Content marketing has taken the business world by storm.
From the mom-and-pop coffee shop to the global pharmaceutical giant, everyone’s using content and social media to reach and convert their core audiences.
The problem is, many businesses are letting their search engine optimization efforts suffer in the process.
I mean, it’s time consuming to pump out all of that content on a regular basis, right?
If your SEO strategy is stale, it’s going to limit your visibility in the search engines. Pumping out mountains of content won’t do you much good if no one is able to find it.
That’s why it’s important to revisit your site’s on-page SEO factors to ensure every piece of content you create is search engine friendly.
It’s not difficult to implement a basic SEO strategy. It’s a matter of knowing what to do and how to do it.
Execution is easy.
I’ll give you several actionable pointers below.
SEO Strategy: Identify Your Most Important Keywords
The Google algorithms are driven primarily by keywords.
That’s what keyword research is all about: Uncovering the words your audience uses to look for information and products in your niche.
Target the right ones and you can spring to the top of search engine results and attract targeted traffic to your site.
The Keyword Planner at Google is one of the best tools for doing basis research. It’s far from perfect, but will help you identify the words around which to build your SEO strategy.
Enter a base word—for example, “accounting” if you run an accounting firm—and the Keyword Planner will return a list of related keywords.
It will also display the number of monthly searches performed for each one. You’ll want to target some of those related keywords in your optimization efforts.
From there, you can deduce the keywords your visitors are using by the theme of the content on those pages.
It’s not an exact science, but it can shed light on how your customers are finding you, and provide a road map for strengthening that part of your SEO strategy.
Consider the Keywords People Use to Shop
People use different types of keywords according to their goals. It’s important to distinguish between those that signal interest and those that signal intent.
For example, suppose you’re thinking about buying a large screen TV. You’re not at the buying stage yet. You’re just looking for information.
You visit Google and search for “large screen TVs.”
That keyword phrase signals your interest.
Now let’s suppose you’ve completed your research and are narrowing down your options. You’re ready to buy.
That being the case, you might search for “Samsung LED 4K HD TV.”
That keyword phrase signals intent.
See the difference?
You need to incorporate both types of keywords into your SEO strategy. That allows you to capture prospects at various points along the buying process.
Take a look at the blog run by laptopmag.com. Peruse the post titles.
Here are a few that jump out:
- Laptop Buying Guide—How to Buy the Right Laptop
- Apple MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which Should You Buy?
- Why You Should Wait to Buy a MacBook Air
- Should I Buy a Chromebook? Buying Guide and Advice
- Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs. Apple MacBook Air 13-inch
See how the blog focuses on keywords that people are likely to use as they get closer to making a purchase decision?
Incorporate Keywords in the Right Places
Here’s a good rule to follow when it comes to creating content around keywords: Focus on one primary keyword per page. Your content will be more useful to visitors.
Better content sets the stage for a better user experience. That will give you a boost in the search engines.
Your primary keyword should be placed in the following areas of your page:
- Title tag
- Meta description
- URL (we’ll talk about the URL in more detail below)
- ALT attributes of images
A keyword placed in your title and meta description will show up in bold when someone searches for it at Google. The bolded words draw attention.
Placing it in the headline, body, URL, and image ALT attributes tells Google what your page is about. That helps your ranking.
To see it done properly, take a look at the PetMD blog. Notice how each post focuses on a particular keyword phrase, from “obesity in dogs” to “diabetes in cats.”
This page, titled “Feeding to Prevent Diabetes in Cats,” is a great example of solid on-page SEO, and a well planned out SEO strategy.
The main keyword is in the title, the meta description, the headline and sprinkled throughout the body. It’s also in the URL and alt attribute of the page’s lead image.
Use Search Engine-Friendly URLs
Not all URLs are created equal. Some are far more effective than others in terms of optimizing your page for the search engines.
For example, take a look at the following three URLs:
The first one is short, contains a keyword and lacks unnecessary words (e.g. stop words, like “a” and “an”). It’s search engine-friendly. That’s the kind of URL you want for every page on your site.
The second one is an AJAX URL. AJAX is great for usability, but terrible for search engines. That URL is not search engine friendly.
The third one is a mess. It’s not even close to search engine friendly. It’s downright unfriendly!
Want to see a blog that gets URLs right in the context of search engine optimization?
Check out Leo Babauta’s popular ZenHabits.net.
Here are a few of his URLs and accompanying page titles:
- http://zenhabits.net/soy/ (Finally, the Truth About Soy)
- http://zenhabits.net/fatherhood/ (The Essence of Fatherhood: Six Simple Lessons)
- http://zenhabits.net/diet/ (The Simplest Diet for Lean Fitness)
- http://zenhabits.net/meditate/ (How to Meditate Daily)
Make Your Site Easy for Crawlers to Crawl
The Google spiders and other creepy-crawlies are smart little bugs. They tend to do a good job of finding pages as long as there are links they can follow.
But why not make their job easier?
Create an XML sitemap. It’s a page that lists every other page on your site and provides links to them for the spiders. It ensures Google will find and index each and every page on your site.
Google won’t have any trouble finding them.
Writing for People and Search Engines
Content marketing is a great way to connect with your audience. But don’t forget about optimizing your site and blog for search engines. That should be a top priority in your marketing.
Fortunately, it’s possible—and even simple—to cater to both search engines and your site’s visitors.
Use the optimization tips I’ve given you to help people find your site when they use specific keywords at Google.
Then, when they arrive at your site, dazzle them with useful content that builds their trust, and positions you as an authority in your space.
A strong SEO strategy and including all of the above is your ticket to more exposure, a stronger brand, a growing audience, and a continuous stream of targeted, high-converting traffic.