With much of the industry chatter these days focused around content marketing, it’s beginning to feel like SEO has fallen to the back burner. Perhaps the lines between SEO and content marketing strategies have become blurred because the success of each is largely dependent on the strength of the content you’re producing.
I’d argue that search engine optimization should remain priority for many businesses to get the most out of their content marketing strategies, because the battle for top positions amongst search engines is more competitive than ever and SEO strategies still impact our content’s success. After all, if you are going through the trouble of creating and implementing a content marketing strategy you’ll want to make sure that your audience finds your content and the search engines are one of the best ways to do so.
By prioritizing these SEO techniques, you can learn to better position your brand and content higher in search for the right terms your customer base is using as they search. Content is essentially the fuel that drives your search ranking and your website’s content strategy is probably one of the most important aspects to work on when looking to boost your SEO.
We’ve heard that SEO values content heavily, but it’s not just any content, it’s genuine high quality content that is published often. This can be a tall order, especially for smaller organizations or teams with limited budgets, but by focusing on better optimizing your content for search, you can stretch your content further and create a cost-effective strategy simultaneously.
We’ll walk through the top SEO must-haves including how thought provoking content affects your search rank, why social mentions and inbound links are your best friends, and how to address the technical concerns of your content. Let’s get started.
Create Thought-Provoking Content
Search engines are getting pretty good at understanding what a person’s intentions are from the words that they type and they want to deliver the best content to solve their questions. Over the past few years, search engine algorithms have evolved to favor quality content and tend to reward websites that consistently publish this content often.
If you intend to rise above all of the clutter and appeal to the search algorithms, you’ll want to invest in developing thought-provoking content that differentiates your brand from the rest of the pack. This may not always come easily, especially for smaller businesses or teams with limited resources, but no matter what your obstacles are, there are steps that you can take to start developing great content.
While planning your content strategy, focus on the key interests and challenges of your audience as it relates to their search habits. You are looking to make content that best appeals to the needs of your potential customers and by understanding what they’re looking for, you can better position your content for their searches.
If you aren’t sure what your target audience is searching for online, you can start by asking current or potential customers about their pain points or what content they find interesting. You can also research competitor’s social networks and take note of what is resonating within their community and use this to leverage your content against theirs. To grasp a much stronger idea of trending search topics or questions within your demographic, begin by using keyword research tool such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
Keyword research is an SEO must-have for your content marketing strategy and can help you target the top long-tail keywords to focus your content on that are relevant to your products and services. With this research, you can better plan your content strategy and over time, improve your ranking among these keywords.
After discovering a variety of long-tail keywords to focus on, start developing content like ebooks, SlideShares, infographics, visuals, articles or other formats to create an ecosystem of content around these concepts that can help increase your odds of ranking for the right topics in search.
Build Mentions and Links with Content
Search engines use links to measure the trust of a website, if multiple websites are linking to particular content, they reward that content by ranking it higher. To use this to your advantage, create outbound links to other reputable content that is relevant to your audience, this not only helps build buzz for other organizations, but strengthens your community and informs search engines that your company trusts the content of others.
As a best practice, when you link to outside content, try to connect with the author or creator and let them know that you are referencing their content. For one, it’s a genuine gesture, (something that we can all use a little more of in our marketing) but it can also increase the likelihood that they will share or link back to your content in the future as you begin to develop a relationship, which can further build your SEO efforts.
Again, you want your content to be high quality and informative in order to better entice others to share or link to it, which is a must before beginning to network with other players in your industry through content.
To avoid becoming overwhelmed, it’s suggested that you start small and collaborate with a few partners with smaller audiences as opposed trying to partner with an industry leader immediately. Focus on networking with multiple creators from your industry with a similar or related customer base to reach a few audiences with the content you’re creating.
Your goal is to create a win-win situation for everyone involved by offering to help with content, provide outbound links and produce social mentions of others in your industry with compelling content. This helps you develop reputation while you slowly begin to build a stronger foundation for your organization and concurrently drive your SEO efforts.
Address Technical Concerns
Search engines want to deliver the best possible experience for their users and if your website or content is not technically up to par, you can be punished in the rankings. You should audit your current site and make sure that you are delivering a great customer experience.
When auditing your site for SEO, pay special attention how the following areas perform in both a web and mobile environment:
- Page load time
- Broken links or redirects that don’t work
- 404 codes or missing pages
- Ease of site navigation
Although this is often an afterthought when publishing your content, it is majorly important when search engines look to rank your website and not to mention, the experience a person has when trying to read your blog, watch your video or scroll through your product offerings. If you notice that you can’t read your content due to a poor experience, then you are not presenting your content appropriately and should make corrections.
Your site’s performance is a priority of search engines and you should optimize your content so that it loads quickly and is easy to navigate on both web and mobile devices. Search engines crawl through your data and follow all of your links, if they find any roadblocks, it can adversely affect your rankings. Focus on creating a user experience that is as easy to understand as possible, while still driving users to take action onsite.
To reiterate, you’ll want to make sure that your content is responsive across all devices; yes, that means mobile optimized. Recently, Google announced that on April 21, mobile performance is taking a higher priority in search algorithms.
By prioritizing your content strategy with SEO and focusing on creating a high quality user experience for your audience, you can give your content marketing efforts more reach while also improving your search rankings.
What SEO strategies have you incorporated into your content marketing? Have you seen an increase in traffic from the search engines after publishing quality content? Put your answers in the comments section below.