When Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO as it is commonly known as, was first thrown out by webmasters and early internet experts, web pages were literally overflowing with keywords repeated over and over again.
This practice of keyword stuffing, if read by a person, would probably have made absolutely no sense at all, but to the early internet spiders crawling and indexing various web pages, this keyword stuffing strategy, appealed and essentially helped companies get their website to that coveted number one page ranking position.
Other tricks that were employed were the use of invisible text, in which multiple keywords in white text were hidden behind white backgrounds, which only the spider would see. There was the use of what are known as doorway pages, which in affect is a fake page that a user will never see, but which would trick the spiders into indexing the site higher. Some companies also utilised what are known as link farms, in which webmasters linked to, or took multiple links from sites, which had completely unrelated or low quality content, in an attempt to improve the visibility on the search engine results pages.
These practices are generally referred to as Black Hat SEO, but with Matt Cutts at the helm of the anti-spam team in Google, it would only be a matter of time before these practices were discovered and dealt with swiftly. Websites that employ Black Hat SEO are severely punished by Google with page ranking penalties, and in some cases a websites page rank been dropped to 0, resulting in massive implications for visitors and potential customers not finding the website.
The next practice to now come under scrutiny is guest blogging, which originally had been seen as an excellent way to raise profile, authority and earn genuine links for posts that were submitted.
But in his blog on the 20th January 2014, entitled “The Decay And Fall From Grace Of Guest Blogging”, Matt Cutts laid out a strong indication that for going forward, Google would now no longer see this as a proper way to build links and that in his opinion, it was becoming more and more spammy. Now, while he said not to do it at all, it leaves you in doubt as to how Google truly feels about guest blogging, and even if you critique who you guest blog for, and follow good practice, how can you be sure that Google will agree and not penalise your site..
So, this leads me back to the title of this article, so is SEO dead? Personally, I don’t believe it is as such, but if we look at the constant changes by Google to its algorithm’s and the introduction of Panda, Penguin, and then Hummingbird, you very quickly understand and become deeply cognisant, as to what Google wants, and dare I say expect, all websites to do.
Simply put, you have to, and Google definitely wants you to, create great content that ultimately provides people with solutions to their problems when they conduct a search online. And don’t forget, people now input 5 or more words when they are conducting a search online. The very fact that people are using long tail keyword search terms of 5 words or more, has meant that Google is becoming very focussed on this very personalised human element regarding the search for solutions, and hence with the introduction of its hummingbird algorithm, Google is now actively focussing on the word and sentence structure that people are using, to ultimately get the exact answers they need.
Therefore, if a website is providing really useful content that actually solves problems and gives great ideas, soon enough people will naturally come back again and again, share the information with their own community, and eventually link to that site as it is now seen as an authority and the go-to resource.
Essentially, when you achieve this you have in fact accomplished something which in web terms is like the holy grail, you have earned the link by sharing quality content and this my friends is exactly what Google wants. They want people using their web browser to search the web for answers to questions that they have, and Google will reward those sites by higher quality scores and page ranking, if they provide the best content that answers the persons search query. If you think about it, in affect by having great content it helps Google create the perfect search experience for the user, as their web browser brings back the best search results.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Google are not the only party who wants you to share great content, so does your customers and prospects, so really ensuring you have an excellent content marketing strategy in place is vital to keep Google and customers happy.
So how do you go about doing this? Here are 5 key steps to focus on to get you started.
1 Know Your Target Audience
It is vital that you really understand who your customer and target market are. You must understand why they buy the products they do, what are the challenges and problems they face, and ultimately what are their interests and makes them tick. By getting as much detail and creating detailed customer personas, you will soon be able to ensure that the content you create for sharing and placing on your website, will have the greatest relevance to your market and in essence help you build this reputation as been an expert.
2 Use Data To Back Up Your Content
People like statistics and research to support content. It gives that little bit of extra validity to what your content is saying. One very popular and engaging way to display statistics for your content is by using infographics. Visually these are very appealing, very memorable and easily shared, and, therefore, your content can be distributed quickly to reach other potential prospects.
3 Choose Your Medium
There is an array of excellent media at the content marketers disposal. One of the first tools I would always advise a company to employ is the development of a BLOG. This provides a fantastic platform from which to write relevant content, that will speak to your target audience directly, build your credibility, and ultimately attract people to your website to follow what you have to say.
Ebooks, are another excellent tool, and also allow you to data capture new visitors who may like a particular guide that will answer a problem, or teach them a new skill, and all they have to do is give some simple contact details such as a name and email and they can then download the ebook. You now have a new prospect who you can now engage with and target bespoke and relevant communications to.
How to videos, infographics, PodCasts and even the use of Slide Share to put up presentations, are all tools and media to allow you provide very rich, informative and relevant content, that will appeal to your audience and make them want to share to their own communities.
4 How To Distribute Your Content
OK, so now you have all the content ideas, the media is chosen and you know who you want to speak with and what they will be interested in. How do you get the message out?
In essence, you need to develop an editorial calendar. This is a weekly content plan in which you detail what content, information, and media you are going to utilise each day so that you can ensure you have it correctly scheduled, and that the content is actually created and ready for sharing. It is an invaluable tool as it really allows you to plan and release targeted content, based on how your audience is reacting to what you are doing each week.
5 Check Results And Always Iterate
Be sure to check your website analytics and how each of your chosen media is performing. Learn and understand what content topics, and around what times of the day and week seem to get the best reactions and engagement. And, always iterate, look to improve and freshen things up.
But one thing is mandatory. Make sure your target market is at the centre of your content strategy so that the information and experience you are providing is been seen as valuable and very worthwhile. The more you create this type of experience the better your relationship with your customers and ultimately with Google.
If you are looking to understand how to create a Digital Marketing Strategy you can get my free ebook by clicking the download button below without having to give any personal details. I want to give you the best information possible and if you like the content all I ask is that you please share with your community and tell people about the website.
Thanks for reading and please do share with your community.
Phillip (The Curly Marketer)
Thank you to freepik.com for the images used in this post