Time and time again, I hear search marketing managers of big brands say, “I need more SEO content.” Heck, maybe you’ve heard an SEO say it.
The truth: It’s not “SEO content” a brand or website needs.
So, what do we need?
Rich, informative, compelling high quality content brings users to a website and keeps users responding. It also provides the search engines with value when that content is SEO-friendly. Rather than needing SEO content, we really need quality content that engages users but we cannot forget about what the search engines want, how the engines view content, and the techniques plus finesse required to optimize content.
How Quality Content Can Make an SEO Difference
Look at the New York Times. The publication, known as one of the best newspapers in the world, once turned down the opportunity to buy Google for $1 million because it didn’t consider the internet a part of its business. In 2005, the paper acknowledged the importance of the web, hired a team of SEO experts, trained editorial staff and marketing teams in SEO and started to optimize its entire website for better search engine performance.
Since the inception of the SEO program, the NYT’s referral traffic from the search engines has grown 300%. The site has experienced an average of 60% traffic growth per year and a significant increase in user engagement and time spent on the site.
Keyword Research and Intelligence
Developing quality content requires research and analysis of keywords that should be included in your content. There are several free tools for keyword suggestions and research that give considerably less depth than subscription-based services but can still be a helpful starting point. For example, there are free versions of Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker.
A relatively new and less known tool for research is Google’s Wonder Wheel. You’ll find it by doing a Google search for any keyword, clicking on the “Show options” link in the top blue bar of the search results page. A left side bar full of additional search options will open and near the bottom you’ll find a link for the Wonder Wheel. It’s a fantastic tool which allows you to discover a wide range of relevant keywords or extensions which are related to your business and industry.
Too Many Keywords and You Might Get Rejected
Your content should be keyword-rich. It should include targeted keywords that match the theme of your website. But don’t overdo it. Like eating too much at Thanksgiving, you’ll regret stuffing your content with keywords. The search engines will view your content as spammy and potentially block your website from appearing in results.
Furthermore, your readers will notice too. They might not realize content has been keyword-stuffed but they’ll notice your content is not appealing.
Making Your Content Stand Out
While you don’t want your website to stand out for being stuffed with keywords, your site can stand out in other ways and in a positive manner. One of those ways is for your website to have unique, fresh, and informative content. This helps keep clients and/or prospects on your site (stickiness factor) and also increases the likelihood of getting quality links from other relevant and topic-related sites.
Posting fresh topic-related content gets users coming back to your website. It also helps bait the search engines’ spiders to crawl your site.
Theming and Latent Semantic Indexing
You also have to make sure you create content that helps the search engines understand the theme of your website. If your website is about financial advice for small businesses, it should be well-structured around this topic. Include content and pages with relevant keywords and steer clear from off-topic articles about surfing or middle-eastern cuisine (even if you’re a surfing zealot and a known foodie).
The search engines have a sophisticated method called latent semantic indexing (LSI) for indexing and retrieving your web pages. With this technology, they are able to look beyond the direct matches between content and search query text to understand the context of a website’s content. As a result, littering your content with a particular target keyword is not enough and may affect your search engine rankings poorly.
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