SEO and content design: Integrating user-centered search strategy into your workflow

A7f688589c8b5462a0ffc11b5ce83f95?s=47 Chris Corak
April 26, 2019

SEO and content design: Integrating user-centered search strategy into your workflow

User-centered SEO isn’t just some magic you sprinkle on finished web copy right before hitting publish. SEO components—like user intent, internal-linking structures, content hierarchy, structured data, and meta descriptions—are built into content design decisions.

After clashing on projects and stepping on each others’ toes, Chris (an SEO) and Rebekah (a content and UX strategist) found smarter ways to integrate their work and create helpful, relevant web experiences that are search-engine friendly, too. In this session, they’ll share what they’ve learned and help you understand when, where, and how to integrate SEO into your content design process.

In this presentation, you’ll learn:

- A better understanding of how, when, and where SEO essentials play into your web content workflow
- Practical approaches and tools you can use to add a search-strategy lens to the content research and design work you already do, without compromising user experience
- Ideas on how to collaborate more effectively with SEO stakeholders

This presentation is a good fit for people who want to expand on their knowledge of modern search strategy and understand how to account for SEO without compromising user experience. It's also relevant for SEOs looking for how they can integrate their work into the content + UX design process.

A7f688589c8b5462a0ffc11b5ce83f95?s=128

Chris Corak

April 26, 2019
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Transcript

  1. SEO and Content Design C O N F A B

    | 2 0 1 9 INTEGRATING USER-CENTERED SEARCH STRATEGY INTO YOUR WORKFLOW
  2. @BEKAHBAGGS @CHRIS_CORAK

  3. I M A G E C R E D I

    T | A W W W A R D S . C O M
  4. SEO SEO and Content Design I N T E G

    R A T I N G U S E R - C E N T E R E D S E A R C H S T R A T E G Y I N T O Y O U R W O R K F L O W C O N F A B | 2 0 1 9
  5. Crawling + indexing Technology rendering content + nav Page speed

    URL handling Schema.org JSON-LD XML Sitemaps + robots.txt files Internal linking structure Canonical links Duplicate content PageRank + links But wait! There’s still a lot of technical SEO that goes on behind the scenes, outside of content design.
  6. TECHNICAL SEO CONTENT DESIGN our focus today C O N

    F A B | 2 0 1 9
  7. Work with what you’ve got

  8. Modern SEO A BRIEF UPDATE

  9. RankBrain An advancement in artificial intelligence

  10. Photo by George Baier Sites that have better UX and

    engagement are doing better in search results. - Rand Fishkin
  11. then why would we cater to algorithms instead of working

    harder to make users happy? If Google’s #1 goal is to give people what they want,
  12. ✓ Website designed before real content is understood ✓ Writer

    writes web content to fit template ✓ Page template doesn’t quite work like how people intended ✓ Key features or functionality are missing ✓ Content modules explode, etc.
  13. ✓ SEO is an afterthought ✓ We lose search visibility

    in the migration process ✓ Rewrite, or re-design or re-develop, or all three ... nobody’s happy
  14. None
  15. Oops!

  16. There’s got to be A BETTER WAY

  17. In every practical sense SEO is part of content design,

    and content design is part of SEO.
  18. You can no longer “do” SEO without having an SEO

    lens throughout the entire web design process.
  19. L E V E L O F E F F

    O R T Research Planning Design Development Iteration 4 5 3 2 1 Research Design Planning and production Development Iteration T Y P I C A L O N W A R D
  20. Create a shared project roadmap Add a search lens to

    research Don’t let it get lost in development Add a search lens to content design –1– –3– –2– –4–
  21. 1. Create a shared ROADMAP Photo by Jo Szczepanska

