Optimising SEO is the life-long quest of marketers, bloggers and all businesses out there. As Google updates show – mind you their search algorithm changes about 500 times a year (!) – “mastering” SEO requires not only knowledge and understanding but also adaptability. With new social networks popping up here and there, new channels can also be leveraged to increase ranking and SEO.
Yet, Google still does reign supreme when it comes to working on, and improving, SEO (although Bing and some local search engines – China, Russia – may not be rules out). And with Google came – recently – the value of actual content, beyond keywords.
Content, content is the word
After quite some time, Google made a sensible change (with Google Panda and Penguin), from keywords to actual content quality. A move that, if it made creating content a little more demanding for some, finally gave back actual writers what they deserved; a good – or improved – SEO ranking.
We keep telling people that they need to craft quality post. That they need to write about what people need and provide value. However, until recently throwing in some keywords was enough to rank well; even if we should assume that a poorly crafted post would most likely not generate returning readers.
Content is supposed to be a part of your overall marketing plan. As such, you should have defined your audience, their preferences and, more importantly, their needs.
This is what should feed your content – not just the trending keywords on Google.
Looks matter (for SEO)
Once the right subject for your post has been defined, the ideas are flowing and it is beginning to take shape, it is important to remember that the form matters too.
Everybody is a writer nowadays. Looking even at national publications, it does seem that this trend has at least hurt one thing: grammar.
Sure, grammar ticks the grammar police more than the random reader; but Google too has an interest in your grammar as it does have an impact on the overall quality of your piece. If this is a skill you are missing, tools like Grammarly exist to turn your gibberish into a production worthy of Hemingway.
Size matters (for SEO, still)
It does seem to be an everlasting debate… . Let us talk long form here. If you use (or have used) WordPress and Yoast (SEO plugin), the general recommendation when writing a post is for it to contain at least 300 words. To be honest, it comes a little short from the general requirements when writing guest posts or contributions which usually start at a minimum of 500 words.
Now, from a sheer SEO point of view, Google tends to favor long form. By long form, I mean in-depth articles which will, ultimately, display your knowledge of a topic (or your ability to throw an awful lot of BS in an article).
Articles ranging from over a thousand words, between 1,500 and 2,500 should benefit from the best ranking from Google.
Have you been part of any Mars project for the past year or more? If not, you must have seen some bits and pieces of information about mobile traffic and mobile usage.
To make it short, mobile rules the world.
Desktop is not dead yet but content must now be optimized for all platforms, from desktop to tablets to mobile.
Again, WordPress offers responsive themes that are supposed to display properly on each type of device. That is only the beginning.
Google introduced AMP, Facebook, Instant articles and China is considering their own standard. For what? For mobile display speed.
In the same way that websites need to load fast on desktop, the race has now caught up to mobile and can have a serious impact on ranking.
To simplify the process, there are plugins available and Google / Facebook also provide explainers.
In any case, get mobile-ready now to not miss out on traffic and leads.
Keep the content light
How can I tell you to write 2,000 words AND keep the content “light”? Well, quite easily in fact.
Words are not too “heavy”; but images are.
On a side note, you like keywords? Put them in your images. Yes, they also work for your SEO.
Images, photographies, are heavy pieces of data contained in your articles. Using images is recommended – we are visual animals, are we not? – but they need to face a bit of trimming in order to do the job right and not impair speed.
The bigger the image, the slower the loading speed. And… your reader is already gone.
Make sure to resize images that you are posting with your content (it is also good to see some consistency in sizes throughout the text) and, ideally, use some plugin to reduce – and optimise – their volume.
Your content, website and SEO will thank you for that.
Regularly, publish you must
Not good at that have I been (by the way). This is a key feature of content marketing and imrpoving your SEO. Publish content regularly. It does not even need to be long, thoroughly crafted pieces. Smaller (say 500 words still) articles based on current topics – or news – can do as long as they fit in your editorial calendar.
Notice the calendar? That is the secret weapon for good content creation. Define topics, a publishing schedule then get writing and you have your content engine rolling.
Now, this is not necessarily easy. Writing regularly is hard. Finding new topics to write about is even harder if you do not fancy writing for the sake of it. Or are not a master of BS who will re-craft the same post a dozen times.
But that is necessary for success and solid SEO results.
Share on social media
You know that tweets are referenced by Google, right? Well, social media are a great way to share your content, for a start, but also provide social validation and add to your traffic and ranking.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are sites with “authority” as far as Google is concerned. The more sites with authority/credibility link to your site (say backlinks), the better for your SEO. Even Google+, still half-dead, half-who knows, is still an amazing plaform for that.
Be smart with social media and align their use with your strategy and editorial calendar.
Last, adapt to the platform
One last point here. Not all platforms are created equal; and they do not rank the same content in the same way.
I mentioned leveraging social media to get links to your content (ideally on your blog/website) but remember that Twitter is not Facebook which is not LinkedIn which is not Instagram or Pinterest.
From a sheer reach point of view, whatever the text you have crafted, you will want to leverage native images – or videos – on Facebook for extended reach. On Twitter, an image will still matter but also the use of a couple of relevant hashtags. Or better than a picture, you may want to use a Twitter card (which you could “automate” with a plugin on your blog).
In any case, this comes down to being prepared. Do your research, your strategy, planning and editorial calendar, then get going writing and kicking a$$!
Keep in mind that it is a great time to be working on your SEO with content marketing. Google have put an emphasis on quality that has given back power to professionals and not to keyword-pushers.
Plan – write – publish – Win at SEO!
Also published on Medium.