Want To Be A Page One Search Result? Answer These 5 Questions

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Sixth out of 1,410,000,000 results. Not bad

In the case of The Data Leadership Collaborative (DLC), a global thought leadership community that PJA created for (and with) our terrific client Tableau, it’s also a milestone. Launched just over two years ago, the DLC has a strictly non-promotional goal to bring together like-minded executive data leaders to connect, learn, and help each other progress on the journey to building data-driven organizations.

We developed the DLC with – and for – data leaders who hailed from organizations like Britain’s National Health Service, global commercial real estate leader JLL, Jaguar Land Rover, Oracle, and VMWare.

Our content ranges from in-depth interview-based articles on how to manage expectations about AI when your board may be running around with their collective hair on fire to virtual roundtables and videos on identifying unintentional data bias in your organization. We even have a very popular new feature called “Confessions of a CDO,” where Chief Data Officers dish on the crazy challenges of a vital C-level role that still has an average tenure of 2.4 years.

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This is just between you and me…

Tableau green-lit research into the need for the community – my favorite interviewee, in Sydney, Australia, said, “I think you’ve identified an absolute gold mine” – commissioned us to pull best practices from communities as diverse as Sephora and Lego, encouraged us to hold online whiteboarding sessions where we did A/B testing of different community concepts, and gave us the breathing room to create an award-winning graphic identity and web design that would stand out. This is classic Tableau. They are a powerful brand because they really care about listening to and communicating with their customers.

Since we launched, in May 2021, we have written, co-written, videotaped, designed, and laid out close to 150 stories across data culture, impact, leadership and practice. Of course, it doesn’t matter how much great content you publish online in 2023. You have to make sure people can find it.

That’s why we also work with an excellent SEO consultant, who helps us with SEO keywords, metatags, and meta descriptions for search engines like Google. We meet with him regularly on keyword planning for content calendar development; ongoing keyword research and keyword strategy development; and reporting out on keyword rankings and search traffic metrics.

And as a result of keeping our noses to the content grindstone, we finally have broken through. Google, for one, recognizes us as a trusted source of content on topics like “data leadership.” We are now on the first page of Google among 1.41 billion results for this search. It feels a bit odd to celebrate this achievement, but it is an achievement. When was the last time you clicked through to page 4 or 5 of your search results?

If you’re wondering how to get on the first page of Google’s results with your organization’s website, you need to consider these questions:

  1. Is your content relevant and high quality? It should be informative and well-written, but also relevant to the search queries you’d like to rank for.
  2. Are you optimizing your keywords? Unless you conduct keyword research, you don’t know how people are searching for content like yours, or just adjacent to it. Small tweaks here can make a big difference.
  3. Is your website easy to navigate, well-structured and mobile-friendly? Make sure to test that your pages load quickly and that your site’s navigation is easy to use. If search engines can’t crawl and index your content, believe me, they won’t.
  4. Do you leverage the power of links? This is still a tough one for us. Our authors are wonderful about promoting their DLC articles in their own social feeds – which you should always encourage – but the real juice comes from being linked back from their corporate sites, which tend to have much stronger search authority and can boost your rankings with high efficiency. But corporate websites still don’t have a lot of outlets for thought leadership content they don’t produce themselves.
  5. Do you track bounce rate, time on site, and clickthrough rate? Google rewards expertise and authority in content, and these metrics are a good way to track if people find your content worth their while. So, on top of having high quality content, you should engage readers with strong calls to action, social sharing buttons, and comments sections. Comments can be challenging in thought leadership communities, though it is understandable: C-level readers don’t want to inadvertently share their IP while making an informed point.

What’s the most important ingredient of all in getting to page 1 search results? Something that’s in short supply, especially in our post-pandemic world: patience. As I like to say, building authority and influence in a thought leadership site is a slow burn. But with the right team, a client that believes in the mission, and consistent funding, you can achieve the best of both worlds with a thought leadership initiative: peer-voice content that your audience truly values, and a powerful tool to help you engage top-of-funnel inbound interest among high-value executive targets.

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Let us help your innovation-driven brand get the credit it deserves.

Contact Greg Straface at [email protected]


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