Brace yourselves. It’s about to get real nerdy up in here. We’re about to discuss my favourite marketing subject, SEO. Well, my second favourite subject, behind anything food related, especially pizza cos pizza is life. Anyway. SEO. All businesses need websites and all websites need SEO to rank on Google and other search engines. It’s no longer a debate on whether it’s necessary. You simply can’t afford to miss out on potential new customers by not investing in a good SEO strategy.
SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimisation – the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results. When we talk about organic traffic we’re discussing the people who get to your website from searching for your product or service – not your company name. That’s a branded search. If people already know who you are, that’s great. But SEO is getting new customers to you that wouldn’t have previously heard of you.
Whenever you are looking for information or a new product or service provider, you Google them, right? People looking for your service offering do the same. To put things into perspective the guys at SEO tribunal put together these amazing SEO statistics. And thank baby Jesus they did, because there’s some pretty cool stuff here. Check it out. Here are my favourites;
fascinating SEO facts & stats
- Holy McGoogle. 67000 searches are performed on Google every second.
- 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine
- Nearly 80% of users ignore paid ads in search results
- 58% of searches come from mobile
- Search engines drive 93% of all website traffic.
- 50% of search queries are four words or longer.
- By 2019, 63.4% of all mobile phone users will access the internet from their smartphone.
- Better content can drive traffic to a blog by up to 2,000%.
- Companies that produce a blog have 434% more search engine–indexed pages than those that don’t.
Those statistics are wild from start to finish. It’s obvious if you want to grow your business, SEO is an essential long-term strategy with a multitude of benefits. For the purpose of this blog, we will mainly discuss Google as our primary search engine. The other two major search engines, Yahoo and Bing, have barely made an impact. Google receives 96% of all smartphone search traffic and 94% of the total organic traffic. So, Yahoo and Bing, who?
There’s a lot involved in SEO. There’s onsite optimisation – which is the stuff you do on your own website for SEO purposes like creating blog articles or video content. There’s offsite optimisation which is attempts to get inbound links from other highly respected external websites in your niche. And there’s the technical side. This is the backend stuff you do to ensure your site is easy for the search engine spiders to crawl and index.
Each one of these strategies has one common denominator. Content. You need to create ongoing content for your website. You’re more likely to receive backlinks from other websites if you have quality content they wish to link to. And the technical stuff in the backend is completed so the spiders can recognise what the content is on that page and crawl it easily.
Content is king. The world-wide-web is the kingdom. And your website deserves to gather in the riches of the rest of the land. (That was bad wasn’t it? I need more coffee before attempting to be funny). This is nothing new. Content was, is, and will always be a crucial element in a successful SEO strategy. Google even mentions it in their SEO Starter Guide:
Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other [SEO] factors discussed here.
I have been vocal about the importance of quality content in SEO for a long time. I’ve seen the effect really good “unicorn” content can have on transforming SEO strategies and growing businesses. And I’ve witnessed crappy, spammy copy destroy a website’s chances of ranking well. Or at all. Some have been so bad they’ve received a Google penalty. Losing all current rankings can be so detrimental to a business, some won’t recover.
Nowadays, Google has developed pesky algorithms with the sole purpose of crawling your website to ensure you’re doing the right thing. These algorithms are extremely advanced and will pick up if you’re trying to manipulate the system or using tactics against the Google Webmaster Guidelines. But it wasn’t always this way. Previously, webmasters would use black-hat tactics like keyword stuffing, buying links and duplicate content in an attempt to trick search engines to rank them higher. Honestly, we are the reason we can’t have nice things.
I’m not saying that I’m a psychic genius or anything. But I’m not, not saying it either. Even back before the advanced algorithms became a thing. I saw definite signs that Google was gearing towards wanting users to provide valuable information on their website for their audience. That information should be authoritative in their niche and engaging to their target market. When possible, it should answer the pain points their potential customers need a solution for.
