Izabela Wisniewska tells SEOs in 2023 that you shouldn’t focus strictly on SEO in isolation, and instead focus on building trustworthy brands and very good websites - and shouting about it.
Izabela says: “My number one tip is that you need to build a quality, trustworthy brand.”
How do you build a trustworthy brand?
“If you return to the roots of SEO, that might make your life a bit easier. In the post-Penguin and post-Panda era of SEO, you should start moving toward building very good quality content and focus on what you’re saying to your audience. Building trustworthy and quality brands means promoting what you want your audience to think about you.
For example, when someone is looking for a doctor or financial advisor they don’t just go with someone who’s put a bunch of stuff that’s good for Google on their website. They elect to go with someone trustworthy, recommended, and with great qualifications in those industries.”
How does Google determine trust?
“They focus on the EAT quality guidelines of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
You should shout about your achievements and how good you are. If you’ve won any awards, or your clients have, then shout about them. If you’re very highly educated in your field, shout about that. When you’re writing quality content on subjects that are close to your industry, how do people determine that you’re trustworthy? It’s like the old adage goes: if you hang around with bad people (bad links), regardless of how good you are, people will think that you’re not so good. However, if you hang around with good links people are going to think you’re as good as them.
Think along these lines when you’re trying to build your brand. How can you show people that you’re trustworthy? Try to do the same with Google. Show them quality content and how hard you’ve worked to get to where you are.
Show how educated your employees are, how great they’re going to be if your client shows up in the first position, and how great the company is going to be in general. That’s what Google wants as well, in the end - they want to show the best of the best. If so, people will come back and say they’ve found good people on Google and that they know what they’re doing.”
What are some of the better places to shout about your business and build trust?
“It depends on the industry. There was an interesting take recently where a girl had been shown the right places for bike sellers. They went for more relevant placements of PR releases and PR activities rather than generic ones that are just higher Domain Authority or Majestic Trust Flow. They went for more relevant ones.
Think about where your audience is going to hang around and where they would prefer to find information that’s relevant and trustworthy. You can’t generalise, like back in the day, and assume you can just go for Wikipedia links because they’re the best ones.
Of course go for the general trustworthy ones if you think that’s going to help you, however, think before you start shouting about everything. Where would your audience feel is the best place to find information that’s trustworthy? It’ll be even better if you can provide it where they start looking in the first place.”
Should you just look at where the right people are talking about something in the right way or should you filter the opportunities even further by applying different metrics to those websites and assigning them a quality or trust score?
“Go for a mixture of those two. Analysing and observing your audience is great. However, we’re SEOs and we like technical, so definitely apply some scores. If you’re talking links and PageRank Majestic Trust Flows are fantastic.
It doesn’t matter if it’s links or quality or content, start by analysing your audience and make sure you show them what they want to see. You should ensure that what you suggest to them is what you’re actually doing because that’s another thing that you need to be 100% on. We tend to focus so much on ranking that we don’t think beyond that. We want to rank but sometimes lose the thought of what’s going to happen next. Are you showing the right thing for the right keyword? Is that what they want to see? Are we persuading them enough?
You’ll have to think more about overall marketing than just purely SEO rank. You should think about what’s going to happen after you get them there and how you’re going to persuade them that you belong with the best of the best. That’s what we’ve been missing recently, and that’s what you should start focusing on going forward.”
Where are the best places to start if you’re just trying to establish yourself as an authority and you haven’t really done that much in the past?
“Embrace a systematic approach and use trial and error. There are no shortcuts and you won’t find any along the way. Follow the quality guidelines - for example, the EAT.
It’s not like someone would randomly wake up one day and start a business in XYZ. The same applies to the digital world: you can’t just build a website from scratch and start competing. It doesn’t happen that way. What usually happens is someone does something within an existing field, starts the education process, and begins the slow grind of building up the business. After enough hard work and time have passed, you can become an expert in your field.
Start by shouting out about what you can offer and start building quality content and great websites. Remember the basics, because if you get them right you’ll start to build up your brand’s trust and quality. Hard work and persistence pay off, and there’s no place you can go to get it. Gaining trustworthiness doesn’t happen overnight. In any industry, if you think about building a trustworthy, quality brand, that will rarely happen overnight. You’ll have to work for it.”
Where do reviews and customer opinions come into this?
“What other people are saying about you is super important as well. This can also contribute to building trust and building the quality of the brand. You can say anything about yourself and you’re more than likely going to be talking in a positive light. Your customers are your advocates, so you’ll want them to contribute.
By all means shout out about winning, education, and how good your product is - but you’ll need encouragement, reviews, and testimonials to make sure prospective customers know they can trust you. Building trust wouldn’t work without having quality products/services and the encouragement you gain from the fact that people already use your product. People won’t trust you without it.”
Is there a best place to try and encourage customers to write reviews?
“No. Sometimes it helps to partially forget you’re doing SEO and instead take care of the basics. Try to think as your audience would think. What are the best places to put reviews? They should be where your audience will trust those reviews the most.
Your choice of positioning will probably depend on the industry. If you’re on the agency side of things, you won’t be able to do it yourself - you’ll have to work with your client. If you’re an in-house SEO, you also won’t be able to do it yourself. You’ll have to work with the rest of the brand’s clients and companies to make everything come together, get the quality across and build trustworthiness. The SEO and marketing teams won’t do it themselves; it has to be a joint effort.”
Is there any style of content that you prefer nowadays?
“A mixture of all types of content is the best approach. Think about what would happen in a natural world and do a mixture of things. Some users might prefer podcasts and some might prefer reading blog posts.”
Should we be actively encouraging our audiences to view product videos, podcasts, and different types of media other than articles?
“Always go for a mixture of things. A mixture of all mediums, or whatever suits the specific thing we’re trying to shout about. There might be a message that will be better presented in a podcast or video or you might have something that’ll be better in written form. The first place that’s easy for people to shout about their achievements is their blog or social media accounts. That’s the easiest place to start, and then, if there is a possibility to show somewhere else without it sounding like PR or too pushy, you should definitely do this.
Always try to think and say whatever feels natural to your audience, across whatever mediums or channels your audience will best consume content. This will also vary because even if the writing sounds more natural, your audience could well have different opinions. That’s why going for a mixture of things is the best thing you could do. If it’s a specific industry where you know that one form is better than another, you shouldn’t forget other forms as well.”
What shouldn’t SEOs be doing in 2023? What’s seductive in terms of time but ultimately counterproductive?
“You shouldn’t not follow what I just said. As SEOs, and across the whole marketing industry, we tend to be stuck in our old ways. It’s funny because we tend to be stuck yet often forget the basics. We often don’t really look into technical aspects or forget to put content out that builds up trust and quality. For example, we push out short blog posts for the sake of it.
We need to try our hardest to not forget the basics and avoid remaining stuck in our old ways. Stop thinking that just because something has always worked it will continue to work going forward.
We should learn these golden rules: Don’t forget the basics and don’t be afraid to evolve with the times. Think about building up a proper blog or content hub and appreciate the time and effort it takes to build trustworthy brands. Inform your clients that good things come to those who wait. The idea of pushing something out and worrying about it later needs to go away in 2023.”
Izabela Wisniewska is Co-founder and Head of Search Marketing at Creatos Media and you can find her at creatosmedia.co.uk.
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