In today’s rapidly changing digital world, SEO techniques can change with the direction of the wind. Tricks that won you a front-page position two years ago may be useless now.
In order to drive a digital marketing campaign to success, it is vital to understand the importance of SEO. When used properly, SEO facilitates in increasing traffic to your site, engagements, as well as conversions.
Key metrics to assess your content marketing success
Here are three SEO techniques that you must master this year to ensure your content gets seen.
High-quality content is key
Though the marketing buzzphrase “content is king” often leads to a wave of eye-rolls, when it comes to SEA the quality of your content really is vital.
When creating your content, it is important to think like Google. With the search engine goliath constantly making efforts to enhance their search results, you must ensure you’re providing searchers with good quality, informative, interesting, and entertaining content.
Google’s ranking algorithm has shifted towards user intent, so you must ask yourself- does your content fulfill the reader’s needs, or leave them having to look elsewhere?
Good quality content goes beyond a blog post. Less “traditional” content such as videos, infographics, images, and more have been shown to engage readers at a far higher level and is more shareable. This shareability factor is also a powerful way to build backlinks.
Tip: In order to provide consumers with what they really want, try finding out where your audience are on social media via groups and hashtags, and from this join the conversation. Ask for suggestions about topics to talk about. Additionally, creating a blog post on “frequently asked questions” will increase your SEO by showing Google that you are answering the questions of consumers.
The importance of link building
Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own and is a technique that you should perfect in order to improve your SEO.
Previously, backlinks were mainly about quantity, but now the effectiveness of backlinks is about the quality of the content which they lead to.
The theory behind this technique is that when another website links to yours, they are basically saying that it is a good resource. This is a strong signal of the quality of a page and is much like making a recommendation to a good restaurant.A few high-quality backlinks will do well in helping your website climb the SEO rank.
Tips: Reach out to bloggers in your industry to link back to your content, for instance, by providing them with infographics, images, etc. Also, ensure you include strong internal links, report broken links, produce high-quality content. This will all help to increase the visibility of your site and increase traffic.
Make your content mobile-friendly
Today, more searches are conducted on mobile devices rather than from desktop. As a result, it is vital to ensure your SEO targets mobile platforms as well in order to reach success.
A responsive design is essential in order to attract and retain visitors to your site who are so reliant on mobile to find information. It’s also integral to the user experience you provide.
Not getting it right on the mobile screen isn’t an option, especially for businesses that deal with consumers directly. How’ll they impulse shop if you make them wait to surf through your site?
Tip: Ensuring that your mobile-website is speedy, works on all mobile devices, has key information easy to access, and offers a variety of content formats is all vital to increase your SEO ranking.
Going beyond keywords to write high-quality content that attracts new customers and is SEO-friendly is the way to go, says contributor Jessica Foster. Here she shares eight ways to create content that satisfies people and engines.
Just when we thought the saying “Content is king” was gone for good, there it goes showing its sneaky little face again in the search engine optimization (SEO) world.
Bearing in mind also that “Content is queen,” it appears that content is, in fact, pretty danged important — so important that a new sub-industry has squeezed its way into the search engine world: SEO content writing.
Otherwise referred to as “SEO copywriting,” SEO content writing has a bad reputation for being chock-full of keywords and little else. Though this may be more of a stereotype than reality, there is something to be said for going beyond keywords to write high-quality content that attracts new customers AND is SEO-friendly.
What’s the deal with ‘high-quality’ content?
The focus is typically on “high-quality” content — a term that becomes more subjective by the minute. It leads to questions like
- What really makes SEO content “high-quality?”
- Is it measurable?
- More importantly, can it be recreated again and again?
The standard formula of:
keyword research + good writing + on-page SEO = high-quality content
may not be the move anymore. It’s simply not enough. In fact, keywords may be even less important than we all think.
Beyond keyword research
Being consistent with great SEO content writing doesn’t mean it should be formulaic.
Depending too much on robust keyword research and on-page SEO will result in dry content that appeals more to search engines than it does your target audience. Mastering the art of SEO content writing can be the difference between attracting a few website visitors and creating dedicated customers
That all being said, there is a sweet spot between creative content and “content” as we know it. The key lies in going far beyond keyword research and really understanding how words can be used to both attract traffic and drive conversions.
1. Keyword research, the right way
Though this post is all about going beyond keywords, it’s worth addressing what level of keyword research should be done before hopping into content writing. Keywords are still a component of SEO content — but perhaps shouldn’t be as important a component as traditionally thought.
First, your approach to writing new content should fit in with your existing SEO strategy. This should be a no-brainer, but it is a frequent issue I see in SEO content.
For instance, many business owners and SEOs outsource copywriting with little collaboration with the writer on what keywords are to be used. And, even if keywords are provided, it is unlikely that the writer really understands the fundamentals of using keywords in their writing beyond “keyword density.” This results in content that is incohesive and not SEO-friendly.
Second, when it comes to performing keyword research for your new content, look beyond the data. Sure, SEO tools can tell us a lot in terms of search volume and competition level, but can they tell us what content is really engaging to users? Doing a Google search on your target terms and seeing what post titles come up and how many comments and even social shares they get will give you some ideas as to what content is drawing people in and enticing them to engage.
Finally, SEOs and copywriters alike can spend far too much time focusing on terms they think are relevant without stepping back to see the full picture.
Sure, your rankings may increase due to great SEO, but there are many other factors to consider. Is your audience reading through the entire post? Are they sharing it? Are they opting into your calls to action? These elements of your writing should be your main focus. Be sure to have an outline in place, along with your keyword research, to ensure that you aren’t skimming over what matters most: what is going to help you drive conversions.
2. Get organized
How often have you had a new content idea pop into your head and instantly put fingers on the keyboard?
As much as I am a fan of writing when you feel inspired, there needs to be a structure for your content from the very beginning. Content that is too “stream-of-consciousness” or unorganized simply doesn’t convert well. There is a difference between having a conversational tone and writing whatever comes into your brain. I’m here to say that there is a way to capture that creative flow, all while putting out content that works.
Create an outline of the potential post or page, including the title and headings. Organize your content into sections that are cohesive and keep the reader interested. Figure out if and where the content fits into your website overall and what purpose it serves. You can even go as far as to decide what internal links will be used. Having a plan will both help in overall organization and ensure that it fits into the framework of your existing site.
3. On-brand is your best friend
One component of SEO content writing that is rarely, if ever, talked about is branding. As more SEO experts become aware of the intersection between SEO and a larger marketing strategy, it becomes apparent how big a role branding plays in a business’s success.
Your website content is no exception. This is why hiring out for copywriting outside of the brand, or even the industry, can be a risky move. For one, you risk having the overall tone of the writing shift and become incohesive with the rest of the brand message, and even the most subtle variations can be picked up by readers.
A good way to ensure that your content is on-brand and stays true to the business message is to utilize language that is used throughout the existing site and marketing materials.
