Many people have said SEO is dead. This claim, however, has been proven false several times. SEO is far from dead, although it has changed so much in recent years that the SEO people used to know is indeed practically dead. If you’re an online marketer worth your salt, you’ll know that SEO is just as important as ever for attaining online success. You simply need to learn how it works in this day and age, and what you can do to keep up with the changes.
To the uninitiated, the SEO of today may seem too complicated and it may seem like there are too many rules to keep in mind. The truth is that there is a simple science behind SEO and once you learn that science, everything else becomes easier to understand and implement. Simply put, search engines offer high rankings to web pages that contain the right combination of elements or ranking factors. Therefore, the SEO of today is about making sure your web content has all the right elements and sends all the right signals.
You may also have heard that content marketing is now more important than SEO. This isn’t necessarily true. Yes, high-quality content is important for attaining online marketing success, but that doesn’t mean you should focus primarily on content and just let your SEO suffer. Rather, you need to make sure your content marketing and SEO strategies work well together. You don’t have to choose between content marketing and SEO; you need to make them work hand-in-hand.
High-quality content is, in fact, one of the most important SEO elements of a company website. Your SEO strategy cannot succeed without it. In the same way, you cannot achieve complete success with your content marketing strategy unless your content is optimized, which means other SEO elements are also essential to the success of your content marketing campaign. What other elements are we talking about? Here are the ones you really need to take into consideration:
1. Targeted Keywords
Keyword stuffing is a thing of the past. That much should be made clear. But this doesn’t mean keywords are no longer useful. They are, and they probably always will be. You just need to use them sparingly and in a manner that makes them a natural part of your content’s narrative. Let’s say, for example, that you want to rank for the term “skincare products.” You can incorporate the term into an article about protecting your skin from the heat of the summer sun, but using it five times in each paragraph really isn’t the way to do it.
As a general rule, you need to make sure each piece of content you post has a keyword density of less than 5.5% in order to avoid being deemed guilty of keyword stuffing and getting penalized by Google and other search engines. Keyword density is the ratio of your chosen keyword to the rest of the content. The longer your content is, therefore, the more frequently you can use your targeted keyword.
Now, how do you know which particular keywords to target? The best way to start is by putting yourself in your target audience’s shoes and carefully reflecting on what words they’re likely to use when they conduct online searches related to what you have to offer. You may then use keyword planning tools such as Google webmaster tools, Ubersuggest, and Raven Tools keyword manager to determine which of the keywords on your list have high search volume.
2. Keyword Variants
Online marketers have noticed that Google has recently started to show appreciation for the use of keyword variants. Going back to our earlier example, let’s say you’re targeting the keyword “skincare products.” It would also be a good idea to use such terms as “products for skincare” and “skincare items.” Google is increasingly rewarding the use of keyword variants probably because it helps you avoid keyword stuffing. When you use several variations of your targeted keyword, you are able to tell search engines and your audience alike what the content is all about without exhaustively repeating your keyword.
3. First Hundred Words
Of course, every piece of content you publish has to be relevant, entertaining, and filled with useful information. But the first 100-200 words of each piece of content you post are especially important because they can cause readers to either stay on the page and read the rest of the content or exit from the page and go to another site. It can also cause search engines to either index your page or ignore it.
It is therefore a good idea to use your targeted keyword as early in the article as possible and to phrase the first 100-200 words such that they immediately tell readers and search engines alike what the rest of the content is all about. These first few words are the make-or-break words of your content, so to speak.
There are generally two things you need to accomplish where the title of your content is concerned: It has to be catchy enough to grab the attention of your target audience and it has to be concise enough for search engines to display completely on SERPs. To accomplish the first, you have to be creative and you have to do some research to determine the kind of language your target audience uses online; that is likely the kind of language that’ll catch their attention as well.
To accomplish the second, you need to limit your titles to 55 characters or fewer. It is also advisable to include your targeted keyword in the title, preferably towards the front. When a user types your targeted keyword in the search box, he’ll be more likely to click on your link if the title reflects the exact words he was searching for. People are also more likely to link to your content when the title reflects the keywords they’re looking for.
Use a variety of headlines, known among SEO practitioners as H1, H2, and H3 tags, to organize your content and let search engines know what your content is all about. Note that your H1 tag should be found just once on the particular web page where you place it. You may, however, have two or more H2 and H3 tags on the page. And just like in the title, your targeted keyword should be present in your headline tags because these are among the places from where Google and other search engines pick up keywords.
6. Meta Description
It’s true that one of the main goals of SEO is to get good SERP rankings. But that’s not all there is to SEO. The manner in which your content is presented in search results is also important. This is where a Meta description serves a very important role. This description is a snippet displayed just below the title of your content as it appears on SERPs. It can influence a person’s decision as to whether he clicks on your link or not.
It is generally advisable to keep Meta descriptions at 160 characters or less, so it can be read in full by anyone conducting an online search for something related to what you’re offering. And while it still isn’t clear whether the presence of targeted keywords in the Meta description affects ranking, it certainly wouldn’t hurt for you to include your keyword there as well.
7. Link-building Strategy
Links have always been part of SEO. And it is among the things mostly affected by the recent changes in the SEO landscape. In the past, many have gotten away with buying links and earning links through such tactics as blog commenting and reciprocal linking. These days, however, those tactics will likely only do more harm than good.
If you want to earn links that Google won’t tag as unnatural or spam or penalty-worthy for whatever reason, one of the best things you can do is make sure your content is shareable. Start by establishing a social presence. Set up accounts on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as niche-related social networking sites. Share your content on your social media pages and make sure Share buttons are place conspicuously on your web pages.
It is also a good idea to establish authority by letting Google know you’re connected with other authority pages. You can do this by linking out to relevant content and linking to naturally relevant anchor text. It also helps for you to link to relevant pages within your site.
Aside from taking the above elements into careful consideration, you should also remember to keep your content fresh. This means posting new content on a regular basis and making sure each piece of content you post is relevant and up-to-date. Search engines and humans alike love fresh content, so this is definitely something you need to focus on. When you learn to make content and SEO effectively work hand-in-hand, that’s when you can truly look forward to a hugely successful online marketing campaign.