Since Google implemented one algorithm update after another, high-quality content has become even more important. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should forget about creating content for SEO. The quality of your content and your SEO tactics should now go hand-in-hand for you to achieve online marketing success. After all, your content won’t do you any good regardless of how relevant and interesting it is if it isn’t properly optimized.
Think about it: Your content may be the best of its kind, but if it stays on the second or third page of Google’s search results, will your target audience ever find it?
Here are some of the reasons why SEO still dictates the success of your content marketing efforts:
Okay, you have content that’s well-written and covers a topic many people belonging to your target market are currently talking about. That should be enough to ensure success, right? Well, not really. In order for your content to reach its full potential as an online marketing tool, you’ll have to make sure it reaches its intended audience. Of course, among the best ways to do this is to get it on the first page of search results.
This is where keywords enter the picture. You probably know that keyword research is an integral part of SEO. Now, you may think keywords are no longer useful since Google has started penalizing sites with keyword-rich content. Note, however, that Google only penalizes those who stuff their content with keywords and take quality for granted. What we suggest, on the other hand, is for you to identify the keywords most likely to be used by your target audience and then use those keywords wisely in the content you publish.
Let’s say you’re drafting a 100-word article, for example. You don’t have to insert the keyword you’re targeting in every paragraph of the article. In fact, you shouldn’t! Google will definitely see that as a red flag. What you should do instead, is insert the keyword no more than three times in the article and make sure it is used such that the article still flows naturally.
Effective SEO tactics make your high-quality content more accessible to your target audience. When you start building a business website, you likely strive to fill it with relevant and interesting content. In time, though, your website will likely have so many pages that it becomes difficult for visitors to get to the information they’re looking for. Again, you need to bear in mind that no matter how good your content is, it won’t do you any good if your target audience doesn’t have easy access to it.
SEO offers a couple of excellent solutions to the problem of access. First, you can design your site such that navigating between pages is easy enough (a maximum of three clicks to get to any page on the site). Second, you could cross-link the pages that contain related content so visitors can easily get more information about a particular topic if they wish. Making your site architecture attractive to visitors is one task SEO specialists do that can help ensure the success of your content marketing campaign.
SEO specialists are always on the lookout for new trends and industry updates simply because SEO (and online marketing in general) is dynamic and you cannot hope to succeed unless you keep up with the developments and trends. You plan for the present with the future in mind. Take the use of mobile devices, for example. If you’re keeping an eye on technology trends, you’ll know that more and more people will be using mobile devices to access information on the Internet.
Considering this, you have to start creating content for the mobile user. Incorporate content pieces into your content marketing strategies that people can consume on the go. You need to bring your content to the places where your target audience usually converge and right now, the trend is to access the Internet on mobile devices. Therefore, make your content available to mobile platforms.
This is something SEO specialists are good at: Checking out trends and determining where you should bring your content.
At this point you should know why SEO still dictates, in large part, the success or failure of your content marketing strategy. The above discussion has probably also helped you understand why content marketing and SEO need to go hand-in-hand.
Now, here are some SEO tactics to make sure the content you publish connects positively not just with its intended audience but with search engines as well:
1. Target Keywords According to Search Intent
Remember Hummingbird? Yes, we are talking about the Google update that’s said to be the biggest Google has implemented so far. This update has changed the search landscape. Google is now better able to understand the intent behind a search. In the past, the search engine took each word in a search term and pulled up results based on those individual words. With Hummingbird, Google is now able to understand the relationship between each word in the search term and therefore come up with more relevant results.
When you target keywords in your content, therefore, it’s a good idea to also think in terms of search intent. Your key terms must be integrated into the body of the content, the title, the Meta information, and the page URL in a natural and conversational way. Long-tail keywords are now more useful, as it has become easier for Google to determine search intent.
2. Design Your Website to Be More Responsive
As mentioned earlier, more and more people are accessing the Internet on mobile devices. This is why it’s important for you to make sure your website is easily accessible on all types of mobile device. Of course, we’re not saying you should ditch your existing website and develop an entirely new site for mobile use.
What we are suggesting is for you to make your website more responsive by making some adjustments on the design. At the same time, you should design your content for easy viewing on mobile screens (read: smaller screens) and optimize your site for mobile search. Some business owners have chosen to create a separate version of their website for mobile search. This strategy, however, could divide page rank between the desktop and mobile versions of your site.
Making your website more responsive means taking into account such things as page load time (people DO NOT appreciate having to wait too long for a page to load), formatting and structure, content length, image/video processing, and voice search. Simply put, you need to make sure site visitors have a positive site experience regardless of the device they use to access your site.
3. Get High-Quality Inbound Links
It’s logical to believe that high-quality content will earn links of excellent quality as well. However, this doesn’t mean you should just wait for those links to come. There are ways you can get inbound links without getting flagged by Google. Reciprocal linking, for one, is still being successfully practiced by SEO experts. The key is to make sure your links all come from authority sites, since these links are generally regarded by search engines as a vote of confidence for your site. If the “votes” come from authority sites, then your site will likely be seen in a favorable light.
4. Use Google Authorship
You’ve probably noticed how Google’s search results now tend to rank links accompanied by author photos higher than others. This shows that those who leverage Google Authorship stand a better chance of getting good rankings on SERPs. The reason for this is that Authorship allows search engines to gauge your online presence and social influence, and incorporate those data into your rankings. When you create high-quality content and leverage Authorship at the same time, you significantly increase your chances of achieving high SERP rankings.
5. Leverage Social Signals
Bing takes social signals such as shares and Likes into account when it ranks content. If you constantly engage your social media audience, therefore, Bing will see your level of engagement as a sign of your authority and the high quality of your content. This is why it definitely pays for you to make it easy for your site visitors to share your content on social platforms. Place social sharing buttons on strategic areas of your web pages for this purpose. Although social signals currently aren’t factored into Google’s ranking algorithms, they’re expected to become more influential in the future.
The fact that high-quality content has become increasingly important doesn’t mean SEO is no longer necessary. Bear in mind that SEO and content marketing aren’t mutually exclusive online activities and shouldn’t be treated as such. You need to make them work well together for you to truly achieve online marketing success.