There used to be a time when all you had to do to rank well in search engines was write boring content stuffed full of keywords.
But things have gotten quite a bit different. Search engines, especially Google, have gotten much more sophisticated in how they rank content. For marketers and those that create content, this has caused things to become much more exciting in how you create and market that content. SEO practices have become more precise, dynamic, and more relevant than ever before.
Content is so much more than just the words that are written on your web page. It encompasses every part of your website, and thus Google takes every part of your website into account when determining ranking power. Bill Ross, CEO Linchpin SEO
But that’s not to say it’s become easy. Creating great content requires some planning, strategies, and some good old-fashioned talent.
The Changing Nature of SEO
While you may know the fundamentals of good SEO, there’s still a lot you need to follow regularly to keep your skills and your content strategies relevant. More so than any other technology or discipline, SEO changes fast. And if you don’t keep up, it will affect your content negatively.
The changes that happen in the SEO world is owed to the ever-changing nature of Google’s algorithms. But there’s also the factor of users who are increasingly savvier and more picky about the kind of content they’re consuming. This has resulted in an increased focus on content creators to make content that’s relevant and valuable to their users rather than stuffing a mediocre article with a long list of keywords.
And so, while SEO is a prickly beast to master with its ever-adapting nature, it’s important that you stay up to speed and relevant with changes, and evolve your content strategies accordingly. With that said, here are 10 tips you can use to ensure your content meets the stringent criteria your users and the search engines demand.
1. Write and Optimize Quality Meta Content
A lot of marketers don’t focus too much on meta content. This is a huge mistake. You can think of meta content is sort of a free PPC plug on Google. When writing this content, there are a few things you want to keep in mind:
Hit Your Character Limit
First and foremost, write to your character limit to get the most from your meta descriptions. You don’t want to exceed the limit by much nor do you want to come in under the limit. Reach your limit and then stop.
Google recently changed its rules on meta descriptions. They’ve increased the limit on title tags to 71 characters and increased the limit on meta descriptions to 100 characters per line. So now you have extra character space where you can fit in an extra keyword or two or maybe your address or phone number if you’re targeting locally.
Don’t Describe Your Content
When you’re writing your meta descriptions, you want to write with the intent to sell. Don’t describe your content. You want to write a short blurb that will make people stop and consume your content. This blurb could be the only thing a user sees before they make the decision on whether or not to read it. You want to grab their attention and pull them in.
2. Create Content for Users
Beyond any single thing you can do to improve your rankings, this one is the most critical. Always create content for users, not for search engines. As was stated earlier in this article, search engine algorithms have gotten increasingly more sophisticated, and their primary focus is to provide users with content that is engaging and relevant. No matter how much you invest in your content, if your users don’t find value in it, they’re going to back out of your sales funnel and you’ll have lost their business.
3. Make Your Content Useful
This tip is related to the one above. And while telling someone to make useful content might seem like a silly tip, it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of creating content that provides value and engagement to your users and potential customers.
If you intend on ranking in the SERPs, you need to make useful content that people will actually want to consume and engage with. Your content needs to provide something of value, whether it’s offering advice, answering a question, solving a problem, or simply entertaining your readers. This is the difference between them staying engaged with your content or moving on down the line to one of your competitors.
4. Learn to Be a Storyteller
Whether you’re making a video, making a podcast, or writing a blog post, the most important skill you can cultivate is being able to tell a story. Creating a compelling story will keep your audience captivated and engaged, and when users stay engaged with your content, you move up in rankings.
Going forward, the art and skill of storytelling will be what differentiates mediocre content from truly great content. Stories are everywhere, and if you aren’t telling one that’s better than your competitors, you’re going to lose your audience. Because after everything is leveled out in the technical spectrum, the only thing that’s left to improve on is your story.
A practice that you should abandon is one of writing your link text as “click here” or “read more.” If you’re still doing this, you’re passing up a very powerful SEO strategy.
Instead, write sentences for your links that are relevant to what you’re saying. Give your links context based on what you’re linking to. You want your links to be descriptive and relevant to what they’re linking out to, whether it’s linking to your own content or to another person’s. This will give you a significant boost in your SEO rankings.
6. Invest in Quality Visuals
While you should obviously be breaking up your content with things like images and videos, it’s important that you invest in creating quality visual content that’s interactive. This will engage your users more and make them more likely to keep clicking through and consuming your content.
For example, consider you want to share a Facebook post in an article you’re writing. Instead of taking a screenshot of the post, add the post to your article via code. This will make it interactive and live, giving your site improved user experience and making it less static.
7. Write Captivating Headlines
There are theories that the more clicks a piece of content gets, the more Google moves it up in rankings on the SERP. But if your content doesn’t have a captivating title that stands out amongst the crowd, your content isn’t going to get clicks. Which means it won’t get ranked. So if you want to get ranked, work on crafting captivating headlines that draw readers in and make them click your link. By honing this skill alone, you can drastically increase your click-through rate.
8. Make a Sitemap
Creating an accurate sitemap of your site and all its content is a very simple yet efficient way to help rank in search engines. Google uses site maps to organize, categorize, and rank your content, so be sure you create one and upload it.
9. Make Your Site Responsive
Making your site responsive to help with rankings has been at the forefront of a solid SEO game for several years now. But it’s such a critical aspect that it’s worth listing here. Google recently made its mobile rankings carry even more weight than what they did before, so it’s more imperative than ever before that your site is responsive and works well on mobile devices.
10. Don’t Stuff Keywords
Last but certainly not least is a practice that should have died out a long time ago but still persists. Keyword stuffing is something that Google’s — and other search engines — algorithms will actually lower your rankings if you attempt to stuff keywords. In fact, if you go beyond three percent density with keywords, it will start to affect you negatively. It’s better to figure out your relevant keywords and then creating quality content around those specific keywords.
Keeping Your Content Sharp
SEO changes all the time. As such, a good marketer and content creator needs to be on top of their game and readily able to adapt if they want to keep seeing results. When you practice your methods and refine your approach, it ensures that your content is easily found. And if you follow these tips, your content will be valuable, rank well, and keep your audience engaged with what you have to offer and with your brand. And that’s the whole point of making great content.