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.
With increasing online competition, pay-per-click (PPC) is becoming a critical way to get your content in front of your potential customers.
With increasing online competition, pay-per-click (PPC) is becoming a critical way to get your content in front of your potential customers.
One pay-per-click program is called Google AdWords.
AdWords is an online advertising service where advertisers pay to display brief advertising copy, product listings and video content within the Google ad network to web users.
Here are three myths that may be keeping marketers from implementing successful AdWords campaign.
Myth #1: People don’t click on Google ads
Google is a publicly traded company—anyone can access their financial records that tell the story.
Google generates more than $100M in revenue every single day from people clicking on their ads. With an average cost per click between $1 and $2 that’s more than 50M clicks/day.
Google experiments constantly to make their ads entice more enticing.
They’re not going to present you with a free, organic result at the top of the search engine results page when they could showcase several ads that generate revenue. Start paying attention: The first few line items at the top of every search is an ad.
One more thing: Think about your own behavior
When you see an ad that entices you, do you click on it? Of course you do!
Smart companies are using remarketing efforts that identify customer tastes to present you with items that you may have been looking at earlier in the day.
They may serve up similar items or those by the same designer or manufacturer. I shop almost entirely online, and I’m fascinated by remarketing, which illustrates how marketing has gotten smarter.
Myth #2: My competitors can just click on my ads all day, costing me money
Google has extremely sophisticated technology to prevent “click fraud” and “invalid clicks.” This involves the analysis of several click-pattern factors.
Google provides very good reports on AdWords campaign performance, and any suspicious activity is quickly exposed. If a business is concerned they are victims of click fraud, they can contact Google directly to launch an investigation. Google reimburses questionable clicks.
Myth #3: AdWords is an outbound marketing tactic
AdWords is designed to showcase your content when potential customers are initiating a Google search. It’s the only inbound marketing tactic that guarantees your content will rank high on Google when a user performs a search. This is one very attractive reason to be using Google as your PPC platform. The sheer number of Google searches/day makes you part of this community.
PPC delivers a better user experience for the searcher
Think of the information you provide when you set up your Google account. This all becomes part of a huge database, and databased information makes it searchable.
Because of this information, when you create a Google ad, you are able to drill down by location, demographics, interests, etc.
This is not specific just to Google—Facebook, Linkedin and other social channels also provide rich search preferences.
Integrating AdWords with your inbound marketing strategy
Along with your existing content marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) efforts, PPC is becoming a critical component of an inbound marketing strategy.
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.
Branded content and pay-per-click (PPC) aren’t ordinarily included together in the same section of a digital media plan, but there are definite synergies between these two marketing disciplines.
One way to increase the efficiency and profitability of a PPC budgetis to examine how PPC can be used to support really fun and creative branded content.
Branded content is evolving
The category of branded content has exploded online within both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, according to data from PQMedia and Polar.
Branded content goes by many names, but it originated as “advertorial” content (in print) and as “infomercials” (in broadcast TV). This form of content is still very popular, particularly in certain industry segments in which the use of the brand in advertorials can be authentic and compelling.
In the digital domain, branded content has now evolved to more closely resemble the soap opera model of days long past.
The media strategy behind soap operas was brilliant: Unlike product placement within shows (another form of branded content), large soap manufacturers collaborated with the major television (TV) networks to underwrite the production cost of shows they knew their target audience would love and watch religiously.
Of course, the soap brand names were announced prominently at the beginning and end of any particular episode, and sponsorship arrangements also specified the airing of a certain number of regular advertising spots mentioning the brand.
Where PPC comes in
If the stats are any indication, your company (or client) is probably doing some form of digital branded content already, and this content lies somewhere along the continuum of advertorial, digital product placement (influencers) to sponsored content.
Like the soap opera sponsors of yore, the hope is to make sure the content is interesting, too, and resonates with the right audience.
That’s great news for you as search marketers. With the tools at your disposal, you can make sure more people who are interested in the branded content actually have an opportunity to see it.
