If you own an online e-commerce business, you understand one thing: the only way to be successful is to bring the right, interested consumers to you. And they come to you from many places – blogs, social media platforms, etc.
But the most important way to bring them in is to be recognized and indexed well by search engines. When consumers conduct generic searches, you want your business as far upon those results as possible. It’s called SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but then, again, you already know that. And SEO has changed a great deal over the years, as has the content writing that will get you those high rankings.
So, let’s take a look at these two concepts, and see how they can be aligned to give you those great results.
The Evolution of SEO
When search engines like Google began, they were pretty unsophisticated. And so were consumers who searched for companies that offered products or services they were interested in purchasing. Search terms consisted of one or two words, for example, “interior paint.” Content writers understood this, and they filled their website content and their blog articles with these and as many other related keywords as they could find. The more of these keywords they could get into their content, whether they fell naturally into the text or not, the more search engines “found” them and ranked them.
Over time, search engine owners figured this one out, and so did consumers. And newer algorithms have continued to be developed that focus on far more than a keyword or two. Search engines want consumers to find the most valuable sources when they conduct searches. And, as a result, content is now far more than keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing will actually penalize the publisher.
So how does content now align with SEO? Read on, so that your content will be that which is most liked and ranked higher by search engines.
The Key Factors for High Content Ranking
The first step in aligning your content with SEO is to forget about SEO, at least for the moment. While this may seem counterintuitive, it will ultimately make sense. Here are the key things you should strategize first, as you craft content.
Use the Newest Tools to Dig into Your Customer Base
Content is all about the customer – his needs, his pain points, his personality, his/her gender, educational/socioeconomic levels, and other demographics. Until recently, a lot of manual research had to be done to identify that ideal customer, and not all businesses could do this well enough to reach out to all of their potential customers.
Big data has changed all of this. Now, oceans of information that are all over the web can be gathered, churned, categorized and provide answers to very specific questions about purchasing behaviors, wants and needs that can be met by your product or service, where your customer hangs out online, and even the longer keyword phrases that these searchers use for your products. Fortunately, while this was once an activity reserved for expensive data scientists, today, there are services and tools that anyone can use to gather and make sense of this data.
Once content marketers have this information, it should drive all of their content creation. Find the real needs of your customers and the value they are looking for, and be certain that your content is based upon those things.
Example: Several years ago, Dollar Shave Club founders, Michael Dubin and Mark Levine, identified a real need for millennial men – an easy way to get razors delivered to their homes, so they would never have to worry about using dirty razors because they did not get to the store to buy them. They developed a marketing strategy that appealed to this audience in voice, tone, and style, as well as satisfied a serious need they had. What could be better? Their first content marketing tactic was a hysterical video that went viral immediately, and put this company on the map, especially with search engines that of course picked up on the amazing popularity of the video.
Do the Keyword Research, but Be Smart and Moderate in Usage
Keywords are still important, but the how, what, when, and where have changed. New search engine bots will find keyword stuffing immediately, and will certainly punish content writers who engage in this behavior. Again, there are a huge number of tools you can use to find the most popular keyword phrases that searchers now use.
Once you identify these keywords, you must be smart and moderate in their use. Using them in the title and in a few places throughout the content will get you a far better response from search engines than will be your attempts to stuff as many in as possible. Pick the most popular long-tail keywords and find ways to insert them naturally within your content.
What Types of Content Engage Your Audience?
What search engines like to see today is the popularity of content. Their bots do track how many visits a piece of content receives and how long visitors remain involved with that content. Of course, then, you want pieces that engage your audience.
Steven Waltham, the content marketer for Pick the Writer, the writing services review site, states: “Think about the content that engages you – walls of text? Of course not. You want content that is divided into chunks, that is snackable and scannable. You want visuals, and media of some sort. This is why videos, memes and GIF’s are so popular.”
And how about humor, education, and inspiration? Viewers want these things – otherwise, it’s boring.
And consider as well, that most content today will be consumed on mobile devices, not desktop PCs. It must be absorbed quickly and visually. Consumers are impatient and on the go. They want their information quickly and easily digestible. While the technical aspects of your website (load speed, mobile responsiveness, voice search, etc.) are not directly related to your content itself, they are related to how that content is delivered.
Conducting technical audits of how your content is delivered and the type of user experience you are providing has to be a part of aligning your content with SEO. The best video ever will fall flat if it does not load quickly, if it pauses for buffering, and it has not been made responsive for any and every type of device.
Another important point here: Google rolled out its “mobile-first” indexing in 2018. This means that it indexes and ranks mobile content before that on a desktop. Your desktop website/content will still get ranked, but when it is totally mobile-friendly, all the better.
Focus on Interaction with Your Audience
Content that engages consumers in active ways will also be more popular. Quizzes, surveys, etc. are popular because audiences like to respond and see the results of responses. If you use interactive content, you are likely to have visitors/users who come more often, participate, and come back for more.
Backlinks from Reputable and Relevant Sources
Backlinks (the links to your content from outside sources) are also traced by search engine bots. Once content marketers realized this, they launched “fast and furious” campaigns to set up reciprocal arrangements to link to one another’s content. Again, search engines got wise to this activity and such arrangements, if not logical and reputable, are punishable. So, if your business is paint and stain, a backlink from a clothing retailer is not relevant. Just don’t do it. Find related and reputable co-related arrangements – these are seen as valuable.
If you know that you have backlinks from low-quality sources, do something about it. Contact those site administrators and ask that links to your content be removed. If that doesn’t work, Google has a tool you can use to “disavow” those backlinks, and it will not consider them when indexing you.
Affiliate Marketing Can Spread a Brand (and Sales)
There is an indirect relationship between affiliate marketing and SEO. Many businesses set up affiliate marketing campaigns with reputable and related individuals and companies that engage in promoting their products or services. Again, if they are “on the level,” are consistently promoting products and services from the same industry, they become experts, and their recommendations cause consumers to go to the websites and make purchases. And if there is great content about a product or service, search engines will take notice.
Now, About Creating that Content
It will be important for content creators to have as much knowledge and understanding of the latest search engine algorithms, so that they plan and publish content that makes those search engines happy.
Understanding your audience is the key to crafting the type of content that is going to work for your brand – in tone, style, and voice. A younger audience, for example, will want a far different type of humor than, say, senior citizens. A younger audience uses a far different vocabulary than a senior, and will tolerate far more off-color tones and voices. Using the voice that both reflects your brand and that your audience appreciates is just huge if you want to keep visitors coming back and making the conversions you want them to make.
In the End…
Content and SEO are intricately intertwined, more than ever before. This has been the result of much greater sophistication on the part of search engines to find and highly rank that content that is truly valuable and usable to searchers. SEO is far more than just some research on keywords (though this is certainly important); it is now the content itself and consumer responses to that content that figure so highly on search engine rankings.
Dorian Martin is a frequent blogger and an article contributor to a number of websites related to digital marketing, AI/ML, blockchain, data science and all things digital. He is a senior writer at Supreme Dissertations, runs a personal blog NotBusinessAsUsusal and provides training to other content writers.