- Does the brand use the word “passionate” rather than “driven?”
- Are there elements of their tagline that can be broken down and used throughout the text?
- Does their About page have a conversational tone or a professional one?
These are all subtleties to look out for that can make all the difference.
A great SEO copywriter will be able to pick up on the tone, vocabulary and message a brand is putting out and capture it in the posts and pages. There should be no question from the target audience who the content came from and what the message is.
On-brand content means that users can come to depend on the brand acting and sounding a certain way. It ultimately comes down to trust. If a user trusts a brand and understands its core mission, then they are more likely to buy.
4. Integrity & authenticity matter
Integrity and authenticity may seem like “fluffy” words that have no place in the often formulaic world of SEO. But when it comes to writing content that drives more than just traffic (i.e., sales), then these two elements can be the difference between website visitors and paying customers.
There are many SEO and marketing strategies that can drive traffic to a page. What matters is what actions users take once they get there. No amount of strong-arming will convince a user to buy. It takes integrity and authenticity to get them there.
People are becoming more and more aware of shady marketing tactics, and traditional methods of manipulation simply don’t work anymore. A website that makes it clear what the brand’s message is, the service it provides and how it can help potential customers truly has a leg up on the rest. Your content should be authentic, honest and in line with the ethics of your business. Otherwise, you will lose your customers before you even get them.
5.Know your target audience
Creating great SEO content goes beyond writing what you think your target audience wants to read to truly listening to what they want to know.
Are you in tune with their needs? Are there questions in the comments section that should be addressed? Are you writing down their common concerns and pain points? If so, these all open the door to creating solid content that will meet their immediate needs and drive them to seek out your services.
It is not enough to do keyword research to see what they are searching for. If that is the foundation of your content, you are likely to attract some readers but little else. But if you are able to keep them on site longer by creating a vast web of information, you are more likely to get them hooked from start to finish.
Even more, if you engage with them using language they understand and bring up their pain points, you are likely to convince them to fill out that contact form, subscribe or pick up the phone.
If you are struggling to think up fresh and engaging content ideas, be intentional about paying attention to what your customers and potential customers are telling you and asking for. Then, do a quick search to see if any other sites have addressed this issue, and how.
If you aren’t snatching up those opportunities, and another business is, you may be leaving money on the table.
6. Micro-engagement makes the difference
Long-form content can be a bore. For that reason, keeping readers engaged throughout the content can be quite difficult. However, mastering the art of micro-engagement can take your SEO content to the next level.
When it comes to informative content that can be a bit of a yawn, it’s a good move to try some different tactics to keep users engaged. Micro-engagement, as I refer to it here, means incorporating elements in your content to keep readers clicking, scrolling and reading more.
This is where a solid understanding of your target audience really comes into play. You should have a sense of what kind of content keeps your audience engaged. Testing different approaches and looking at the results can be a great data-driven method for seeing what works and what doesn’t.
Here are some suggestions to boost micro-engagement:
- Numbered or bulleted lists.
- Engaging photos (that are relevant to the text).
- Funny GIFs or memes.
- Informative and interesting videos.
- Quizzes or surveys.
- Visually appealing design.
- Calls to action.
- Block quotes.
- Bold text.
- Thought-provoking questions.
- Helpful tips.
Incorporate a few of these ideas into your SEO content and see the difference. Over time, you will get a sense of what your audience likes, what keeps them engaged and what entices them to perform certain actions on your site. This list is by no means exhaustive; feel free to get creative with it and see what happens!
7. Content ‘freshness’ and competitive analysis where it counts
“Freshness” usually refers to having fresh new content on your website, but I believe this should extend beyond that. In other words, you should be putting unique ideas out into the world. How do you do that? By making competitive analysis a part of your SEO content strategy.
Scroll through any SEO or digital marketing site, and you are likely to find the basic posts and pages: “What is SEO?,” “Why You Should Hire an SEO Expert” and the like saturate these sites, and these topics are covered ad nauseam.
What these sites, and others outside of the SEO industry, fail to do is proper competitive analysis when coming up with new content ideas. That is, they are rewriting and reworking the same content that their competitors are using. This is not a good move.
What takes businesses to the top is looking at what competitors are doing and doing it better. Sometimes this even means doing something different. Whenever you are about to write a new piece of content, look to see what your competitors are doing, and consider how you can take it up a notch.
Your best approach is to stay ahead of the curve.
8. Data is everything
You simply can’t create great SEO content without looking at the data.
With a vast array of tools, SEOs and business owners alike should be looking to see what content is performing well, and why. They should be tracking conversions everywhere users are performing an action and seeing what works. This data will indicate the kind of content they can and should create in the future.
Staying on top of your analytics will not only show you the numbers in terms of traffic, but time on page, bounce rate and other valuable metrics that indicate how your content is performing. Through these, you can learn from your mistakes and imitate the strategies that are working. Without this knowledge, you are essentially flying blind and are again playing the guessing game.
Following the data throughout the process will help ensure that you are on the right track and that your utilization of the above principles is working for your business.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to SEO content, but the fundamentals are still there. Write content for people, structure it for search engines and create an experience that is engaging and bound to drive the traffic you deserve.
Trust, authority, and reputation are the foundation of successful businesses. Here’s how they intertwine to create the DNA of successful SEO and content marketing campaigns.
Let’s discuss TAR. Not the negative tar in nicotine or the stuff that fills cracks on roads, but rather the positive TAR that is the foundation of successful businesses:
Without these three elements, a business is basically a copy of its competitors, multiplying choices for prospective clients.
When TAR is present, prospects become emotionally engaged, which leads to loyalty.
As for the other businesses that lack TAR, they dilute the choices, creating tougher decisions for prospects who don’t want to make tough decisions.
This concept also translates into the world of digital marketing.
Trust, authority, and reputation intertwine to create the DNA of the most successful SEO and content marketing campaigns.
Look at any first-place organic rankings, and TAR is clearly present.
For scalable online success, a sharp focus on building (and balancing) all three TAR elements is a must.
These elements increase SEO visibility because search engines crave TAR, and all that content – also designed with TAR in mind – and its higher visibility will naturally earn respect from prospects, which leads to long-term clients.
The TAR tactic to strengthen a business’s online presence is simple and straightforward. But the process of achieving true TAR in digital marketing is somewhat challenging because it’s counterintuitive to normal campaign strategies.
And it all begins with endless questions during the vital discovery phase, including the most important question: “why?”
The answers to these questions help marketers build a successful campaign that validates the truth behind the business, which is rooted in the reason “why” the company is in business and “why” their products are needed.
Apple immediately comes to mind; its brand is built with strong TAR that reinforces its “why” as a business.
Apple isn’t in the business of selling technology, but rather inspiring creativity. Each of its product advertisements always clearly states the “why” factor before backing it with the two other necessary questions: What and How.
Here are the essential tactics to build and strengthen the TAR of your content marketing and SEO campaigns.
