So you’ve decided to step up your business’ web presence game, but you aren’t sure whether to focus on improving your SEO or content optimization. The bad news is that you need to do both. SEO is what brings potential customers to your site in the first place, and content optimization is what keeps them coming back. The good news is that SEO and content optimization are becoming harder and harder to differentiate — which means if you do one right, you’ll likely succeed at the other. Here are 10 steps to take when optimizing your web presence.
1. Identify your Keyword(s)
Let’s start off with an old-school SEO practice, keywording. Keywords may not be the search engine powerhouses they once were, but they still play an important role in any content strategy. For example, if you run a pancake shop but your website’s blog doesn’t mention the keyword “pancake” anywhere, then it’s unlikely potential customers will be able to find you. With that said, it’s also important to limit your usage of keywords. Use too many, and your site will be punished by search engines.
But it’s probably going to be pretty hard to rank well for a generic keyword like “pancake.” This is where long-tail keywords come into play. Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases which target potential customers at a later point in the buying cycle. It would likely be much easier to rank high for a more specific search like “best pancakes in Philadelphia.” Long-tail keywords focus more on generating conversions than impressions.
2. Determine the Intent of Searchers
When identifying your keywords you also need to think about who your target audience is and what their intent is when they search specific keywords. Someone who searches “how to make pancakes” isn’t looking for the same information as someone who searches “best pancakes in Philadelphia.” And, the person who searches the former likely isn’t interested in your pancake shop, while the person who searches the latter is.
3. Create Topic Authority
Unfortunately, even if people are finding your website thanks to your keywords, that doesn’t mean they’re sticking around. Blog posts are often entry pages for sites because they’re loaded with keywords. However, they also need to be loaded with relevant and informative content. If I enter your site via a blog post after searching “best pancakes in Philadelphia,” but your article doesn’t answer the questions I have, then I’ll take my business elsewhere. Well optimized content will answer the questions of your readers while also portraying you as an authority on the topic. Don’t just tell me that your pancakes are the best around, tell me why they’re the best around.
It’s also a good idea to expand your content beyond the scope of your keywords. I’m more likely to trust the words of someone who knows all about cooking than someone who only seems to know about pancakes.
4. Produce Long-Form Content
Long-form content is generally viewed as content at least 1,000 words in length. Now, not every piece of content needs to be that long, but it’s important to have at least a few that are. The main reason for this has to do with how search engines like Google attempt to determine relevant and informative content. As far as Google is concerned, longer content includes more information pertaining to the topic, and is therefore better — to an extent.
This doesn’t mean that longer content is always viewed as better by search engines. Some topics don’t require long articles to be fully explained, and adding “fluff” to an otherwise informative article will only hurt you in the long run. But the good news is that if you have a well-developed topic, explain it clearly, and create a sense of authority, you shouldn’t have a problem reaching that 1,000 word benchmark.
5. Write for Humans, not Robots
At this point you may be wondering, “should I be writing for the humans who will read my content or the bots that will index it for the search engines?” That’s a great question, and in the past you probably would have gotten a lot of competing answers. However, today it’s widely agreed upon that you should be writing for humans, not robots. The bots used to crawl websites are getting better and better at spotting what content humans actually want and like to read. So if you write good content for humans, the bots will take notice.
But how do you write good content for humans? Aside from having an interesting and informative topic, here are a few tricks you can use to make your content more appealing:
- Short sentences and paragraphs — These are easier to read, especially for the increasing number of mobile users.
- Plenty of subheadings — It’s important for users to be able to easily skim your article for the information they’re looking for, and subheadings tell them what information is located where. They also serve to break up walls of paragraph text.
- Use images — Images may not be written content, but they’re content nonetheless. Relevant images are powerful tools which shouldn’t be overlooked.
