I keep hearing about the need to write quality content to improve your search rankings and generally improve your SEO. Why wouldn't you want to write quality content in the first place? Last month, I discussed what a good time it is to revisit your website and give it a tune up to make sure it's optimized and working for you to help generate revenue in 2015. This month, let's discuss optimizing your content to reflect the new realities of what good content looks like.
New SEO Rules Emphasize Quality Content
I've written a lot about SEO and changes to SEO over the past several years. SEO techniques include those practices that web content writers use to boost the chances their website or blog will be easily found by searchers. Over the past couple of years we've seen a shift away from the focus on including specific keywords in our content.
Keywords used to rule the search engines, so our SEO focused on the use of specific keywords in the content we wrote and the websites we built. Then Google shifted its focus to what people are looking for when they enter search terms in a search engine. Google set out to match information seekers with the best possible search results to their particular query. And the most efficient way to do this is to focus on content.
As people got used to researching everything from lawyers to recipes on the web, they stopped using single keywords and began using phrases, such as "South Broadway accountant" or "attorney IRS experience." These phrases are called Long-Tail Keywords. Google responded in kind by demanding that business websites provide more detailed information about what they actually do; in other words, put out the information their clients and prospects need, and more importantly, are actually searching for. Of course, this also helped the search robots determine what a business does for indexing purposes.
Though many marketers and CEOs are focused on search engine ranking when determining ROI, there are other things that should be looked at if you are serious about optimizing your website or blog. Here are just a couple suggestions:
- Analytics, which graphically show what keywords and phrases work and don't work, and where your visitors are coming from. What keywords and keyword phrases are working for you? Once you know this you can adjust your content accordingly. It's good to know what keywords are NOT working for you too.
- Social media marketing and whether it is working to drive traffic to your website. Check the analytics on this too. If we're pushing out quality content on our social media sites, then it should be driving traffic to our website and blog. Here, we have to consider that content we push out on social media should focus, in part, on when the client has time to read the content.
Search Engines are Just Tools
Writers must now focus on content that meets what people are looking for, rather than what they think search engines are looking for. Google's algorithm looks at over 200 signals to decide which of the millions for pages and content are the most relevant answers for that query. These signals include content freshness, quality, the number of other websites linking to a particular site and the authority of those links, words on the webpage, and relevance to the search query. Results are ranked by relevance and displayed on the search results page.
Keywords are still part of search, but keep them at a minimum, at 5% or less of the entire content. Put a couple of them in the title and sub headers. Use keyword density checkers like SEOBook to help determine how you are doing.
Check your backlinks, which are the links to your site and make sure they are from quality sites that have authority. It used to be that people would buy backlinks to their sites in an attempt to get higher Google rankings. Google shut down these kind of black hat practices. Now the focus is on high quality backlinks that add value to your website.
Certainly, writers can learn tricks to make content more visible to search engines. Here are three important ones:
- Give page URLs titles that reflect the topic.
- Label graphics with a name that makes sense to readers and have captions that are relevant to the content.
- Make sure graphics are properly sized so that search engines will see them.
- Put a keyword or keyword phrase in your title and in the first 75 characters of your text.
We'll never know everything we can do to improve our website. The Google algorithm secret is one of the most guarded secrets in the world. We can continue to read everything we can find on the topic and try to glean tidbits of helpful information. It's a tough road to hoe. So, why not just focus on putting out the highest quality content you can, and let the SEO chips fall where they may? It's really your target audience you want to please anyway. Isn't it?