A majority of marketers share the belief that SEO is the foundation of successful businesses. When one thinks of it, SEO seems like a pretty simple concept. One has to determine the right keywords relating to one’s business and capture the target audiences’ search intent while building engaging content around it. Just doing the basics would make the site inundated with organic traffic. Right? Unfortunately, that is utterly Wrong!
“SEO: The Movie” features interviews with people instrumental in creating the digital marketing landscape as we know it today. It takes you on a journey beginning where marketers spammed keywords in their attempt to hit the top spot on SERPs. Yet if you try the same strategy now, all you will get are poor rankings and possible penalties.
If it is not that simple, why do marketers in 2021 still feel so optimistic about SEO? To better understand the value that robust SEO strategies impart to any business, it is worth looking at companies that have used creative SEO strategies to grow and make a lasting impact in highly competitive markets. These companies bring in millions of organic traffic visits every month. They started small and have sustained their growth to turn their businesses into billion-dollar enterprises today. Let us look into some examples of such valuable enterprises.
While today there are more than enough guides that help brands optimise Pinterest pins for SEO, much of Pinterest’s own SEO success comes from its foresight in organising content into topics or clusters. While Pinterest’s initial growth came from Facebook, their growth in organic traffic came from the pivot to Google and the bundling of thematically related content into topic clusters. The essential fact that the content is user generated also ensured scalability.
Simply put, creating a topic cluster involves the construction of pillar and cluster pages. A pillar page is typically a long-form content page that focuses on a broad topic. The cluster content pages cover more specific topics under the umbrella of the pillar page. Creating a hierarchy between pillar and cluster pages can ensure a better user experience and send stronger signals to the search engines on authoritative topics.
Canva is an excellent example of how product extension can come in handy to increase organic traffic. The design platform increased its organic traffic and user activation levels by offering thousands of ready-to-use templates.
One of the many SEO techniques that helped craft the Canva success story and enabled them to enjoy 38.7 million organic hits from SEO every month (and a $6 Bn valuation) uses search intent to create landing pages. Canva has two key landing pages for most of their use cases; a page for discovery and a page for creation. In fact, one of the strategies that Canva has effectively deployed is the use of content directories focused on different use cases. Across the site, it also has a host of parent and child pages, with the child pages particularly capturing backlinks and generating a significant amount of traffic.
The Canva success story is also the story of proactively reacting to new demands. So when the rise of remote work led to an increase in the adoption of Zoom, they rapidly came out with new landing pages that catered to the increased demand for custom Zoom backgrounds.
While Hubspot has been delivering immense value for business builders, its own success is another excellent example of content SEO. As a company known for evangelising the concept of Inbound Marketing, its well-oiled content engine is what many envies today. Some of the aspects that have worked well for Hubspot include optimising historical content, organising content into topic clusters, and building a search-first editorial calendar. Take up most topics, and you will see that the articles around it are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced and appear almost like a course. It’s evident that they have built a strong content moat giving them a sizable competitive advantage.
Examples from the Indian SEO landscape
Some of the Indian companies that have put a lot of effort into their SEO plans include the food delivery app, Zomato. While many have attempted to find its secret sauce for success, some of Zomato’s successful SEO strategies worth mentioning include: targeting a wide variety of keywords which are inclusive of common user search queries like “cafes near me” or “order online food”. Closely linked to this strategy is Zomato’s conversion of top keywords into URLs, thereby indicating to the search engine that its pages are relevant to the user’s search query. In addition, the fact that Zomato has a large number of registered restaurants adds to the whopping number of pages on its website that help it rank, as do quality backlinks from authority sites.
E-tailer Myntra displayed a similar strategy where the SEO activity involves treating each of the many categories of products offered like a microsite. In addition, internal linking of pages is another strategy that helps maximise crawling as far as bots are concerned. Other than this, some of Myntra’s notable SEO efforts include click-through rate improvement through its breadcrumbs, videos, and FAQs.
Branding for Reverse-Engineering SEO
However, if you look closely enough other than technical SEO, the one common thread that runs through all these SEO success stories is the fact that they have reverse engineered SEO by developing strong brands. Importantly, branding helps to get people talking about your brand. In turn, all the buzz sends a solid signal to Google of your relevance and authority. When people specifically search for your product or service, it increases your ability to reap double rewards. The first is that search engine algorithms correlate your brand with the product category. The second is that with people searching for your product or service, in particular, you are that much deeper into the buying funnel and your conversion rates are likely to be higher. The win-win combination of branding and SEO ensures that brand awareness drives search, driving traffic and eventually revenues. You could read more about the many more advantages that branding brings to your SEO efforts here.
A word of caution here- if you think these strategies are the domain of large brands alone, you need to think again. Just because a brand has thousands of dollars for SEO does not necessarily mean that they are looking at the most effective ways to enhance their SEO. Therefore creative SEO is an excellent opportunity for small brands to surpass those Goliaths and make a mark of their own. After all, as Mark Twain said: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”