The secret to success in content marketing is to produce engaging content. That particular piece of advice has been offered by just about every expert in the industry.
But the only way you can engage your audience is if you get website traffic to begin with.
In fact, getting website traffic is so important that a majority of B2B and B2C content marketers rate website traffic as the most important metric for success.
Curiously, only about 40% of content marketers consider SEO ranking to be an important metric of success. This suggests that many content marketers don’t fully appreciate the synergistic relationship between an optimized SEO strategy and website traffic.
Optimizing SEO isn’t a new idea, but due to the constantly changing standards that search engines like Google use to identify quality content, your strategy for optimization needs to be constantly evolving. Almost every content marketer makes a few SEO mistakes, but one of the most common mistakes that many content marketers make is relying on outdated strategies and metrics.
The following tips will help you avoid common pitfalls and develop an up-to-date SEO strategy that will improve website traffic.
1. Make Keywords Count But Don’t Actually Count Them
A common request from my clients is to use a keyword a specific number of times. This was standard operating procedure a few years ago after many search engine modified their ranking metrics to try to counteract keyword stuffing, but ranking metrics have since improved.
While keyword density is still a small part of determining the rank of a web page, the quality of that content is even more important.
If you are using keywords organically, you don’t generally need to worry about total number, though replacing a few with synonyms probably won’t hurt (see below).
2. Trust the Robots
Technically Google, Yahoo, and Bing rankings aren’t controlled by robots, but there is a significant amount of automation involved in search engine ranking. One of the nice things about that automation is that it is remarkably good at recognizing query term synonyms and co-occurrence.
Thus, even if your blog uses the keyword “dog walking service” repeatedly, every major search engine will recognize that the term is synonymous with “dog walker” and probably even “pet walker” and “pet care service.”
This is another area where I have found that the knowledge of many of my clients is out of date. I commonly receive requests to use specific keywords, with no room for variation.
You can and should use variations on your keywords if you want to improve your ranking. For similar reasons, you shouldn’t overload your metadata with keywords that are synonyms or co-occurring.
3. The Search Engine Wars Are Over
…and Google won. Google is used by roughly 4 times as many people as the rest of the competition combined.
That means that you want to adhere to Google’s guidelines for creating high quality content if you want to improve traffic. Thankfully, those guidelines were leaked and it is easy to find guides on how to adhere to Google content quality guidelines precisely.
One of the most important takeaways of this leak is that human beings adjust the rankings after the robots have done their job. Appealing to the human reader is just as important as appealing to the robots, if not more so.
And the secret to that is value, variety, and volume. The first two are particularly important for the human analysts who will be judging whether or not your content should be considered high quality or expert.
Always produce top quality work and the volume will automatically come with time.
4. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Clicks
Words aren’t the only metric being used to judge your content. Images and links also need to be a part of your SEO strategy. Good link usage is actually quite easy, because the rules for good links are pretty much identical to the rules for good keyword usage.
Use them organically and always make sure they are high quality.
Images are a little different, though, because they are used to provide a visual break for the readers almost as much as they are used to support your content. One of the best examples of excellent image use on the internet is Cracked.com.
For example, in this article about the environment, note the third image on item #5. It breaks up the monotony of nature images, adds humor, and makes a meaningful statement about the content.
While every use of images won’t live up to this gold standard, you want your images to create a mental break for the reader whenever possible, even if just by adding a little color to your content.
A Great Marriage is Built Over Time
No matter how much you optimize your SEO strategy, and no matter how many advanced concepts you implement, you won’t see drastic results overnight.
It will take time for your content marketing to net positive results from your optimized SEO strategy. Be patient and the results will be worth the effort.