Content Marketing for SEO - Very Awesome Content Marketing Cheat Sheet
Anatomy of Content Creation
By now, many of us are familiar with how to create great content for content marketing to our readers but is it actually pulling in the amount of visitors you expected, especially with the work that goes into creating great articles is – well… a lot!?
Among the many factors that go into sourcing and crafting great articles, there are many other dynamics that go into making the content searchable and significant for the search engines to determine what, where and how display your written content and rank in the search engines; but for the purposes of this article when we look at how “good” content is created, we’ll be taking a look from the technical perspective and help you find that things aren’t as easy as just creating a readable and engaging article (though it should be that simple).
Think Conversions! You want to give your readers the right clues off the bat to enhance maximum conversion potential, but perhaps just as important as the right cues for actual readers are the cues we leave for the search engines and these tips below are designed to do just that.
***This is a somewhat lengthy article (A SUPER POST) but well worth the read, it will help teach and guide you on how to properly create articles that will help you dominate in the search engines***
Social Sharing Indicators?
Are you helping your readers use social sharing in your articles?
Let’s be honest, how many times in the last year have you asked for a “share”, “like”, a “Google +1”, a “stumble” or however else you want your articles or website to be shared?... Do you ask? Well with content marketing you should always ask to be shared because search engines use these as indicators to assist in the measurement of the popularity of a particular article or website. The very essence from a technical SEO perspective is that sharing helps your search engine rankings – the more you’re shared, the more you’re viewed as popular and relevant by search engines and therefore the more ranking you’ll get. With that in mind, let’s look at a few ways were social sharing indicators count.
How many friends do you have?
Social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all encourage users to connect with each other. Search engines like Google and Bing then consider your connections and the quality of those connections and make algorithmic decisions based on the information they have access to in order to help them rank your site.
Do they “like”, "share" or " follow" your content?
How many “likes”,”retweets”, “Google +1s” does your amazing content pay you back in kind with? Please click on these for us!!!
(In this article on our website we have actual sharing mechanisms - please click anything you see on the right side and maybe sign up for the daily digest as well and at the end of this article you can go to the bottom for a direct link to the original story and the Cheat Sheet)
This is a little like the previous point above however, followers and subscribers are really good indicators as to whether readers actually like the content you produce. More importantly many social media platforms track this type of information for its members that produce content and in turn certain search engines have access to certain social media platforms and use this information within their search engine rankings to place your “deserved ranking”.
Social indicators, like the ones mentioned above, are utilized by search engines to determine the amount of authority your website or you yourself as an author may have. The theory is that the greater your authority, then the greater your chance of performing well in search engines. Authority is a central component of where you rank in the search engines and that’s why major portions of any SEO campaign are spent increasing the authority of a website.
What Sites Count?
There are countless social networks coming online every month and many niche networks being setup on a consistent basis that are specific to certain categories, niches, types of content, countries, etc.
Really all sites count when it comes to helping increase your position, but generally the more popular a site is the more it can help you in your endeavour to rank highly as far as seo is concerned.
Just remember that if you don’t ask for a social signal you won’t get it. Therefore make It as easy as possible for your readers to share and sign up for your content!
So now that we know a little more about social sharing indicators, how do we implement them on our site?
There are lots of really great ways to help your readers share your content, two of my favorite (easy to implement) are ShareThis (www.sharethis.com) and AddThis (www.addthis.com). Specifically ShareThis has a great toolset that allows your readers either to share your content with their personal and professional networks but also has the option to get a reader to go directly to your social media page and become a follower or “like” it. Both networks, ShareThis and AddThis, provide the ability for complete analytics on the sharing of your content and can integrate well directly into Google Analytics.
There are many other ways to get the shares and “likes” you want by building the ability for your readers to click custom “like” and share buttons through custom html and other methods but the above are by far much easier to implement.
LSI Keywords Within Content
Let's start with what LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, is. First here's the Wikipedia definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latent_semantic_indexing.
The long story short is that search engines use a technique that relates keywords and terms as having a similar or the same meaning (semantically correlated) using identified patterns in the relationships between terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text. What this means in plain English is that when you search for a particular keyword or phrase such as “barber shops in Toronto”, sites that may have been optimized between the links and page text for “Toronto barber shops” or “barber shops Toronto” “hair dressers in Toronto” may in fact be brought up for your search.
Why is this important? Consider the amount of queries a search engine gets and then consider the fact that there may not be a best search engine result for it to give for your particular search (or any good results). In this case the search engine needs to come up with something of significant value to show you, so it will look for semantic equivalents to your search and displays the closest it can find that relates to what it thinks you are looking for.
A trick we like to use to determine which keywords you can use for your content to make its context look more relevant and targeted around an industry-specific keyword is to make use of the tilde (~) when searching for your “root keyword” in Google.