  22. Project steps (the work)

  23. Related tasks (and needs)

  24. Teams and people involved

  25. Project steps Tasks, teams + people CONTENT AUDIT Crawl the

    site to capture all pages Determine content grading criteria (include SEO factors) USER RESEARCH User interviews User intent analysis IA/SITEMAP Determine categories and nomenclature Slickplan diagram C O N F A B | 2 0 1 9
  26. Project steps Tasks, teams + people CONTENT AUDIT Crawl the

    site to capture all pages Determine content grading criteria (include SEO factors) USER RESEARCH User interviews User intent analysis IA/SITEMAP Determine categories and nomenclature Slickplan diagram C O N F A B | 2 0 1 9
  27. Draw a line to connect cards. You can connect your

    cards. Add new connections as you go. C O N F A B | 2 0 1 9
  28. Typically each team has their own project plan. But how

    can you reach the same destination if you don’t have a shared roadmap?
  29. C O N F A B | 2 0 1

    9 ✓ Bring UX, SEO, content, design and dev people together Create a shared project roadmap ✓ Understand shared areas of responsibility, timing and dependencies ✓ Map everyone’s steps in the whole project ✓ Create a culture of inclusion and collaboration
  30. Create a shared project roadmap Add a search lens to

    research Create development guidelines Add a search lens to content design –1– –3– –2– –4–
  31. 2. Add a search lens TO RESEARCH Photo by Jo

    Szczepanska
  32. RESEARCH Stakeholder Interviews User Intent Analysis User Interviews Content Audit

  33. Stakeholder Interviews Add a search lens to reveal: § Priorities

    § Processes § Team structures § Opportunities Include questions that reveal search considerations, opportunities and challenges
  34. Landing pages, microsites and subdomains

  35. We needed to know Are there broken processes that lead

    to organic search problems or constraints? So we asked How do you use subdomains and microsites?
  36. We needed to know Does the executive team have realistic

    expectations? So we asked How do you envision organic search playing into the marketing strategy?
  37. Interview the SEO

  38. politics, people and team structures that impact SEO. Add a

    search lens to stakeholder interview questions to reveal C O N F A B | 2 0 1 9
  39. User Intent Analysis Analyze long-tail search data to understand: §

    How people search § What information matters most to them § What language they use to describe things Capture user intent, questions, tasks and priorities
  40. It’s all in the longtail

  41. Photo by Thos Ballantyne Active intent is the intent that

    is explicitly described by the query syntax…you must satisfy active intent immediately. @ajkohn
  42. Photo by Thos Ballantyne Passive intent is the intent that

    is implicitly described. @ajkohn
  43. Google Search Console

  44. On-Site Search History

  45. http://answertheclient.com/assets/atp-dark-inline-9dc08e1790f7273b9aee6bcfa16580e9dda179dbea01081599f7d9a04f9ab112.png C O N F A B | 2 0

    1 9
  46. search term here

  47. read for themes

  48. Cost + Quotes

  49. Meaning

  50. Value

  51. Intent themes identified • Cost + Quotes • Validation •

    Taxes • Meaning • Local Agents • Value
  52. Out of 1.8 million monthly searches…

  53. can help you prove value and prioritize content. Summing up

    the search volume for each theme of intent
  54. It’s the most powerful tool we have to align SEO

    to real user needs and expectations. User intent analysis is more than just keyword research.
  55. bit.ly/understandingintent Start analyzing user intent C O N F A

    B | 2 0 1 9
  56. User Interviews Add a search lens to user interviews to

    reveal: § How they search and the terminology/phrases used § What results they follow and why § Where search fits into their journey Include questions that reveal search habits
  57. We needed to know What their search journey looks like

    So we asked Tell me about the last time you searched for (product) or (service) or (problem) online?
  58. Hotel site vs. booking engine

  59. We needed to know What language they use to describe

    things So we asked What words or search phrases did you use?
  60. and what language they use to describe things. Interviews uncover

    the reasons behind what people search for, how they search C O N F A B | 2 0 1 9
  61. Content Audits SEO, UX, and content are intertwined: § Avoid

    duplicate work and conflicting recommendations by considering UX, SEO and content in one audit § Invite SEO and UX teams to co- create audit when possible § Content audits need a technical SEO and UX lens in order to be effective Audit content holistically
  62. Don’t just check the SEO box