Today businesses need to embrace the fact they must update consistent content on their website that keeps the reader interested and coming back for more. A website with thin and crappy content simply will not rank in the long-term, no matter what voodoo magic you perform in the background. And it can’t be just any old copy thrown together, either.
In 2019, content needs to be of the highest quality. Doing it wrong can potentially damage your online marketing efforts and your holistic business growth. I’m not saying that Google is needy, at least, out loud anyway. But I am saying it has higher expectations than your mother-in-law from hell. It will make you work for it and work hard. But when you do start seeing a substantial increase in traffic and customers, it’ll all be worth it in the end.
A full SEO strategy needs at least 6-9 months to work.
It’s important to note there is no perfect formula for writing a piece for SEO that’ll guarantee number 1 rankings. But there are best practices to give you the best chance. You also need to consider that outside factors can affect your ability to rank and this is out of your control. These could include the SEO strategies of your competition. How old your domain is. Or links from spammy sites. A full SEO strategy needs at least 6-9 months to work. But an individual content piece can start ranking much quicker.
We previously discussed in our last article the importance of setting a goal for the content we create. SEO content is exactly the same. The goal you set for this content is to help you rank highly on search engines, increase your traffic and grow your business.
So, how do you create content that’ll actually rank on Google?
back to SEO basics- start with keywords
The best way to start your SEO strategy and expand your content is to create a business blog. But before you start creating content for your blog, you need to choose the right keyword phrases to write the copy about. Essentially, you want to write content around the key phrases people will put into a search engine when they are looking for your product or service. It’s pretty much the whole point of optimising your website in the first place.
Having a brain freeze? Start by talking to your team, especially those who speak to your customers day in and day out. They’ll have an idea of what people are looking for. There are also plenty of apps and software you can use like Google’s Keyword Planner for extra help. I recommend you concentrate on long-tail keywords, which are keywords phrases instead of words. They are less competitive and more targeted. For instance, “What Are The Steps Needed To Create SEO-Optimised Content That Ranks” instead of “SEO-optimised content.” Capish?
It’s also worth considering what people would say, instead of type. Voice search is continuing to grow in popularity. It’s predicted that nearly a third of all web browsing will be voice activated by 2020. Isn’t technology cray cray? You just speak into some magical digital device and boom. It gives you the answers to all the important questions like “Why isn’t 11 pronounced onety one?” Or “What would happen if I hired two private instigators to follow each other?”. Important stuff.
Once you’ve developed a list of keyword phrases to write your content about, it’s worth putting together a content calendar on when to write and publish them. It’ll help keep you accountable, save you time and help you be more strategic. Be realistic in your timeframes for creating content. If you’re a novice copywriter, it might not be viable to produce something every week.
Also, before you start creating your content, google the phrases to see what sort of content is written around them already. You’ll also see what your competition is doing. And whether there are any major gaps in the market for you to write about. Now you know what you’re up against. Use it as the baseline of which you know the content you produce has to be better.
write long content
You may want to grab a glass of wine and sit down for this. And make a pinky promise you won’t shoot the messenger. Do you know what I was saying before about Google being needy? I wasn’t kidding. Google wants you to write really long content. I’m not talking 500 words, here. 2000 to 3000 words a pop for each blog article. The average content length for an article that ranks number 1 in 2019 is 2461 words. So there’s that.
This is for many reasons but I’ve listed the main benefits below;
- Articles that have over 2000 words perform better, as they offer more opportunity to include the keyword phrases naturally throughout the content, without being forced in any way.
- The audience values longer posts because they provide the detail they are looking for in the one location. Google also understands that its users prefer this rather than getting info from several different sources.
- When people read long-form content that is well researched and informative, they are spending increased time on your site. This is excellent for SEO.
- A longer article has a higher likelihood of providing the answers that your intended audience is looking for. This is the whole driving factor behind SEO and exactly what Google wants you to do for higher rankings.
