Do the complexities of digital marketing have you overwhelmed and confused? That’s understandable. There’s a lot of misleading and seemingly contradictory information out there on the topic of SEO, and it takes some well-crafted and synchronized marketing strategies to get your website discovered by search engines and potential customers. It may not come as a surprise to you, but 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. That means that making your website accessible to users is vital to your success. With a strong SEO strategy, you can make your way to the heights of Google’s ranks and land that coveted top spot, bringing more traffic to your site and ultimately converting visitors into customers.
This article will ease you into SEO one step and a time. We will start you off on the right foot, introducing two of the most basic (but essential) techniques you’ll need to master before jumping into more advanced practices in search engine optimization. After all, digital marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Address Searcher Intent With High-Quality, Long-Form Content
You’ve got your business website, but does your site have a blog? No matter what kind of business you’re operating, a blog is a necessity. It acts as an information library to help build trust with your ideal customers, establishing you as an expert in your field. Your blog should include well-researched, in-depth articles that answer the big and small questions your customers (and potential customers) have. Worried about giving away too much information for free? Trust us: the more you give the more you get. A highly informative, step-by-step guide on how to stop your toilet from running isn’t going to prevent homeowners from hiring your plumbing company when a pipe bursts or their faucet leaks. If anything, your helpful content will ensure them that you are the experts they can trust to get any job done.
Let’s talk about searcher intent, which refers to the motivations of a search engine user. When a user types their query into Google, they’re looking for something specific — information, products, services, etc. You want Google to consider your site for the first search results page for keywords related to your business. And for Google to choose you, your website content must address the searcher intent present in the keywords the searcher types in.
Here’s an example: If a searcher looks up “where to buy a shower curtain,” we know what they are looking for; their intent is clear. Google’s job is to help them find a shower curtain for sale. You know that your e-commerce home goods store is the answer, but you have to prove that to Google.
So, you’ll need to convey why your website is the best answer to “where to buy a shower curtain.” This keyword must appear on your site a number of times, and we recommend writing a blog post to answer this exact question. Additionally, your blog as a whole should provide a vast amount of information related to home goods, interior decorating, and bathroom design trends — all content that will benefit your ideal customer. To set yourself up as a thought leader or industry expert, create in-depth, well-written, and well-researched content.
In recent years, small business owners could create blog posts around 500 words, and that was enough to attract Google and plenty of traffic. Today, over 2 million blog posts are posted on the internet every day, which means competition is fierce. To prove yourself worthy of Google’s attention, your blog needs to be bigger and better. SEO experts suggest that the most successful blog posts contain between 1,500 and 2,000 words; recent data shows that page one listings on Google typically have upwards of 1,000 words.
Why is longer content more highly regarded by Google? For one thing, it leaves more room for the writer to go in-depth, meaning the article will likely contain more important information that will benefit readers. And with each algorithm update, Google is getting better at telling when text is strong and valuable versus when it’s filled with fluff. The 2011 Panda algorithm update was specifically designed to look at content quality, using syntax and grammar to determine if the text is meaningful. Thin, keyword-stuffed nonsense just won’t cut it these days.
Google also responds well to long-form content because it increases a visitor’s time on page. The funny thing is that a longer piece is actually less likely to be read in its entirety than a shorter article. In today’s fast-paced world, readers don’t have the attention span for 2,000 words. However, long-form blog posts with an appealing layout and several images are simply more engaging. Readers may jump around the page, but they will stick around to find the answers they’re looking for. Time on page is considered a major ranking factor in Google’s eyes.
Let’s take a moment to recap. Our first basic SEO technique: create well-researched, in-depth, long-form blog content that addresses searcher intent.
Promote Content to Earn Relevant, High-Quality Backlinks
We know that the internet contains two primary ingredients: content and links. You’ve got your well-written content, so now it’s time to build links across the web to those specific pages.
Links are like roads or highways, carrying users to webpages across the digital landscape. Yet, links serve another function: for search engines, a link acts as a vote cast by one site for another. The more backlinks your site has, the more confidence Google will have that your website is highly reliable and authoritative. Now, it’s important to note that not all votes are created equal. The best links are those from sites that are relevant to your site’s niche or industry and are considered “high authority.”
Domain authority (DA) or domain rating (DR) are measurements of a website’s strength. Spanning from zero to 100, the higher the DA or DR, the more authoritative the site. Because Google already trusts these sites, when one links to your site, the search engine ranks it a little higher.
That being said, a link from a high DA site that is not thematically related to your website will send up red flags to Google. An interior design blog links to your e-commerce home goods store? Excellent! Google loves it. But a pet care website links to you? That doesn’t make sense. The key takeaway here: relevance is important.
Now let’s get practical. How do you get highly authoritative and relevant links to your site?
SEO professionals recommend spending 20% of your content marketing strategy on creating that content and the other 80% on promoting it. Like in any election, campaigning for votes is required; some shameless self-promotion is necessary to get people to vouch for you. One way to do this is through email outreach.
Ignore the naysayers; email marketing is alive and well. Even after all these years, email is still one of the most popular communication platforms around.
Begin curating a list of email addresses, but not just any addresses, those of people who have opted-in to receiving communication from your company. These are people who value what you have to say, so you know they will welcome your content. You procure these addresses through an email capture pop-up on your site that offers a free sample, a coupon, or a whitepaper in return for their contact information. These should be the first people you reach out to when you publish a new article on your blog. Their likes, comments, and shares will be social signals to Google, saying that your blog is valuable to readers.
Next, email influencers in your industry. These are people with high DA or DR websites whose links will boost your site on Google. You can offer to write a guest post for their websites, and in exchange for a well-written piece of content, many will allow you to put in a link back to your own website.
So there we have it: high-quality content and a solid backlink profile are the two most basic building blocks of a strong SEO campaign. If you’re looking for a straightforward, simple step to start with, give your blog some much-needed attention. Of course, that’s not all there is to it. Google’s algorithm does take many other factors into consideration, so if you want to go more in-depth into advanced SEO techniques, consult a white label SEO firm!