In nearly every case, the branded content is centered around keywords that are NOT currently in your PPC campaigns.
The team working on that initiative probably isn’t thinking about amplifying the impact of that branded content (much of which is expensive to produce and place) using PPC search. Branded content opens up a whole segment of keywords you can potentially bid on (some might require specific contractual language).
Here are some general buckets of keywords that probably are new to your campaigns (unless you’ve been developing and hosting a lot of informational and educational content on your site):
1. Keywords related to the topic of the article or content your marketing team is sponsoring. A food brand might be paying for inclusion within a section of an online publisher’s pages where recipes are featured (including that brand as an ingredient). Why not bid on keywords relating to each recipe?
For an athletic-wear brand sponsoring the college soccer coverage on a sports publisher site, why not bid on team names and/or team member names (in conjunction with the sport or team name)?
Or (my favorite), if I were on the marketing team of Smith & Forge Hard Cider, I would be using PPC search to support the amazing Thrillist-produced content in which Thrillist disguised competitive athlete Kenneth Leverich as a senior citizen at Muscle Beach to challenge bodybuilders.
In this example, keywords could be included that include the terms “muscle beach” along with each of the lifts, tricks, moves and even equipment names related to this fun video.
2. Keywords related to the problem solved by the content. When Chase, Ritz-Carlton and The Wall Street Journal teamed up for “Inside the Moment,” they could have bid on the cities, neighborhoods and featured places in their virtual reality (VR) tours of notable cities and places.
3. Keywords related to celebrities or other VIPs used in the content. This may require a line in their contracts to allow their names and likenesses to be used to promote the content, so be sure to check that out before getting started.
For example, 1800 Tequila and Billboard Magazine’s features of “Hip-Hop History” by city included mentions and participation of a lot of popular performers. (To further filter this and other alcoholic beverage PPC support campaigns, remember to use “age” as a demographic filter for bid depression and bid boost.)
Bridging across marketing silos
Agencies play an important role in making sure branded content is on-message and on-brand, particularly if it talks about the brand.
If the content being sponsored is more of an audience-focused strategy to get the brand in front of the right people, then the level of editorial control exerted by the agency should be less, particularly if a very important person (VIP) or influencer is being used.
Things need to be authentic.
I’ve always said PPC search doesn’t sit in a silo. Expanding a PPC campaign to support branded content that costs a pretty penny to produce is a great way to get involved in the broader marketing of your brand.
Because I have a strong interest in nonprofit causes, I especially liked a piece of branded content done by Gawker to educate on the risks of smoking, not just to humans, but also to cats that live with humans, in a simple game called “Catmageddon.”
I’ve become such a fan of branded content and the power of collaboration between publishers/broadcaster/influencers with agencies and clients that I’m actually crazy enough to be bidding on Gawker to apply cause marketing best practices to publishing.
Check with your teams and see if they are doing branded content, and take the opportunity to add significant value to the company and expose you to new PPC strategies.
There is a turf war raging between search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization. Experts on both sides are struggling to make the two disciplines work together.
SEO focuses on making a site accessible to search engines for the purpose of improved rankings. CRO is the art of improving the user experience to get higher conversions. One discipline is geared towards search engines while the other is focused on users.
Very few sites can successfully combine both to create a stellar site that provides a great user experience and also ranks highly on search engines. The secret is using SEO tactics to improve your conversion rate and to make your site searchable. But how do you use SEO to increase conversions?
Here are the latest strategies that will bring your conversions to the next level.
1. Use dynamic content.
Dynamic content is when the content that’s displayed on your site changes based on who the visitor is. Usually, it’s based on geography. For example, if someone is visiting from the U.S. during a national holiday, then your homepage would display products/services that relate to that holiday or would display a simple holiday greeting.
