Table of ContentsIntroduction…………………………………………………………….3Step 1: Keywords, Keywords, Keywords……................................3Step 2: Understand White Hat SEO..............................................4Step 3: Provide Value…………………………………………………5Step 4: Utilize Social Media………………………………………….6Step 5: Guest Blog…………………………………………………….8Step 6: Content Is More Than Just an Article………………………9
When Google unleashed its first Panda update last year, the search engine giant sent anunmistakable message to web publishers - content matters. Content quality is now one of themain factors Google uses when it ranks pages.The good news is that quality content pays off in satisfied readers and top page rankings; andit’s not that hard to do. Here are six basic steps for improving SEO rankings through content.STEP 1: KEYWORDS, KEYWORDS, KEYWORDSKeywords are the most fundamental element of SEO and you won’t achieve top page rankingswithout some significant keyword research. Before you ever start writing a blog post or article,sit down and figure out your high value keywords. There are plenty of tools and software suiteslike WP Simplicity that can do much of the work for you and suggest keywords you might neverhave considered, so there’s no excuse for not taking this step.According to the SEO Beginners Guide at SEOmoz, keyword research should focus on long tailkeywords that run up plenty of searches over time. This means staying away from trendy wordsand focusing on bread and butter terms that get searched day in and day out.Keywords are the beginning of the SEO content process, not the end. A good set of keywords isjust the first step on the path to higher page rankings. Long tail keywords are the better long-term play. (Graphic courtesy of www.medicalwebsitedesignpros.com)
KEYWORD RESEARCH TIPS:A highly targeted set of keywords is fundamental to good SEO. We highly recommend thatbeginners read How to Do Keywords Research from the SEOmoz Beginner’s Guide to SEO fora really solid tutorial. If you’re ready to go, here are some of our top keyword research tips: 1. Get Specific – Long tail keywords are tailored specifically to your niche. So rather than shooting for something general like online gambling, go for something more specific like online gambling tips, or free online gambling bonuses. 2. Keep Reasonable Expectations – There’s no shortage of highly searched, but low competition, keywords that provide serious value. You just need to seek them out. 3. Never Stop – Keywords are hardly static and you can’t expect the same set to work forever. Be certain to revisit your keywords on a regular basis. 4. Know Your Competitors – Take a look at the competition and see what keywords they’re aiming at and run them through a keyword analyzer. You won’t want to copy them exactly, but it’s a great source of ideas. 5. High Search/Low Competition – Focusing on low competition keywords with high search numbers is a great way to carve out your own niche. 6. Invest the Time Now – Keyword research can be a bit tedious, but it’s well worth your time. You may want to work through a couple unrelated tutorials to get comfortable before you start tackling your own keywords sets. That should make the process work a lot smoother.STEP 2: UNDERSTAND WHITE HAT SEOWhen it comes to SEO, Google is the kid with the ball and if you want to play the game, you’regoing to have to play by their rules. Google approved SEO techniques are referred to as WhiteHat SEO, everything else falls under the Black Hat SEO label.White Hat SEO methods are based on high quality content that’s updated frequently andcontains plenty of relevant, organic link structures. There’s nothing terribly complicated about it.Google clearly outlines exactly what they’re looking for in their Webmaster Guidelines, whichare a must read for anyone interested in building SEO friendly content.Black Hat SEO techniques, like keyword stuffing just aren’t worth your time. Every monthGoogle updates their algorithms and happily punish sites that aren’t playing by the rules.Bloggers and other web publishers should also keep a close eye on the plug-ins and apps theirusing on their sites. Some link building plug-ins like WordTracker, emphasize the kind of qualitylinks that Google is looking for, but not all of them do. Installing a shady plug in on your site canseriously impact your overall rankings.In a blog post titled, White Hat SEO: It Really F@$#ing Works SEOmoz contributor RandFishkin points out the value of White Hat SEO as a long term value and we agreewholeheartedly.
