As a smart marketer, you’ve created high-quality content to help grow your business . One way people will land on that content is by searching for related terms in search engines like Google.
In order to rank highly in the search results and drive traffic to your website or blog, it’s important to optimize your content. This is known as SEO, or search engine optimization. Before we discuss SEO strategy, first let’s look at how search engines actually work. Since it’s by far the most popular, we’ll use Google as an example.
How search works
When you search for something on Google, the first results you’ll see are those that have been ranked the highest. Google assigns that ranking based on a number of factors, not all of them public knowledge. For our purposes, these are the key factors….
Google determines your page’s relevance to the search query by ‘crawling’ the content to find the keywords or phrases used in the search. It assesses how often they’re used, and also gives extra weight to certain locations within the content.
Google looks at how many other sites have linked back to your page. Those with more backlinks are assumed to be of higher quality. Additionally, the quality of the site that linked to you also affects your ranking. A link from a site like bbc.com, for example, will carry much more weight than a link from a random hobby blog with 100 followers.
Google looks at your web traffic and how long people spend on your site. If you have hardly any visitors, or if they arrive and then quickly leave again, then it’s assumed that your content is of low quality.
Google penalizes sites for shoddy or duplicated content. However, if you have lots of regularly updated, unique, and substantial content, you’ll enjoy a boost in the rankings.
How do you improve your search ranking?
The best way to improve your ranking is to focus on a regular, consistent output of high-quality content. However, you can tip the odds in your favor by optimizing your content for the keywords or key phrases your audience commonly searches for.
If you’ve created audience personas (and you should have!), then you’ll already have an understanding of the questions they’re asking or the problems they’re trying to solve. You can take this to the next level with detailed keyword research.
Conducting keyword research
Start by creating a ‘seed’ list of words and phrases related to your business, and the problems you can solve for your audience. Consider the language they use, including synonyms or slang terms. Add everything you can think of, in as many combinations as possible, and feed your seed list into one of these planning tools.
The keyword planner will assess each keyword and phrase for:
- Search volume, or how many people are searching for this term.
- Competition, or how many others are trying to rank for this term.
Now you can narrow down your keywords and phrases, choosing the ones you want to rank for. You want a keyword that people are actually searching for, but if too many other people are competing for it then it’s going to be difficult to rank highly. Based on that logic, the best keywords and phrases are those with high search volume and low to medium competition.
Optimizing your content
As a camera retailer, you’ve conducted detailed keyword research and now you know your audience is searching for words and phrases like:
“best SLR cameras”
“which is the best camera for learning photography”
“what is the best SLR camera for beginners”
The next step is to create content that answers those questions. Choose a core keyword or phrase, along with a few related phrases. Thread them throughout your content, or ‘optimize’ your content for those keywords. Let’s look at an example.
A great idea for a blog post might be: “5 of the Best SLR Cameras for Photography Beginners”. Throughout this post, you’ll strategically spread the keywords your audience is searching for. When Google indexes your page, it will register these keywords and increase your relevance to the search query. The higher your relevance, the closer to the top you’ll appear in the search results. This is known as on-page optimization.
Where to use keywords
The title tag of your page is what appears at the top of the browser window or in the browser tab. In search results, it’s the first thing the audience sees. For that reason, it’s important that your title attractively and accurately summarizes your page content.
You have a 60-character limit on Google, so be sure to stick to this if you don’t want part of your title to be cut off. Include your keyword or phrase, preferably towards the beginning of the title to catch those who scan only the first few words.
The meta description is the short snippet of text you see underneath the title in the search results. Your title has caught their attention, and this is your chance to really sell your content! Here, you can elaborate on your title and demonstrate exactly how your content answers the searcher’s question.
You have 160 characters for your meta description on Google. As with title tags, include your keywords and phrases and be sure to load them towards the beginning the description.
The body content is what your readers will see on the page. A well-optimized page features keywords and phrases throughout the text. However, don’t be tempted to jam the words in just anywhere! Google penalizes what it calls keyword stuffing, so make sure that your keywords are spread naturally throughout the text. Aim for a density of around three uses of your keyword per 100 words.
It’s also worth noting that Google recognizes synonyms and similar terms. If you find your keywords or phrases are becoming repetitive and ruining the flow of your content, get creative and mix it up slightly. It’ll also make your content more enjoyable to read.
There’s no set number for content length, but it’s generally agreed that longer content is better. As well as improving your search rankings for that specific page, this adds more value to your audience and makes it more likely they’ll come back to your site.
When you add an image to your page, you have the option to add ‘alt’ or alternative text to explain what the image is. This is helpful for vision-impaired people who rely on audio screen readers, and it also provides a back-up if for any reason your images don’t load properly.
Many people leave this blank, but you’ll earn SEO points by including an alt description. Of course, this should include your keywords, but like the rest of your text, keep it natural and avoid stuffing!
Your URL, or your web address, should include your keywords if possible. For example, if your website is www.buymycameras.com, your blog post URL might be www.buymycameras.com/best-srl-cameras-for-beginners.
The URL features your keyword and it concisely sums up the content of the page. Also note the hyphens; it’s better to separate the words out that stuff them together.
It’s a good idea to include your keywords and phrases in strategic locations throughout your copy, such as the first paragraph or the headings. While this won’t necessarily improve your ranking in terms of relevance, it will help your readers to establish that the content is for them.
See, many people will do a quick scan of a page before they decide to read the content. They do this in an ‘F’ shape — roughly the first paragraph, the first few lines of the second paragraph, and then down the page through the headings. By placing your keywords here, you maximize the chances that these scanners will stay and read your content.
Now that your content is optimized, it’s time to promote it!
Download 15 Foolproof Strategies for Promoting Your Content, your free e-book guide to getting your content in front of your target audience. This guide covers everything you need to know about content promotion, from the basics to the advanced to the downright genius!
For more resources on creating quality content, visit the following pages: