In March 2016, a senior strategist for Google revealed that the top three ranking factors for the search engine were RankBrain, inbound links, and content, without specifying a particular order of importance. While it seems like everything to do with SEO is constantly changing, those top factors have remained constant and are likely to stay that way. RankBrain may seem like a mystical formula that no one can fathom and inbound links are often slightly beyond our influence, but content is something entirely within your ability to control. Because it is, that means it should be a primary focus of your marketing strategies.
Content has been the reigning king of SEO for quite some time, but not all content is created equal – and SEO content today is a far cry from what it was even just a few years ago. Search engines have implemented myriad algorithm changes to refine ranking results that have turned those few years into dog years for mere mortals in terms of where we stand in the SEO food chain. Instead of resigning yourself to the possibility that you will never keep pace with the ever-changing world of search engine optimization, you can take proactive steps to breathe new life (and higher ranking) into your SEO content.
With that in mind, here are four ways you can boost the effectiveness and impact of your content and achieve greater visibility, higher page ranking, and better optimization:
- Keep your headlines, subject lines, page titles, and sub-headers short (preferably under 60 words), and include your top keyword or phrase. While search engines do evaluate those factors and give them some weight in SERPs, they are actually of the most value to searchers themselves. Short and easy to read headlines and titles give someone an at-a-glance indication of whether or not the content may be applicable to their needs, which is especially important for those who are on-the-go using mobile devices. Creating SEO content is not restricted to focusing on just the body of content, but should include diligent efforts to develop effective headlines, titles, and subject lines, as well.
- Use keyword research to choose the right keywords for your content. It is no longer necessary to create SEO content with awkward and awkwardly placed keywords or phrases, because search engines have evolved to generate results for natural language and conversationally phrased queries. This means your chosen keywords or phrases should be selected based on the way someone would use them while engaged in a casual conversation. Local and geo-targeted keywords should be considered necessary for businesses that have a brick-and-mortar location, as well, to enable you to reach consumers who make use of a search engine's 'near me' feature or other location specific options.
- Provide content that focuses on what your target audience is searching for. This is a rather broad point but it basically means you should know what, specifically, your audience wants from you. Put yourself in their shoes. If you were searching for information that would point to your content, would you find it valuable, engaging, and informative? SEO content should strive, above all else, to deliver information that meets a searcher's needs in the most detailed, thorough, and usable way possible. In other words, write for and to your audience – not a search engine.
- Make use of content analytics and auditing tools. There are plenty of applications available today that help you improve the effectiveness of your SEO content. Some of these tools give you the ability to locate and revise content that is lackluster or considered to be too thin for ranking purposes, increase your authority as an expert on a particular topic or in your industry, or restructure content that covers too many topics with too little depth. Other tools give you data about on-page keyword use and density, words and phrases used to find your content, click-through and bounce rates, and a variety of other statistics that can tell you a great deal about how effective your SEO content is at achieving the goals you have set for it.
The items listed here are among the top tips for creating effective and successful SEO content. They are not, however, the only tips you can use to develop content that establishes you as a topical expert, industry authority, or provider of consistently high-value content. It is never a 'one and done' process, so make sure you incorporate a well-developed content creation and content marketing strategy in your agency's overall marketing plans.