In this example we searched for "catering" and returned results that are not 'catering' but LSI results
When using LSI words that relate to your keyword strategy within your articles, you will be targeting your content with much more precision so that the search engines will have the most accurate way of looking at your content. In turn you you be rewarded with ranking on the SERPs.
Your most important asset when writing for the web is to use keyterms or keywords that are targeted to the information you’re trying to develop, more importantly the keyterms you use have to be relevant to the searcher. For example if I search for the word “cataract” I will find:
However I may in fact be searching for the less common use of the word which is a "waterfall". In this way if you inject the word cataract into your article and your meaning is waterfall, it will be almost completely irrelevant to what real searchers are actually searching for when they search for the term “cataract”.
On another note, during longtail searches (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_tail) search engines don’t always have a perfect page to serve up and are forced to use other minor elements such as the keywords that are in your text portions of your article in combination with LSI techniques to serve up your Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Focus, Focus… Focus
Now that you have your keywords, are they focused and highlighted so that search engines understand their importance to your article?
There are many ways to highlight the keywords in your article but it’s best to perform keyword research for your site to help determine what keywords to use and how your article complements your ongoing web strategy. Once you have the keywords in place you want to use for your many articles, be sure to ‘actually’ use them within your articles to maximize your opportunities - use this guideline:
- Use at least 3-5 keywords/keyterms within your article
- Use each keyword/keyterm at least 5 times within the article
- Use a keyword/keyterm in the H1 or H2 header of the article (right at the beginning of the title if possible)
- Highlight or italicize the keyword/keyterm used at least once in the article
- Use anchor text and link internally
- Utilize rich media and pictures
Internal Linking (Anchor Text)
An internal link is a hyperlink that navigates you to another part of the article or another article within the same website or domain of the internet. In articles like this one, the words highlighted in blue are examples of internal links. An internal link can be on a navigation pane or embedded within an article itself – either way, it lets the search engines find material easier within your website. Here is what a link looks like in HTML:
You’ll notice in this picture there is a portion that contains a visible portion and this is called ‘anchor text’, this is a piece of text that search engines uses in conjunction with the link referral location and processed through an algorithm to identify, categorize and catalogue where and how it should be displayed on the search engines.
Now… Internal linking is very important for several reasons;
Firstly it tells readers that there is information on your site, on another page, that relates to this keyword and “here is an easy way to get to that information”.
Secondly, search engines use these links to get around your website just like your readers and visitors.
Thirdly, the anchor text associated with your link is an indicating tool that search engines use to help rank your site on SERPs.
Lastly, and this is one of the more important reasons… your content will be stolen and scraped by someone or robot program at some time or another and posted on another website without your permission (unfortunately there are few ways of stopping this), therefore by embedding internal links that point directly to your articles, when you lose control of your content to less scrupulous people, you will gain valuable links back to your site with little to no effort on your behalf – In effect, the content stealer is helping you perform better in the search engines. For example I might use:
Content is King, Queen, Jack and ACE - In content marketing this is one of those things that go without question if you are really serious about gaining followers and authority. Producing high quality and targeted content that will bring people back to your site is ultimately your main goal. Some recommended tips include:
Identifying your audience
Identifying your audience is very important to do from the onset. By identifying your audience you’re able to structure your writing style according to your reader, their areas of interests, and the tone and style that will attract them the most to your content.
Identifying what and why you are writing
What you are writing should be clear and concise. Identifying your goals and objectives of your content will help hone in on what you want to say. Business content in particular will have some technicalities, but should certainly be understood by your intended target audience.
Keep it simple approach
The only reason you’re writing an article in the first place is to attract the maximum number of potential leads and clients. Almost all audiences want simple, clear and comprehensive content that will help them understand the objectives of your business quickly. Flowery language or superfluous information does not attract targeted audiences longer and gives an unprofessional look to your content in general.
Simple vocabulary over difficult words or jargon
Using difficult words can clutter up your articles and will distract your readers. Great content in general contains little if any clutter. Passive voice should not be used where possible, simple and precise writing will attract a larger audience, give an impressive look to your site and get more opportunities to be rated highly in search engines.
Make your content user-friendly
Structure your web content with headers, subheadings, bullet points, inset quotes, etc. to make your content look as appealing as possible. This will make your content easy to understand and look amazingly well organized at the same time. Splitting your content into smaller chunks for online writing will make your website stand out much more, also consider using something called pagination, which is splitting up long articles over several pages.
Proofread before releasing your article
Proofreading is one of the most important but forgotten parts to article writing. You can quickly lose credibility by not proofreading and correcting your grammar, punctuations and spelling mistakes. Your writing will certainly go through a few revisions but by ensuring your final copy is free of errors, you will make the largest impact with your newly created content.