Think Like a Traditional Journalist: Why, What & How
I spent time in the early part of this century as a traditional newspaper journalist. The initial reason I wanted a daily newspaper gig was to “cut the fat” out of my writing.
What was equally important, though, was embracing the “Five Ws and One H” of traditional journalism (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How).
These came into play throughout life, from heading up content marketing departments to launching an agency.
For the digital marketing landscape, the focus on the Five Ws and One H dwindles due to some obvious reasons, and the concept transforms to “Two Ws and One H.”
All TAR tactics should explain the Why to capture emotion, followed by the What and How to rationalize those emotions.
The Who, When, and Where of traditional journalism are typically answered on the company bio page or footer, raising the awareness of the other Two Ws and One H.
Always Start with Why
In “Start with Why” (more than 1 million copies sold), TED superstar Simon Sinek says:
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. A failure to communicate WHY creates nothing but stress or doubt.”
Unfortunately, when initiating a digital marketing campaign, many SEO professionals and content marketers solely focus on the How and What of the client’s products and services – typically the features, prices, and everything that’s different from the competition.
This is what typical research data claims a business’s web presence needs for success, and it fails to target the emotion side of things by first asking Why.
The Hows and Whats are absolutely needed, but as a rational follow up to the more emotional Why.
The Why of a business should be immediately addressed. Again, think of Apple, but this time rather than the company story, think about its individual products.
Apple doesn’t just sell MacBook Pros; the product inspires human creativity, which is the clear message of the latest MacBook Pro page copy.
This simple ad immediately answers the Why of the product and is followed by the typical How and Why. Apple’s page begins by highlighting “A Touch of Genius” to answer the Why of the product, followed by the How and What of the product.
The other genius Apple campaign that begins with Why was the simple iPhone 4 ad: “This Changes Everything. Again.”
Companies that ask Why first will naturally appeal to a prospect’s emotions, and influence the three elements of TAR that can begin a lifelong relationship – sometimes romance – with a company and its products.
“Can begin” are the crucial words here because the Why must be backed up with a solid What and How. Following is why.
Why Must be Followed by What & How
Once you appeal to the emotional side of a prospect, it’s time to back up those feelings with rational data – and that’s where the What and How come into play.
Here is where the usual discovery elements of SEO and content marketing campaigns surface – the competitive analysis, keyword research, content calendars, and site structure, to name a few.
The What and the How are vital, but should always follow the Why.
Appeal to emotion first; follow with rationale.
The What and How break down a company’s offerings. The answers to What and How clearly explain what a service company completes from strategy and process perspective, and what a product company offers from a features and specs perspective.
Again, the What and How are absolutely needed to rationalize the emotional Why of a company and its products or services.
The natural byproduct of this strategy is the growth of TAR elements. The more consistent the What and How are defined, the more respect a client will have for those TAR elements that play off our emotions.
Who You Ask Is as Important as What You Ask
Also, who you ask is as important as the questions you ask.
Most of the agencies I worked with only dealt with the marketing departments of bigger businesses, though in some smaller businesses other teams were involved.
To truly ingrain TAR into a digital marketing strategy, agencies should speak with not only the marketing team but the CEO, founder, sales team and any of those on the proverbial front line that deal with the day-to-day customer relations.
Each one can provide unique insight on questions, helping to influence TAR factors on prospects – the more perspective you have, the more you can properly explain the Why of that company.
Once the Why is answered, and the correct Whats and Hows are in action, brand’s online presence will build stronger and quicker.
Amplify What Works
Seeking the answers to these types of questions also allows marketers to amplify on the services that are the strong point of a company rather than spending time fixing things that simply aren’t working.
The Why questions probe deep into a business’s strategy, sometimes influencing a redirection of focus on what products or services to amplify, and sometimes what ones to dice. This also helps enforce the 80/20 factor so no time is wasted.
It may sound counterintuitive, but amplifying what works instead of spending time on stuff that doesn’t is the proven fabric of many of the world’s successful companies.
Think Apple and its iPhone; these platforms work, so it makes more sense to continually build and amplify it rather than sideline it and direct more attention to an entirely new phone model.
Yes, Apple successfully builds other product lines, but notice what gets the most attention within their marketing campaigns.
This all stems from the TAR Apple has already built into its marketing.
The only way to truly achieve TAR is with questions from actual humans from the beginning – questions of Why to expose the emotional factor, followed by questions of What and How to rationalize that emotional factor.
This type of strategy can drastically change the outcome of SEO and content marketing campaigns.
Make Questions – Especially Why – The Soul of Your Content Marketing Trinity
When engaging with clients, I constantly reinforce the creation of a “Content Marketing Trinity” – one that will inspire them to be storytellers and build an optimal online presence.
This trinity includes:
- Constant fresh and emotionally appealing content hosted on their business website.
- Guest posting on authoritative websites within their industry.
- Constantly feeding the social media machine.
The SEO value within this trinity needs no explanation, and neither does its value in content marketing as you look to build a powerful voice within your industry.
But how do you go about making it work? Simple – start with the Why first to appeal to emotions, and rationalize those emotions with the What and How.
This “Content Marketing Trinity” also naturally has synergy with the three elements of TAR – Trust, Authority and Reputation.
This is where 3 + 3 equals 6 for conventional marketers that don’t begin with Why, but equals “innovation” for those who begin with Why.
In the bestseller “Zero to One,” Peter Thiel says:
“Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1. The act of creation is singular, as it the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange.”
A marketer’s top mission should focus on delivering something “fresh” to client campaigns (and sometimes strange), bringing its client’s online presence from “0 to 1.”
The solution resides in exploiting the strongest TAR elements, and it all begins with asking the correct questions, always beginning with why.
Search Engine Optimization strategy is one of the toughest to plan and manage for most marketers. With regular algorithm updates from search engines which can drastically impact your rankings, you have to continually spruce up your SEO plans.
Yet, there are certain SEO pillars that have stood the test of updates and have stayed at the center of most of the SEO approaches.
Read ahead for golden SEO tips:
1. Focus on a Primary Topic: Make your website about one topic. Well! there can be other topics too, but choosing a central theme is a good SEO strategy. Research for a relevant ‘Keyword’ or ‘Search Phrase’ related to your theme and use this keyword across your content to show up better in search results. You can use Google Keyword Planner to discover keywords and keyword trends.
2. Content is still the King: Prioritize readers over Search Engines- Choosing keywords doesn’t mean you can sprinkle them liberally across your content. Yes, keywords used to drive search results but now Google penalizes badly written, keyword-stuffed content. So Beware!
Create amazing and engaging content that is written keeping in mind what your readers would like to read. The key is to create stuff that is unique and better than the rest.
3. Keywords at strategic positions: Titles and Headers- Use your keywords where they matter the most.
You can organize your articles or posts with Titles, Headers, and Sub Headers – let these be as close to the topic you are writing about. This way of organizing serves as a flag for your readers when they are sifting through the pages and also tells search-engines what the post is about.
