SEO for content marketers: 3 basics you must understand
SEO is always changing - find out what you need to know as a content marketer.
Back in 1996, Bill Gates declared that “Content is King” when it comes to making money from the internet. He was right then and he’s still right now. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of content on the web - from individual bloggers discussing niche areas, to businesses muscling in on the act and trying to grab their customers’ attention. In 2014, over 70% of marketers have someone who is overseeing a content marketing strategy in their business. That’s a lot of content being produced, which means your content can easily get lost and not be seen by your target audience.
How do you ensure that your content gets seen? The easiest thing is to just ensure that your content is ranking for key terms in Google. But the skills for Search Engine Optimisation and content marketing aren't the same. So what can content marketers do to ensure that their content is being found?
Here are the three SEO basics all content marketers must get their heads around:
Anyone who has a vague idea about SEO knows that, on some level, it’s all about key terms. In the past you used to choose the term you wanted to rank for, use it a number of times in your content and - hey presto! - you’ll be ranking and attracting traffic. Things have got a little more complex since then, but there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to key terms:
Using the key term in the title
The title of your piece will often get used as the title tag for the page your website is hosted on. The title tag has an awful lot of influence on the ranking potential for a web page and, as such, it needs to contain the key term you’re targeting. To make it easier, when you’re devising the titles of your blog pieces or content, you should try and put the key term in the title. This will ensure that, regardless of what content management system you’re using, the key term will appear in the title tag of the page and give you a ranking boost.
Using key terms in the copy
For modern SEO, it’s still very important to ensure that you’re using the key terms you want to target in the copy of your content, but it’s not as complicated as it used to be. In the past, you'd have to identify all of the different key terms that people could use and try to create individual pages for each of them. This means that even if people who searched for the term “marketing software” and “marketing system” were looking for the same thing, they’d get very different results. Content marketers needed to create a piece of content for both terms.
Things are slightly different now though. In 2014, Google introduced the “Hummingbird” update to its search algorithm. What Hummingbird did was lead to Google having a better understanding of language. By analysing data and the way people use Google, it could learn that “ marketing software” and “marketing system” were the same thing. They could display results for both of the key terms and produce a better results page for the user.
What does this mean for content marketers? It means that you should focus on creating bigger and better content rather than producing more, but of slightly lower quality. You don't need to target every key term variant, so put some time and effort into producing higher quality content which will resonate with your audience.
If I told you a panda could be penalising your business, would you be shocked? You shouldn’t be. Whilst this panda isn't black and white and cuddly, it is specifically going out of its way to penalise websites with poor quality content. The Google Panda update made huge waves when it was first released and continues to do so to this day. The key take away for content marketers when it comes to Panda is that it actively seeks out to penalise sites who have a low word count on their pages.
What do you need to do to make sure your content isn’t being penalised by Panda? Make sure your content is a minimum of 600 words. It really is as simple as that. If you have older pieces of content that are too short, look to combine them with other pieces on similar themes so you can create more in depth and engaging pieces which will also rank better.
While not as important as they used to be, links still play an integral part in how search engines rank content. As a content marketer, your job may not be to build links, but there are things you can do to encourage people to link to your content. Techniques such as including “Tweet this quote” buttons in blogs allow you to encourage people to share your content and increase the likelihood that people will see it and link to it - simple to implement but with huge potential for making an impact.
SEO is changing all the time - but the basics have been much the same since the days of Ask Jeeves, Quake and AOL.
You don’t have to be a data genius to make simple SEO adjustments - just learn the rules.
Discover how to make your marketing messaging pop with the eGuide: Modern Marketing Essentials Guide: Content Marketing