  63. ✓ Use analytics to understand top performing and under- performing

    pages in organic search, audit accordingly C O N F A B | 2 0 1 9 ✓ Audit against active and passive intent identified in user intent analysis, use this to identify gaps in content ✓ Pay attention to internal linking structures, forward paths to related information, and ensure links are crawlable Key SEO audit criteria
  64. We need each other in order to be successful. Content

    audits without an SEO lens (and vice versa) don’t tell the whole story.
  65. bit.ly/SEOmyaudit Add an SEO lens to your audit C O

    N F A B | 2 0 1 9
  66. C O N F A B | 2 0 1

    9 ✓ Stakeholder interviews ✓ User interviews ✓ User intent analysis isn’t just SEO, it’s user research ✓ Holistic content audits that account for SEO factors Add a search lens to research
  67. Create a shared project roadmap Add a search lens to

    research Create development guidelines Add a search lens to content design –1– –3– –2– –4–
  68. 3. Add a search lens to CONTENT DESIGN

  69. DESIGN IA/Nomenclature Core Modeling Structured Data Content Production

  70. IA + Nomenclature Use search intent to help you: §

    Identify top tasks and topics that need representation in the IA that aren’t there now § Prioritize how high in the IA that content should live § Use nomenclature that aligns to language people use to describe things Should be influenced by search intent and semantics
  71. Photo by George Baier Look for the words (especially the

    verbs!) that people use when interacting with your site or product, then mirror their language back to them. - Lisa Maria Martin
  72. Photo by George Baier Category labels and navigation structures are

    not the place to socialize corporate lingo or experiment with affordances. - Lisa Maria Martin
  73. Content for special circumstances

  74. Content for special circumstances

  75. Easy to find in the IA (not buried)

  76. Core Modeling § Align page content to user intent §

    Provides a shared framework to consider UX, content and SEO input at the same time § Allows for compromise and discussion around priorities Align page content to search intent
  77. B U S I N E S S G O

    A L S U S E R T A S K S I N W A R D P A T H S F O R W A R D P A T H S C O R E C O N T E N T C O R E M O D E L C R E D I T | A R E H A L L A N D Page name
  78. Content for special circumstances

  79. User tasks and priorities

  80. Page name B U S I N E S S

    G O A L S U S E R T A S K S F O R W A R D P A T H S C O R E C O N T E N T A C T I V E I N T E N T P A S S I V E I N T E N T Page titles, main headlines, intro copy, and sub headers Subheadings, page content, video, imagery, and other content should address a mix of active and passive intent I N W A R D P A T H S Links from high priority pages Meta descriptions and markup Links to next steps & related intent Links to external sites A C T I V E I N T E N T + P A S S I V E I N T E N T C O R E M O D E L C R E D I T | A R E H A L L A N D
  81. Satisfying passive intent in content

  82. None
  83. Featured snippets

  84. Answers given in paragraph, lists, and tables

  85. 28%- in bounce rates 22% + organic traffic 53%+ in

    people asking for a quote
  86. Content Production § Help web writers and SEOs have visibility

    into each other’s work early in the process § Be clear about how to address user intent in web writing § Align voice and tone standards to search intent when possible Incorporate SEO into the writing process
  87. None
  88. None
  89. None
  90. What users want Questions Expectations Priorities Keywords & search terms

    Search volume & popularity How users describe things
  91. Voluntary vs. Supplemental 543 different phrases 5K in search volume

