The world of content marketing is incredibly competitive. Just about every company out there has a blog and creates white papers, case studies, ebooks, industry reports, newsletters and so on.
So how can you rise above the clutter and make your business heard? Create quality content with high SEO value.
This is often easier said than done, especially if you have a large content library that isn’t optimized properly. But fear not! There’s still time to optimize your material, both old and new, to help you rank higher on organic searches and attract more attention to your content.
Do the Research
When people use a search engine, they usually have a pretty solid idea of what they’re looking for. Your job as a marketer is to determine what they’re searching for, how it relates to your business and how you can create a content strategy around it.
It all starts with keyword research. What terms are driving people to your site? These should be the core of your optimization plan.
But just any keywords won’t do. You must pick the right ones. Most likely, many of your top keywords will be your brand name or something that just doesn’t make sense to focus your content around. Be willing to dig deeper. Make sure your content is focused on keywords that relate to your business and can work as educational topics.
In addition to keyword research, evaluate your past content. Figure out which pieces are performing the best. Which ones receive the most views, generate the longest time on page and have the lowest bounce rate? These factors can easily be tracked in Google Analytics.
Plan Your Strategy
Once you’ve created a list of your top-performing keywords and content, it’s time to plan your strategy. First, organize your content by category, and find the holes in comparison to your keyword list. Then, plan for new content to fill those gaps. Be sure your planned content isn’t too salesy. Nothing turns visitors off faster than a pitch when they’re just looking for information.
For example, if you sell camera equipment, consider how-to articles or videos, comparisons of different brands and step-by-step tutorials. Keep your content informational and educational. This type of content ranks highest organically, as it’s what most people are looking for.
Also, remember that high-quality content is written for your consumers, not your company. Make it interesting, engaging and easy to read, digest and share. Try to anticipate your audience’s needs, fears and anxieties, and soothe those concerns.
Optimize Your Content
Once you’ve crafted your strategy, it’s time to build your content. Whether it’s a blog post or a landing page to download an ebook, there are a few basic SEO best practices you’ll want to follow.
Titles and <H1> Tags
First and foremost, you must have a great title. Don’t just throw a bunch of keywords together in a title and hope it sticks. Be strategic, and incorporate them in a way that compels a visitor to read on.
Think back to your keyword research. Your <h1> tag is one of the first pieces of data that any search engine uses to rank content organically, so it’s essential to incorporate those top keywords into your titles. Additionally, place the keyword(s) as close to the beginning of the title as possible. If a title gets too long, it will be truncated.
When it comes to the meat of your content, keep your paragraphs short. Two to three sentences is the sweet spot. And it’s easier to digest short chunks of content rather than long-winded ramblings. So keep sentences to less than 20 words as often as possible.
Break up longer pieces of content with subheads (<h2> or <h3> tags) or bulleted lists, which also work especially well when explaining the benefits of a product or service on a landing page.
And as you’re writing, don’t forget about those keywords. Fit them into your content whenever you can, but be sure it feels natural. Google’s organic ranking algorithms have become very smart. Google knows if you’re simply stuffing your content with keywords and will penalize you for it. Using keywords properly is great for SEO, but overusing them to cheat the system is not.
Links & Backlinks
When you include external links in your content, you build authority as an expert and provide additional value to the reader. Additionally, scoring backlinks to your content from other sites will help you move higher up in Google’s rankings.
So how do you get backlinks?
One of the most common methods is guest posting for other blogs. Look for authoritative sites that are interested in guest blogs, and offer to share content. They’ll almost always let you link back to your own content. If you’re partnered with other companies, that’s an easy source of sites.
Another option is social media influencers. Reach out to them, offer them the content and you’d be surprised how many will share it.
You can also sign up for link directories. Some of them are free, some of them cost money. If there’s a free one, make sure it is reputable and not just link-spam.
Some other options include:
- Leveraging your partners to include them on their sites.
- Becoming a member of local organizations that have link directories.
- Writing a press release.
- Pro bono work for charities that offer backlinks.
The meta description is a short paragraph of text that summarizes your content piece. It’s also the text that appears below your URL on a SERP. Though this description is not a ranking factor for search engines, it’s still a crucial component to your content.
Be sure that your keyword(s) appear in the meta description in a natural way. The description will usually appear when people share your content on social, so make it clear and concise. It also needs to be compelling enough that someone will want to click.
These are just a few of the many SEO tactics that can improve your organic ranking. While they’re great for creating new content, they’ll also help you optimize old blog posts and landing pages. The impact won’t be immediate, but you’ll definitely see improvement in the long run.
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