Search engine optimisation or SEO is the most essential investment you can make in your online marketing.
Previously we found out what Google Micro Moments are and how they can inform your content strategy. However, if you don’t invest in optimising your content – copy, images, graphics, video and audio – with search-friendly keywords, you are probably wasting your time. Search Engine Optimisation is no longer optional!
Digital content needs to be optimised so that it is ‘findable’: it must be easily found by search engines, whether it is content on your website or your social media profiles.
Search Engine Optimisation and your website
Some of the work on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will be done as your website is being built and populated: as the images, headings and copy go on to the page and are saved into the fabric of the website. Some software, like the Yoast plugin, for example, gives prompts and feedback on how ‘SEO friendly’ the copy on a page is.
SEO also covers the registration of your website domain with all the major search engines. Your developer will register your website with Google (and other search engines) so that they can index (categorise) the content (information) on your page. This is the purpose of meta descriptions, links, H1, H2, H3 tags and your website navigation too. SEO also includes keyword research (looking for the search terms that customers for your type of products or services most readily use) and sometimes adding your domain to online directories, though this approach is becoming superceded by other methods. The combined efforts of web development, SEO and website promotion (or distribution) are what will ultimately get you traffic and clicks.
Alongside this activity, the focus will be on attracting visitors to the website to increase its ranking on Google and other search engines: the more visitors for particular search terms or ‘direct search’ (also know as ‘branded’ search) when someone types in your website address, the higher up the search results you go.
“The best place to bury a dead body is on page 2 of Google search results”. Anon
In the early days, Social Media platforms and posts with links helped us ‘drive traffic’ to our websites. Nowadays, only some of your profile information and posts will appear in search results. To make your posts (and profile) easier to find, you need to SEO them too! This is where hashtags come in, as they create a digital shortcut to the topic, trend or phrase your content addresses.
Inbound and Digital Marketing support your SEO – so do your research
Inbound Marketing includes social media, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, email marketing, blogs, podcasts, video, online events and online PR. Your goal is to create and publish ‘stuff’ widely enough, on a variety of social media platforms so that it will appear in their feed. This is based on the search terms (keywords) the customer uses, the hashtags they are following, or your post is shared with them by someone they are already connected to.
Digital Marketing is a combination of of inbound and outbound marketing methods and will typically include any tactics from ‘pay per click’ advertising (you set a budget or ‘cost per click’ that you’re willing to pay), display advertising (you buy ad space on a publisher’s online platform), advertising on social media platforms, keyword research and SEO.
Before publishing your content online, research keywords, phrases, semantic variations (alternatives) and hashtags that are current or trending. Part 6 of our online programme, Content Marketing Conquered, shows you how to optimise your distribution plan.
Test everything. All of it!
“In the digital world, randomized experiments can be cheap and fast. You don’t need to recruit and pay participants. Instead, you can write a line of code to randomly assign them to a group. You don’t need users to fill out surveys. Instead, you can measure mouse movements and clicks. You don’t need to hand-code and analyze the responses. You can build a program to automatically do that for you. You don’t have to contact anybody. You don’t have to tell users they are part of an experiment.” Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
SEO your titles and meta descriptions to make it easy to find your content or landing page and enable easy social sharing – when you ‘cut and paste’ a link it will auto-populate the post on social media, bringing the graphic, title tag and meta-description in one go. All too often, this doesn’t work and some of the elements are missing.
Don’t forget: to refine how you read and interpret your web analytics and be ready to test, measure, refine and create ad infinitum.
Try to avoid: following the herd. If you are in a very competitive market or there is already a wealth of content in your industry, focus on a niche or specialism that sets your brand apart, then use longer or niche keyword phrases. These may have lower search volume, but may appeal to your customer when they are further along in the buyer journey, i.e. deep research prior to decision-making.
Why not try: consulting customer-facing colleagues to learn:
- how customers describe you and what you do
- what type and tone of language do they use
- how they describe their issues or challenges
- how they describe their wants and aspirations
- how or where did they find you
This will help you to use the right language, tone of voice and show empathy for your customer. Even business-to-business purchasing has an emotional element to it and for business-to-consumer marketing, creating an emotional connection is key.
The language, keywords and phrases you capture will help you develop your SEO strategy.
It has been my pleasure to work with hundreds of marketers and entrepreneurs as they embrace or fine-tune their content marketing and have concluded that success is built on three pillars:
- Empathy & Customer Insight
- SEO & Targeting
- Content Planning & Distribution
You can certainly compete on quality and you may not need to win the quantity game depending on the sector or industry you are in.
Next we’ll look at the advantages of long form content versus short form content.