4. Readable and meaningful URL: Keywords in URL
Ok! which URL would you have preferred to click?
The second option clearly indicates what this link is all about. Not that, the first option won’t work but the URL with the relevant keyword will help guide both the user as well as the search engine algorithm.
SEO Tip: URLs should be simple, easy to understand and easy to type.
5. Optimization of images: Use of alt-tag Image name and Image Tag are both important for users as well as SEO. It is easier for the user as well as the search algorithms to search for images that have a name in it.
Use relevant keywords(names) in image name as well as image alt-tag. Image alt-tag is a text designated to an image on a website, which appears if the image fails to load for some reason.
So instead of naming your image as 1211.jpeg, name it as littleBlackDress.jpeg for it to rank higher in search results.
6. Internal and Inbound Links It’s good to talk about the good content you have produced. -Link to your best content from other pages of your website. Tell readers about what interests them is available on your website.
Links from other sites is a ‘vote’ for your site. Google relies heavily on external links to determine the ‘goodness’ of your page. Produce superb content by researching and investing time on your posts.
You can also encourage other websites to link to you and do some ‘link building’ to get links to your page.
7. Site Speed is important: Slow loading website is a bad user experience and can frustrate the user and increase your bounce rates. eConsultancy says “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.”.
In 2010 Google included Site Speed as a vital ranking factor so get rid of non-essential items like large images, flash graphics, unessential widgets, music players, plugins you don’t need, etc.
8. Consistent and Fresh Updates: This is a no-brainer. Sites that are updated frequently rank higher on search engines. That doesn’t mean you roll out content too frequently. But you need to be consistent and disciplined with your updates, squeezing in topics that need immediate attention. Produce fresh, unique and valuable content.
9. Link to external content: It might appear to be a bad SEO strategy to link out to other pages as it takes people off your page. But linking to relevant content is a smart SEO move. If done sparingly and if done well it provides value to your readers and tells search engines that you are trusted authority on a niche topic.
Moreover, you can reach out to the owner of the page/post you link out to, and if they find your content interesting they can link back to you. Link-building is a critical strategy for SEO.
10. Meta descriptions for every page: Optimizing meta description is crucial for SEO. Meta description doesn’t have a direct impact on rankings but a well-written meta description supports your page title, informs users what your page is about and encourages them to click.
Since different pages will talk about different topics you should have a unique meta description for every page.
A Meta description is more for the users than for search engines. Users can pick the most relevant result for their query with a well-crafted meta description and increase chances of your page getting clicked.
Lastly, a good SEO approach is to always keep users in mind. Creating valuable content for your readers will take you miles ahead and help you generate significant traffic. Stay ahead of your competitors and rank ahead in the SEO game with these tips!
Source: Top 10 Evergreen SEO Tips
An SEO powerhouse may rank well in search results, but that doesn’t mean the website gets the conversions it deserves. Finding a balance between form (user design, infographics, videos) and function (Google-friendly SEO, content length, authority) is difficult for small businesses and their marketers. It’s great to have an attention-grabbing, visually appealing site, but that doesn’t guarantee a local search presence for small, competitive companies.At our web design and marketing agency, we work with businesses to improve their SEO, with one of these areas being content marketing. Placing a priority on using conversion-based content is one way to change visitors into conversions while staying within Google’s ever-changing guidelines.The challenge is writing content that is informative, engaging, rankable and visually appealing enough that it convinces visitors to contact you or fill out a form. Here are five ways I recommend writing SEO-ready content that actually converts.1. Hook Them EarlyIt’s high summer. Your air conditioner is busted. Discluding AdWord pages, do you want to waste time getting suckered into keyword-stuffed, high-ranking HVAC websites that repeat the same information over and over again? No. You want to open a page that says the company provides emergency air conditioning maintenance in your area and to call this number right now.SEO can be a distraction. It takes away from conversion- and design-friendly elements on the top of a page. It’s smart to weave the SEO tactics in there, but always picture your mobile and desktop pages through a potential customer’s eyes. Use your big hitters early on. These include a straightforward headline, a nice banner image, testimonials, charts, bullet points, stats — leave the company history and technical rants for later on. If visitors scroll that far down, they’re likely interested enough to continue reading and will probably convert anyway.2. Write Logical ContentThe disgruntled homeowner wants to know if you are a reputable business that can fix his AC unit over the weekend. A good page will satisfy the homeowner’s concerns.Conversion pages — or pages that lead to forms or phone numbers — need to flow in regards to design and content. Most visitors skim website content, but there still needs to be a sense of order. One paragraph leads to the next, each section transitions to the next logical point down the conversion rabbit hole.An example of this top-to-bottom flow might include: who you are, the services you perform, evidence that you know what you’re doing, proof of it in the form of testimonials or reviews, and your contact information. A decent SEO writer has an abundance of opportunities to optimize those sections without slowing down a reader’s progression.3. Trim The FatRemove superfluous information.From an SEO standpoint, it’s easy to flood pages with internal and external hyperlinks in big blocks of content. This adds value, of course, but it can distract readers. The purpose of the page is two-fold: to show up in search results and to convert. When you start adding on third, fourth and fifth priorities — showcasing your new company video and slideshow widgets that have nothing to do with fixing someone’s air conditioner — you’re going to lose a potential customer to slower load times.4. Keyword Variation And Low-Key PromotionMost people have at least a slim understanding of how Google displays search engine results pages (SERPs). But the person reading about your “best HVAC repair” services, time after time, is going to know that “best HVAC repair” means nothing. It’s an empty phrase.But guess what? Search engines are smart. They provide hundreds of millions of answers per day to questions asked by all sorts of people. You might search for “weekend HVAC repair,” but I might search for “AC tech nearby.” Smart content writers study key phrase variance and match what their ideal client base will likely search for.There’s a complex science in this, fit for a different article. Long story short, overhaul the obvious, spammy keywords to keep your readers engaged in your content. You can look at promotion-heavy material the same way. Keep the “We’re the best, call us now!” talk to conversion areas. Let web visitors determine on their own that you’re the best through the well-written content you provide.5. ‘Better’ Is MoreBetter content and user experience can lead to more website visitors, which will likely lead to more conversions and a higher ranking on Google due to improved authority.The way search is going, it’s crucial for businesses to showcase themselves on sleek, mobile-friendly pages that get the job done. Overdoing SEO could backfire in later Google updates, and minimalist sites may have a tough time ranking them.Taking your time to write straightforward content that reads well is the best way to get an edge. Pages that rank high are worthless if they have high bounce rates.If your content is high ranking but your conversions are lacking, evaluate what pages your visitors go to next. Do visitors do background research on your business? Do they read reviews? Does the homeowner end up calling you for your emergency AC repair service? If they don’t, take another look at the actual value of your SEO and make sure you’re meeting these five standards for SEO-ready content that converts.