If for no other reason than the fact that it improves user experience, White Hat SEO is worthimplementing. Yes, implementing White Hat SEO is time consuming but it’s what Google wantsand, as we’ve said, Google is the kid with the ball. The last thing you want is to invest time, andmoney, in black hat techniques only to find your page rankings drop off the map when Googledecides to start cracking down on them. It’s happened before and it will happen again.Here are a few White Hat SEO tips to get you started. 1. Watch Your Back(links) – Google is looking for “organic links” which means that paid link networks aren’t much help anymore. Look for guest blogging opportunities that create quality backlinks from authority sites. 2. Keep an Eye on Anchor Text – Make your anchor text meaningful every time. Not only does Google place a high value on it, your readers will appreciate it, too. 3. Don’t Forget Internal Links – Linking to pages within your own site helps raise their overall profile and helps you get more use out of older content. 4. Use Image Descriptions – Remember that Google’s web-crawling bot programs can’t identify pictures that don’t have a text description. Help them, and yourself, by adding written descriptions. 5. Provide Quality Content – It sounds simple, but if you do nothing more than create content that you yourself would want to read, you’ll be way ahead of the game.STEP 3: PROVIDE VALUEContent is everywhere on the Internet but good content that provides value is what really buildsup traffic and page rankings. Your readers want information that helps them do their work moreefficiently and profitably.For example, a daily breakdown of the top stories in your industry, along with some insightful comments about what the stories mean, provides value to your readers. They won’t have to hunt down the day’s big news and they get some analysis out of the deal, too. Over time, this strategy helps develop your reputation as an industry authority, increasing your outbound and inbound links; and improving page rankings. In a very forward-looking blog post titled, Modern SEO Is All About Providing Value, published back in 2009, Jonathan Alderson made a very good case forfocusing all of your SEO efforts on improving customer service and experience. By addingvalue, you not only get high page rankings, you get happier readers.An SEO software suite like SEOmoz can help you track site metrics to develop a feel for whatcontent your readers are clicking and, more importantly, sharing to help you provide more value.
While Google spiders can’t measure the value you provide to your customers directly, they arevery focused on quality. So how do they measure the quality of content? It’s all aboutalgorithms.Algorithms are complex mathematical programs that are used a sort of artificial intelligence.When a search bot visits a site, it collects information on a series of factors that are read andinterpreted by the algorithm. (Whew!)These programs are intelligent enough to decipher whether or not natural language is used inan article; or whether or not the content is related to the headline. Not so long ago, theseprograms could be fooled by keyword and link heavy content, but that’s not the case anymore.Search bots and algorithms are very intelligent and can perform some very complicated tasks.It’s a remarkable process that’s built Google into a zillion dollar empire.According to Alderson, providing value is as simple as creating quality content, and we agree.One simple way of measuring, and adding value, is by making a simple spreadsheet chartskeywords and page views.There’s no magic formula to creating value, all you really have to do is roll up your sleeves, findout what your readers want, and give it to them. If you’re not up to the task of writing contentyourself, bite the bullet and hire a freelancer to do the work. It’s a business investment in valuethat’s well worth making.STEP 4: UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIASocial media shares are absolutely golden for publishers looking to increase SEO rankingsthrough content because they’re so organic. Google’s Webspam Team knows this and isplacing more and more weight on what they call, social media signals – Tweets; Facebook likes;Pinterest re-pins; and Google + Shares. All of this is great news for content creators becausesocial networks are incredibly cost efficient marketing tools that build site traffic, inbound links,and overall buzz.Making your content go viral is as simple as putting a few share buttons on your sites. Sitevisitors happily share quality content with their own social networks, especially if you’ve madesharing as easy as possible. But sharing content this way isn’t entirely passive.Content creators should take a two-pronged approach to social media that includes activeparticipation in online forums, plenty of Tweeting, and sharing of content on Facebook andGoogle +.Internet marketing applications like Raven Tools include integrated social media tools that makeboth pushing content through social media, and monitoring social media trends from a consolevery easy.
Social media shares build virally and are highly prized by Google algorithms. (Graphic courtesy of Leader Graphics)Repurposing Content for Social MediaThe great thing about social media is that it provides with a number of opportunities torepurpose your content across a number of different platforms. Over atBusinness2Community.com we ran across a post by Renee DeCoskey titled, How toIntelligently Repurpose Your Content Across Platforms and Why that serves as a great modelfor how webmasters can get started on a social media strategy using content they’ve alreadypaid for.Above all, a good social media content strategy is all about repurposing, not reposting. Take, forexample, an article about sports betting tips. How many ways could that article get re-used onsocial media? Tweet each and every factoid in the article individually over the course of a few weeks with a link to game-related promotions. Re-configure the article and use it as a chapter in an e-book you give away to visitors who give you social media shares or sign up as Twitter followers. Make the article into a simple video with captions to post up on LinkedIn.These are just a few ideas for utilizing social media in your SEO content strategy. Keep track ofSEO blogs and you’ll see new ideas popping up all the time.It’s also important to remember that every social media platform has its own distinct personalityso there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach. Content that works well on Facebook might notbe appropriate for the business friendly pages of LinkedIn. Get to know each platform and theirdistinct voice before jumping in too deep with your content.
