Five Questions With: Justin Marshall

Justin Marshall, a digital marketing specialist with Brave River Solutions in Warwick, spoke to Providence Business News about search engine optimization, or SEO, and how companies can improve their SEO capability.

PBN: What is the biggest rule you see not being followed in SEO for most companies?

MARSHALL: The mistake I most often see in search engine optimization today is poor data analysis. There are many other important SEO factors that are overlooked, including site architecture, on-page optimization, schema and link structure, to name a few. But improper data review is something that comes up more often.

If you have ever looked at Google, Adobe, or any other web-analytics program, you know that it can be quite overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start or, even more important, what to show. I have found that creating questions … is the best place to start. For example, what pages created the most profit, what pages had the highest organic traffic, and where do most users exit the website? From there, you can look into the search intent for each page and how to improve it.

- Advertisement -

PBN: How much of a difference can correct SEO make for an organization’s marketing?

MARSHALL: The great thing about search engine optimization is that it’s free. It’s not like Google ads or YouTube ads, which stop showing as soon as you stop paying. And it’s important to know that SEO consists of more than just link-building and on-page optimization. Creating a solid organizational foundation, internal link structure and a fast, multi-device experience is just as important. Keeping up with the latest algorithm guidelines and updates will ensure that your website/web app will outrank your competition. These SEO practices will also give you more momentum when new algorithm updates release.

Companies who don’t have in-house experts may use agencies … remember that SEO is not just a one-time setup. Even though your company’s organic results won’t just disappear if you were to stop paying, it is wise to have a monthly retainer to ensure that rankings are at the best possible position and that your organic traffic is always growing. A professional and technical SEO agency will also improve your monthly reporting and conversion rates.

PBN: Should every organization have a blog?

MARSHALL: Yes. Having a regularly updated blog is a great way to bring new and returning users … in the awareness stage all the way to the conversion and evangelistic stage. Great blog posts will answer questions that potential and existing customers have while offering the proper resources. This will, in turn, help increase brand awareness, increase engagement, and even bring users to the conversion or repeat customer stage.

If you are unsure about what topics to write about or need to learn SEO basics, then ask a recommended and respected agency if they offer consulting.

PBN: We’ve heard that keyword stuffing can now actually adversely affect a company’s online marketing. Is this accurate?

MARSHALL: Keyword stuffing is when you add an excessive number of keywords and synonyms to your webpages or blog posts. Search engines can tell that this is unnatural and will penalize you for this spammy practice.

How often can you use a keyword until you get penalized? Well, right now you may have to go to an extreme, such as pasting a keyword in 100 times in a row to get penalized. But search engine algorithms will only get smarter. So, it’s wise to create natural written content now. A penalty may push you off Page 1, or even off the search engines entirely. And simply removing the keywords won’t remove the penalty.

PBN: From an SEO standpoint, is it better to not start an online blog rather than to start one for your company and only post on it a few times?

MARSHALL: It’s always better to have a few blog posts than to have none. The important thing is to make sure your content is evergreen, meaning that it’s still relevant one, five, or even 10 years from now. Search engines love to see new content, but they love great and popular content even more!

Another trick to making sure your content isn’t outdated is to remove the publication date from the blog post. Google may know how old the blog post is, but your readers won’t. From time to time, it’s good to tweak any blog posts that may be outdated.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.