A perfect example would be TripAdvisor. They display the name of the city, region or state on their homepage. For instance, their Restaurants tab displays the city that you are currently in and offers you the best restaurants in that city. The result is that the visitor identifies with the content more, has a better user experience and is more likely to buy your product if you’re using dynamic content,
Dynamic content helps you use SEO in an organic way to enhance the user experience. Instead of spammy looking search terms and lists of locations in your footer, use dynamic content to make the user feel welcome and enhance their experience on your site.
2. Use neurodesign to improve user experience.
Neurodesign is a term that was coined in 2012. It describes a way to design things that make sense to your mind. It’s a way to improve your customer’s experience, which can improve your conversions, all based on aesthetics.
Improving the user experience using neurodesign helps you improve three metrics. You increase the visitor time spent on your site, you increase repeat visits and reduce the bounce rate. All of these things help improve your site’s rank.
Also, make sure that your page titles are written for users. Don’t just write them for search engines. If you improve your titles, add keywords in an organic way and add emotionally stimulating words that will catch the eye, you will see a huge boost in conversions.
3. Use video and visual elements to increase visit duration.
The duration of each visitor’s stay on your website is also extremely critical for your site’s success. The longer your visitors stay on your site, the higher its rank on search engines.
So, what’s a decent visit duration?
• Anything over two minutes is excellent.
• Between 30 seconds and two minutes is good.
• Under 30 seconds is very poor.
Doing a proper evaluation and conducting site changes to increase user’s visit duration requires a lot of A/B testing and time. One easy hack to quickly increase that dwell time is by adding visual elements to the site.
One great example of this is the Chrome extension Zest. Their entire homepage moves and changes with every scroll, creatively showing you how to use their product. No wonder their average visit duration is a whopping 2 minutes and 23 seconds. And for a site whose whole purpose is to direct you to their Chrome extension page, that’s an incredible achievement.
4. Improve page loading time.
The loading time of your site is one of the most critical — and at the same time, overlooked — elements of any SEO strategy. Loading time is a heavy contributor to page and site abandonment. When a site takes too long to load, people are very likely to abandon it.
How long is too long? According to Google, the time it takes to fully load a page on mobile has dropped to 15 seconds from 22. Unfortunately, that’s still too long a time considering 53% of mobile site visitors leave if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. It’s imperative, then, that you check how your site is performing and is there a way you can improve. A great tool to use here is Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Google started ranking sites for load time because it plays such a vital role in the user’s experience of the site. To rise up to the top of search results, optimize your site to decrease load time. Optimize all of your images, use smaller images for the home page and eliminate sluggish widgets.
5. Use long-tail keywords.
Users are searching for specific things, and they usually write a few words. You need to use long-tail keywords in order to offer the users what they are looking for and improve your rankings at the same time.
For example, if you are a pet shop, you’re not going to start by targeting the keyword “pet food.” That short-tail keyword is way too broad and highly competitive. Instead, target something like “organic pet food in Albany.” That’s way more specific.
You can use a keyword tool like Wordtracker to find long-tail keywords and free tools like Pro Rank Tracker and Tiny Ranker to monitor keywords for your website. Using long-tail phrases or addressing users’ queries with long-tail keywords will help you boost brand loyalty over a period of time and thus can increase conversions.
It’s never been easier to use SEO to boost the conversion rate of your website. You have a variety of tools and strategies at your disposal.
Use these strategies to stay ahead of your competitors, and up to date with all of the latest conversion strategies.
It’s exciting to start a new search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, whether you’re handling all the little pieces yourself or you’re outsourcing the work to an agency. You’ll invest time and/or money in creating outstanding content, promoting that content, and restructuring your site so you’re more easily seen and categorized by search engines. Then, you can watch the fruits of your labor develop and reap the rewards of your efforts.
But wait. How can you tell that your SEO campaign is working in the first place?
What Do You Mean By “Working”?
