SEO Best Practices
As I wrap my head around Google’s latest algorithm update, there’s another release that changes the game. While SEO experts should live in the weeds of these updates to understand the nuances in how Google ranks content, marketers should recognize a few high level SEO trends that drive successful content marketing initiatives.
1. SEO used to be an exercise in optimizing content for spiders. Today, SEO is about optimizing content for the user. This is an important distinction that should drive every piece of content produced, from how you choose the topic to the words you use to express the idea. Search engines think like people, but for some reason most brands don’t speak like people. This is causing a disconnect between the brand and the consumer on every level – in relating to them obviously, but also in just being discoverable. No one searches in corporate speak.
So, how do you do this? Research. A combination of both keyword research and social listening will show you what words and phrases consumers use. Once the content is written and optimized appropriately for search, the language used in social media should reflect the language used in the content. The same keywords should be used in a similar tone since search engines are now considering social interactions in search ranking. You not only want to be shareable, you want the language used when sharing your content to be the language that will serve you best.
2. Links still matter, but the game has changed. Linking to quality websites and being linked to by quality websites is still important. In fact, when a website links to your site and also links to another website of higher authority on the same page, your site will benefit from the authority of the other linked site.
Another important factor in outbound links is, just as above, the language you use. The anchor text should clearly indicate what you’re linking to and the text around the link should be carefully considered too.
3. The power is in the long tail. This isn’t news, but it is so important that it should be emphasized. There are 500 million active domains competing for the attention of consumers. Unless you have a huge budget, you aren’t going win big, broad buzzwords.
Optimize your content for the long tail keywords that niche audiences are looking for and publish often. Not only will you rank higher for less competitive topics, but Google will assign you higher authority for publishing regularly.
4. Traditional marketing tactics will boost digital marketing initiatives. Google likes to tell us that if we build a quality website and publish quality content, users will come. While that might be true to some extent, it is important that marketers realize that traditional tactics can actually help boost content efforts.
5. Press releases, for example, provide branded mentions and links that will increase the authority of your website while also increasing exposure. Despite what some might say, email is still extremely effective in creating opportunities for awareness and sharing.
Penguin 2.0 was just released and everyone is in a frenzy to figure out the next button to push to get out ahead of the competition. That is important and every serious brand should have someone doing that for them. But it is equally important that everyone involved in digital marketing understands basic SEO trends in order to ensure content is being produced in a way that will drive success. Use this list as criteria to check off on each time content is added to your website:
- Am I using the language of my target consumer?
- Am I linking to authoritative websites?
- Am I optimizing this content for a specific user by targeting a few long tail keywords?
- Am I promoting this content using more traditional marketing tactics?