Andy Crestodina Interview: SEO Strategies You Need to Master

If your new business cannot be found on search engines, in most cases it’s unlikely that it will be found at all. Working on your SEO will help you establish an online presence where customers can discover and interact with your brand. When nearly 95% of web traffic only clicks on links that appear on the first search engine results page, a lower ranking could put your business out of that reach.

For this reason, we got in touch with one of the industry’s leading SEO experts – Andy Crestodina to discuss about the upcoming trends and his favorite SEO strategies.

Andy is a cofounder and the strategic director of Orbit Media Studios, an award-winning digital marketing agency, which has completed more than 1,000 successful website projects. He is also a regular speaker both locally and nationally. Not only is Andy a founder of Content Jam, Chicago’s largest content marketing conference, but he’s also a regular face on the national circuit. If you go to a content marketing conference, the one Chicagoan you’re most likely to hear is Andy Crestodina.

Without further ado, let’s crack straight into it. 🙂

1. So Andy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 🙂

I’m a Chicagoan, an environmentalist and a digital strategist.

I’m also the co-founder of a digital agency here in Chicago called Orbit Media. Orbit is primarily a web development company and we’ve built 1000+ websites since we started in 2001.

My role these days is mostly marketing: speaking and writing on digital marketing topics. I write lots of articles and give lots of presentations about SEO, content strategy, conversion optimization and analytics. 

 

2. What’s your most favorite part of being a strategic director of one of the best digital marketing agencies?

Helping people. Listening and teaching. Discovering a problem and then working together to solve it. 

We all live at the intersection of art and science, creative and technical. It’s great place for “center brained” people who enjoy doing creative and analytical work at the same time.

But this is also a service industry, so you have to like people.

 

3. 67k searches are performed on Google every second. Do you think investing in SEO should be the number one priority for a new website?

No, there are lots of successful websites that don’t rank for anything. And there are sites that rank in search that aren’t successful at all.

Above all else, a website needs to provide the information that visitors need and that the brand needs to convey. 

These visitors don’t necessarily come from search. A lot of brands drive a lot of direct traffic simply by being active in sales or advertising. If these visitors don’t find the information they need, they’ll leave and go somewhere else, and that sales activity or advertising budget was wasted.

Also, new websites have a natural disadvantage in search, so SEO is a difficult first strategy. It’s important to understand search and start early (research keywords and write, build links and pitch) but it’s a slow process. I don’t think it’s necessarily the number one priority for any new website.

 

4. So if SEO is a challenge for new websites, do you have any keyword research tips and tricks to share with beginner bloggers? 

Yes, start by understanding your authority. You’ll never rank for a phrase if your website doesn’t have sufficient authority, as in, link popularity. The authority and ranking potential of a website is determined by the quality and quantity of websites that link to it.

Know your authority, then target keyphrases that have you have a realistic chance of ranking for.

Here’s a little guide that you can use as a shortcut. It uses the Moz metric for authority, which they call Domain Authority…

Source: How to Research Keywords, Orbit Media

 

If you have lower authority, just target longer, more specific, less popular phrases. New websites can often rank quickly if the target phrase is long because there is less competition.

Example: Dental insurance (very difficult)

Example: Dental insurance broker in Illinois (very easy)

Finally, keep in mind that you don’t have to just write for your own website. Smart bloggers get off of their own platforms and write for everyone. Get out there!

When you do write for other websites, you can target phrases that you would otherwise be unable to rank for because you’re publishing on website with higher authority.

 

5. That makes sense. But how can bloggers grow the authority of their own websites. Could you share some of your favorite off-page SEO and link building strategies?

Some of the quickest wins come from listening. Start by setting up alerts and notifications of brand mentions. All of the major SEO tools have these (SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs) as do a lot of the PR tools (Talkwalker and Cision).

These alerts are generally weekly emails that show where your company is mentioned and if that mention includes a link. If there’s a brand mention that doesn’t include a link, reach out to the writer or editor and ask nicely. If you’re good at this quick, simple request, you can often win links from this “link reclamation” approach consistently. 

But the best approach to link building is to publish original research. This makes your website the primary source for certain statistics. This is link-worthy content and without it, link building is really really hard.


6. The Orbit Media Blog is one of our favorite blogs to read and stay updated about content marketing and SEO. What’s the secret recipe for turning your company’s blog into one of the industry’s leading sources?

Hard work! …thank you for the compliment, Viktor!

 

7. What are your favorite ways of promoting your articles? Are there any types of articles that typically attract more attention than others?

The topic often determines the promotion, because different topics have advantages in different channels. Some things work in search, while others work better in social media. 

This quick guide might help explain:

Source: Search vs. Social, Orbit Media

 

  • If a piece doesn’t answer a question or have long-form text, don’t bother trying to promote it in search. They probably aren’t any keyword opportunities.
  • If a piece doesn’t trigger emotion or include visuals, don’t bother trying to promote it in social. It’s not likely to get any engagement.

Once you’ve aligned the topic with the channel, you’re ready to succeed at promotion.

 

8. Bounce rate is one of the most discussed metrics among digital marketers. Could you recommend a few ways of reducing bounce rates?

Everyone wants to lower their bounce rates. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Make your navigation labels more descriptive, helping to guide visitors deeper into the site.
  • Add internal links into copy, giving visitors more opportunities to click through to subsequent pages.
  • Add “Related articles” to your most popular blog posts. Use articles that have great headlines with high clickthrough rates (these are often the headlines that got the most traction in social media)
  • Change calls-to-action by adding more benefit-driven words (ie. Change “Contact Us” to “Schedule a time to speak with an expert about your bounce rates”)
  • Add a “Next >” button to the bottom of every page

You’ll notice that these are all really just ways to get visitors to click. There are other ways to move bounce rates up:

  • Reduce the load time of top-traffic pages
  • Increase traffic from low-bounce sources
  • Delete any high-traffic, high-bounce rate articles from your blog!

But what’s a good bounce rate anyway? Rarely do you meet a marketer who believes that their bounce rate is healthy. 

I have access to 700+ Analytics accounts. Based on my experience with those websites, here are a little chart with some benchmarks to help put you in a range for what you should expect as a bounce rate for different types of pages:

Source: Is bounce rate important? Orbit Media

 


9. Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. But before you go, do you have any other final tips for upcoming digital marketers? 🙂

Build long-term relationships with smart content creators. Meet with people face-to-face. Form a mastermind group of like-minded professionals. Write hand-written thank you notes for people who help you. Make yourself easy to connect with. Polish your LinkedIn profile. If you really get stuck, ask someone for help. Write thoughtful comments on other blogs. Promote other people’s content as much as you promote your own. Show lots of gratitude. Work hard, have fun and enjoy the ride!

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