Content marketing has never been more important than in today’s digital marketing landscape. That said, a good content marketing strategy can be quickly undone if no one can find your content to begin with. Good content strategy goes hand in hand with good content marketing SEO.
SEO may seem like sorcery practiced only by geeks in dark rooms on the other side of the internet. Indeed, there is a technical side to optimising your web site for search results. But it’s not all complex code: there are a few simple things you can do as an author to help increase your content’s success in search rankings…
1. Write content that people want to read
SEO comes down to the simple fact that search engines are businesses providing a service: to find websites for people. To do their job well, search engines need to favour content that’s relevant to the user and important compared to the teeming mass of pages that exist on any given topic.
For this reason, relevance and importance should be at the top of your mind when creating content.
Create relevant content by researching your target market. What are they typing into search engines? What information are they looking for? What are they interested in? You can use tools like Google Trends and Google Adwords Keywords Planner to help with this step.
Create important content by focusing on quality. Write content that is informative, well researched, and presents a fresh perspective.
2. Keywords are key
The concept of key words and phrases is central to the science of searching the internet as they are the medium by which users interact with search engines.
As a general rule, you should target a single piece of content to a single keyword or phrase. More than one can dilute your chances of being found in the search bar.
Once you’ve identified the most suitable keyword for your target market and content, it’s critical that the term appears multiple times in your content, with particular attention to the following:
- The URL
- First paragraph of the body of content
- Somewhere within the body of the content. (NOTE: if you’re having trouble integrating it smoothly, try adding it in the form of a subheading within your content).
- The alt text of all images
- SEO focus keyword, title and meta description
It’s also important to note that there may be variations on your keyword or phrase so choose strategically; for instance, ‘content marketing SEO’ is different to ‘SEO content marketing’.
3. Love the link love
Search engines rank websites according to their importance. The use of hyperlinks are a key tool for increasing this ranking.
If you want your content to rank well, make it worth sharing, and get it out there. Share it on social media. Put it in your email blast.
Whatever you do though, don’t be selfish. If you link to others, then they’ll be more likely to link to you. And what’s more, sites with a few outbound links tend to rank more highly than those with only internal links.
4. Make your content readable
Thanks to the plethora of publishing platforms available, you don’t have to learn much code to publish content on the internet. However, the way you format your content is important.
Search engines are not so much interested in what content looks like, as opposed to what it is. Take the main heading of a blog post for example. Say you want it to be big, bold, and red: the temptation is to manually increase the text size, change the colour to red, and hit the ‘B‘ button to make it bold. The problem is, you’re focusing on what the heading looks like. A human can look at it and tell it’s the main heading, but a search engine can’t.
Instead, most content publishing tools give you a drop down menu with options like ‘Paragraph’, ‘Heading 1’, ‘Heading 2’ and so on. Use these. What you’ll discover is that your site’s theme will automatically format sections of text depending on what they are. In addition, search engines can make much more sense of your content and how it is formatted, which helps increase your ranking on search results.
It’s also worth being aware that most search engines can’t crawl content that’s not text. It’s a good idea to include transcripts (in full, or just key sections) or descriptive introductions for any video or audio content you might be posting.
5. Don’t cheat
Cheating SEO is a great short term strategy for achieving a high search ranking. Long term, once your tactics have been identified by the search engine, you’ll be unlikely to appear in search results again. Some reputable companies have learned this the hard way . A quick search for big name SEO fails will throw up some examples not to follow.
It’s also possible for content authors trying to do the right thing to accidentally hurt their search engine rankings. To avoid doing this, take note of the following:
- Overuse of your focus keyword – ‘keyword stuffing’ makes your content look like spam to search engines.
- Having exact duplicates of your content on different pages – which makes it look like plagiarism.
- Having too many outbound or internal links. Yes, link love is important but excessive linking is a tactic used by the SEO dark side.
- Having hidden or invisible content on your page – another tactic used by SEO cheaters.
- Having too much non-keyword related content on your page.