Each week, for its Fast Five interview series, Verbolia invites opinion leaders to share their views on SEO and e-commerce. This week, we are pleased to welcome Steven De Moor, Digital Marketing Advisor at TVH, a global leader in aftermarket parts for forklifts, industrial construction and agricultural equipment. At TVH, Steven De Moor is responsible for, among other duties, the implementation of SEO strategies for its numerous websites, keyword optimization, tracking and data monitoring. During the interview Steven told us about his first SEO project, expressed his views on the main challenges of SEO for 2021 and talked about his favorite SEO software.
1) What was your first SEO project, and how did it go?
My first SEO project at TVH was to optimize a website focused on machine attachments (i.e. forklift forks). Like many of TVH’s websites at the time, it was developed and published online without SEO best practices. There were hardly any SEO texts visible, URLs were not translated, meta tags were considered exotic and (product images) often were 1 MB or bigger. With my good friend ScreamingFrog and some Google spreadsheets, I started digging into the mess. All the URLs, meta titles and descriptions, alt tags and so on (in about 8 languages) were manually checked and optimized over the next few months. After about 6 months, I started seeing some nice organic growth (about 150% more organic traffic) and from then on I knew that my focus and passion was on-page SEO.
2) What are the main challenges of SEO in 2021 ?
One of the main challenges for me is focusing on search & user intent. In my early years, The past few years, search engines like Google have become better and better at determining the search intent of people. Right now, the whole Google SERP is trying to best fit the search intent and not the exact searched keyword. If you understand what your users want and what their intent is when they are searching for a specific query, half of the job for ranking on that keyword is done. Whenever I start a keyword research or content optimization process, I always start with a quick SERP analysis (i.e. People Also Ask section and Featured Snippets) combined with a competitor analysis. Whenever I start writing a new piece of content or optimize an existing one, I know right away what keywords or topics I need to include on the page.
The second challenge is generating visibility for competitive keywords in a world where featured snippets and other knowledge graphs dominate the SERPs. What I found most effective is using more structured data, more specifically FAQ Rich Results and Reviews. Not only gives structured data a greater SERP visibility, it also really improves the CTR to your website.
The third challenge is the optimization for Google’s Core Web Vitals. It’s easy to optimize text on a page, but optimizing page speed, mobile friendliness, rendering, images, security protocols, and so on isn’t. Especially if you don’t know anything technical SEO related.
3) What is your favourite SEO software ?
Today, I use several SEO tools to achieve organic search domination:
- SEranking for my own affiliate website steviefy.be. SERanking is a budget-friendly suite of SEO tools that includes modules like position tracking, website audits, backlink management and organic traffic analysis. It’s the perfect tool for smaller SEO projects.
- SEMrush is the main SEO tool we use within TVH. It’s a full-scale enterprise SEO suite that is ideal for the many different multilingual websites that we manage within TVH. I spend most of my time within the position tracking tool. It includes smart filters that allows you to identify which of your target keywords trigger different SERP features, which of those SERP features you’ve managed to earn and which of them your competitors occupy. The position tracking tool also identifies what keywords your competitors lost or gained, so you can find new opportunities for your website. With the SEMrush connector in Google Data Studio I can also easily integrate the organic rankings within our digital marketing dashboards.
- Google Search Console is also one among them. By exporting the data within GSC to Google Spreadsheets, using different filters and formulae, you can easily identify wins and losses on page and keyword level.
- ScreamingFrog, the tool we all use to crawl both small and very large websites.
4) What is the most common SEO mistake you see people making?
Number one thing is that you don’t write or optimize content for search engines but for people.
Regarding my first experience within SEO, I now have discovered there are a lot of ways to be more efficient in optimizing a website. To give you an example: last year I was given the assignment to optimize a list of almost 10000 pages related to tractor parts in 6 different languages. My younger self would have panicked and might have said that it would have been an impossible task. I tackled this by doing a global keyword research and clustering keywords that were interesting for different sets of pages. I then wrote a couple of generic SEO texts that contained tokens which would automatically inject the right keyword for specific types of pages. In about three weeks I was able to optimize 10000 pages for one language. After about one year, the organic traffic to these pages rose from about 200 monthly visits to more than 30000 monthly visits. It was a big win! 😊
5) What is a typical low-hanging fruit optimization to make in SEO for e-commerce?
In my opinion, the biggest optimizations you can do with the least amount of effort is improving your internal linking profile, optimizing product images and improving your meta tags (preferably all done in bulk 😊).
PS: TVH is striving to become a global e-commerce player itself! To do this we’re continuously looking for new digital talent. Please have a look at our open positions in Belgium!
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