In saying that, there is no point writing words for the sake of writing words. The content you write needs to offer value. A blog article with 600 words that is clear, concise and gives the user exactly what they are looking for will likely rank better than a 2500 word e-book that waffles on, but doesn’t get to the point. Everything should be written with the user and their experience in mind. Your article needs to provide them with the information they are looking for.
to write for SEO – forget writing for SEO
Cloaking. Deep linking. Latent Semantic Indexing. Linkbait. Sandboxes and more. I’m not discussing some Harry Potter Wizardry phrases. These are all SEO terms you may have heard of. You may even have an understanding of what they are. Or they leave you just as confused as the year Shannon Noll was robbed of winning Australian Idol to Guy Sebastion. Nothing has really made sense in the world since.
There are so many technical terms and SEO jargon, where do you even start? Well, don’t. When writing for SEO, just forget all about it. Forget these overcomplicated terms even exist for now. When writing your blog, concentrate on the user and their experience and the information they want to know. Focus on producing an article that answers the need of your potential customer, in the language they use and understand.
Also, as discussed above, you still need to write for the keyword phrases you wish to rank for on Google. However, you should ensure that these keyword phrases appear “naturally” throughout your content. Don’t ever insert or repeat through your content in an attempt to manipulate a search engine to rank you higher. Sure, you do want to have a good amount of keyword density in your content. But if it doesn’t appear and read organically, it shouldn’t appear at all.
make your content easily digestible
Successful SEO content is read in its entirety. The issue with long-form content is there’s a lot to get through. People get bored. I get it. I just somehow accidentally ended up on a BuzzFeed quiz at some point during this and I’m the author. At least now I know how I would die on a Murder She Wrote episode and that’s important. But anyway, in the world of instant answers and gratification and where the average attention span is 8 seconds. How do you keep your audience engaged and entertained for up to ten minutes instead?
- Fill your content with visual stuff like pictures, gifs and videos. A picture really is worth a thousand words. Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. While your audience might only retain 20 percent of what they read, they can retain 80 percent of what they see. Also, 65% of people are visual learners according to the Social Science Research Network, so they need these components to understand.
- Separate the content with headings, subheadings and bullet points, Try and ensure that text any longer than 300 words in the one place, are broken up with subheadings when possible.
- Stay true to your audience. If your content is aimed at a professional market, where technical terms and jargon are the norm, then your content should also read like this. But if you’re aiming for a different market, like a product for a teen, use simple terms they are more likely to understand.
- Use short and punchy words and sentences.
- Try and limit sentences that start with the same word. Mix it up when possible. Use Transition words like ‘most importantly’, or “besides that” etc.
Lastly, do the technical SEO elements correctly in your backend.
As we mentioned above the SEO elements need to be done correctly in your backend to ensure your site and content is easy for the google bots to crawl you quickly and effectively. If you’re using a WordPress site then there are plugins like Yoast, that make it easy for you by highlighting what you need to do. If not, these are the essential SEO elements you need to get right in your backend so the google bots can understand what’s on the page.
- Include keyword phrase in title tag
- Include keyword phrase in URL
- Include keyword phrase in image alt text
- Specify keyword phrase times throughout text content (naturally- not forced)
- Try and get the keyword phrase in a h2/h3 heading as well
- Provide unique content around the given subject
- Link back to its category page
- Link back to its subcategory page
- Link back to its homepage
- Provide meta-tags and descriptions that contain the keyword phrase.
When this is completed, you can publish in your website’s cms. Make sure you share to all your social media and email marketing channels, of course. And then monitor the success of your content through Google Analytics, your social media shares and your customer feedback. Then start the cycle again for your next content piece or your blog.
It is not impossible to write content that will actually rank on Google. Anyone can do it if they know how. Content that’ll actually rank on Google aligns with Google’s number 1 priority – providing users with the best, most useful content first. You need to produce ongoing content for your audience that answers this need. However, this is no small fete. Even for the most experienced content writers, it’s an all-encompassing and time-consuming process.
However, content is not going anywhere. It always has been and always will be the most crucial part of an SEO strategy. You need ongoing content for your website to reach new customers for your business.