Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of holistic best practices aimed at getting a website, or specific pages of a website, ranked as highly as possible in search results.
Before we dive into a focus on the benefits of content to your SEO efforts, we will provide a brief outline of search optimization to serve as an introduction, and provide the context for why content is central to a strategy.
A Very Brief Intro to SEO
On-Page & Off-Page Optimization
There are two branches to search engine optimization: on-page and off-page.
On-page optimization refers to all the signals you send out to search engines from your website and relates to your content, the website’s architecture and layout, and the HTML elements of website design.
Off-page relates to the signals the web sends back to your site. These include trust, backlinks and the social media conversations around your content.
The two together determine how search engines rank your website/web pages.
The Three Most Important Ranking Factors For SEO
Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, of course, but certain elements will always be important. In 2016 Google’s Andrey Lippatsev said the top two factors (but didn’t disclose the order) are content and backlinks.
The third is RankBrain, Google’s machine learning element, which helps it understand searcher intent; in essence, keywords that are related to topics. This is why when writing your content it is important to consider related terms for your target keyword(s) as RankBrain will reward good writing — writing that speaks to people naturally, rather than stuffing keywords into text.
This intro provides context to SEO and its relationship with content and begins to answer the question…
Why Is Content Important To SEO?
Its importance spans almost all elements of search engine optimization:
- It allows you to regularly target your keywords with useful and insightful content
- Providing valuable content will build trust with your audience. Search engines can use such elements as time on page, pages per session, and bounce rate, to measure this.
- Good content will get linked to by other websites, much like we have linked to other websites in this blog post. And potentially be shared and discussed on social channels.
- Search engines like to see websites being regularly updated, another trust-building element.
- Each new post allows you to constantly create quality HTML elements: URLs, page titles, metadata, internal and external links, and optimized images, for example.
Become An Authority
Beyond its relevance to search optimization, blogging regularly promotes you as an authority on your subject. Honest and genuine content — writing that seeks to inform, educate and entertain — helps you craft your story, personifying your business and allowing you to talk to your audience in a way they understand and value.
You can also target your content efforts to every stage of the buying process. There is nothing like informative and engaging content to usher your audience along the path from attracting to converting.
If you haven’t done so already, create buyer personas of your ideal target audience to help you craft your writing for your audience.
A Note About Social Media & SEO
While there is plenty of debate over whether social actions such as likes, shares, and retweets, for example, are factored into search engine algorithms, there is no debate that writing good content which gets shared and read is helpful for SEO. If all social actions were meaningless, there would still be huge value in the additional traffic generated by a healthy, active and engaged social media following.
How To Build Backlinks
The goal is to build a strong reputation, critical mass of content and audience on your subject so people link to your writing.
Before this, though you will need to proactively seek links through outreach. This involves contacting relevant websites: suppliers, clients, and local/topic-related bloggers, for example.
Another useful strategy, especially for businesses that serve a local area through a bricks-and-mortar establishment, is to use tools such as BrightLocal to build directory links and citations. The more your name, address and phone details are consistent across the web the more search engines value your website.
Be wary of any SEO companies offering ‘x’ links per month. As with anything you do – on or offline – always remember quality trumps quantity. A useful free tool to check the domain authority of a website is the Moz Bar. Domain Authority (DA) is a way of measuring a website’s reputation. The higher its DA the greater value its link has in terms of sending a signal to a search engine for your ranking.
Get AMPed: A Fourth Major Ranking Factor?
Google has over the last couple of years been pushing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). This is, claims the project, about making the web better. It’s certainly about making it faster, the claim it’s better is up for debate, and you can read about that here on the Yoast blog. AMP effectively strips out lots of fancy design leaving just the words to make a page load times quicker for mobile. Page load times have long been important for SEO, and Google is a big fan of AMP, helping it rank on mobile searches and News results. GT Metrix is a useful tool for analyzing files which may be affecting website performance.
While we are on the subject of Yoast, it is an incredibly useful WordPress SEO plugin that is intuitive to use and guides you through all the on-page elements of optimization.
The Formula For Good Content Marketing
While this is easier said than done, breaking down all the above into this formula makes it easier to digest in a bite-size chunk
Value+Time+Frequency+Good Html = Authority, Trust, Engaged Audiences, Backlinks
Roche Online Business Services Can Craft Your SEO & Content Strategy
This may seem overwhelming but it needn’t be like that. If you are wanting to learn more about search engine optimization and a content marketing strategy then we can help. We can arrange a free consultation and analysis of your website and business goals