Search engine optimization (SEO) forms one of the FOUR key components of content marketing – the other three being relevant and personalized content, social strategy, and user-friendly design/visual content. In an overcrowded world, it takes effective SEO for content to jostle its way to the top of search engine rankings and attract attention.
Keywords are the quintessential of SEO best practices. The churning in the SEO space notwithstanding, content marketers still need to identify the phrase that potential viewers of content would use to search for information and include them in text, preferably in the primary title, within the first 100 words, and the last 100 words. However, unlike before, it is important that such keywords gel in naturally with the text flow, and that it is not overused.
While excessive links turn counterproductive and resembles spam, two or three mindfully placed relevant links, to own blogs or other in-house content, at key points boosts ranking and encourages the viewers to delve in deeper to what the marketer has to say.
The bottom-line on legacy SEO practices is to focus on humans, and not on spiders.
Google Authorship and AuthorRank
A recent development in the search engine land is Google Authorship. Google identifies the author of the content and links to his or her Google+ profile. Using Google Authorship correctly leads to certain search queries displaying the author’s Google+ profile picture and links to the Google+ page directly within the search result. Such rich snippets will increase organic click-through rate, even when the URL is further down the search engine results page (SERP).
Along with Google Authorship, Google might introduce AuthorRank, which allows content written by influential authors to influence the overall SEO value of a Webpage.
Search engines love fresh content. Posting new content at regular intervals not only boosts search engine rankings, but also prompts readers to come back for more. Google assigns a freshness score to new content, and this can influence search rankings considerably.
A 2012 Hubspot study finds six to eight articles a month as optimal for maximum leads and engagement. Make sure that the content management system updates the sitemap.xml files and notifies search engines as soon as new content is published.
Most marketers post their content in the social media to ensure a wider reach, but the importance of social shares in boosting SEO cannot be emphasized enough. Posting the content in the social media offers valuable links back to the website, and the more the number of clicks, better the search engine rankings.
Make sure to share content on as many relevant social media channels as possible, and encourage viewers to share with their friends. An RSS feed on the blog and other websites allows easy link back of content. Make sure to leverage relevant hashtags on Twitter when sharing, to extend reach.
Images and Videos
Apart from making the content visually more appealing, properly tagged pictures offer extra keyword power. Google lists a strip of images separately at the top even on its “web” searches and the probability of a good piece of content finding its place there is higher than the probability of the same content listing in the first page of the web search.
Search engines regard images with favor for good reasons. In today’s busy lifestyle, people prefer “on the go” content that they can consume quickly from their mobile phones. Infographics and other images fit the bill perfectly.
Videos offer the same benefits as images, and have an even deeper and powerful impact on the viewer. Not only are videos extra keywords assets, it also helps to get a strong space in YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world.
Content marketers looking to develop a coherent SEO strategy would do well to remember that SEO best practices are not set in stone. Search engines change their algorithms frequently, and what worked a few years ago are actually counter-productive now.