Stumped by SEO? You are far from alone. With a raft of head-scratching jargon and conflicting advice relating to the topic, Search Engine Optimisation can seem bewildering. No sooner have you got to grips with the current best practises when Google decides to throw a spanner in the works, altering its methods for ranking websites.
Lots of self-proclaimed SEO ‘gurus’ will promise you a spot on the first page of Google search results. Some may even deliver. However, quick fixes may use dodgy tactics designed to ‘trick’ search engines. Thanks to Google’s ever-increasing intelligence, these tactics might get you to the top today, but cause a slide in rankings tomorrow.
Nevertheless, good SEO that uses honest, sustainable tactics can be invaluable to your business. If you want to make your written content work for searchbots, as well as your readers, follow these four easy-to-implement tips.
1. Create compelling content
If the short history of SEO has taught us anything so far, it’s that faddy tactics are useless in the long-term. From keyword stuffing to link buying, these methods are destined to turn up on the SEO naughty list – and you will be punished by search engines. Remember, every new algorithm update is designed to reward plain, old-fashioned good content, so direct your focus and energy on this, instead of the latest SEO subterfuge. We would go as far as to say that creating cracking content is the only SEO strategy with guaranteed, long-term results.
2. Create compelling, shareable content
The relationship between social media and SEO is a murky one. Back in 2014, Google’s then head of web spam, Matt Cutts, confirmed that Facebook and Twitter signals were not part of the ranking algorithm, but that doesn’t mean social media is a lost cause altogether. It does impact search, but in much less direct ways. For instance, content that is shared on social channels can lead to new links and searches, as well as increased brand awareness. What’s more, social sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook receive billions of search queries of their own every day. Creating shareable content is still a must. Of course, if you follow step one and produce quality content, you’re already halfway there with tip number two – just remember to optimise your content for social sharing, which means using great images and on-page share buttons.
3. Create compelling, shareable content regularly
It’s not enough to just publish good content once; search engines favour websites that are frequently updated. It should go without saying that spinning out tons of incompressible fluff will not have the desired effect. It still needs to be well-written, grammatically correct and of use to audiences. Another reason to keep freshening up your content: search engines are more likely to stop by and re-assess (or in SEO parlance, crawl and index) a website if there are new things happening there.
4. Create compelling, shareable content regularly with the right keywords
You may have heard the obituaries, but keywords aren’t dead. The ways in which content marketers should use them, however, has changed dramatically over the years. In times past, Google used to attempt to match search queries word-for-word with keywords; nowadays the search engine is much more sophisticated. Google now looks at other factors, such as the user’s location and search history, to try and discern the intent behind their query – your website is much more likely to show up if your content answers the question searchers are asking regardless of what words you have used.
For content marketers, the trick is to stop obsessing over one or two single, high-volume keywords and instead focus on broader topics. From there, come up with a constantly evolving list of related ‘long-tail keywords’ (if you’re not familiar with the term, this article on Forbes gives a good overview on them). So instead of ‘Italy holidays’, for instance, you might have ‘cheap weekend spa deal in Puglia’, ‘Tuscany campsites for families with young children’ and lots of other variations. Keep these long-tail phrases in mind when you’re writing content, but don’t be a slave to them, remembering to always keep the interest of your audience as the key goal.
Do you have any helpful SEO hints or killer keyword tactics of your own? Then have you say in the comments section below or drop by our Twitter feed and let us know about them there. We would love to hear from you.
A version of this article was originally published in January 2016 on World Words’ site. Read the original article.