The New SEO is Good Content
If you work with web design or online marketing at all, you probably know that Google updates over the past year to 18 months have rendered many old SEO tactics obsolete. Tricks like keyword stuffing, content scraping, and submitting your site to link exchanges not only no longer help build your search standings, they actually get your site punished by Google and other search engines. Google’s stated purpose is to get designers to build sites for people, not for Google, and it’s the quality of your site and content that count. Modern SEO requires a good content strategy and constant effort.
What about keywords?
Keywords are still important. Google ranks pages based on their popularity and quality, but it still needs keywords to know what your popular, quality content is about.
- Find the best keywords using Google’s Keyword Tool and include them in your writing, but don’t base your copy around them. Write content that is engaging and reads well if you want visitors to share it and come back for more.
- Keywords should be tightly themed based on topic, purpose, and stage of the buying cycle, and no page should focus on more than 3-5 keywords.
- Include keywords in key tags such as your page title and headings, because Google still factors these into its rankings. Your description tag is also important, because even though it’s not included in Google’s algorithms, it is what searchers see when your site turns up in search listings. A compelling, topical blurb may be the difference between a visitor clicking on your site or not.
Attract visitors to your site
The more people visit your site, the more will share and link back to it. Google factors this into your search rankings, which in turn boosts your traffic even more. Create high quality, useful content and promote it online to drive traffic to your site.
- Use social media to share links to your blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, case studies, and other content hosted on your website. Social platforms are a great place to build your audience and expand the reach of your brand, and by promoting your site content there, you increase the popularity of your website which helps your search standings.
- Reach out to the owners of sites that are related to your business, and drive traffic to each other’s websites by posting links. Google’s algorithms can spot a link exchange or other spammy linkbuilding site and will penalize the sites listed there, so make sure that you are building relationships with quality sites.
- Drive traffic using online or offline promotional campaigns that require customers to visit your website. Contests, online-only sales, and promotional tie-ins are great ways to get real-life customers onto your website.
- Keep all your online content on one domain to maximize the SEO value of your traffic. By putting promotions on microsites or hosting your company blog on a different URL, you fracture your traffic and don’t help the search standings of your main site.
Get people to share your content
We’ve mentioned that Google and other search engines no longer reward link exchanges, newswires, or other easy link sources. In order to build your SEO value, you need to earn links from real people.
- Create useful, quality content that is interesting to your customers. The options are endless, but some examples of content to post on your site include blogs, news articles, case studies, ebooks, whitepapers, photos, and videos.
- People share information that interests them, so create value by making your content relevant to your audience, not just to your company. Help your customers with how-tos, FAQs, tips and tricks, or instructional materials; share information like industry news, product updates, or upcoming events; or entertain your visitors with humor, insider commentary, or glimpses into your company culture.
- Ensure that you generate original material. If you simply copy other people’s work, your audience will soon realize you have nothing to say and Google’s search algorithms will punish your site for posting duplicate content. That said, you can establish your site as a go-to news source in your industry by aggregating links to other people’s material. Just make sure that you link to their site and give credit to the original content producers.
- Use promotions, contests, and events to create buzz around your content and encourage people to share. For example, you could run a contest on Twitter where anyone who tweets links to your website gets a discount or is entered to win a prize.
Have a strategy
Producing content in an ad hoc manner won’t help build your audience or your SEO. Create a content plan and schedule to keep yourself on track and provide Google and your site visitors with a steady stream of fresh material.
- You don’t have to do everything. Determine what types of content will provide value to your customers and that you can produce well. Then, create a schedule of content types and topics and incorporate it as part of your ongoing marketing strategy.
- Keep your content well-themed and appropriate to its format. Separate information according to its topic and purpose to keep visitors engaged and increase Google’s ranking of your copy.
- Integrate your experts into the content production process. For example, if you produce highly technical products, your marketing coordinator may not be qualified to discuss them at the expert level that your customers would find useful. Your service technicians or customer support people, on the other hand, might have plenty of insights to share. Assign one afternoon a week for them to write a blog post, create a tips-and-tricks page, or make a how-to video. Your marketing people can copy-edit or assist them with filming.
After Pengin and Panda, cheap SEO tricks just don’t cut it anymore. Your site needs to provide well-written, well-themed copy that is useful for visitors in order to achieve high scores from Google’s and other search sites’ algorithms. Beyond that, you need to help drive traffic to your site by attracting visitors through your social media and marketing efforts, and encourage others to link to your site by providing useful, engaging content that they want to share. This requires planning and ongoing effort, but it’s worth it. By creating a site and content that creates value for visitors, you increase your value to search engines. And that’s what SEO is all about.
Have questions about your content and SEO strategy? Contact us or let us know in the comments.
If you want to learn about the latest SEO or other digital marketing best practices, attend the P.A.C.E. Digital Marketing Training Workshop.