SEO and content marketing can appear to be broad and complex topics, however, some simple tweaks to your site can see you well on your way to building a successful strategy. Content is no simple subject, but it’s a good idea to gain a basic understanding of what it means and how it works in tangent with search engine rankings.
A successful content strategy can support in driving growth in previously untapped areas, with the possibility of reaching a broader range of potential customers. However, in order to utilise this capability, you need to understand how search engine optimisation and content marketing are intrinsically linked to one another.
How not to rank
Historically, Google could be fooled into listing websites up at the top of the search results, through what is referred to as ‘black hat’ SEO.
Some of the common practices included buying backlinks en mass from each and every site possible, also known as link farms, which were often all anchored with the same clickable text. Other brands crammed their sites with their desired keywords and search terms, written in white text on a white background, also know as ‘keyword stuffing’, in an attempt to fool Google. A number of sites were even guilty of stealing copyrighted material from high-ranking pages and duplicating this exactly on their own sites, to try and replicate the results of the original publisher.
Damage to your rankings
All of these practices eventually result in a website being slapped with a big old penalty from Google. The outcome of this was often the site falling way, way back in the search engine results pages (SERP’s) with no chance of returning until Google was sure you had learned your lesson and amended your practices.
Moving down in the SERP’s can be a huge knock to your brand visibility and the trust that your consumers have in your company. Of course, this can then lead to a loss of sales and an overall deterioration of your brand’s associated value and growth potential. It takes significant know-how and resources to recover from a penalty, so if possible, it’s advisable to just avoid bad SEO practices altogether.
Improving your search capability
It’s best to seek the advice of a search expert to determine the right strategy for your brand’s website, but it doesn’t hurt to do your research and read up on what each discipline consists of, how it works and when you can expect results.
This allows you to set realistic objectives for both your business and the search team you are working with to improve your search capability, ensuring the work and results are achievable.
A great place to start is to look at your website in its current state and make a list of everything that it doesn’t do right now and what you would like it to do. At this point, its advised to also conduct your own competitor analysis and write down all of the things that you perceive your competitors to be doing with their online presence, that you would also like to achieve.
This can give you an idea of where you may be falling short and where you are making progress. It’s also a great starting point for the search and content professionals you are working with before they begin a deeper dive into your competitor’s activities.
Google uses bots called ‘spiders’ or ‘Google-bots’ to ‘crawl’ the content on your site. Not only does Google look at all the technical aspects of your site such as the layout, the site speed, site security (https) and how you have tagged your assets (meta tags, title tags, alt tags), but they also scan the text you have used to gauge the page topic.
This allows Google to index pages correctly and serve the most relevant content to a user when they begin a search. So, if your page has lots of useful and unique information about a topic, that considers the whole user experience, you are much more likely to rank for a relevant search term.
Know your audience
In order to ensure you are creating content which is engaging you should look into conducting audience research. This will help you determine who visits your website, what they do when they are there, how long they spent on your site and where they leave.
Tools such as Google Analytics are great for sourcing this data alongside offering insights into your audience demographics, including location and age range, alongside how they arrived at your site, to begin with. You can then use all of this information to build a picture of your audience and use this to tailor content to fit their behaviours and meet their needs.
Write for humans
Whether you are creating content yourself or you are outsourcing to a professional copywriter, you should always remember that although you may be writing to try and make the latest algorithm update work in your favour, you are ultimately writing for humans.
Your content might tick all the boxes for Google, but if real-life human prospective customers don’t want to read it or take value from it, then it’s not really a win at all and you’ll quickly see your session duration drop and your bounce rate sore.
Creating content may seem simple from an external perspective, but in reality, it takes research, the resource of a creative professional and the time to ensure that you can truly nail a tone of voice or suitable visuals. It is important to ensure that the final product speaks to your audience and conveys your key message to encourage them to act in the desired way following consumption, whether this is through copy, video, image or audio.
Can you repeat that?
Establishing an understanding of content and the purpose it can serve in nurturing sales growth, attracting prospective customers and ensuring brand visibility is important when sourcing additional support in this field. It allows you to make educated decisions in the types of services you need and those you don’t right now, allowing you to better achieve your objectives and see ROI.