There is much you will need to do in order to attain satisfactory search engine results and SEO is the way to go.
Whilst most of us tend to relate SEO to big businesses, this is not the case as small businesses also have a portion in the SEO marketplace. If you run a small or local business, there is much you will need to do in order to attain satisfactory search engine results and SEO is the way to go.
The ultimate SEO guide for small business
Yes, we know for sure that no one would wish to start a business that doesn’t grow. In this case, taking care of your SEO is vital in ensuring that your business remains relevantly visible to search engines. This is critical in the sense that it enables your customers to easily find you; hence, improved viewership.
The fact that local page search results on Google are constantly growing and getting better, it is obvious that this topic is long from over. But meanwhile, let us have a look at this ultimate SEO guide for local and small businesses by downloading a free SEO Report PDF. Let us now follow the steps below to fully understand this:
Accessing your niche
The first step is basically having a good understanding of what your business is all about. Thus, deciding on a particular niche is critically important in relation to both local and small businesses. The moment you understand your niche, you can, therefore, focus on the things that make your service or products exclusive; hence, enhancing your chances of ranking highly for the same.
In the event that you have a highly comprehensive niche, then you have all the reasons to compete regionally with large nationwide brands – regardless of their well-established financial advertising budgets. The idea here is that you must know your target customers and the terms they use to search for your services or products. This is simply because; they are going to use the same phrases to access your site. These phrases come in handy when it comes to the optimization of your local business SEO by simply adjusting them to long-tail keywords and making them as relevant as possible.
This isn’t new as we have mentioned it quite a number of times – for a successful SEO. Branding must be well taken care of. Well, by mentioning the term branding, we refer to the things such as your tagline and logo. Are they relevant to your business? What do they reveal regarding your values and skills? It all concerns your identification!
Begin by creating stellar content
If you want you to significantly boost your small business SEO, then getting the correct content is necessary. While quite a good number of small business owners may tend to place their products along with their addresses on their sites and leaving them at that, there is actually much to explain and share.
Concentrating on creating an appealing first-impression on your customers is very important in this course. You will need to create stellar content regarding your company, its objectives and how superior you think your services or products are among other related info. You may also choose to talk about market developments or any other dealings relevant to your business.
The trick here is that you must be very realistic regarding the chances of the content you are creating ranking in search results. In case you are operating in a market that is quite competitive, then your content may be perfectly used both as a marketing tool and as social media input even though it may not be enough to move you to the top spot in Google, but it is good. Just be sure to be in control of your anticipations.
Share your piece on social networks
Even though it is possible to trade your services or goods through social media networks; often, it is considered a good practice making use of the social media platforms for brand advertisement or for redirecting customers to your site for a purchase. As such, social media will help to promote your niche, business as well as your products in order to determine your image and obtain the correct customers to your business’ website. If correctly utilized, social media can greatly boost small business SEO.
Just as we have mentioned above, there are actually several things you may do to help improve your small business SEO. Concentrating on your particular niche and highlighting your exclusivity is basically your starting point. In any given business, gaining visibility is very important and that is actually the work of SEO.
This is a sponsored post written by SEMrush. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.
According to recent SEMrush research, finding the balance between the creative element and search optimization is the most challenging task for copywriters. Some even believe there’s a clash between SEO and human-centered content creation.
It stands to reason that producing texts appealing both to people and search engines requires thorough research, and many writers see as a restriction on their creativity.
Is it still possible to marry SEO and content and make this alliance a happy one? We believe so.
Here are three points any writer should take into account in order to create catchy content that will also attract organic traffic:
- Choosing a trending topic.
- Increasing semantic relatedness.
- Raising chances of getting into Google’s Featured Snippet.
1. Choosing a Trending Topic
Point: Picking the right topic is way more than just a free flight of imagination. You have to define what content your target audience prefers, what factors influence their choices, and what exact words can drive them to action.
Tip: Dive deep into local communities, learn the joys and sorrows of your “buyer persona.”
It may also be advantageous to take a closer look at those who are already successful in your niche. What lets them dominate the minds and the SERPs? What subtopics do your rivals cover, what headlines do they use, etc.?
Topic Research scrapes, organizes and sorts popular search queries and Google suggestions. It also provides examples of the headlines your SERP rivals used.
Meet four needs with one deed: gain insights into real needs of your audience, find original topic ideas, reveal common patterns in your rivals’ content strategies, and increase your chances of getting a featured snippet.
2. Increasing Semantic Relatedness
Point: As time passes, Google continues to evolve and get smarter about how it understands words and term relationships.
Tip: To keep pace with the search engines you need to enhance your keyword research and include more semantically connected words in your writing to rank higher.
SEO Content Template comes in handy when you need to optimize the text on a single page without going into too much detail. Enter one or more target keywords, and the tool will analyze the first 10 pages from Google that rank for these keywords, and give you recommendations on which ones to use. The tool will also show you excerpts of your rivals’ texts with your target keywords highlighted.
SEO Content Template tool uses TF-IDF to provide you with the list of keywords with the highest potential. The list is automatically sorted by each word’s frequency.
SEO Writing Assistant is an extension for Google Docs that generates instant content optimization recommendations based on best-performing articles in Google’s Top 10. This gives content marketers an opportunity to check if their texts or the texts of external writers meet various requirements, such as general quality of the content, readability (appropriate reading-ease score, target and recommended keyword density.
3. Raising Chances of Getting into Featured Snippet
Point: Google’s featured snippet is something all content creators dream about because it guarantees maximum visibility for their texts and a serious increase in traffic inflow.
Tips: There are no surefire recipes to take you to so-called “position zero,” but some tactics are worth trying out.
- Identify the pages of your website that already rank in the Top 10 and try to optimize them for popular queries.
- Target question-based keywords and provide structured answers (paragraphs, lists, or tables may come in handy here).
- Make sure you use header tags correctly.
Just find what can be improved on your page and keep working. When you are dealing with highly competitive keywords, it is worth the effort.
Position tracking is a versatile tool that will among other things let you find the keywords with the potential of taking you to the featured snippet. You’ll see your position in Google’s Top 100 and the SERP features available for each word on your target device and in your target location. You’ll also be able to compare your progress against your competitors.
As you get closer to your goal, you’ll able to monitor your target snippets (whether you or your rival is featured) and the new ones that appear for your target keywords.
In the 21st century content just can’t do without SEO and vice versa. The amount of information offered to users is so great that even the best content is at risk of being lost if not carefully dealt with in accordance with basic SEO principles.
Will it harm creativity? With the right tools and a well-thought-out approach you’ll be able to automate the most burdensome part of the routine and uncover more inspirational insights and opportunities to get as close to your audience as possible.
Digital marketing is like playing the drums; everyone thinks they can do it.
Inevitably, the layman writes content stuffed to the brim with a target keyword and cannibalizes his/her own webpages by using the same five keywords across all of their webpages.
