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Answers and Apps: Trends at SMX West

I admittedly didn’t get to go to all of the sessions at SMX West, but the ones I did get to attend left me with two thoughts:

  • Mobile isn’t just the future, it’s now. In fact, you’re now behind if you’re not there yet.
  • If you are still trying to be an SEO circa 2007, you’re probably having a hard time getting results like you used to and having a hard time proving ROI.

That sums up 2015 for anyone in terms of priorities, that is if you aren’t already doing these things.

Want your to do list for this year in SEO? First, look at your site from a mobile perspective. Second, it’s time to start building content with your market in mind and the answers they need. Don’t forget¬†keywords, but start reporting on the content you are building and it’s performance rather than keywords.

Below are two checklists for each main area along with some resources.

Resources and Checklist for Mobile

  1. Check Analytics for Mobile Market Share
    This is one that many people have been watching or have looked up, but it should be a regular part of your dashboard. The idea is to know how much of your site traffic is mobile (non-desktop). There is already a great, pre-made report in Google Analytics. It breaks out mobile vs tablet vs desktop, so it’s even more detailed!
    GA Mobile Report
  2. Check Analytics for Mobile Search Market Share
    You should start to know how much of your organic search is coming from mobile as well. As internet usage becomes more and more non-desktop, the longer the queries are going to get and more like natural language. That is what the search engines are gearing up for with all of the recent changes. However, some businesses are going to see far less mobile search. Think B2B focused businesses. If you stay on top how search traffic is coming in, you can stay on top of understanding user behavior and the content they might need.To get mobile search market share, you need to use segments in Google Analytics to see the mobile segment while looking at the organic search traffic report.
    GA Mobile Segments
    You can use the combined Mobile and Tablet segment (I do usually), but since the mobile report breaks Mobile and Tablet out, you can keep it consistent and view the All Sessions, Mobile Traffic, and Tablet Traffic. Below is the organic search report with the three segments.
     GA Organic Search with Segments
    All you have to do is a little math to know that for this time period (standard 30 days), the traffic to this site (my own) was 65% standard search and 35% mobile/tablet search traffic.
  3. Know your Top Devices
    There is a standard report for this as well. Knowing the top devices going to your site allows for much more thorough testing (see below).
     GA Top mobile devices
  4. Use the Google Mobile Testing Tool and PageSpeed Insights (but beware)
    Pretty simple and I can imagine there are tons of developers ready to launch new tools as well. My good friends at Authority Labs have mobile ranking data in their API already, but are rolling it out to UI soon. There might even be some other cool mobile features coming with it.
  5. Do QA Testing using Top Devices
    Remember those top devices? Do a round of QA testing with those specific devices. Most companies QA test their sites at launch with multiple browsers, but few do it with mobile devices. Make sure you take the time to do this. If you don’t want to do it on your own or don’t have the resources, consider companies like QCat and BugHuntress.
  6. Do a Round of User Testing via Mobile
    QA Testing is one thing, actual user testing is another. I highly recommend taking the time to do some user testing on mobile. Tools like UserTesting.com can help you understand how users are using your site. It can tell you how they are navigating and point out anything that is hindering good user experience.


Content Development in 2015 Checklist

  1. Make your User/Customer Buckets
    What are your main customer/user types? At Outspoken Media, we have clients, job applicants, industry professionals, and journalists visiting the site. We know those groups. At Dennis Kirk, a consumer focused motorcycle parts seller, they have customers that are new motorcycle owners, people that are buying for family or friends with motorcycles, and enthusiasts that know exact part numbers. There are other user types of their site that include job seekers and potential investors.
  2. Develop your Personas
    The above are not your personas. Your personas give you insight to the different types of people inside one user set. You should have tons of personas once you are done creating them. Some will be more important than others in terms of content, but you should know them all. Want the best guide? Check out Mike King’s Moz Post.
  3. Define the Answers They Need
    One of the main focuses at SMX West was the focus on answers. Google is putting the answer boxes up more often than ever and you can be a part of them, but you need to provide the answer to the questions your users have. The hardest part is defining your personas, but once you have them, you should be able to understand their pain points, needs and questions surrounding your product or service.Define those questions and you are on your way to defining the content you need to create. Remember, keyword research can help you but it can’t define them all. Look to your users for the questions they want answered. Check support emails, Twitter, and chatter on the web for a first step, then consider talking to a customer that fits your persona.
  4. Do a Content Audit
    The next step is to define what content you have already on the site. Be sure to use tools like AHREFs to pull information like backlinks and social shares to help define your top content. Merge that data with organic traffic data and you should know all of your really good content.
  5. Find the Gaps in Information Needed and Provided
    Take a moment after you have reviewed your current content on the site and compare that with the information your user/customers need. Are there holes? Anything missing? Make a list of the gaps.
  6. Review Existing Content for “Answers”
    Now go back to your existing content. Check Google Webmaster Tools for the top queries for that content. Do any of them pull answer boxes? Where is the data coming from the answer boxes? Can you provide a better answer? If so, make sure your landing page has the answer formatted as an answer in real language. Check out this presentation from Glassdoor showing what they saw when it comes to answer boxes.
  7. Create New Content around Content Needs
    Develop that content you just defined as gaps. Before you start developing it though, check any similar content on the web and make sure yours is better in some way. And make sure you define answers in your content if you noticed any of the related queries are pulling answer boxes.
  8. Create a User Panel
    Go back to your personas and try to identify customers that fit those personas. Can you identify good customers (interact on social media, pay on time, review your services)? Reach out to them and ask if they would be willing to be a part of a special customer panel to give you content feedback. Reward them for their help if they agree.
  9. Test your Content and Ask for Feedback
    Show that panel your content ideas and run the really big pieces by them for any feedback. You will be surprised at the extra content ideas and edits you get from them. Who better to tell you than the people the content is targeted at?



Kate Morris is the Director of Client Strategies with Outspoken Media. She is a well seasoned online marketer with a passion for teaching others. For the last 10+ years she has covered the paid, natural, and social sides of search.