly as well. 

10-Point Summary of the Survey 

The survey was sent to over 100 of the top companies, experts, or gurus globally within the search engine optimization realm to gain a thorough understanding of the latest trends, techniques, and tips for SEO. As search engine algorithms get smarter and smarter each day—or they change the algorithms as with the latest Google’s metrics update—marketers, and specifically SEO specialists, need to understand the changes and flex their tactics; ethically, of course. This comprehension is to gain higher domain authority, promote authoritative content, increase links, and use authentic SEO tools to establish the most optimized pages.  

How then, do the top SEO experts keep up with the ever-changing search engine? We delve into the research report and highlight the insights concerning the priorities, challenges, practices on SEO trends, techniques, and tips.  

  • Growing organic traffic and content marketing tactics remain the top inbound marketing priorities for global SEO companies and experts. 

  • After Google Analytics, the webmaster of popular search engines like Google and Yahoo, as well as the keyword planner, are the two ‘must use’ tools for effective SEO. 

  • The majority of clients prefer the strategical combination of ‘mostly SEO, some PPC’ to be carried out for their businesses. 

  • Crafting link-worthy content and guest posting on websites with higher Domain Authority (DA) are the two most recommended tactics to create high-quality backlinks. 

  • Proving the Return on Investment (ROI) to the stakeholders and ranking a single web page for multiple keywords turned out to be the top-most challenges faced by the SEOs globally. 

  • The average cost of a basic SEO package for ten keywords in a month, including on-page optimization and off-page activities, like content marketing and social media marketing, is US$633.00. 

  • The Google change, ‘Featured Snippet’, has had the most significant impact on organic search results. 

  • The Google Algorithm updates, Panda and Penguin, have profoundly affected the search engine rankings of the new web pages according to the SEO specialists. 

  • The most prominent reason that compels the users to leave a website after landing on it from SERPs is slow loading time.

  • Voice search is bound to bring new-found respect for natural speech patterns, long-tail keywords, and optimization for mobile devices.

GoodFirms sought to ensure through the survey that the responses from the experts were purposeful and would provide some guidance and answers to help businesses achieve better SEO results efficiently. Let’s look at the leading priorities researched and reported out by the team at Good Firms.  

Top Inbound Marketing Priority 

Experts were asked, “What are the top inbound marketing techniques that you favor the most for your businesses and your clients?” The options included:  

  • Growing organic traffic via SEO 

  • Content marketing tactics 

  • Social media marketing 

The results were increasing organic traffic to websites from search engines, along with content creation scoring as the top inbound marketing priorities. Specifically, 44.6% responded in favor of growing organic traffic, while 42.7% chose content marketing tactics. With this feedback being equally split, both are determined as high priorities, though it does depend on the type of business you are in. Experts agree it is essential to understand these priorities as it relates to where your target audience is looking online and where they journey to your site. Rounding out the top priorities is social media marketing, with 12.7%, which is vital for those who may be in the entertainment business since social media is a significant driver for inbound marketing.  

Top Tools for SEO  

Other than Google Analytics, experts were asked to choose their top two priorities from a given selection of five lead tools. The first priority was awarded to Webmaster Tools with 83.3%, and the second priority was Keyword Planner with 77.6% of the votes. Moz products took third with 56.7%, while SEMrush and Ahrefs rounded out the remaining two selections with 33.3%. Based on the resulting priorities selected, it is safe to surmise that tracking a website's search performance and discovering the newest and most relatable keywords are the top two tools for SEO.  

The Top Client Strategies 

Experts were asked, “Which strategy do your clients prefer; pay-per-click (PPC) or organic SEO?” 60.7% of experts decided in favor of mostly organic SEO with some PPC. 17.8% of respondents selected ‘an equal mix of both”, and 15.2% responded to preferring ‘mostly PPC with some SEO’.

This result is not surprising since organic SEO, and PPC search results do work best hand-in-hand as a strategy and tactic as solely relying on just one over the other never produces the results needed. Yes, they both have their pros and cons, but together they are much more results-oriented. 

Top Tactics for High-Quality Backlinks 

High-quality backlinks are an essential strategy in pushing businesses’ sites to higher ranks in the search engines, but what are the best tactics to employ? Crafting link-worthy content was voted as the top tactic by 35.2% of the more than 100 participants, with guest blogging on sites with high Domain Authority came in a close second at 30.8%.  

Top Challenges for SEO Companies and Experts 

As marketers, we all come across challenges in our strategies and tactics, but what are the top challenges facing SEO experts? The top slot—and one all marketers would agree on—is proving the ROI at 83.3%, followed by ranking a single web page for multiple keywords at 66.7%. Frequent SERP changes came in at 33.3%, and Google Penalty Recovery was voted at 16.7%. 

The Top Reasons Users Leave a Website 

Losing clients from your site, landing page, or both is one of the worst issues for SEO experts and marketers. When GoodFirms surveyed experts, they asked what the top reasons that users leave were? Slow load-time was the decisive winner with 100% of votes. Scrutinizing the issue further, globally experts agreed that is only a matter of three to four seconds of load time passing that triggers a user to abandon the website. We can all agree that the patience level of users is noticeably declining! Rounding out the rest of the list was a tie between irrelevant content and too many CTAs at 66.7%, with bad design being voted at 50%, and a cluttered landing page at 33.3%. 

The Top Changes and Impacts Google has had on SEO 

Google makes changes frequently; almost every day it seems. That has a profound impact on SEO practices. Marketers and SEO specialists need to be aware and understand the changes in order to flex their strategies and tactics effectively.  

When looking at Google’s changes, top global experts voted that ‘featured snippets’ had the most impacts on their SEO practices. With a decided 61.7%, businesses occupying the ‘featured snippet’ space had increased sessions, higher click-through rate (CTR), prominent visibility over authoritative domains, and more revenue from organic visitors. Rounding out the list, and for their own specific reasons, was Interstitials at 14.3%, Mobile SEO at 12.7%, and Local SEO at 11.3%. 

When looking at the impact from algorithm changes (check out our last post on Google’s metric changes), globally, experts voted on the top changes to six prime options that effects SERPs: 

  • 37.4% — Panda (Duplicate, plagiarized or thin content; user-generated spam; keyword stuffing) 

  • 35.3% — Penguin (Spammy or irrelevant links; links with over-optimized anchor text) 

  • 14.6% — Hummingbird (Keyword stuffing; low-quality content) 

  • 12.7% — RankBrain (Lack of query-specific relevance features; shallow content; poor UX)

  • Pigeon (Poor on-page and off-page SEO) 

  • Fred (Thin, affiliate-heavy or ad-centered content) 

Lynette Sawyer

Lynette Sawyer

Lynette Sawyer is a Web Project Manager for Falcon-Software, a digital web agency founded in 1994. For the last 13-years Lynette has been in various digital capacities and her expertise goes beyond Project Management. Lynette brings experience and knowledge in graphic design, marketing communications, project management, product management and engagement.

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