First, we need to be clear about what we mean when we say your campaign is “working.” It’s a vague term that means different things to different people. Accordingly, you’ll need to define what a “working” campaign would look like for your specific business:
- Deciding your main goals. What are your main goals for this campaign? The general approach is to seek ambiguous improvement, ranking higher and getting more traffic. But is that what you’re really after? Are you in SEO just to see a monetary return, or would you prefer to earn more brand exposure? Is SEO just an incidental pursuit, working in conjunction with your content marketing campaign? On top of that, what kind of results are you hoping to see? Is there a specific level of traffic volume you’d like to grow to?
- Evaluating pace. If you aren’t seeing results after a week of effort, there’s no cause for concern; SEO is a long-term strategy. Accordingly, you need to consider the pace of your growth and the time you’ve invested as variables when you measure results and success. Most SEO campaigns see few results at the beginning, see an explosion of results in the middle, and then level off in the late stages.
- Setting reasonable expectations. You should also set reasonable expectations for what results to see based on what you’re investing. Generally, the more you spend and the more time you invest, the more results you can expect to see—at every stage of growth. If you half-bake a blog post once a month, you can’t expect to get the same results as someone spending tens of thousands of dollars working with a professional content agency.
Key Metrics to Consider
So which metrics, specifically, are we looking at? Which numbers will illustrate whether or not your campaign is working the way you want it to?
- Keyword rankings. Keyword rankings are where newcomers usually start. They’re a good indicator of upward momentum in search engines, but won’t illustrate the total package. You can use tools like SEMRush or AgencyAnalytics to keep tabs on your previous and current rankings for any number of head and long-tail keywords you like—Google won’t give you the data directly, so a third party is all but necessary here.
- Inbound links. You’ll also want to use a link profile monitoring tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer, watching for new links and carefully evaluating your current link profile. New earned links are an indicator that your reputation is growing (and that your content is worth linking to).
- Organic traffic. From here onward, Google Analytics is the best all-around choice for measurement. Organic traffic refers to the number of people who visited your site after finding it in search engines. It’s better than keyword rankings alone, since it tells you not only how much visibility you’re getting, but how much traction you’re getting as well.
- Referral traffic. If you’re building external links, you should also look at your referral traffic. It’s more a pleasant side effect of your strategy than it is a direct result of SEO, but it’s still worth measuring; referral traffic can be a powerful indicator of how well your off-site content is performing.
- Conversions and revenue. Ideally, your content and SEO strategy will connect directly to your sales strategy. You can use your content to funnel visitors to conversion opportunities, and therefore drive revenue. Measuring the new sales and revenue you get from your SEO campaign is important to calculate your overall ROI—the figure that will indicate whether your efforts are turning a profit.
What Kind of Growth Should You Expect?
You know these numbers are meant to show growth, but how much growth should you expect, assuming a reasonable dedicated budget?
- The first month. No matter how much you spend, it’s unlikely that you’ll see results after only a month. It takes time to publish content, promote content, earn links, and establish a reputation. You might see higher rankings due to on-site optimization, but it will be minimal at best.
- The first year. After six months or so, you should start seeing more meaningful results (possibly after two or three months, if you’re working aggressively). By the end of the first year, you should be leagues ahead of where you were, and possibly even be breaking a positive ROI.
- Ongoing improvements. After a year or two of work, your results will probably level off, returning you slow ranking progression and similar levels of traffic. You’ll need to make ongoing improvements and changes to sustain those results, however; though the fundamentals of SEO remain relatively similar throughout the years, there are always new algorithm tweaks and opportunities you’ll need to account for.
So is your SEO campaign working? Hopefully, this article has brought you a little closer to an answer. If you feel like you aren’t getting the results you should with the time and effort you’re investing, you’ll need to make an adjustment and keep going; keeping things the same will only continue to breed the same results.
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.
I’ve been working in the search engine optimization (SEO) space for years, yet I’m still pleasantly surprised to learn new things about the industry. I’ll discover a new update, or witness a trick used by one of my colleagues, and rush to the drawing board to incorporate it into my running campaigns. SEO is truly an industry of constant evolution and discovery, so I try not to succumb to the illusion that I know everything about it.