As infallible as we sometimes think we are, even the best of our industry can make some pretty hairbrained mistakes.
Sometimes the best way to move forward is to take a step back and go back to SEO basics.
As Google and Bing’s algorithms continue to evolve and incorporate new technologies for search, so do our strategies.
Between optimizing our content for voice search, desktop visitors, mobile swipers, and our social media followers, the task can feel impossible and overwhelming.
Breathe a little, you’re not alone.
As much as the medium may change, the same principles still remain in place and so too do the same basic errors.
Here are eight common SEO mistakes that even the experts still make.
1. Presenting a Poor Internal Link Structure
As your website balloons in size with all of your awesome content, you’re bound to encounter some pretty basic internal linking errors. This includes everything from producing mass duplicate content to 404 page errors cropping up.
Internal links provide five valuable functions for your website:
- Providing clear pathways to conversion pages.
- Spreading authority to webpages hidden deep on your site.
- Providing additional reading or interactive material for users to consume on your site.
- Organizing webpages categorically by keyword-optimized anchor text.
- Communicating your most important webpages to search engine crawlers.
Resubmitting an XML sitemap to search engines is a great way to open up crawl paths for search engines to unlinked webpages.
Along the same lines, it’s important to use your robots.txt file and noindex tag wisely so that you don’t accidentally block important webpages on your site or a client’s.
As a general rule of thumb, no webpage should be more than two clicks away from the homepage or a call-to-action landing page.
Reassess your website architecture using fresh keyword research to begin organizing webpages by topicality.
HubSpot provides a great guide for creating topic clusters on your website that arrange webpages by topic, using semantic keywords, and hierarchy to their shared thesis.
2. Creating Content for Content’s Sake
Best practices dictate that you should produce content consistently to increase your brand’s exposure and authority, as well as increase your website’s indexation rate.
But as your website grows to hundreds of pages or more, it becomes difficult to find unique keywords for each page and stick to a cohesive strategy.
Sometimes we fall for the fallacy that we must produce content just to have more of it. That’s simply untrue and leads to thin and useless content, which amounts to wasted resources.
Don’t write content without completing strategic keyword research beforehand.
Make sure the content is relevant to the target keyword and utilizes closely associated keywords in H2 tags and body paragraphs.
This will convey full context of your content to search engines and meet user intent on multiple levels.
Take the time to invest in long-form content that is actionable and evergreen. Remember, we are content marketers and SEO specialists, not journalists.
Optimized content can take months to reach page one results; make sure it remains relevant and unique to its industry when it does.
3. Not Investing in Link-Worthy Content
As we understand it, the quantity and quality of unique referring domains to a webpage is one of Google’s three most important ranking factors.
The best way to acquire links is naturally, leveraging stellar content that people just want to link to.
Instead of investing time in manual research and creating hundreds of guest posts a year, why not invest in a piece of content that can acquire all of those links in one day of writing?
Again, I bring up HubSpot, which provides a great example of this. Every year, they provide a list of industry statistics they scour from the internet, such as “The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics”, which serves as an invaluable resource for anyone in the digital marketing industry.
As previously stated, invest the time in crafting long-form content that adds value to the industry.
Here, you can experiment with different forms of content, whether it’s a resource page, infographic, interactive quiz, or evergreen guide.
Dedicate some of your manual outreach strategy to promote a piece of content published on your own website and not someone else’s.
4. Failing to Reach Customers with Your Content
Continuing this discussion, you need to have a strategy in place to actually get people to view your content.
I believe that much of the industry and many businesses don’t invest as many resources into content promotion as they do production.
Sure, you share your content over social media, but how much reach does it actually acquire without paid advertising?
Simply posting your latest article on your blog, social media channel, and e-newsletter limits its reach to a small percentage of your existing audience.
If you’re looking to acquire new leads for your business, then you’ll need to invest more resources into promotional tactics. Some strategies include.
While it’s rather chicken and egg, you need to promote content to get links to it. Only then can you begin to acquire more links organically.
5. Optimizing for the Wrong Keywords
So you invested the time in crafting a piece of long-form content, but it’s not driving large-scale traffic to your website.
Just as bad, your visitors have low time on page and are not converting.
More than likely, you’re optimizing for the wrong keywords.
While most of us understand the importance of long-tail keywords for informational queries, sometimes we run into some common mistakes:
- Failing to segment search volumes and competition by geography.
- Relying too much on high volume phrases that don’t convert.
- Focusing too many resources on broad keywords (external links, internal link anchor text, etc.).
- Ignoring click-through rates.
- Trying to insert awkward exact match phrases into content.
- Ignoring AdWords value.
- Allocating target keywords to irrelevant content.
- Choosing keywords irrelevant to your audience.
It’s important to actually research the search phrases that appear in top results for both national and local searches.
Talk to your customers to see what search phrases they use to describe different elements of your industry. From here, you can segment your keyword list to make it more relevant to your customers.
Use keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush’s keyword generator for relevant keyword ideas.
Don’t forget to optimize for informational and commercial search queries.
6. Not Consulting Paid Media
As the industry currently stands, SEO focuses on acquiring and nurturing leads, while paid media focuses on acquiring and converting leads.
But what if we broke down those silos to create a cohesive message that targeted the buyer at every step of the journey?
As an SEO provider, do you even know what your client’s advertising message is or the keywords they use? Are you promoting the same products/service pages with the same keywords as the paid media department?
There is a lot of insight that SEO consultants can learn from PPC keyword research and landing page performances that can aid them in their own campaign.
Beyond this, Facebook and Twitter’s advertising platform offer robust audience analysis tools that SEO consultants can use to better understand their client’s customers.
By focusing on a unified message and sharing in each other’s research, SEO consultants can discover keywords that convert the highest and drive the most clicks in the search results.
7. Forgetting About Local
Google’s Pigeon update completely opened up an entirely new field of local SEO.
Between local directory reviews, customizing a Google My Business page, and the local three-pack, local SEO is highly targeted and high converting.
Consider some of the statistics:
- 50 percent of searches over a mobile device result in an in-store visit that day.
- Half of local, mobile searches are for local business information.
- Anywhere between 80-90 percent of people read an online review before making a purchase.
- 85 percent of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
It’s important to segment your keyword research for both local and national intent.
If you provide local services, be sure to create content that reflects local intent, such as including city names next to target keywords and in the body of content.
While most of us focus on growing business at the national scale, the importance of local SEO should not be ignored.
8. Not Regularly Auditing Your Own Website
One of the biggest mistakes we all make is not continuing to optimize our own site and fix mistakes that crop up over time.
A site audit is especially important after a site migration or implementation of any new tools or plugins.
Common technical mistakes that occur over time include:
- Duplicate content.
- Broken links.
- Unoptimized meta tags.
Duplicate content can occur for a number of reasons, whether through pagination or session IDs.
Resolve any URL parameter errors or duplicate content from your cookies by inserting canonicals on source webpages. This allows all signals from duplicate pages to point back to the source page.
