Nov 6, 2018

See Through Search Engine Optimization’s Fancy Title

The importance of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo can’t be overstated. The need for another blog post on how to improve your SEO, however, has reached its threshold.

Instead of writing another “secrets to search engine optimization” post, our goal is to elaborate on a simple piece of advice you can put into practice today: don’t let the keywords steal the show.

A Quick Word on SEO

Search engines are to the internet what the Dewey Decimal System is to a library. Without this essential tool, we’d be left to wander endless halls of web pages trying to find what we’re looking for, whether that’s a content strategy article or a cat meme.

Search Engine Optimization, then, is like the library’s reference desk. If we make the most helpful content possible, it’ll come highly recommended, and people can find it more easily.

As defined, “SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website/webpage in a web search engine’s unpaid results.” Pay special attention to the phrases “affecting the visibility” and “unpaid results” in that statement. We’ll come back to them.

The Power & Pitfalls of Keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases people associate with services, websites and articles, defined largely by how they search for them. It can be helpful to put yourself in the shoes of someone trying to find your business — what terms would they use to search for you? Tools like SpyFu are also useful because they let you peek at competitor websites to see what keywords they use.

In the past, writers would use these phrases repeatedly to trick search engines into thinking their content was more relevant, earning them a higher ranking in search results. Today, that practice is known as keyword stuffing and, thankfully, results in a lower ranking.

All this is to say, keywords are important, but the usefulness or the value of an article should take precedence. Write with keywords in mind and let the data guide you, but keep the message the focus, not the other way around.

Shared Content is Best Content

The internet is a big place, and odds are someone is going to tell, has told or is telling the same story you’re trying to rank for on Google. So how do you stand out?

The first step is writing great content that speaks to your audience. Your message needs to be so helpful, insightful, entertaining or inspiring that your audience not only reads it, but shares it too. Content that gets shared is ranked much higher in search listings, especially when shared by other experts in your field.

A great way to leverage this is cross-posting and guest-blogging. If there’s an opportunity to host your content on someone else’s site, don’t hesitate. They get smart content, you get a search boost — everyone wins.

Enough Talking, Tell Me All The Secrets

Here are a few tried and true techniques to keep your messages from getting lost in the brambles of your precious keywords. Be warned, this requires some work up front.

  • Define your brand’s core messaging, its mission, vision and values. This will provide insight into what your brand can offer to your customer that your competitors cannot.
  • Do your research. What’s most important to your customer? What can you reasonably hope to provide them? How do you do it better.
  • Give your article a makeover. Paragraphs as heavy and dense as the Titanic are bound to sink your article. Hierarchy and design are your friends. Luckily, most website templates and blogging tools make it easy to break your content up into irresistible morsels of good.
  • Craft your article to be only as long as it needs to be. There’s no magic number or word count to optimize your content for SEO in 2018. Keep only what’s necessary. Be ruthless.

We promise — and we know from years of experience — that doing the hard work up front is a much more valuable use of your time than writing content that disappears into the ether. So go forth, write smart and get your content out there.

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