May 29, 2015
If you have ever advanced to a high level of a sport or hobby, you might find yourself in an interesting predicament. You go to learn a new trick or skill, and you just can’t seem to get it. You question why it isn’t working for you as you get more and more frustrated. Everything else had come so easy, so why not this?
If you meet with a coach under these circumstances, then you might get some very specific advice. Step back, take a rest, and go back to the basics. It’s the basics that are easy to forget when you’ve advanced to the big league, but yet they are the basis of every higher skill you will ever learn.
Let’s compare that to Internet marketing. After several years in the game, by this point you might consider yourself a content expert. Yet, somehow your efforts still feel stagnant. Maybe you aren’t getting the results you used to get. What should you do?
If you’ve been reading what I’m writing, then you know what I am about to say: go back to the basics. Double check to make sure you haven’t forgot one of those tried and true practices that used to be the backbone of your strategy.
Four Content Optimization Practices to Keep Doing (or Start Doing Now)
Here are four such content optimization skills that you should still be doing.
1. Spiders Aren’t Scary: It’s Good to Work to Please Them.
It’s important to remember how optimization works – or at least to have a working definition. It all starts when search engines send spiders to crawl your content for indexing purposes.
Later, when someone is searching the search engine, the site will have a lists of sites and pages that use the words in the search. Ergo, you get a list of search results. These spiders not only aren’t scary, they are incredibly useful.
If you want to get ranked high, just make sure you please the spiders. While every search engine has its own spider with its own crawling process, there are certain places that you can guarantee the spider is going to pay attention.
While spiders generally start with well-known, popular pages and then move through the links on those pages, they will eventually get to you even if you are not currently top-tier. Spiders likely look first at headlines and meta descriptions, so it is extra important to accurately word these areas.
Once you have the basic idea of how spiders work, you can move on to optimizing your content for them.
2. Keywords are Still Key (Within Reason)
Remember back when you used to pay way more attention to keywords than you should? Go back to that. I mean, don’t spend more time on it than you should, but make sure you are checking it. Creating good keywords is a great way to ensure you are being picked up on Google.
There are many ways you can find good keywords, but since Google is likely to be the major player for the foreseeable future, you might want to focus your keyword optimization for it. That being said, you might want to take advantage of Google Adwords and Google Analytics.
The former is intended to help with a Pay for Click campaign, but if you have an account, you can use it to find keywords for all of your content, not just your ads. Similarly, Analytics allows you to find out what other people are searching for so that you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
(Alternatively, I suppose you could just start typing in phrases to see what Google autofills for you.)
3. Forge a Common Link (Correctly)
Remember when I said that spiders use links to crawl and also that they like popular content? What this should tell you is the importance of including links in your content especially if you are linking to popular, trustworthy sources.
Let’s say you have a blog for your company but the only links you include go back to your site. Google might determine, based on this, that your blog is merely meant to be an advertisement and is not what people are searching for when they are looking for information.
Linking to reliable sources is a good way to show that you are generally trying to help people and that you can back up what you claim with facts. It also lets the search engine know that you are really putting yourself in the market as an expert.
However, even more important than linking to others is to have others link to you. If you can get good quality pages to link to your content, then search engines will think there is a reason these good, quality pages are referencing you.
And to put both of these together, there is some evidence that by linking to others, you are more likely to get linked back to in return.
4. That’s So Meta Tags
You cannot see meta information, so you might forget to put any importance on it. However, this would be a mistake because, while you might forget it, the search engines won’t.
When you write meta tags, you actually get to communicate with the spiders. Think of it like Wilbur teaching Charlotte how to read instead of vice versa. You get to put some messages up on the web that only you and the least-scary arachnid ever get to read.
When you write out your meta title, description, and keywords, you are telling search engines that this is what you want them to get out of your page. Who are you trying to attract? What is the point? You tell it.
There are many ways to create great meta tags. Find a method that works and then turn it into a formula you can consistently use throughout your posts. It just takes a little practice.
Back to the Basics for These Four Little Skills
Sometimes it seems like we know everything already, but when we stop seeing results, it is time to step back, take a breath, and start back at the beginning. When we do this, positive results are almost guaranteed to follow.
Julia Spence-McCoy is the CEO of Express Writers, an online copywriting agency that began in 2011 with thousands of web content pages written to date and more than 50 talented writers on the team. Her passion is copywriting and all that pertains, including the ever-changing game of Google algorithm updates.