Search engine optimization used to mean adding keywords every chance you could. Once everyone caught on, though, the black-hat players took advantage and outranked quality content. Google has changed its algorithm several times to reward good content and punish bad, but some site owners--and writers-- have struggled with that as well.
You might be frustrated that the rules of SEO have changed yet again, but these changes will actually help your client's site - if you know how to navigate them. Here's a quick reminder of what content needs to be an SEO success.
Develop a Strategy
It's OK to jot down random ideas when you're brainstorming, but not when you're writing content. You should never create a blog or infographic just for the sake of creating content. Instead, develop a content strategy and always know what you'll write.
The specifics vary from one site to another, but every strategy should include:
- Objectives: What do you want your content to accomplish?
- Scope: What kinds of topics will be covered? What tone and voice will it use?
- Calendar: When will certain topics be covered? How often will you post new content?
- Measurement: How will you know if content is meeting your goals? How can you improve it for better results?
Create a set of rules for your content and you'll reach audiences with high-quality content every time.
Write for People, Not Search Engines
As with all products or services, content is most successful when it meets customer needs. The search engines didn't always use this to rank pages, though. Now that they are, stop developing content the engines like and start writing what potential readers want.
Whatever you write about, make sure it hits the following marks:
- Relevance: Write about what matters to the people you want to reach.
- Value: Offer information readers can use, including next steps and calls to action.
- Clarity: Avoid jargon and write short, clear sentences in a language readers will quickly grasp.
- Good Editing: Edit and proofread content to remove confusing phrases, misspelled words and bad grammar.
Create the most valuable content possible because under these new SEO rules, good trumps bad every time.
Make Content Shareable
Search engine marketing and social media marketing used to be two separate things. Nowadays, the two are inextricably linked. Upping social media activity is a great way to boost search engine rankings, and that means making content easy to share with social networks.
Your SEO efforts are more effective when you:
- Write a succinct title that generates excitement.
- Keep content short and sweet.
- Put Share buttons in a prominent place.
- Ask readers to share or retweet your piece.
As more people share your content, you'll see your web pages ranking higher and higher.
Stop Obsessing Over Keywords
Remember when all you had to do to rank high was stuff keywords throughout your content? Thankfully, those days are gone. Bad players started abusing this policy, which led to a lot of crappy content reaching the top of the list. Keep using keywords, but focus on quality, not quantity.
To get the most out of each keyword, you need to:
- Write long-tail and descriptive key phrases.
- Use phrases that match reader searches.
- Place keywords in prime real estate like titles and metatags
- Eliminate monotony by using keyword variations.
Good SEO marketers know that keywords should be built around content, not the other way around.
Words and pictures aren't mutually exclusive. If anything, a few visual enhancements can make written content even more compelling. Consider adding them to make your content more valuable - and help it rank higher.
Visual elements enhance content in lots of ways:
- Infographics make complex information easier to digest
- Company logos and taglines reinforce brand identity
- Videos and photos are easily absorbed and quickly spread across social media;
- Brightly-colored buttons make calls to action more noticeable
If the right word can capture a reader's attention, the right visual can do a thousand times more.
SEO has changed a lot, and it'll probably change several times more. As long as you follow a few basic rules, including the ones above, your content will come out on top.