Establishing a solid online presence has become a priority for most business today. There are very few business profiles that can’t benefit from establishing a solid online foothold. Still, those benefits can be quite hard to reach. Most basic, run of the mill online business articles will have you believe that you can achieve all this in a matter of months through following generic, straightforward tips. This kind of basic research leads many businesses new to the online environment towards making mistakes and wasting their budgets.
The online environment is still filled with websites that are adjusted to meet the standards proposed by Google, Bing, Moz or whatever other online authority you decide to respect as the most relevant one. Adhering only to the technical rules tied to developing a comprehensive SEO and content strategy may lead to distancing your efforts from those whose opinion you need to value the most, the users. We are here to discuss what things you need to ensure in order to keep your “human side” while focusing on boosting your rankings.
Key words that hurt you
While most SEO specialists will attempt to convince a client fresh to this form of marketing to do keyword research and focus on ranking for them, but we would like to caution you against overdoing it. Sure, it is important to have your keywords present in the H1 and some H2 titles so crawlers can associate you with the right subject matter but trying to jam your keywords into every piece of text present on your website will create an illegible mess of a text which will seem as outward spam. Why? Because it is spam! By trying to satisfy your own selfish needs for ranking and attempting to impress the crawlers, you forgot to make your text work for the people you primarily intended it for. This goes for content, guest posts, link anchor texts and any other text where keywords could be considered an issue.
The reason why people want to rank high for particular keywords has to do with the fact that this position will put them in a situation where they can get a lot of traffic, a big percentage of which has the potential of being converting traffic. What most small business don’t realize is that ranking high for these broad keywords is extremely hard, if not impossible. The reason for this is the fact that many powerful brands have been holding the top 5 spots for most of them for years now and it takes colossal effort to achieve this. If you can achieve all the relevant factors that contribute to creating a strong brand than you can hope to win a position that is a bit higher.
On the other hand, making your content readable, informative, witty and interesting creates room for social signals, retains users on your website (and potentially converts them), and creates an opportunity for your content to become linkable material, which will in turn boost your rankings even farther.
Content that works for the readers
Creating content for SEO purposes doesn’t mean that the quality of the content and the way it was created is unimportant. Google recently pushed through their quality update (popularly known as the phantom update) which, most assume, is just the beginning of a more serious effort to bring only the best quality of content to the readers. Many websites and networks lost a lot of traffic due to this update and still can’t bounce back. There are some things you need to keep in mind when creating content if you want to attract and keep an active reading audience:
There is so much content in the online environment that users have developed quite a bit of skill when it comes to skimming the article and determining its value. Now, if you don’t properly segment the article into subheadings and meaningful paragraphs and face your readers with a wall of text, they are simply going to leave. You need to format your content in such a way that it is easy to discern what it talks about so people who are looking for information related to just one part of the text can find it easily.
We have all ran into content that goes on for ages without really telling you anything. The subheadings are there and the whole thing seems decent but you find that the paragraphs don’t really hold any information. They are just fluff, empty word counts with no facts to back them up and no advice you can use. This is even more annoying than the wall of text, since if you are looking for a piece of information desperately you are going to dig through a wall of text and find it but reading 5-10 minutes worth of fluff really just wastes your time without any benefits. Give your readers something valuable and they will give you their approval and social signals in return.
- Visual appeal:
Content needn’t be textual only. You can focus on video content, images, Infographics or a combination of these but keep in mind that content that has a multimedia side to have a much greater chance of creating signals and lasting longer. Photos work quite well as a way to break the text and create greater readability. They can be used to present statistical and abstract information in a more manageable and digestible manner.
- Visual appeal:
You need to be aware what subject you are tackling and who is your target audience. While we are moving into the blogging sphere, the importance of this needs to be stressed. If you miss your style and create content that isn’t suitable for the audience you are trying to reach, you wasted your money. With this in mind, be mindful when choosing a blogger to write for you. Also, make sure that you pay him or her properly and fairly. Even if you manage to hustle a blogger for a lower price on the content, chances are the quality is going to go down as well. You get what you pay for after all.
You are not creating a work of art here but there are tons of things you can do to create content that really works for the readers. Your goal is to keep them on your website for as long as possible and provoke them to share your content. You also want to promote a certain image as a business and putting content out there is a reflection of that image and it will stick to you. Good, unique content is middle class of content on the web according to MOZ.
Don’t try to trick the algorithms
Black hat is a weapon that not a few people reach for and it usually has nothing to do with pleasing the users and giving them what they want. In the majority of cases, they produce results that are not even close to those that were agreed upon. Even if you run into somebody who actually knows what he/she is doing and gets you the desired results, at some point, search engines are going to find out what you did and punish you for it. The penalties for using black hat methods can be quite severe and in a lot of cases permanent. Let’s put it like this, you are trying to trick companies that have budgets in millions of dollars and employ some of the biggest names in SEO with a budget of a couple of thousand dollars. Does this sound like something that’s a valid business approach?
Respect your traffic
It is easy to lose track of your priorities once you step into the backend and start dealing with code, tags, metrics and other data. Since you are not coming into direct contact with the people who visit your website it can become difficult to assess their experience and do the appropriate changes? This can lead to high abandonment rates, lowering of standards and chasing after easy solutions which hurt your rankings and more importantly the way your target audience perceives you. The goal for most successful online entrepreneurships is to humanize their approach and move from being just a website into being a live entity which actually interacts with people. We hope you enjoyed our article and that it helps you modify your approach to fit you as well as your audience and not to market strictly for Robots. Keep in mind that shortcuts and easy solutions usually hurt you in the long run.