“To be momentous, create content with purpose.”
– Russell Sparkman, CEO of Fusionspark Media
In case you weren’t already aware, content is extremely important to a brand’s SEO efforts. In fact, Google has come out and stated that content is within its top three ranking factors.
Unfortunately, most publications are content to merely push the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy.
If you follow this path, you may as well be launching your content into outer space because just as many people are likely to find it out there without any clear marketing efforts.
If your brand wants to make its content efforts worthwhile, materials must be crafted and optimized with SEO in mind.
This is how your content gets found. This is how your content gets read. This is how you educate and convert consumers into customers.
Ready to start ensuring that your content is driving the kinds of results you imagined when you wrote it? Then let’s discuss how to achieve this goal so that all your creations can garner the attention they deserve.
1. Lay the Groundwork
Any content strategy worth its weight in salt begins with keyword and user intent research.
While keywords are losing their power to user intent thanks to Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, both are still an important part of the probing process.
Start by figuring out the queries that your audience is searching and link that with their intent; what is the searcher trying to achieve or understand? You can accomplish this with Google’s Keyword Planner or any number of keyword research tools.
After uncovering what your audience is searching for, you can then develop a content strategy that directly addresses those questions in order to usher consumers through your marketing funnel.
You can also use tools like BuzzSumo to uncover popular content in your niche to help understand what resonates with your audience.
2. Use the Right Ingredients
When you craft great content, users become engaged and consume more materials, interact with them more frequently and share those pieces with their followings.
But great content doesn’t just mean that it’s packed with info and addresses the user’s intent. Content should also have an appealing and easily scan-able layout while incorporating some of the following characteristics:
- Clear and easy to read
- Credible – is well-researched and leverages authoritative links
- Taps into emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, humor, etc.)
- Unique or unexpected
Additionally, the formatting and design of the article is particularly important. A scan-able piece is crafted when writers leverage bold text, short paragraphs, bulleted or numbered lists, strong sub-headers, quotes, and similar components. This is also what helps to make content more sharable.
Be sure that your content includes a prominent and compelling call-to-action to help guide users to the next step in the buyer’s journey.
Finally, check out similar content that resides at the top of the SERPs. This is what you are aiming to beat so be sure that your content is better than these materials. Better means more current, deeper research, more compelling conclusions, and similar strategies.
Above all else, however, your content should help readers complete a specific task. Long-form content is particularly suited for this (and ranks better in the SERPs) because it is thorough and ensures this goal is achieved. This is another important point because thin content can hurt your SEO efforts.
3. Check Your Sources
If you want to be a thought-leader in your niche (or not tick off any potential customers), you need to ensure that your content is fact-checked and wholly accurate.
A great way to do this is by citing a variety of authoritative sources through your outbound links. This is also a foundational practice of good SEO.
Links that point to high-profile, authoritative sites let Google know that you are sharing reputable and factual information with your audiences; this is a signal to promote your site.
Additionally, if at all possible, be sure that some of your outbound links point toward other pieces of relevant content on your website. This will help to keep users on your site longer and increase your chances of gaining a conversion.
4. Check Your Technical Specs
Technical SEO is something that is normally more complex and relates to a brand’s overall website.
There are, however, some specific aspects that relate to the content optimization process that are just as vital as many other components.
Firstly, you need to ensure that your content loads quickly. This is particularly important if you have included any optimized images, gifs, or other visual elements that may bog down your page. If your page loads slowly, you will lose readers and likely get dinged by Google. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to confirm an optimized speed.
The next thing you need to verify is that your content appears well on mobile. This likely won’t be an issue for any site leveraging a responsive design, however, you do still need to ensure that images are aligning correctly, CTAs are easily tap-able, and all elements are loading correctly.
It is also important to establish that your content is using the best anchor text for its outbound links. This is done by using relevant keywords to the content you are linking to or its URL.
Speaking of URLs, be sure to optimize you content’s Web address as well. To ensure its effectiveness, give it a short URL; about 59 characters long seems to be the average for top ranking sites.
If your website is failing to optimize its content, you are busy wasting lots of time, energy, and money; three things that no small business owner can afford to do.
You have poured your heart and soul into creating a premium piece of content; go the extra mile by optimizing it for SEO purposes so that your audience – and your business – can benefit from your hard work and stellar content.
Do you think keywords will soon be a thing of the past as user intent becomes a more heavily-weighted factor? What keyword research tool do you find most useful?