In Part One of this post, we went over the basic SEO boxes your website needs to tick. Think of these as the very bare minimum that your website must do methodically and consistently in order for Google to rank your site. Ironically, many so-called “SEO specialists” stop here, and a basic website build often (alarmingly) may not even include all of them.
But to leapfrog from SEO circa the 2000s to SEO today, the “bare minimum” is not enough.
So once you’ve ticked your boxes there are a few more magic ingredients, and it starts with this:
Content marketing is the future of SEO.
Google’s algorithms have become far more sophisticated than when SEO first become a buzzword. Today Google recognises your site’s relevance not just by what is on your website but by how (real) people engage with it. It measures how long people spend on a page, how they navigate from one page to another on your site (or not) and what they do with your content. Beyond how many other people and websites link back to your site and share links to it, they’re interested in the “clout” of those who share your content and the quality of your visitors and their level of engagement.
Search engines are getting better at knowing which content was created to game the ever-changing algorithm versus what content humans actually trust. In order for content to get downloaded, linked to, bookmarked or shared, it has to satisfy a human need. Above all else, your content has to provide value to people.
This is where content marketing comes in, which goes hand in hand with social media marketing. Some of your options here are:
- Creating a blog or news section on your site about your work and industry; content your customers or potential clients will find valuable and interesting
- Putting out a regular newsletter to promote your content on a weekly or monthly basis potentially integrated with your latest products or work
- Disseminating this content on social media in different and intriguing ways, tailored for each specific platform
- Increasing your social media presence by posting more regularly with content not necessarily hosted on your site (while this falls into content marketing, this is more about brand building than SEO).
- Using ads to promote your content, such as Facebook promoted posts or Google ads, to extend your reach beyond your existing base and to target specific demographics or keyword searches
Quality owned content for your website such as a blog is the most important form of content marketing for SEO.
According to Contently’s most recent ebook on SEO, “Google has handed marketers a clear mission [with its latest update]: Produce smart, user-focused content, or be condemned to search engine purgatory.”
Ultimately, what’s good for users is good for Google.
“You need to provide content so great that people will want to not only read it but also bookmark it, share it, and tell their friends about it. Your content should be so detailed and helpful that no competitor would dare to copy you as it would take too much time and energy,” says Quicksprout writer and online marketer Neil Patel in his article “Why linking-building is NOT the future of SEO“.
As Patel explains, the engagement metrics Google uses in ranking your web page include click-through rate, bounce rate and time on site. So if people are truly interested in your content and spending time reading it, and clicking through to other content on your site, Google will prioritise it over other content.
The more content pages you have on your website – particularly new and regular content like a blog or news feed – that is relevant to people’s search terms, the more chance you have of showing up higher on Google (known as a higher SEO ranking). Simply, more content = more indexed pages.
But, and crucially, quality over quantity wins. One page with high traffic and engagement is better than many that no one visits, so always focus on high-quality content.
“Crafting fulfilling, thorough content that addresses searchers’ needs improves your chance to earn top rankings. […] Creativity, high-quality writing, use of examples, and inclusion of images and multimedia can all help in crafting content that perfectly matches a searcher’s goals. Your reward is satisfied searchers who demonstrate their positive experience through engagement with your site or with links to it,” says Fishkin.
Long-form content is also proving to be increasingly more successful online than short, both in terms of visits and back links.
And don’t forget about long-tail SEO. While your generic keywords are important, niche searches are just as valuable and often speak to a more interested user, the ideal candidate to convert to your loyal customer, client or reader.
“Say you are in the organic juice business. Searches for ‘weeklong organic green juice cleanse’ may be a term lesser in overall search volume [than, say, ‘green juice’] but greater in sales for your product if you can rank high through strategic SEO with this phrasing. At that point the client knows what they want (and are likely willing to pay for it).”
This speaks again to the power of quality, well-written, properly researched content. If you’re going to be investing in content marketing, make sure your offering is completely unique and better than anything else you can find on the web on that topic.
Having other sites linking to your site is also good for SEO as it shows Google your site is relevant and influential, in particular where the links come from sites with a good reputation and a lot of traffic. This is the off-site SEO we mentioned in Part One and the next part of this series on SEO will deal with that.
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