6. Optimize Text and Images for Indexing
I know I just said that you should be crafting your content for humans, not robots, but there are some things you can do to help the bots out too. Using title tags and meta descriptions which are relevant to your topic and include your keyword at the start are surefire ways to improve your search rankings. The same can be done for images with title tags and alt text — the text that shows up when a user hovers over an image. And if you incorporate videos into your content, don’t forget to title and tag those as well!
Sometimes your images or videos that are used within a blog post or other page on your website can actually bring in new customers. Remember your pancake shop? With the help of image titles and alt text, you can have pictures of your signature pancakes appear at the top of search engine pages — before the top 10 web results! They say you shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket, and the same rule applies to content optimization. Make effective use of text, images, and video whenever possible.
7. Improve CTR with Featured Snippets
CTR (click-through rate) is measured by search engine clicks over search engine impressions for your website or webpage. If your article generates 1,000 impressions, and 15 of those impressions result in clicks, then your CTR is 1.5%. But did you know that there’s a way to increase your CTR by jumping past the other websites which rank higher than yours? Meet Google’s featured snippets.
When searching a question on Google, you’ll often find a snippet featured at the top of the results page before the top result. These snippets are taken from one of the results featured on the first page, but not necessarily the top result. This means that even if your site ranks in at #10 — the bottom of the page — you could still be featured in the snippet at the top, thus jumping passed the other nine results. All you need to do is answer the question being asked on Google within your content in a format which Google approves: a short paragraph, a table, or a list. And even if a website ranked above you currently holds the featured snippet, you could snag it from them by putting your information in a preferred format. For example, lists are preferred for recipes over paragraphs or tables.
8. Use Internal Links to Generate Conversions
You’ve successfully attracted new visitors to your blog post, and they seem to be enjoying it. But your blog doesn’t generate income for your company. So how do you turn your readers into customers? With a simple call to action, that’s how. Generally your call to action should be featured in the conclusion of your article and be relevant to the topic at hand. It should also include an internal link to one of your high-conversion pages such as a sign up or contact page. For your pancake shop, a good call to action might say, “come try our delicious pancakes today!” and link to your reservations or locations page.
9. Maintain a Consistent Content Schedule
If content is king, then consistency must be queen. Having a consistent content schedule is extremely important for both your human and robot readers. Whether you produce new content daily, weekly, or monthly is up to you and the industry you’re working in. Your pancake shop, for example, probably won’t benefit from daily content, but biweekly content might be the perfect amount. It’s up to you to determine your content frequency sweet spot.
But why do you need a content schedule in the first place? Depending on your business’ particular industry, your blog posts might actually be the most popular portion of your website. If this is the case, sticking to a schedule will ensure that your readers know when to be on the lookout for new content. Inconsistent schedules are a great way to lose readership. However, even if your business is B2B, not B2C, and doesn’t have many blog readers, new content is still important for the bots which crawl and index your site. Newer content is often prioritized over older content, so keeping a stream of up-to-date articles is key for SEO purposes. Also your website will simply be more appealing to customers if they see it’s updated regularly regardless of whether or not they read the articles.
10. Leverage the Power of Social Media
Last, but not least, we have social media. Sure, social media is something wholly external to your website, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked when developing your content strategy. No matter how good your content is, it’s not fully optimized in today’s world unless it’s easily shareable. While this can be done through your own site with the addition of social sharing buttons, it’s also important to have your own presence on social media. But there are so many social media platforms to choose from, so how do you pick?
Let’s go all the way back to step #2 when the idea of knowing your audience was first brought up. In that context you needed to know what your audience was looking for. Now you’ll need to know who your audience is on a more personal level. Once you’ve figured that out, and taken into account the nature of your business, you can choose which social media sites will work well for you. Your local pancake shop, for example, may not benefit much from Twitter or LinkedIn, but Google My Business, Instagram, and Facebook would be good choices.
As you can see, a lot of work goes into SEO and content optimization. That’s why Media Proper is here to help. Whether you need well-optimized content with some SEO sprinkled on top, or an entirely new website, you can count on us. Our experienced team will work to help your business’ online presence stand out from the competition. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.