Have you ever spent hours crafting a fantastic blog post that then results in less than impressive analytics? That’s probably because you didn’t add Search Engine Optimization to your tick list for creating high ranking content.
With every business on the planet now making their presence on the web a priority, spending time and effort on your SEO is as, if not more, important than the actual content creation itself. It’s estimated that Google processes over 70,000 search queries a second, if you want your potential customers to find your content and your website then you need to outrank your competitors on search engines.
No matter how brilliant your idea, your words or your visuals – you’re only going to get organic exposure with great SEO. Low exposure means fewer opportunities to be seen, to encourage interest in your proposition, to generate leads and in the end, less revenue.
What are the SEO must-do’s that will help my content get discovered?
1. Do your keyword research
Don’t start writing any content until you’ve carried out this first important step. Keyword research provides valuable insight into the queries that your target audience is actually searching for online. If you include these keywords and terms in your content, it’s likely you will gain more traffic.
2. Don’t just go for the high-volume keywords
It would seem obvious to just include the most high-volume keywords in your content but it’s also important to include some that span an entire buyer’s journey and that may include some lower-volume options. As well as this, it is unlikely you will be able to compete with other organisations targeting those keywords, either because they are paying for it, or they already rank well for them.
Use the initial search terms that your intended buyer will include but then also consider something more specific such as:
Use ‘action words’ like ‘buy, offer, find’
Include ‘how, why, where, what’. Turn your keywords into questions in your content that might be asked by the researcher.
Use ‘location words’ such as ‘near, close to, by’ or name specific locations if relevant
Use ‘describing words’ such as ‘best, biggest, most’
These are just a few examples of terms they may include as part of their research before making their final purchase decision. Experimenting with this strategy may boost your overall results.
3. Consider your headings
These are the first flags that will help Google (and other search engines) understand your content. Carefully consider the words you use in your H1, does it include your keywords – the terms your target audience might be using to search? Will your H2s, H3s and H4s help Google’s web crawlers understand your content, do they also include some keywords? Have you broken up your piece with enough subheadings?
4. Make your Meta description magic
Those boxes at the end of your content when you upload your blog post are very important, starting with the Meta description. This is another area that search engines crawl to determine the relevance and usefulness of your post.
They are also important to the web browser as they are the descriptions you see underneath the title in a Google result page and are scanned by the reader to determine whether to go on and click through.
If you upload a link to your blog on a social platform, they’re often the content a social media platform or scheduling tool will pull in to use as a description under the image. If the words aren’t compelling, then you’re unlikely to get any clicks through from social.
Meta descriptions should be
Short, snappy, relevant and engaging
Contain one to two main keywords
Stand out from the rest
Compliment, and a repeat of, the blog title
5. Try to get included on Featured Snippets
The new kid on the blog when it comes to SEO, featured snippets are the complete answers to a web browser’s query that Google displays on page one of the search results. Google chooses to take the complete answer from one website and that domain is then listed under the 3–4-line snippet.
To get ranked for Features Snippets
Create posts that answer specific questions users have
Make sure your content has a direct relationship to the keywords
Get coding: clean and specific content will help you win the snippets game
6. Don’t forget to add alt text to images
It’s not just the words that get scanned by Google, it’s also images. Alt text describes what’s in your image and helps Google understand what’s in your post.
Your alt text should
Align the image with your blog post
Describe the content of the image and blog post in general
Contain some of your keywords
7. Discover the value of links
Google loves a well-connected piece of content, especially if those links are to well respected websites that are already noticed by Google. It’s easy to include links to external websites by adding quotes from industry experts, stats from research organisations, links to eBooks – always remember to add the most relevant link and quote the source.
Also link back to other content on your own website placing the links on key ‘anchor’ text. Google and readers love a ‘Read More’ section.
8. Make your content unmissable
When it comes to creating content that wins the rankings game it’s not just about getting reads, it’s also about getting backlinks. The more compelling and useful the content you produce, the more often someone will share a link to it on their social media or add a link to it on their own website. Becoming a respected industry expert in your field is a great way to encourage others to link to your content.
9. Consider both Quality and Quantity when it comes to your Google rankings
Quality: Google looks at how long visitors are spending on your site. The key to keeping readers engaged is producing great content. There is no point creating content that includes all of your target audiences’ key search terms if the actual piece is dull and is going to encourage them to navigate away within a matter of seconds. Aim to answer your audiences’ questions, give them solutions, entertain them, offer them something they can’t refuse.
Quantity: Google, and readers, like frequently updated, relevant content. Make sure you regularly update not only your blog, but every page on your website, to help its rankings.
10. Don’t let image load times become a turn off
The fastest way to encourage visitors to navigate away from your website is if it doesn’t function properly. In the era of super-fast broadband, web visitors don’t have the patient for a page that doesn’t fully load in a nano second. Google also doesn’t look favourably on websites that don’t function properly. Use a tool such as tinyjpg.com to reduce the size of your images and decrease load time. Head over to Google’s PageSpeed site for a free analysis and recommendations.
11. Make use of old, high-performing content
When you look at your analytics you may find blog posts from months, if not years ago, that still get great page views. These are gold when it comes to SEO as Google have already ranked them as popular content. Refreshing and republishing these pieces as almost new blog posts will build upon their past value and success.
12. Use Google’s own tools
Help your rankings by helping Google find and categorise your business. Use Google’s own tool like Google My Business, Google Maps and Google Verification. It will take a matter of minutes, but you should quickly see results.
13. Use more Calls to Action
Remember the ultimate goal of any content strategy is to drive visitors to your website and your proposition. Make sure that every piece of content you create includes a great CTA. Every page on your website is an opportunity to convert and every Call to Action should align with the reason your web visitor chose to visit that page in the first place.
It’s important to remember that SEO is ever evolving and changing, sticking with just the same few tricks and tools is never going to help you overcome the SEO challenge. Keep researching, learning, and putting into place new tactics and you’re likely to keep your organic content at the top of the rankings.