Mark Twain was a classic American author. He was also probably (definitely) thinking about SEO when he wrote: “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Okay, you’ll have to fact check us on that one, but it seems that every year, people jump at the opportunity to proclaim that SEO—which has dominated digital marketing since the advent of the internet—has gone belly up.
A search for the phrase “is SEO dead” yields over 42 million results, so it’s clearly a hot topic. But that doesn’t make it true. In fact, SEO is alive and well, and you need it to remain relevant in today’s data-driven, consumer-focused world. As a smart content marketer, you also need SEO to gather the right insights that will help you hit strategic brand messaging goals.
So what is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. As Twain would say, this basically means when someone searches for information about a subject, are they going to see your website?
To make sure you’re coming in that coveted, number one search spot, here are 5 easy ways to become an SEO guru and improve your brand’s positioning and thought leadership:
- Think in key phrases, not key terms: 50 percent of search queries are four words or longer. These are known as long-tail keywords and they’re phrases that can help drive people to your site. Most people will search “how to ride a bike,” not just “bike,” when looking for specific information. Don’t throw terms into your content you think people will search for; incorporate natural phrasing you think consumers would use to find the information they’re looking for. With keyword data, your strategy and analytics team can then help you track your progress and fill in any searchable topics that your brand can speak to
- Think in the mindset of your consumer, not your brand: You’re trying to appeal to consumers — put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what kind of content will provide value to them, not self-serving content you think will drive your brand’s goals. This means you shouldn’t only be writing in your company’s jargon or strictly using keywords to increase your SEO. Make your content useful. Remember, search engines care about the user experience.
- Use dynamic, relevant content over static or repetitive information: 72 percent of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic. Keep your content fresh and unique across the different pages of your brand’s website. Whether you’re repurposing old content to make it evergreen or updating old links, this will help “prove” to search engines that your site is actively sharing information. In fact, with the right insights, your team can adjust strategy to brainstorm relevant, searchable story topics.
- Link-building should happen from credible sources: Don’t aim to get inbound links from anywhere and everywhere. Aim for high-quality sites, like PRSA, to link to your site. The more reputable the site, the better off you will be. Think, being “in with the cool crowd.”
- Think mobile first: Work with your web team to make sure your website is mobile-friendly and crawlable. Google announced that it will begin ranking pages by speed for mobile searches, which means a website will only appear at the top of results if it is mobile-friendly. Most people are on their phones! Make sure your content can adapt to their lifestyle.
Let the others proclaim SEO is dead. You just keep these strategies in mind and your brand will continue to see improved ranking in search engines and grow your digital presence across the internet. Remember, content marketers need to use SEO for a reason — it’s an important tool that will lead to strategic insights about your messaging goals to help you grab the top spot and establish brand authority.