By Markerly’s Christine Beuhler
No one can seem to agree: is SEO out of date and obsolete or still worth it? And what are social signals? What’s going on? I’m going back to bed.
SEO and Google
Google doesn’t seem to like SEO much, which is understandable. So-called “black-hat” techniques (simply bad SEO practices) have made it their business to dupe search engines for years to get their clients in the top rankings and first pages of results. That bad name given by these techniques has pervaded SEO to the point that using SEO makes some companies uneasy and worry about its legitimacy as a method to getting more.
Content and Social Signals
Google’s phasing out of SEO means they have turned to other means to populate the top rankings, in this case social signals. The rule of thumb of social signals is the more times a piece of content is shared (the more likes, mentions, tweets, retweets, +1′s, etc.) the higher quality content it is, and generally the higher in the rankings it will show up. In fact, about half of the traffic to sites is now coming from social sharing instead of searching.
Creating quality content which is ALSO popular is not easy, but it is a more consistently reliable practice which makes sense to people. People like something, they share it, it’s a pretty simple concept, as opposed to monkeying around with technical SEO terms that they don’t understand and which seem to insist on changing anyway.
Marrying The Two
So the two have their differences, but it’s easy to see that social sharing and SEO affect each other. Their relationship is becoming intertwined, so what’s an entrepreneur/blogger/business owner to do?
As long as searching is still around, (and I’m pretty sure Google isn’t taking a vacation anytime soon) won’t SEO always be necessary? In that case, what still matters when it comes to SEO? To create harmony between the two groups, here are some areas where to marry SEO AND great content for optimum results.
(If you haven’t already, go take care of your content. Seriously. Social sharing is great, but it’s not king. Content is.)
1. GREAT Headlines
The function of a truly great headline is that it grabs, intrigues, and entices you into reading the full piece, usually in 8 words or less. A tall order, especially when stats say only 20% of people read your piece past the headline. No pressure or anything. But headlines are also a great opportunity to state clearly what your piece is about, and the words you select are a big contributing factor when it comes to online searching.
Pro Tip: Personally, I’m not a fan of “shocker” headlines, because after reading, I often feel manipulated, meaning my perception of the headline did not align with my perception of the article. You don’t ever want to give your audience a feeling of being used. They will determine that you are “not worth it” and they won’t come back.
Carefully selecting keywords will really help out the people who are trying to find you, but it also helps you narrow down what your post is actually ABOUT. Sometimes, you start off having no idea what you’re talking about until the end, when the big picture slowly comes into view and you grasp it. Kudos for that, keywords!
Pro Tip: Longer phrases often help out more than shorter ones. Competition for one or two word phrases can be extremely fierce, so the more specific you are, the more likely you are to to bring in the kind of traffic you’re looking for.
When choosing titles, captions, and alt text for your images, make sure they are tightly relevant to your topic and this could help bump up your content even more.
Pro Tip: Blocks of text can be scary and intimidating to the reader, but engaging images keep the eye flowing through the entire piece, especially if they’re funny images or have funny text.
This one may surprise you, but stats show that video automatically ranks higher in Google Search over any other type of content. This a huge plus for your rankings, but having video content also sets you apart by switching up the medium of your content, making it more exciting for your regular readers.
Pro Tip: Show your personality and be engaging in how you move and talk. Try to turn off your anxieties about being in front of the camera and always focus on how to best help people. So as always, keep your content fresh and lively, because that’s what matters the most. But using some of the tips shown above can make sure you’re found by the right people, while keeping your content prevalent on social media. See? They don’t have to fight.
Check out Markerly’s blog about the future of content and why you need a content strategy, here.