How to do Better with Your Award Entries?




Have you ever submitted your entry for an SEO award and seen nothing but tumbleweed? What went wrong?

That’s what we’re going to be covering today with a seasoned SEO consultant and bilingual conference speaker with over 10 years of experience across three continents. She is a member of Women in Technical SEO and has worked for global brands, including Barclays Polka Dot and the Ethereum Foundation. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, Victoria Olsina.

In this episode, Victoria Olsina shares three things that SEOs need to do better with their award entry including:

Mention the ROI
Describe your target audience
Specify what you did

THREE THINGS SEOS NEED TO DO BETTER WITH THEIR AWARD ENTRIES WITH VICTORIA OLSINA

David: Thanks so much for coming on. You can find Victoria over at victoriaolsina.com. So Victoria, why should SEOs be submitting their entries for awards? Victoria: I think that a lot of clients care if you’re working with an award-winning agency. I think it’s a good tool for selling your services. We like to tell people we have done something relevant, something extraordinary, and that we are better than other people. Isn’t that what social media is all about?

D: Okay, good. So to show clients that you’re worthwhile doing business with should certainly, in theory, help with conversion rates with prospective clients comparing two different agencies. Do you think that makes a significant difference in the potential client’s mind?

V: I’m not from the agency world. But I must say that when I was interviewing for jobs, generally when I said that I spoke at conferences, which is something that most people didn’t do, that helped me. It was like an added value. I think that exposure is an added value and as a business tool could be worthwhile.

1. Mention the ROI

D: So today you’re sharing three things that SEOs need to do better with their award entry. Starting with number one, mention the ROI.

V: I believe that many times, as SEOs, we get lost in metrics that only SEOs care about which are traffic and rankings. However, clients care about revenue, profit, and the cost of client acquisition. Most of the campaigns don’t mention metrics like ROI. If I’m investing in something, I would like to know how much I’m getting in return. I think it’s a very common mistake not to speak the client’s language and to speak the SEO language. That’s why many SEO contracts get cut early. If you’re not showing value in the metrics that they speak or in the metrics that they understand, that’s an issue. And it’s a very common issue in our industry.

D: And SEOs that focus on top-of-funnel, longtail keywords that generate initial views from someone that hasn’t seen the website before will look at things like new visits, increasing number of visits, or an increased presence in the SERP. Are those kinds of metrics enough or do you have to refine it down to commercial value?

V: I think it’s important to consider the KPIs are OKRs that the client is using. If the client thinks that new visits are important, then let’s focus on new visits. It will be good to know why they think this is important. There is a funnel, there’s always a funnel, and there is always a number that gets smaller and smaller. In the end, it ends up in a conversion, customer acquisition, or a new user.

Ideally, we focus on the metric that they report on because ultimately, it depends on the company. I work with a lot of companies that have investors, Series A or Series B. At the end of the quarter, I have to present the report with the metrics that the investors think are important. Ideally, you adjust your metrics to those ones. You could have an SEO dashboard, which I do, because for me, it’s important the amount of traffic and if we’re moving up or not. If you’re not moving up but you have more traffic, it’s very likely that you’re not going to hit those numbers that they want. The fact that everybody’s on the same page and is reporting on the same metrics I think is really important.

2. Describe your target audience

D: The second area that SEOs tend to get wrong or could do a better job of doing is poor target audience description.

V: Definitely. Poor audience description is something that I saw a lot in these years in entries. For example, women from 25 to 60. That’s not an audience, that’s most women. How could that be an audience? And this happens generally in the description of women, that all women are the same. All women use the same brands, they think the same. Generally, you don’t see men being targeted from 25 to 60. Within that audience, you would divide it by men who like rugby, men who go to this bar, or something a bit more descriptive of their lifestyle. Now I see this particularly in women, probably because this is a quite male-dominated industry. So the need to regard that some target women from 25-60 in the same description I find was shocking. Also, you’re going to use any language because all of these women are generic.

I will try to be more descriptive to see what those women want. Where do they shop? Do they watch TV? Do they watch Netflix? Do they have kids? Okay, which school? Where do they go on holiday? More of a persona. I work a little bit with tech companies and persona description is something that we use a lot. I would like to see a bit more target audiences described as personas as there’s a bit more detail into that.

D: I could ask you a couple of different follow-up questions based on that. But I’ll go down the landing page question route. Not specifically to do with awards, but if you do get more refined with who your target audience is, how do you target a specific audience on organic search?

V: You could be targeting by use, for example, or by roles, which is something we do a lot of in the tech industry. For example, a product for a certain use like HubSpot for social media. When I create a page about that I’m talking to social media managers. I’m not talking to every marketer. In the same way, if I want to target people with a certain budget, I could compare HubSpot to cheaper solutions with why HubSpot is better and why HubSpot is worth your money. So definitely long tail.

