January 16, 2017
The New Year is a time of resolutions and commitments to changing behavior and getting better. If you’re like most content creators, it’s likely you want to use 2017 to make your content better and enjoy a higher ROI from the material you develop.
One of the best ways to do this is by improving the SEO practices you use in your digital content. Here are 10 top tips from influencers around the country (and some from our own pockets) on how to improve the SEO value of your online content and enjoy a more prominent digital presence in the coming year.
10 High-Performing Content Habits for 2017 (And Beyond!)
Whether you’re a new business just starting out, or an established company looking for ways to make your content more prominent online, these 10 SEO tips are just what you need to succeed.
1. Create unique 10-times meta description can be one
Larry Kim’s presentation in this year’s SEJ Summit talked about finding the perfect meta and how to 10 times it for the most ROI. His secret? Write a bunch of metas, and then test them to identify the one that performs 10 times better than the rest. While this is a simple tip, it’s a critical one. Meta content is often overlooked in the world of SEO and content, and optimizing meta descriptions can go a long way toward boosting your overall content and enhancing its SEO value across the board.
As you write your meta descriptions, be sure to follow these meta description guidelines:
- Keep them between 150-160 characters;
- Include your target keyword;
- Make them unique (don’t duplicate meta content from other parts of your site, even if the page, product, or service is very similar to another you offer);
- Make them compelling and exciting for readers to click.
2. Spending more time on content to ensure perfection
Content creation is a time-consuming pursuit, and it’s easy to phone it in, in favor of creating lots of content rather than hard-won content you love. In 2017, however, the influencer recommendation is to do a bit of both. By spending more time on content creation while also taking the time necessary to ensure consistent production, you can build out a content presence that rewards your readers and keeps you relevant online.
Take Stone Temple Consulting, for example. Its team does one key piece a month and then a consistent amount besides the one “killer” every week. This allows the team to fortify a nice mixture of outstanding, passionate content and regular filler material that’s no less useful or interesting for their readers.
3. Focusing your content around “topics rather than terms”
In HubSpot’s recent “SEO in 2017” webinar, the team focused intensely on the importance of focusing on topics rather than terms in online content. Here’s what this means: while keyword research is still critical to the creation of great online content (more on this in a moment), readers and search engines alike aren’t interested in keyword-stuffed material that exists only to rank for a certain keyword phrase.
As such, it’s critical to focus your content on topics rather than terms. This means finding a keyword phrase you like and want to rank for, and then creating content that’s dedicated to covering the topics related to said keyword. This will provide a broader and more exciting experience for your reader while also giving you a better chance of ranking in the SERPs.
4. Keep developing your target personas
This is a point that’s been driven home by everyone from HubSpot to Maile Ohye, developer programs tech lead at Google. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the other SEO responsibilities facing your brand, developing target personas remains critical. When the Express Writers team attended the 2016 SEJ Summit, this was one of the biggest points in Ohye’s presentation.
Although Google matters for SEO, it’s your target audience that’s most important. As such, you need to keep them in mind all throughout your UI and UX. Answer their questions, eliminate annoying extra steps, and create content pointed directly at them. The user journey and experience outweighs rankings, and you’ll go far in terms of SEO if you keep this golden rule in mind.
5. Target your SEO presence toward being indexed
If your page isn’t showing up in Google, you’re not going to get anywhere fast in terms of organic search rankings. Simple tricks like maximizing clickability and focusing on searcher intent can help you produce high-performing pages that appear prominently in the SERPs, and help you claim the customers you want. This was a massive point made by Bill Hunt at SEJ Summit 2016, who called it “Making SEO Lemonade.”
6. Hire actual content experts
Search engines and consumers are only going to get smarter in 2017, and if you’re not hiring experts to write your content, you’re missing out. MarketingProfs says “If your business is gaming, then approach real gamers. If you are a B2B company, have marketing/business experts write about and for you; they know what your users are interested in.”
In addition to producing higher-quality and more relatable content, hiring an expert to craft your content for you will also allow you to provide real value and useful information to your consumers through your digital content.
7. Do your keyword research
Keyword research will still matter in 2017, and it’s critical to keep it as a central point of your content strategy. By identifying what your target audience is talking about and searching for, you can create a high-performing content strategy that produces real results. Use a keyword research tool like the Google Keyword Planner or KWFinder to determine which keywords are likely to be successful in your niche and to target them accordingly.
Once you’ve located the keywords you intend to target, remember HubSpot’s advice of targeting topics rather than terms. Use the keywords you’ve identified to cluster content topics and produce a rewarding and wide-ranging experience for your customers.
8. Make internal linking a priority
Internal linking is critical to the structure of your online content, and it can go a long way toward making your content more relevant and valuable for your customers.
As you write a post, look for opportunities to include your own content or external content as a hyperlink. In addition to providing more information for your users, this also helps make your content more engaging and exciting for the people reading it.
9. Speed things up
Influencers everywhere are obsessing over the critical nature of mobile pages in the coming year. Right now, it’s not enough to just have pages that are mobile-optimized. Instead, they need to load quickly and provide a positive user experience. MarketingProfs reports that a whopping 29 percent of mobile users will abandon a page if it doesn’t give them the information they need, or if it takes too long to load.
While AMP can be a little tricky to install on your page (unless you’re decently comfortable with coding), using a CMS like HubSpot allows you to access automatically AMP-optimized pages.
10. Market your online content
Digital content and SEO are only as strong as the marketing behind them, and marketing your content will allow you to succeed in 2017. When you market and promote your content on various sites and through your separate social media channels, you can succeed in getting links to your content and standing out as an authority figure in your industry – both of which boost your SEO. Here are some tips for promoting your content online:
- Mention influencers and then tell them about it. They’ll likely be willing to suggest your piece to their audience, immediately expanding your reach.
- Use social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share the news about your new content and pieces.
- Guest post on related platforms to make the most of someone else’s audience.
Better SEO in 2017
There are dozens of ways to boost your SEO in 2017, and these 10 simple tips will help you stand out and get noticed online. By implementing these top SEO tips in 2017 and beyond, you can ensure that your company never gets lost in the bottom of the SERPs again.
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.