Broken links are inevitable as you move content around your site, so it’s important to insert 301 redirects to a relevant webpage on any content you remove. Be sure to resolve 302 redirects, as these only serve as a temporary redirect.
Auditing your website is paramount for mobile search. Simply having a responsive web design or AMP is not enough.
Be sure to minify your CSS and JS on your mobile design, as well as shrink images, to provide a fast and responsive design.
Finally, one part of the audit that is often overlooked is reevaluating your onsite content strategy. Most industries are dynamic, meaning that new innovations crop up and certain services become obsolete overtime.
Remodel your website to reflect any new product offerings you have. Create content around that topic to showcase its importance to your hierarchy to both search engines and users.
Continually refresh your keyword research and audience research to find new opportunities to scale and stay relevant.
Everyone is susceptible to mistakes in their craft and one of the best ways to rectify them is to consult the best practices.
My best bit of advice: Keep your mind nimble and always take a step back here and there to evaluate whether you are doing the best to scale your or a client’s business.
Contributor Kristopher Jones outlines seven tried-and-true content promotion strategies that will drive traffic to your content and website.
It’s no secret a well-executed content marketing campaign can deliver a solid return on investment.
According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates three times more leads than most outbound marketing strategies at 62 percent less cost.
As marketers pad their budgets with more money to invest in content marketing this year, one strategy that often gets overlooked is content promotion.
According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, 55 percent of B2B marketers were not even sure what a successful content marketing campaign looked like!
Content without promotion is like link building without links or creating a landing page without a call to action. That’s why promotion should take equal focus with creation.
Let’s look at seven tried-and-true content promotion strategies that will drive traffic to your content and website.
1. Paid social promotion
Paid social promotion can be one of the most precise strategies available to market your content to people who are interested in and most likely to engage with your content.
For example, by using Facebook’s Audience Insights, businesses can segment audience lists by select boundaries, such as demographics, psychographics and intent. This allows marketers to create audience segments that are more in line with their brand and specific topics of content on their website. There are several benefits of paid social promotion:
- Increase website traffic with relevant visitors.
- Generate more conversions by marketing to people with high purchasing intent.
- Familiarize users with your brand.
Even advertising content over native or display ads can help to increase brand recall for customers who come across your website in future searches. Only now, they’ll think of your brand as a bit of an authority because they’re already familiar with your brand.
Paying to promote your content over advertising channels is a good way to cut through the noise and the competition.
Paid promotion is also an excellent strategy to target users who have interacted with your website or blog in the past month. Remarketing not only increases your chance of reclaiming a missed conversion, but it also helps to foster brand loyalty by providing them useful content based on their past consumption.
Before undergoing a paid promotion strategy, it’s key to have your goals outlined. These can include increasing readership for your content or generating more conversions on your website. With these in mind, you can quantify the impact of these strategies and assess their success.
2. Targeted sharing
Facebook is no longer the business to consumer (B2C) marketing giant it once was; after its last algorithm update, it limited organic reach for business posts on the platform.
One way to reach more people over social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is through targeted sharing.
Targeted sharing is essentially tagging someone in a post in hopes that they will share your content with their audience. Here are some ways to do that:
- Link to people in the snippet who would be interested in your article.
- Link to sources featured in the article directly in the snippet.
- Directly engage industry peers with a question or point of debate in the snippet to curate conversation over a topic.
Twitter’s advanced search tool allows you to find people in your niche who are close to you geographically, using certain hashtags and more:
Instagram recently introduced a “follow” hashtag that allows users to view content in their newsfeed using a certain hashtag. This has opened up an entirely new platform for businesses to reach more customers over Instagram who are already interested in your industry.
3. Use videos over social media
Another proven method to cut through the noise on social media channels is to include videos in your content.
The statistics around video marketing are truly staggering:
- Google states that half of internet users “search for a video related to a product or service before visiting a store.”
- Views on sponsored videos on Facebook increased 258 percent between June 2016 and June 2017.
From my experience, including a video on a landing page can significantly increase your conversion rate. In my opinion, the demand for video content over social media far outpaces the demand for written content.
Video can also be more engaging than written content. A compounding or viral video is the definition of a gift that keeps on giving.
Of course, there’s always a caveat. Hosting a long, informative video on your content can discourage click-throughs to your landing page, especially if it’s used to promote written content. I suggest posting a teaser video, an eye-catching image or a graphics interchange format (GIF) in your content to entice users to navigate to the landing page.
4. Influencer marketing
I believe influencer marketing is one of the most underutilized tools in our industry.
Influencer marketing is powerful in theory. Not only will influencer shares expose your content to a new audience, it confers credibility in the eyes of that audience.
According to a study from MuseFind, 92 percent of people trust influencers more than advertisements or celebrities.
There are many ways to approach this strategy: You can reach out to influencers directly in your industry to share your content or engage in a promotion partnership.
Consider using tools like Followerwonk and Intellifluence to find active influencers in your industry to reach out to.
You can also mention an influencer within your content or link to them in a social media snippet to attract their attention. This increases the likelihood that they will share your content to promote their own brand. In turn, this increases your content’s quantity of shares and link opportunities.
5. Content syndication
Content syndication is not new to search engine optimization (SEO), but it’s not often the focus of many content marketing strategies. Content syndication is a great strategy to instantly expand your audience reach with little effort.
Do your research before identifying a site for syndication. Ask about their analytics to see what their visitor traffic is like and monitor keywords to identify the topics of discussion being held.
If you decide to syndicate content on sites like LinkedIn, Medium or community forums, it’s best to be picky. Only share your best content.
If you do participate in a content community, understand that half of your responsibility is also sharing other people’s content to remain an active member. This will help establish relationships across your industry for potential link opportunities and shares.
6. Link building
Link building remains one of Google’s three most important ranking factors when determining organic rank. It is a good idea to increase your content’s reach and visibility by improving its organic backlink signals.
It’s important to remember that link building needs to be strategic when promoting a specific webpage. I wouldn’t put a lot of effort into building links to a topical blog post, evergreen content or webpages that serve a valuable function in your website’s information and sales funnel.
Here are just a few basic link-building strategies to promote content to a wider audience:
- Guest post on authoritative publications with a contextual link back to your content.
- Engage in broken link building using manual outreach to offer more value to existing content.
- Email industry thought leaders about a piece of your content that would be valuable to their future research.
Ironically, the best link-building strategy out there is to craft high-quality content that people organically link back to on their own. Of course, this requires promotion for people to find this content in the first place, but hopefully, you’ll get some ideas from this post to help with that.
7. Personalized email marketing
Email marketing is a great way to market to customers who are already interested in your brand. Email marketing has the benefit of increasing customer retention while also delivering shares and links right to your content.
Not everyone on your email marketing list will jump at the chance to read your next blog post. Here are some basic strategies to increase email engagement:
- Design an e-newsletter to promote recent posts to your blog or showcase your most viral content for the month.