    1,681 different phrases 26K + in search volume
  92. Structured data § Describe your content in more detail to

    search engines § Have more control of how your search results looks § Identify new content ideas, avoid missing information Pass along meaning to search engines
  93. Photo by George Baier Content design is a way of

    thinking. It's about using data and evidence to give an audience what they need at the time they need it and in a way that they expect. - Sara Richards
  94. of traffic comes from Organic Search, while 29% start directly

    on your site. 47% CONDUCTOR, ENTERPRISE ANALYTICS STUDY
  95. None
  96. Structured data enhancing UX + CTR

  97. Schema.org by type Product Local business Reviews Organization Images &

    videos More… Healthcare & medical Finance & banking Real estate Travel & tourism Arts & music Software More… www.s c he ma.org / d oc s / f u l l .ht m l Schema.org by industry
  98. C O N F A B | 2 0 1

    9 ✓ Account for SEO in IA/Nomenclature ✓ Layer search intent data over core models ✓ Highlight SEO and content overlap in one production spreadsheet Add a search lens to content design ✓ Include user intent in your writing and brand guidelines ✓ Think of meta descriptions and structured data as design, too
  99. Create a shared roadmap Add a search lens to research

    Create development guidelines Add a search lens to content design –1– –3– –2– –4–
  100. 4. Don’t let design GET LOST IN DEVELOPMENT

  101. Technical SEO Requirements & CMS Mapping DEVELOPMENT

  102. SEO requirements + CMS mapping Communicate architecture, front and backend

    needs Create a technical SEO requirements checklist to: • Save time in development • Clearly communicate technical aspects that will make the build search engine-friendly • Document expected CMS functionality and editorial control
  103. Technical SEO + CMS requirements checklist

  104. Not linkable text Can’t include semantic relevance

  105. Vague and no semantic value

  106. C O N F A B | 2 0 1

    9 ✓ Document technical SEO requirements and explain what that means for development ✓ Create developer-focused guide to CMS functionality and editorial control Don’t let design get lost in development
  107. Create a shared roadmap Add a search lens to research

    Don’t let design get lost in development Design + produce content holistically –1– –3– –2– –4–
  108. RESEARCH Stakeholder Interviews Uncover org reasons behind broken search strategy

    User Intent Analysis Understand search intent, user tasks, language and priorities User Interviews Capture reasons behind search habits Content Stories Articulate search intent for design decisions DESIGN IA/Nomenclature Influenced by search intent and semantics, determines URL naming, directory paths, and how Google understands you Content Goals Determine micro and macro conversions and map to content types Content Audit Audit against ranking factors and use search relevant metrics for guidance Core Modeling Align info hierarchy, core content and forward paths to search intent
  109. Structured Data Research schema.org markup, map to page types, markup

    decisions, features and functionality Content Modules & Page Templates Account for on-page SEO in module design and CMS functionality Migration Plan Account for dynamic vs. manual redirects, align redirect decisions to relevant content PLANNING & PRODUCTION Content Production Worksheet Bring your web content production and SEO meta descriptions, page titles and redirect insight together Web Content Writing Include on-page SEO elements and Google answer box strategy, along with clarity, relevancy and semantic considerations Titles, Descriptions & Metadata Shouldn’t be done in a vacuum, align to voice and tone, key messages, and user-centered writing practices
  110. Technical SEO Requirements Comprehensive technical SEO requirements, QA checklist DEVELOPMENT

    Development CMS Mapping Developer-focused description of expected functionality and editorial control of content modules and interactivity on the front-end On-Going Testing & Iteration Establish content performance metrics that account for usability and search factors, not just end conversions
  111. In every practical sense SEO is part of content design,

    and content design is part of SEO.
  112. You can’t design content without understanding search intent data.

  113. C O N F A B | 2 0 1

    9 ✓ Download the user intent analysis guide and give it a shot ✓ Take your SEO out to lunch ✓ Look for ways to integrate user intent findings into the content design work you already do When you get back to work… B I T . L Y / U N D E R S T A N D I N G I N T E N T
  114. @REBEKAHCANCINO Thanks, y’all!