Currently, 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine, so the overall objective is to build a search engine friendly website so your site will show up in the organic search engine results pages (SERPs).
Sites like Google find, read, index and display sites based on how relevant the site’s content is to the user’s search. Where a site appears is based on several on-page and off-page factors such as:
- Site Architecture & Speed
- Proper Site tagging – Title and Header tags
- Structured Data
- Proper external and internal links
- User experience factors
- Presence of a Site Map
And the most important one: the presence of unique fresh, well-written content.
The reason that Content is King is because of Google’s famous algorithm changes. You might have heard about Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon. These updates addressed previous issues or deficiencies in how Google thought it was displaying and returning its search results.
Penguin was a series of five spam-fighting updates that identified sites that were “spammy” but still ranked well. It reportedly targets sites that may have purchased paid links.
Hummingbird was one of Google’s most major algorithm changes; in fact, it was actually a replacement of the old algorithm, not just an update to an existing one, although it does incorporate components of the older algorithm. Hummingbird is designed to return better search results and to better serve today’s search demands, with improvements to results in several ways.
It allows Google to gain a better understanding of someone’s search intent. Instead of focusing on just the keywords, Hummingbird helps to better identify the meaning behind search words, and then displays results appropriately. Because of Hummingbird, users get more targeted, specific results.
Pigeon has to do with providing more useful, relevant and accurate local search results; it changed local search results rankings, with changes visible in Google Maps and Google Web search results. Local businesses may have noticed an increase or decrease in website referrals, leads and business following the update. It also improved the distance and location ranking within Google search results.
Panda is actually a series of two dozen gradual updates since early 2011 to weed out low quality content. It helps keep sites, with what Google deems as poor content, out of the top search results.
The most important aspect of Panda is that this algorithm update helped improve the search results so much, that Google incorporated it into its core ranking signals. Now, Google rarely confirms core algorithm updates, so it is somewhat of an announcement for Google to go on record that this update occurred. They wanted to get the word out to webmasters that quality content is not the SEO flavor of the month; it is now permanently and prominently factored into rankings.
Writing for SEO has drastically changed, but that does not mean throwing out everything you have previously learned. Instead of writing for the search engines with the same keyword listed multiple times on the page, writers need to start writing specifically for the reader. Write naturally and incorporate different versions or synonyms of the keyword or phrase.
To determine whether you have written quality content, simply ask does the content offer real value, something of substance to visitors, that is unique, useful, different and something that is not available somewhere else? If you are selling something, do you go beyond being a simple brochure with the same boring information found on hundreds of other sites?
If you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, it is safe to say that you have provided quality content to your visitors.
Keywords should be used more sparingly and incorporated more naturally into your content, rather than simply trying to include them as many times as possible. Keywords should be actual search terms that people are using and tied in with phrases throughout the headline and the content – the average reader should have little to no idea that keywords were involved in them finding your content. Your tone may vary according to the article assignment, but should always be informative, engaging and centered on the needs of the reader.
Some tips for writing for SEO/keyword incorporation:
- Read your article aloud – This is an excellent way to find places where language does not sound quite right or flow as cleanly as it should.
- Insert keywords before or after writing – Before you start writing SEO content, look at the article outline and the keyword list. Can you use any of the keywords in major headers or within opening sentences? These may be some of the easiest and most natural places to put keyword phrases.
Alternatively, some writers find it easier to incorporate key words after completing the first draft. Tweaking already-written sentences can relieve the writer of incorporating keywords so early on and preventing it from sounding natural.
- Use a checklist – Keep track of the keywords you use and how often in a separate document. Bolding the keyword throughout an article can also provide a good visual as to the frequency of the word within that particular article.
It is crucial to understand that even the most well written article will not receive traffic unless people engage with it by sharing, commenting, liking, etc. Make sure that your content is engagement-friendly while also providing plenty of it, but be sure to provide more useful content than filler content. Readers will keep the site in mind if the content provides applicable information.
Attract readers by providing content that is more than just black and white, run-of-the-mill information. Add some pizazz to it with creative headlines, attractive graphics and then make sure to offer social media sharing tools.
Implement a content strategy that incorporates your blog with social media. Content calendars are an excellent tool to organize these plans. Some tips to make your content and social media successful are:
- Do not just have a blog, use it and often.
- Develop a strategy to keep content fresh and current.
- Integrate your entire marketing program.
- Host campaigns and contests.
Structure your blog posts – even if the content is exceptional, readers can easily become lost or uninterested with an unorganized, inefficient format. Break content up into smaller, easy-to-read paragraphs.
Additionally, headlines and meta descriptions should also include a focus. The keyword phrase should be included not only in the headline, but also in the meta description – this is what shows up in the search results and should be interesting and further elaborate on the article’s topic to motivate the reader to continue reading.
Share each new article on social media, and include “Share” buttons on the post itself to help increase the reach of your content and promote sharing. Share the link with engaging descriptions, impressive visuals and graphics and a call-to-action, such as click here, sign up today, get your tickets now, RSVP here and so on. Only include one call-to-action per post.
A HubSpot study from October 2012 found that photos on Facebook Pages received 53 percent more Likes than the average post and photo posts attracted 104 percent more comments than the average posts.
It’s clear that attractive, interactive content is what drives engagement, so be sure to add a focus on social media to your marketing/content strategy!
Social media campaigns and contests are another excellent choice to drive leads and increase traffic, but know the rules and follow promotional policies of social media sites as well as local laws and regulations about lotteries, raffles, etc. For more information about social media campaign rules, click here.
Online reviews can also affect SEO and search engine rankings. YP.com, Yahoo! Local, Google+ local listing, Yelp, Angie’s List and FourSquare are just some review sites where content is growing to include phone number, address, directions, menus, reviews, deals and specials and more.
Google uses all of these local business directories to understand how to rank companies in local search results. Learn more about the importance of online reviews here.
The mRELEVANCE team is always available as a resource for creating and implementing effective marketing strategies, search engine optimization and content plans. From web design and SEO to public relations and social media campaigns, mRELEVANCE does it all! Contact us today at 770-383-3360 or fill out our online contact form for more information.