- Segment subscriber lists based on their interaction with your site.
- Personalize emails to include the name of the recipient, as well as pertinent information related to their engagement on your site.
- Include interactive content, such as a fun GIF or video, to make emails stand out and warm up subscribers to future emails.
- Conduct split testing on headlines and messages and measure their impact.
Content marketing has taken on a life of its own as a buzzword in our industry. With reduced organic reach over both search and many social channels, it’s never been more important to focus on promotion strategies that cut through the noise and get content discovered.
In 2018, you need to understand copywriting and SEO – and a whole lot more – to write content that will rank well and return a great ROI.
If you have a head for marketing, UX and research, too, you’ll be in a commanding position. As our discipline evolves in response to a changing search engine landscape, demarcation lines become blurred, and it’s been difficult not to venture into featured snippets, schema and other on-page aspects of SEO.
Instead, with proper focus, you’ll need to know about your audience and how they’ll read your content, what they will be looking for, the continuing role of high quality, in-depth content, where offline historic copywriting skills still live on today, why you should still be using key phrases, and why structure is important.
How will your audience read your content in 2018?
Google’s recent announcement of the first set of sites being migrated to mobile-first indexing reflects the fact that the majority of searches worldwide are carried out on mobile devices. My direct experience is that the move to mobile is very much in the B2C space; less so in B2B, where people are still at their desks with their laptops or desktops.
And then, we see the start of an explosion in voice search and devices – our smartphones and home devices from Google, Amazon and Apple – reading content to us.
Of course, we’re still seeing how voice pans out, and its implications for SEO copywriting, but I’d say if you stick to simple language and shorter sentences within a well-structured piece (think about making the main points right up front in case the listener’s attention wanders).
High-quality, in-depth content
However your audience interacts with your work, it needs to be excellent. Make your content unique, high quality and written to professional standards. Google will reward you. Buying 300-500 spun monstrosities, while never being a great thing, had better not even pass through your mind today. They’ll kill your SEO and content marketing ambitions stone dead.
While we’re thinking about copy lengths, one popular strategy recently has been to write a longer piece than those above you in the rankings. Theirs is 2,000 words? Then leapfrog them by writing 2,500!
Of course, it’s not as simple as that. Take a look at the webpages above you in the SERPs. How good are they? Are they well-written? Do they answer the questions customers are asking? Do they understand searcher intent and how to respond to it?
If the 2,000-worder in your sights fails on any or all of these factors, you may be able to kick the ball out of the park with a shorter, tighter, laser-targeted 1,500-worder.
Writing shorter pieces for mobile’s smaller screens may be tempting. Don’t, though. You’ll lose out to those more extensive pieces, written without such an artificial restriction. Instead, leave it to your UX people, designers and developers to get the presentation right.
Write for people
Now that Google can understand the words on a page, you have to raise your writing game. Get your grammar and stylistic chops up with the best and Google should reward you for it. But don’t forget your audience. Deliver them precisely what they’re looking for.
Before you start writing, ask yourself:
- Who is your audience?
- Where is their pain?
Put yourself in their mind; imagine how they will react to your content.
You may want to go the whole hog and spend time developing Personas. Personally, I’m happy to use them if there’s the budget and someone else to do most of the donkey work. Otherwise, I find I can usually visualize the target group more easily than the series of sometimes-unconvincing individuals that can come out of the Persona-building exercise.
Bridging the offline past with the online present
Let’s see how the long-established rules of copywriting work in today’s SEO copywriting environment.
- Do your research: Advertising industry king, David Ogilvy, stressed the fundamental importance of research in producing great copy some 50 years ago – decades before the age of keyword research or the internet. Don’t you forget the keyword research, though – more on that later .
- Write an attention-grabbing headline based on related key phrases from your research.
- Involve the reader further with subheads – don’t skimp on them, either.
- Make it easy for the reader: In addition to inserting subheads, write in short paragraphs and short sentences. And ensure you put spaces between paragraphs.
- Calls to action: No matter how good your copy, you’ll need a CTA to see the full return on your investment, through sign-ups, purchases or other goal fulfilments.
- Treat editing as separate from writing: Get some time between the two processes and see your work with new eyes. If you’re writing more than a couple of screens of copy, consider printing out your work. You’ll see it entirely differently.
- Get someone else to read your work: They’ll notice your mistakes and pick out where you’re unclear
Don’t listen to people who say ‘Key phrases are dead’. They are very much alive. And they will remain so all the time we use the paradigm of typing or speaking language into a search engine. But their use in digital marketing today has changed.
While you’re doing your research, think audience and marketing. How big is the online audience (market)? Where are they? What can we find out about their demographics? What should my content be about?
With my main key phrases selected, I look for questions and semantically related key phrases to flavour and shape what I’m writing. I find Answer the Public invaluable here.
- Talk to your client and/or customers: Find out about problems, solutions, products and services
- Build a list of seed key phrases
- Do your research
- Select your key phrases: Be sure why they’re relevant to your audience
- Assemble your questions and semantically connected key phrases
- Write for your audience
You can’t sidestep key phrase research. It’s still at the core of copywriting for SEO and the framework for everything you write.
Don’t let key phrase density hang on
Back in the day, before Google understood semantics and had AI, copywriting for SEO was many times more difficult than it is today. The trick was to use the key phrases precisely as they appear in the research (give or take a stop word or two), the requisite number of times or density to help the search engine understand your content. And it all somehow had to read as if a human had written it for another human!SKIP
But why am I talking about key phrase density in 2018? It’s nothing to do with my greying beard and pathological need to relate stories about the past (honest). It’s about WordPress.
The WordPress CMS powers more than 28% of the sites on the Internet. And its most popular SEO plugin, Yoast SEO is getting millions of content producers, both site owners and professional writers to adjust their key phrase densities via Yoast’s traffic light system.
If you’re making this mistake, for everyone’s sake turn off the traffic lights and write according to the rules and advice here. You should start seeing better results.
Structure and <h> tags
Another area that people say has passed into history. I say otherwise. We’re recognizing the growing importance of UX (user experience). As a writer, UX isn’t something you can ignore, thinking it’s the domain of designers and developers. An enjoyable, involving read will be a better experience than a dry academic paper in a learned journal.
If natural, professional writing is a prerequisite for success, so is having a page that’s easy to read and understand. Think about the reader again. A big headline is the most important (use h1 tags), and a hierarchy from next biggest down to smallest (h2 to h6). So use them to make content’s structure clear and easy to navigate.
I’ve got through this entire piece without saying ‘Content is King’. To be honest, I’m not sure it is.
SEO is a much more wide-ranging game in 2018 than it was even a year or two ago. Just writing copy is unlikely to bring all the results you’re looking for. So you must consider SEO copywriting as a part of your digital marketing armory. A fundamental part, of course, but remember the lines are increasingly blurred.