I recently attended a forum on search engine optimization. The breakfast meeting featured five leading digital strategists in the San Diego area and the focus was on how search engine optimization has changed over the years. It had been a while since I had devoted any time to search engine optimization, so I was looking forward to learning more and increasing my knowledge base.
I learned right from the get-go that some of the basic SEO tactics are still important:
- Make your content readable and crawlable
- Avoid Flash
- Duplicate website copy can hurt your rankings
- Consider your audience when incorporating SEO into your content
- And finally, CONTENT IS KING
Social media cannot be ignored and it has changed the scope of search engine optimization, which is quickly becoming a dying term. One would argue that in keeping with the “content is king” mindset, content marketing is taking the place of SEO. For those of you familiar with SEO, this should not come as a surprise. Content marketing involves sharing information through social media, forums, links and other websites. It is this sharing that has helped search engine marketers grow their online presence, relevancy and authority.
So, how can you shift your mindset from traditional search engine optimization and repurpose your strategy for content marketing? By focusing your efforts into building your “non-branded” content, you can secure placement in the top search engines.
- First look at your audience, consider the keyphrases you want to target and then develop content based on those two areas. Publish the information on your blog, website and social media sites.
- Research trends and produce related content within a couple of days — basically piggyback on something trending at that moment.
- Use content as a non-editorial way to show your expertise in the field. Publish on your blog, social media sites and website.
- When creating your content, consider the naming structure of the URL. Often times, what you name your article will affect your URL naming structure and ultimately help or hinder your SEO.
The biggest take-away for me was the use of rich snippets, which, according to Google is “detailed information intended to help users with specific queries. So, basically, if Google or other search engines understand the content of your page, it can provide the searcher some very detailed information about it, making it stand out from the crowded organic search space. For example, if you have a page with a recipe and it includes prep time, cooking time and ratings, Google can provide this information to the user, who can then make a better educated decision if they want to click on your page just by seeing the snippet of information provided. Your page will stand out if it’s using rich snippets. If Google is asking for data, provide it!
As I talked with the panel I challenged them with the question of how a marketer should achieve the right balance when promoting content on social media. After all, there is a cost to “oversharing, ” but a marketer ultimately wants to promote its message, product or service.
We all pondered this question for a minute and the agreed-upon answer amongst the panelists was as I expected. They said that if you are providing your audience with content they want to see, it’s OK to promote your own content. While one can run into sharing too much, if you are giving your target audience what they want to see, your search engine optimization, content marketing and website traffic will naturally grow.
In the end, I walked away with some new knowledge about search engine optimization but felt like the old adage of “content is king” will hold true no matter what online platforms exist. Give your audience what they want and they’ll continue to return to you for expertise.