There is a project that I worked on that had business loans, and there was one page that was business loans for women entrepreneurs. And that doesn’t get a ton of searches but there are some people looking for that. When we compared the SEO reports to the sales reports, I remember asking if most people who applied on this page were women and definitely they were. But again, women entrepreneurs are not all women. It’s a bit more specific than women from 25 to 60.

D: In terms of establishing the persona that you want to target, should SEO be involved in that? How do you go about establishing who the persona should be? Or is it another marketing department’s responsibility to do that?

V: I think that the personas are generally defined by product, but they can be refined with SEO research and the way we structure the funnel. I do mostly consultancy for Web3. When we analyze the searches, for example, I work for a company that does SaaS products for crypto compliance, and they are very specific people looking for crypto compliance software, it isn’t something that you’re going to randomly search. So we work a lot with the levels of refinement. We work a lot with localized pages for different jurisdictions and we’ll work a lot with defining which searches are in different stages of the funnel. I think that SEO always helps products. For me, SEO is product marketing, and product marketers who are not into SEO, well, I think they’re missing out.

3. Specify what you did

D: And the third mistake that SEOs make with award entries is no specificity of what they did.

V: Exactly, the third mistake for me was there was no specificity in the actions taken in during the campaign. People would say that they did on-page SEO, link building, and content. Yeah, that’s everything that SEO is but they didn’t specify what they did. Those are the three main components of SEO and sorting out technical errors. Yeah, that’s the description of SEO in general. Ideally, if you’re working on an e-commerce website, an example of what you did for the homepage, the category page, and the product page would be very useful. Or on the URL, this is what makes or breaks the campaign.

D: In summary, do your award entry correctly, spend some decent time on it, or don’t do it at all?

V: I think if you want to win the award, I don’t think that the bar was very high, to be honest. If you build a case study for your agency website, I’m sure with that case study, you could present it as an award entry.

THE PARETO PICKLE – SERP FEATURES OPTIMIZATION

D: Let’s finish off with the Pareto Pickle. Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. What’s one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for modest levels of effort?

V: My favorite activities that provide huge results without huge effort are SERP Features optimization, in particular, FAQ schema and Featured Snippet optimization. I have got great results for many clients. You don’t need any technical expertise, you can make the changes on the page. It has proven to be incredibly effective for the last five years, at least for me.

D: Are there any specific Featured Snippets that you’re particularly passionate about?

V: Well, I’m not passionate about Featured Snippets, they just provide results. I generally get the paragraph snippets. We know that between 80 and 90% of all Featured Snippets are paragraph snippets. I think those are very easy to get if you phrase them as a question, and you have a question and an encyclopedic-like answer below the question. I think that’s pretty easy to get and gets very good results for clients.

For clients that have complicated products. I work with Q&A solutions and Web3 solutions. So the answer is a little snippet that people tend to click on. If you’re offering very simple answers that can only be replied to with 50 words, then I don’t think that’s the right solution for you. But for complex solutions, where people are inclined to click on the snippet and continue reading, I think that’s a very good thing to use.

D: In terms of a quick win, if you’re a company with several 100 blog posts, is the most potentially effective win to analyze and redo your existing blog posts? See if there are some subheadings, H2s, and H3s, that you can redo in the form of questions. And be more specific in terms of answers within your subheadings on your blog posts to give yourself a better opportunity of these Featured Snippets. Would that be a useful thing to do?

V: Actually, most of the companies I work with have a lot of blog posts, and almost no product pages. So what I tend to focus first is on having the product pages, the money pages, because if you have hundreds and hundreds of blog posts, and the website is not performing from a revenue or customer acquisition perspective, what’s the point? Currently, what I’m doing with those types of clients, is we are optimized for Featured Snippets, but that’s not the top priority. First, we’ll build the product and feature pages, which are the ones that are going to be a bit lower on the funnel and have commercial transactional intent. Then we start with the top 10 blog posts and we do Featured Snippet optimization for those (then later the top 20 and the top 50). But we also do internal linking which is something that people forget.

And all of these hundreds of blog posts, this top-of-the-funnel content, should be pointing their power to product pages so that the product pages get more power. I think that internal linking is one of the things that doesn’t take a lot of time to implement yet has tremendous value. It has proven to have huge results for my clients.

D: Brilliant, lovely, specific advice there. Start with your product pages, optimize them for Featured Snippets, and then go to your top blog posts and make sure that they link to your product pages to use and turn for internal linking to further optimize them.

V: Internal linking is a golden bullet. It’s so much easier to build links inside your website than to request them externally or try to do a link-building campaign. So if you’re already ranking for top-of-the-funnel queries, link those pages to the money pages.

D: I’ve been your host David Bain. You can find Victoria Olsina over at victoriaolsina.com. Victoria, thanks so much for being on the In Search SEO podcast.

V: Thank you. It has been a pleasure to be here.

D: And thank you for listening. Check out all the previous episodes and sign up for a free trial of the Rank Ranger platform over at rankranger.com.

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