August 27 2014

The Marriage of SEO and Valuable Content

Search engine optimization has grown up, and if your SEO strategy isn’t focused on content optimization, read on. Search engine algorithms have evolved since the days of keyword-stuffing, link-buying and other black-hat SEO tactics. They stopped falling for those tricks and fell in love with content. And now, organic SEO and valuable content just cannot live without each other. Appreciating the marriage of SEO and content is the first step in securing higher search engine rankings, while developing a site that is more appealing to your visitors. Cue the wedding bells!

Thin Is Not In
Unlike preparing for your wedding day, don’t skimp when it comes to site content. Search engines maintain constantly changing algorithms that define content quality. One part of search engine algorithms looks at the amount of content on your pages. When a page doesn’t have enough content to engage the reader and propel them to a call to action, it’s considered too thin and therefore not valuable to your customers. Because it doesn’t have as much customer value, it’s deemed as less credible by search engines. Other measures search engines use in ranking a site are the number of “internal duplicates” and “near duplicates” you have. Internal duplicates are exact copies of web pages on multiple URLs. Near duplicates are pages that are almost-exact copies of other pages, with a few small changes. Both internal duplicates and near duplicates make your page content “thinner,” make your site less credible in the eyes of search engine algorithms, and therefore are ranked lower. The solution: setup URL redirects where applicable and infuse your site with valuable content to your end user.

Do Your Research
Before you marry someone, you want to make sure you really know them well. Likewise, before writing the content of your site, it’s vital to conduct keyword research. Revealing what terms or phrases your target audience uses, keyword research is done through tools that show past search history on specific terms. It is more popularly known as an important step before writing title tags and meta descriptions for organic SEO. However, properly conducted keyword research is a crucial first step in writing content that is valuable to users and search engines. For an example, if one of your product pages features “auto loans” but there are significantly more searches for “car loans,” you should use the term “car loans” when referring to that product. By incorporating highly searched terms within your content and using those same terms in your title tags and descriptions, you will have a better chance at ranking higher on those terms. Pro tip: engine algorithms can now tell when you are blatantly writing just for rankings instead of writing valuable content for your audience, and they will penalize you for it. It’s best to enlist a trained copywriter in collaboration with a SEO specialist who can help you make the right decisions.

What is Valuable Content?
Johnny Carson humorously said that “If variety is the spice of life, marriage is one big can of leftover SPAM.” Search engines, like a great marriage, thrive on variety and are always looking for fresh content. Search engines see new content as more relevant to a user, so long as the content is informative, relevant and unique. Fresh website content is most often delivered through company news stories, industry or any other relevant news pieces, educational pieces, video and audio features and blogs. This content needs to be produced and updated frequently, and have value to other websites linking to the content. And the more trustworthy the sources that link to your content, the more your site’s credibility – and ranking – should also increase. Additionally, content that personalizes a product or service will resonate with audiences more than just a simple product description. For example, if you have a landscaping business and create a blog on your site that that is consistently updated with lawn care tips including relevant product/service page links, this will create a deeper connection between your company’s services and your reader. Pro tip: providing valuable information for your site visitors will create a favorable brand impression, one that often creates long-term fans. Ultimately these benefits go far beyond search engine rankings.

SEO is Social
Social media supports SEO as good communication betters a marriage. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms provide channels for your company to share fresh content through. Social media provides the distribution networks for your content, and reaches new and different audiences. The more valuable your shared content is to audiences, the more buzz your company gets. Search engines see your followers as brand advocates, which contributes to your brand’s credibility and can give a nice boost for your search ranking. Pro tip: keep those communication skills sharp after getting married -- and when optimizing for search.

Take Your Vows
The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to SEO is to forget about your site’s content. SEO and content development are joined at the hip, so say "I do" to SEO and content strategy! And, unlike 1 out of 4 of marriages, we’re pretty sure this union will stand the test of time.

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