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Why Success of Your Search Program Depends on Adding the Most Value – Here’s Why  #257

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Google is a happiness engine. Websites that satisfy users and add the most value rank higher than their competition.

In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Eric Enge reveals three tips that will help satisfy your website visitors and generate a successful search program for your business.

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Eric: Hey, everybody. Eric Enge here. I’m the Principal of the Digital Marketing Solutions Business Unit at Perficient. In this video, I want to talk to you a little bit about why it’s important to understand what I call the “Three Pillars of Search Success,” but it’s all rooted in the beginning with the concept that Google is a happiness engine. And for those of you who’ve seen me speak about topics related to this, you may have heard me say that before.

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It’s all rooted in the fact that Google understands keenly what are users looking for from them, and that is to get what they want fast. They want to enter their search query, they want to get their answer fast and just be done. And Google captured this from the very beginning beautifully with the way they designed the search engine. Basically, one tool, one purpose. You go to google.com, you see the Google logo, an empty box, a button you can click or you can actually do voice searches if you want. Enter your query, get what you want, get out, done. And for that reason, user satisfaction has been high for Google for an awfully long time. Actually all the way back to 2002, it’s hovered very much in the 80% range.

Behind all of that, or this is actually what’s behind I should say Google’s notion of expertise, authority, and trust or E-A-T as we like to call it in the industry. This idea that the expertise of the creator of a piece of content matters, how authoritative they are and how trustworthy they are, and how well do you broadcast that, those signals more broadly to the web. And what Google says about EAT is that they use it as their ground truth to figure out what’s a good quality result for our users. By the way, credit to Jennifer Slegg since I got that quote from her. And then their search quality raters guidelines, they have a user needs met rating scale where for each page, they evaluate how well the needs of users are met by that page in response to a given query ranging all the way from fully meets, which is the highest score, to fails to meet, that’s the lowest. And these search quality raters do these evaluations manually to see how well the content responds. And they’re also instructed to evaluate the page’s EAT score, if you will. And again, this is a manual effort here. And Google does make it clear, and I do want to be clear about this with all of you too, that EAT is not a direct ranking factor. And what the search quality raters do doesn’t feed directly into the Google algorithms, but it’s kind of like feedback cards that a restaurant might get from diners. And by the way, I’m quoting something from the Google Webmasters blog there in terms of how they talk about EAT.

So, all this backdrop is important to understand today’s landscape really well. And when you think about the implications of what EAT means, it means that Google’s kind of telling you that maybe you should be spending more time on what we might call indirect signals. So, do you have the best content and products? Do you have a great user experience? Do you have a great customer experience? Do you have great relationships with people and media and others across the web? And, ultimately, are you broadcasting your EAT very effectively out there? I wanted to give that as a preamble to this concept of the Three Pillars of Search Success as I call it. Let’s just talk about what those three pillars are:

  1. Flawless technical execution.
  2. Working the landscape. I’ll explain what that is in a minute.
  3. Adding the most value.

So first of all, the flawless technical execution, I mean, that’s the site architecture, is it crawlable, how good is the content, stuff like that. Just do you implement SEO tags, schema, ahref lang properly. And you must do this, but you also have to realize that a lot of your competitors are going to do this basically flawless. And what that means is that for you, flawless technical execution is just table stakes. You can’t have this be holding you back. You don’t get to compete for the real gold in search really until you’ve got your flawless technical execution nailed. So just get that out of the way and move on and start getting to the better stuff.

The next part that I wanted to talk about was this idea of working the landscape. Now here, I’m talking about featured snippets, people also ask boxes, video carousels, image carousels, news results, enhanced snippets. These are all the features that Google is putting in the search results. And if you do the right things, you can also earn ranking spots within those parts of the search results. So of course, to be competitive, you should really work the landscape as well. And guess what, your competition, at least some of your competition, is going to do a good job here, too.

Let’s get to the third part, and this is where I get back to those indirect signals that I started this discussion with, that’s this idea of adding the most value. Here, you have to think about how well do you understand the user needs of people coming to your sites? What’s the depth and breadth of your content? Do you serve content through the entire lifecycle of the customer journey? How do you do on Google’s new page experience signals is actually a piece of how Google is taking something of a direct measurement here, but some of these other things I’m talking about aren’t directly measured. And then user experience, customer experience, the design, the relationships. I already mentioned those things. Ultimately, you want to get to an understanding of what percentage of visitors that come to your pages leave satisfied. And let’s say you satisfy 60%. Probably a pretty good score actually. But on the other hand, if your competition satisfies 70% because they just have a better customer experience or faster pages or better content, Google wants to rank them higher. And you don’t want to be in that position because over time, Google is going to get better and better at finding pages that satisfy users most.

So ultimately what you need to do, and now I’m borrowing a concept coined by Rand Fishkin here, you need to think about task completion. When a user comes to your site on a query, I always use the example of oil filters. So let’s say they entered oil filters in the search engine and they come to you, to your web pages. What do they really want? Well, yeah, they want oil filters probably, but they might want oil. They may want the manual to make sure they’re buying the right filter. They might want a how-to guide or video to help them understand how to change the filter. And they also might want other things. They might be working on their windshield wipers the same day and other parts of the engine while they’re at it. I just made it sound like windshield wipers were part of the engine. But you know what I mean. So how well do you meet that broad array of needs? And this is I think the part where you have the most opportunity to scale your SEO to really high, high levels. And to me, this third part of the critical parts of search is something that you need to focus the most energy on.

So again, you need to have that flawless technical execution. Two, you need to work the landscape, and ultimately number three, you need to add the most value. And that’s how you can capture the most impact, the Three Pillars of Search as I call it, and have a very successful program for your business.

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About the Author

Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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