Pictures and Other Rich Media Content
Without a doubt you want to include pictures, videos, or any other type of rich media available for your articles. Studies have shown that pictures lead to increased engagement (engagement is a visitor or reader making an action on your website) over non-picture articles by a huge amount – Make sure you add alt tags with your picture. Videos in particular are also known for keeping people on your website for much longer then they would without video present, and coupled with pictures creates the type of interaction that will keep your visitors engaged for a longer amounts of time on your site.
Implement Schema and Microdata
What is all the buzz about schema and microdata?
Schema and microdata have the ability to become very useful in the future of Search Engine Optimization and many SEO experts believe that those who are already using schema and microdata on their sites may already be outranking other sites in competitive spaces. This is really exciting news because those we’ll be testing this particular attribute and report back on the results in the next few months.
Schema and microdata are really just a set of tags that webmasters and content creators can use to “highlight” certain aspects of your content to help search engines better understand the relevance of a set of words or information on the webpage – with the aim of being able to serve up the best experience for a searcher.
Perhaps among the toughest aspects of using schema and microdata is that it is not well defined on how to use it. Learning how to code schema properly is tough because there are A LOT of tags (some of which are about very obscure pieces of information), which can become quickly frustrating if you’re trying to get out good content quickly. There is great news on this front, Raven has created a site that will help your create schema and microdata for your site called schema-creator.org where you can easily create markups and add them to your site (or byline) for free.
If you’ve been using Google for the last year you may have you noticed a trend where some people’s picture show up in a Search Engine Results Page beside a link? This is a newish feature designed by Google to help bring credibility to your story/article or whatever you’re writing. This is a result of a decision Google made almost 2 years ago and announced by Matt Cutts that they will support authorship markup.
What are some key factors to remember if you choose to use authorship markup?
- Engagement on G+
- Connections to other Authors
- Number of G+ Circles
- Authority on other social platforms
- External engagement
- Shares and +1s
- General authority signals like citations and mentions via news sources and the like
- Inbound links
- PageRank of individual articles
- Maybe several other metrics…
In fact, there seems to be more overt factors to being ranked under Authorship Rank in the SERPs than traditional SEO will rank your site in the SERPs. This may be good news as for the time being it will be far more clear on how to get to the top of the search engines using your authorship then getting your company up on the top of search engines using traditional SEO.
Page Title Accuracy
What’s in a title anyways? Title tags still remain one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to on-site SEO. Targeted keywords must be used to give your page a fighting chance to get to the top of searches.
Making sure that the title of your page meets or exceed the expectations of your target audience is vitally important; if you mislead your audience (and they’ll know) you’re just ruining your credibility – and search engines may see the dreaded “bounce”.
Another great attribute you can develop out to help people click through to your site is ‘make your title actionable’. By making it actionable you are promoting it appropriately and allowing real searchers to see the value that lies behind clicking your link – It’s your marketing copy.
Content Marketing Strategy
It is very important that your content strategy lines up with your keyword strategy, this is one area that can’t be ignored and requires sophistication with your technical research. There are two mainstream strategies which are ‘Maximizing for Search Popularity’ and ‘Minimizing Search Competition, both these strategies have really great strengths and some weaknesses if used to the extreme.
Maximizing for Search Popularity:
When you maximize your articles for search popularity, what you’re actually doing is augmenting your content and including keywords that are among the most popularly searched terms available. The good thing about this method is that as long as the keywords are in line with your website keyword strategy, your opportunity for ranking highly will increase.
One of the downsides to this method is that if you optimize for a highly competitive term you may never get the opportunity to be listed at the top of a search term because of the sheer competition.
Minimizing Search Competition:
This is a particularly good strategy since you can optimize your article for keywords and terms that are not searched as much but still receive a significant amount of search volume. The trick with this strategy is that you are probably going to be including longtail keyterms (terms with more than 3 or 4 words) into your writing.
The major upside to this is that searchers who use longtail terms in search engines are usually focused and primed to buy what they are looking for.
Tools to Help you Automate Aspects of your Content Marketing efforts:
We here at EIM Solutions really like two platforms for various reasons, our favorites are Inbound Writer and Scribe Content (Disclaimer – these are our affiliate links). We like these two so much that they are the only platform we would actually consider promoting that will help you optimize your great content.
Both of these pieces of software are incredibly powerful and have the ability to gently massage your content to give you the best possible chance to get picked up by the search engines – and we highly recommend them
So you’ve made it to the end – whew!
That’s really a lot of information crammed in a short space to take in, so what we’ve done is created a really neat and simple checklist to make sure you hit all the points that matter, without having to re-read the article (unless you want to), in the creation of great content.
I wanted to thank you personally for reading through the whole article with a quick and easy checklist to use for optimizing your content - It can be found here:
If you have found this article useful or helpful please share it with your network.
Nicholas is an 8 year veteran in the Digital Marketing space. His passion for digital marketing and analytics has helped many companies to build digital relationships for business and leverage opportunities in both web and mobile technologies by creating winning strategies that help companies grow and maintain their digital relationships.
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