But on the other hand, the fundamentals of SEO have remained more or less the same, despite two decades of progression. And, in part because people never bothered to learn how SEO really works and in part because of myths that are still circulated by uninformed writers, most people still don’t fully understand how those fundamentals work.
In my conversations with SEO newcomers (including some people radically opposed to the idea), I’ve discovered there are eight main points that most people get wrong about SEO:
- It’s a gimmick, trick, or scheme. The way some people talk about SEO, it’s natural to think it’s some kind of gimmick. It may have been presented to you as a sequence of tricks designed to get your site to rank above others in search results; but this is only partially true. The white-hat search optimizer isn’t trying to deceive Google’s search algorithm or game their way to the top. Instead, they’re trying to figure out what website features and content are most important to users (and search engines), and provide it to them. Most of the time, this results in organic, well-intentioned website improvements—not spam, hacks, or short-term tricks.
- Keyword rankings are all that matter. Yes, one of SEO’s biggest priorities is getting you ranked as high as possible in search engine results pages (SERPs), but this often leads to an error in prioritization, with marketers believing keyword rankings are all that matter. In fact, there are dozens of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) you should be measuring to gauge your campaign’s success, and keyword rankings are only one of them.
- Google penalties are a major threat. The way some people write about Google penalties, you’d think they were handed out more often than speeding tickets. But the reality is, the most severe Google penalties are a result of a manual action—in response to truly egregious behavior that most webmasters know to stay away from. Automatic penalties, or temporary ranking drops, are more common but far less severe. If you follow best practices, you have nothing to worry about.
- The less you spend on SEO, the better. SEO is known for being a cost-effective strategy with a high return on investment (ROI). Accordingly, many newcomers think the best approach to SEO is to spend as little as possible to avoid risk and maximize long-term returns. However, low budgets often come with amateur work and minimal strategic execution; in many cases, it’s better to spend more on better services.
- SEO is too technically complex. It’s true that there are many technical components to SEO, and to a first-timer, things like robots.txt file editing and canonical tags can look intimidating. But even without coding experience, it’s possible to learn the basics of areas like these within a few hours. I maintain that SEO is highly learnable—so long as you’re dedicated to mastering it. And to help people learn it, I wrote SEO 101: A Guide for the Technically Challenged.
- SEO is easy. That said, I’ve also seen people on the other side of the fence, insisting that SEO is so simple anyone can do it without experience. That isn’t quite true either. You can learn many SEO concepts in an afternoon, but there are so many variables to remember and so many strategic directions you could take, it takes years of practice before you can consider yourself a master. And even then, you need to keep up with the latest industry changes if you want to stay relevant.
- Link building is spam. Link building can be spammy—if you execute it poorly or without strategic planning. But capable link builders know that the tactic isn’t about stamping your links on as many off-site pages as possible; it’s about creating relevant, valuable content that people want to read, and including natural, informative links within that content to boost your search relevance. If you’re doing link building right, you’ll be adding value to the web (and boosting your own domain authority as a fortunate side effect).
- The process is always the same. This is one of the biggest misconceptions I see; people seem to think the SEO process is always the same. They expect an SEO agency to use a reliable procedure, step by step, and get the same results for client B that they did for client A, within the same timeframe. But the truth is this is nearly impossible; SEO is an art as much as it is a science, and different clients will require different targeting strategies, execution methods, and investment levels to get comparable results.
If you’ve held any of these beliefs or assumptions, I can’t blame you; with so much content in circulation, and few opportunities to learn the basics of the strategy, it’s natural that you may have a skewed vision of how SEO really works. Of course, even if you do have a grasp of the fundamentals, there’s always something new to learn coming up around the bend.
Hopefully, this article has given you grounds to challenge one of your underlying assumptions, has taught you something new, or has sparked a renewed interest in SEO. There’s much to learn, even from a ground level, and plenty of time to learn it.