You Gotta Speak the Language of Your Customers

You keep wondering how to justify investing time and budget in SEO and prove the ROI? Or what steps to take to make your SEO strategy work for you? In 2019, everybody was talking about Google’s new BERT algorithm and, all of a sudden, every SEO professional wanted to know how to optimize for BERT. Still, instead of struggling with optimization for BERT, we should be dealing with user-focused optimization and the technical delivery of content.

Basically, it means we should reassess user access points to search and make our content comply with that. This refers to the mechanics of how something is crawled, indexed, and served in diverse search settings. Given that users now have multiple options to search for things, SEO needs to focus on the basics, like content delivery and seamless architecture.

With BERT incorporated into the ranking and featured snippets algorithm, Google has made a tremendous step forward into making search about intent matching rather than string matching. This basically means that content will really have to be written in line with user intent, but also that keyword research tools may become less significant with content creation being based on suggested queries. In time to come, we will have to get up from our desks and actually talk to our customers to find out what it is they really want.

An example of feature snippet:


Once again, keyword research as we know it, is becoming anachronistic. With the advance of new neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and deep learning, search engines are even more likely to shift from keywords to intent. It is exactly what Google has been doing lately – continually improving to optimize search results driven by user intent. It is also the reason SEO specialists need to understand the importance of this shift to their content to be able to catch up with the trend.

To be able to catch up with the trend, we need to focus on our users and the way they talk about their problems, concerns and needs. It goes beyond the purchase itself and includes the content that meets their needs after the sale, like support, advocating and community-building.

We need to keep the focus on our customers 24/7, and there are just too many companies and brands forgetting or failing to understand what they actually need to do to attract potential customers. And to make them stay. Customers want real value, and they also want to know that you understand them, that they can rely on you and that you are a confident and a reliable partner for the future.

You need to avoid being like so many marketers who market their products and services, but have never spoken to their target audiences or even their customers. If you don’t talk to your customers and if you fail to recognize their specific behavior patterns, you are quite unlikely to create a smart and holistic strategy. So, sit down and have a chat with your customers, that’s what you’re here for…among other things

Top-notch, optimized content

Ever wandered the essence of SEO? Sure, it’s content. Content is alpha and omega of everything in SEO, from your site structure to the types of links you build. To succeed in the period ahead, you need to produce valuable and relevant content. It means that you will have to learn how to write or find people who know it. Sooner or later (rather sooner), it’ll be the best content that wins, and you should make sure it’s yours.

This will help you remain competitive in long-tail searches (still about 70% of all search queries), build your site authority, boost demand for your content, and increase your ROI. To repeat, it’s time to get over the obsession with keywords and move to topics. The bottom line of this paradigm shift is to create content focused on an entire conversation holistically, thereby delivering comprehensive and intuitive experiences, but also achieving business goals.

To be able to do this, you need to know your audience and understand the way they search, the intent underlying their questions and give them answers/solutions to their problems in their preferred format. Don’t forget to iterate every now and then because the customers’ intent may change, and someone else may do it better. The fact is – you need to optimize your content for users instead of search engines.

Still, the ‘magical’ formula for success in search marketing is the same as ever – give ‘m some good content with consistent brand messaging adapted to their language, not yours.

And if you wonder how to protect your brand in an unpredictable environment, you need to be mindful of every single detail – from the initial interaction in the SERPs, to the overall landing page experience, and long after the users leave your site (including drip campaigns, remarketing or personalization for returning users).

The final destination of your SEO strategy must be the best possible experience for your customers and that, whether you are ready to get into this or not, involves your focus on shoring up your technical foundations, including such elements as site speed and page speed (mind the new Chrome “slow warning badges”, and the speed reports in Google Search Console). Your customers may know where they want to arrive at, but they also need to be there fast.