STEP 5: GUEST BLOGOne of the most important elements in getting higher SEO rankings through content is simplygetting your content out on the Internet so Google can index it. We’ve talked about how socialmedia shares impact now let’s look at how guest blogging works.Guest blogging is exactly what it sounds like and is a great way to build up the high valueauthority links that Google values. Finding a high profile blog that’s willing to give you a shotmight take some time, but it’s worth pursuing. After all, a guest blog generates traffic back toyour site and gives you a valuable opportunity to bring new readers, and increased pagerankings to your site.We like the advice that Neil Patel over at Quicksprout.com gives in his article titled, The RealSecret to Getting 1,000 new blog subscribers in 60 Days. Patel suggests that guest bloggersinclude a link in their byline to a dedicated landing page inviting new visitors to sign up fornewsletters, updates or follow on social media. Sweetening the deal with a free e-book canmake the invitation more enticing.Maximizing a guest blogging opportunity brings new readers, news social media shares andincreased page rankings. Guest blogging can create tons of new visitors. (Graphic courtesy of www.opensourcevarsity.com)
So how do you go about landing your own guest blogs? It’s not that hard, but it definitelyrequires some research. Patel’s article lays out a very straightforward technique for approachinga blog editor about doing some guest work. Create a list of the authority blogs in your niche. No matter how big these sites may seem to you they feel a lot smaller to the folks running them. A blog or website of any kind, as you’re probably finding out, is a content eating monster. Most of the big blogs are very receptive to offers of quality content in exchange for a link or two. Establish yourself as an authority in your field by posting and answering intelligent questions on the site forums. Blog editors watch forums like hawks and, if you’ve got a backlist of good posting, the next step will be a lot easier. Approach the editor with an e-mail. Send a simple note stating, who you are; your post idea, and what value it brings to the site. (Don’t worrying about asking for a link. Any blogger worth his salt will offer you one without being asked.) Write the best post of your life. Given that a guest blog post is your big shot at reaching a new audience, you want to put your best foot forward. Impress everyone with all the facts you can come up with and keep you tone humble but authoritative. You shouldn’t come across as a know-it-all, maybe shoot for coming across as a know-a-lot.STEP 6: CONTENT IS MORE THAN JUST AN ARTICLEGreat articles and blog postings that provide value to your readers will definitely help boost youroverall SEO efforts, but why stop there? Creating a variety of content options like infographics,e-books, mobile apps, templates, and even simple games will drive traffic, boost page rankingsand increase the value proposition of everything you do.If you’re not comfortable creating graphics, why not go in-depth on your topic with an e-book,case study or ongoing series? SEO Gurus have long advocated repurposing content as a greatway of getting the most for your money and the more content you’re posting, the better off yourpage rankings are going to be.Quality content doesn’t fall out of the trees, so you’ll probably need some help finding contentproviders and graphics for your SEO-friendly content. Fortunately, there are a number of webresources that can be a big help here. Fiverr.com – If you’re looking for quick and dirty graphics, animations and other creative work, this is the place to go. Freelancers on the site only charge $5 for whatever they’re hawking and competition is fierce. One thing you DO NOT want to get from Fiverr.com is SEO work and social media shares. The accounts used by people who promise, “1000 Twitter followers for $5” or “100 Facebook likes for $5” are not organic and are often shut down after a very short time. They won’t help your SEO and are not worth $5. A quick graphic for an article that costs just a fin…that’s a different story. Graphics – Webmasters play fast and loose with, uh, borrowed graphics all the time. There’s something called “fair use” that allows sites to small bits of content and graphics,
so long as they credit the creator. But there are plenty of free stock photo sites that canget you started on free graphics.Content – We’ve talked a little about the value of paying for SEO-friendly content as abusiness investment, and that’s worth reiterating. So where are you supposed to go tofind these content creators? A simple forum posting on your favorite industry website willprobably get you more writers than you need. Ask for plenty of samples of their previousrelated and don’t be afraid to get specific. If you need baccarat content, ask for itspecifically and you’ll be amazed at the results.