Images, Metas & More – How Important Are the Small Details of SEO?
This article concludes an 8-part case study analyzing the impact of content on SEO. In the previous installment, we addressed the ranking potential of short- vs. long-form content. In this final installment, we examine some of the smaller details commonly associated with on-site SEO and user engagement, including the use of images, meta tags and responsive design. If you haven't read the previous installment in our series, you can click here to do so.
Chris ScaliseSupervisor of Editorial / Staff Writer
Throughout the course of this case study, we have examined numerous factors believed to impact content rankings and visibility, including word length, subject matter and seasonality. We’ve evaluated the impact of social media marketing and explored techniques for keeping content fresh. But as we wrap up this series, it’s important that we don’t overlook those smaller technical factors that are so essential for both SEO and the overall user experience.
If you visit the ad cetera blog, you’ll notice a few specific trends. For instance, every article includes at least one image and several H2 subheadings. Every article contains a title tag, a meta description, alt image attributes and at least one call to action. In addition, the blog as a whole uses a responsive theme, meaning that it automatically optimizes itself for both desktop and mobile screens.
Let’s take a look at why these factors are so important.
Visuals and Formatting
When you’re creating content, images are a very big deal. In fact, some research indicates that articles with images receive 94 percent more views than text-only content. That’s because images immediately attract attention and inspire curiosity. Consider the image to the left, taken from an article on the ad cetera blog. It elicits just the type of breezy, carefree summer feeling that the text is trying to convey. Without it, the article is unlikely to attract much attention.
It’s not enough to simply attract attention, though. You also have to craft your content in a way that keeps readers engaged. If you click on the aforementioned article, you’ll notice that each paragraph is neatly formatted with its own subheading: Keep Things Cool, Get Things Started, Increase Preparedness, etc. This ensures that the content is easy on the eyes and can be skimmed. Nothing turns readers off faster than large, intimidating blocks of text. Consider the following:
The above text is exhausting just to look at. For the casual reader, it would be a deal breaker. Now, consider the exact same text, but broken down by section:
As you can see, the difference is night and day. Key takeaway: Formatting matters. A lot.
Calls to Actions (CTAs)
Do you include calls to action (CTAs) in your content? If not, it’s a safe bet that your conversion rates are suffering. HubSpot found that anchor text CTAs boosted their own conversion rates by more than 120 percent. When auditing their content, they found that as many as 93 percent of their leads came directly from CTA links. If you browse the ad cetera blog, you’ll notice that most articles contain an anchor text CTA in the final paragraph, if not the final sentence. For instance:
- Contact ad cetera, inc.today to discuss how our products can help you build your brand. 
- Check out these great graduation promotional gifts and more at ad cetera, inc. 
- If we have piqued your interest in trying something a little different for your next employee incentive program, contact the pros at ad cetera, inc.for advice. 
With ad cetera, the unique challenge was trying to secure conversions on a completely different site. The ad cetera blog is hosted at adceterapromos.blog while the ad cetera retail site is hosted at adceterapromos.com. If we were to repeat this case study, we might optimally work with a more flexible site that allows us to host the content and products on a single domain.
Another element that was essential to our SEO process with ad cetera was the creation of meta titles (also known as title tags) and meta descriptions. Each page has a unique title and description that appear in search engine results pages (SERPS). For example:
The title tag and meta description serve multiple benefits:
- They tell search engines what the page is about.
- They tell web surfers what the page is about.
- When well-optimized, they improve a page’s clickthrough rate (CTR) by enticing searchers to visit the page.
- They allow for added keyword value with the placement of optimally chosen key terms. In the above examples, you’ll notice keywords like “giveaway promo items” and “promotional products.”
The use of title tags and meta descriptions has been integral to the success of many articles on the ad cetera blog. For instance, in a previous case study article, we mentioned that the keyword “Chinese New Year promotional items” had been successful for us. It remains one of our most successful keywords, and some of its success is due to the title tag.
The article that ranks for this keyword is entitled Discover the Secrets to Marketing Your Brand for the Chinese New Year. You’ll notice, though, that the keyword “Chinese New Year promotional items” doesn’t appear anywhere in that title. It does, however, appear in the title tag. The title tag we chose is “Chinese New Year Promotional Items to Captivate Your Clients.” The keyword is front and center, and it continues to rise through Google’s rankings.
Finally, we need to stress the importance of responsive design. When we built the ad cetera blog, one of the first and most important steps we took was choosing a design with responsive capabilities. In other words, we needed a flexible site design that would automatically adjust to different screen dimensions, ensuring a flawless presentation and enjoyable user experience on desktop PCs, mobile phones, tablets and any other type of display that visitors might be using.
Here is how the blog appears on a desktop device:
And here’s how it looks on a mobile device:
On both screens, you have a clean alignment and easily navigable text.
If you haven’t already implemented a responsive design for your site, now is the time. In 2017, mobile devices were responsible for just under 50 percent of web searches, and the number of mobile web searches is projected to dwarf desktop searches by 2021. In addition, research by Adobe found that 38 percent of users would stop engaging with a website that doesn’t display well on their device.
Final Takeaways From This Case Study
When we started this case study, we set out to determine the impact of content on SEO. After one year, 40 articles, eight case study reports and countless labor hours, we’ve concluded that content is still very much a powerful and essential factor for SEO. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Here are just a few of the major lessons we’ve learned:
- Create unique content. If your site is loaded with low-quality content or content that has been copied from other sources (even something as innocent as manufacturer product descriptions), your rankings are going to suffer.
- Know your competition. You need to look carefully at the top-ranking sites and determine what’s working for them. Then, do it better. If not, all of that time and money invested in SEO may be wasted.
- Find your niche. The more you can narrow down your audience and keyword focus, the sooner you’ll see results.
- Use social media to your advantage. Organic and paid advertising can both be effective, but you need to test different approaches to discover what truly works for you.
- Produce content that’s evergreen. Seasonal content has tremendous short-term value, and it should definitely be a part of your strategy, but evergreen content will continue to pay for itself no matter how many times the seasons change.
- Keep your content fresh. The world is constantly changing, and so is the internet. If you’re not regularly refreshing your best content, it’s going to turn stale and lose its value.
- Don’t obsess over word length. We can debate the logistics of short- vs. long-term content, but the bottom line is that relevancy and engagement are far more important than word length.
- As we’ve outlined in this article, do sweat the small stuff. Under the right circumstances, something as simple as a meta title can have an enormous impact on your rankings. Don’t overlook those seemingly small ranking factors.
If you’re now convinced about the importance of content but you’re still not sure where to start, the answer is to just start. Produce content that motivates you, excites you and has meaning to you. If it resonates with you, it will probably resonate with readers, and that’s the most important element of any content strategy. Get out there and make it happen!
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