Josh Loewen is an SEO guru, and has been operating his digital marketing agency The Status Bureau since 2006. In the first half of our interview, we covered his top SEO tips. Now, we cover how companies can best use small budgets, what they should avoid, how often they should revisit their strategies, and more.
For companies with small budgets, where should they focus their digital marketing efforts?
If it’s local, get your listings figured out. This includes pages such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Better Business Bureau. Google looks at pages like that to understand a company’s NAP: Name, Address, and Phone Number. By using these external sources, they can help verify if you’re real or not.
The other thing I’d recommend for both local and national businesses is getting some really clean page optimization. Explain what you do on pages throughout your site at a very grade 2 level. So if you’re an engineering company in Surrey, have those words on your page. Don’t say you create “livable experiences for the future” —just say what you do. One other key rule is that it should be one keyword per page. So your homepage is your brand name, your product page is your product type (e.g. shoes) and so forth. Don’t try to optimize every page for every keyword, or mix them up.
What should companies be careful to avoid?
As an ex-designer it pains me to say this, but minimalist website design kills rankings, traffic, and sales leads. Google is a robot and it values explanation. The websites that show up all the time are content-heavy, like Wikipedia and Healthline.
On the flip side, there are quite a few companies who say about five words on their home page, and they expect Google to know everything about their company and give it a high ranking. You’re not giving the robot enough inputs. The key is to balance your website’s aesthetic and information.
How often should companies revisit their digital marketing strategies?
When they have found a statistical reason to do so. I know a lot of companies do it by gut check, and that’s fine too. Instinct and experience count for a lot. But if you do some quick research or understand where you are in the market, and if your current strategy is beating your competitors, there’s no reason to revisit it. If you’re in the middle of the heap and want to move up, or you’re losing market share, certainly you want to take a look at it.
A lot of companies revisit too often or “change horses mid-race” because it can get boring. Sticking with your original strategy can bring you some really great results. However, there’s different time measurement for different tactics. Youtube for example—a lot of accounts only take off after hundreds of videos. If you’re going to become a successful influencer, you need to stick with it for a long time.
For SEO, there’s much easier markers. You can see where your keyword rankings are bit by bit, month by month. So you can tell the speed of the movement against the work performed. If you do a ton of work and you jump from a 50 to 49 ranking, then you know there will likely be better penetration elsewhere. For example, you might want to try a more niche or longtail keyword.
Which companies do you think have excelled with their marketing campaigns during the challenges of 2020?
The companies that already invested prior to 2020. There’s been a lot of people and organizations playing catch up and transitioning to the new normal. Sometimes the competition level is too high, and the investment might pay off in a longer time frame of six months to a year.
There’s also been some particular businesses—like yarn, breadmakers and chess—that have done well in our current home-based lives.
What new SEO skills or trends should digital marketers be keeping their eyes on?
In my world, the types of content and the content format is big. Good content doesn’t matter if it’s not formatted in the right way. For example, Google likes a question and answer format. If you write your page like this, it’s a direct indication to Google that you are trying to be helpful and provide information. Quora shows up in search engines a lot because its pages are formatted this way.
So if you produce a video on how to sell cars, you’ll want to format it in the right way to match the query of the user. For instance “Top 10 Problems on Selling Luxury Cars, Answered” or “How to sell luxury cars? Here are the top 45 ways to sell luxury cars”. In other words, try and think the way you search. It’s important to tailor your content to your audience, but also to the google robots that determine where your site ranks.
Do you have recommendations for additional resources to build digital marketing or SEO skills?
Installing Google Search Console is a great place to start. Moz has a really great Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Other than that, you can google it!
The best way to get better at this is to do it though. Start your own website/blog, and learn the process of what it takes to get a website live, performing and tracked. You can also implement answers you found on Google and see if it works. For instance, selling shoes in Nairobi is a lot different from selling financial services in Toronto, so you need to find a solution that works for you.