seo content tactics

6 Top SEO Content Tactics to Use in 2017

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? We did, last week on the blog.

Check out the resolutions a lot of us made way back in early 2016:

According to Money, the top goal for Americans was to “enjoy life to the fullest”, and a close second was “live a healthier lifestyle”. Far down at the bottom was “pay off debt.” As a country, most of us are fairly realistic and stick to one goal.

It’s good to make goals, even if we don’t always achieve them.

Setting goals gives us a vision for the future and puts something in our sights that we can reach for. Personally, we aim for better health, more time with people we love, and a more financially stable lifestyle.

On the content development and marketing side of things, setting goals and looking to the most useful SEO content tactics for the next year also gives us something to look toward. Quality content comes from using SEO as an effective tool, drawn from your supply of strategies and experience. Ready to dive into our most useful SEO content tactics to share for the New Year? Grab a latte and join me!

2017 seo tactics for great content

SEO Roots: A Look Back at the Beginning Before We Look at the Future

I was born in 1991, when the launch of the world’s first website happened. (I like to say it was fate bringing the internet and I together – since eight, I’ve had a natural affinity and love for our world wide web.) As the ‘net grew to include Google (1997) and Yahoo (1994), marketers took advantage of keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks in order to rank high on search results.

The art of SEO, or search engine optimization, came along in the early 2000’s to help connect users with the information they needed to find local results. Since that time, user-focused SEO and changes to Google meant rankings had to be earned through relevant, quality content rather than an overuse of keywords.

Today, relevant content and mobile optimization are required to rank at all, and must be backed by authority and expert links.

Content no longer ranks high simply due to a large amount of spam or repetitive keywords throughout a piece of content: it ranks high based on a lot of factors, many of which are now human-based more than bot or algorithm based. (Check out my post all about how semantic search is the way of the future.)

6 SEO Content Tactics to Use in 2017

Search Engine Journal recently gathered the wisdom of 44 SEO experts to ask their views of what trends will define 2017. We gathered about 15-16 for our roundup in the last week of December 2016. While everyone has a different view of what the year will look like, there is one thing they all agree on: as we move forward, it becomes even more important to stay aware of the latest technology and how our strategies need to adapt, no matter what year it may be.

Here are the SEO tactics we need to watch as we go into a new year, one still unwritten, yet full of possibility and growth.

1. AMP

The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) was integrated by Google early in 2016. The open initiative encourages publishers to create mobile-optimized content—pages load quickly on mobile devices for more efficient use.

The goal with AMP is to deliver the best mobile experience to the average user, lessening the wait time for things like videos and graphics. Experts across the board believe that this new year will be the deciding factor in whether AMP stays or gets shelved.

2. Mobile experience

Apps will continue to be a part of the user experience, which means indexing them will be important going forward. As the introduction of RankBrain has made its impact in the world of algorithms, so too has the continued focus on mobile.

Google has already talked about making their index mobile-first and restructuring algorithms to first use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages. This will continue to be important in 2017, especially as 3 out of 4 Americans own a smartphone, up from 2015.

Mobile activity will intersect with search engine optimization and ranking going into this next year. As Duane Forrester reminds us at SEJ, “the shift has already happened…if you’re still ‘thinking about mobile’, consumers won’t be thinking about you.”

3. Content optimization

As industry experts point out, our focus needs to be on content optimization rather than keyword optimization. And while it remains important to a content marketer’s SEO strategy, there is the temptation to get trapped in the “content is king” cycle.

With millions of articles published each month, there has to be something to make you stand out from all of the other voices who want the attention of your audience. Long-form content is a start in the right direction.

4. Machine learning

Innovative technology and its capabilities will reveal previously unseen patterns of searcher behavior. Advanced machines like Google’s RankBrain and the rise of artificial intelligence will make it even more important to put forth the effort in order to rank with the best.

The area of search engine optimization will move forward as a technical approach. The challenge may lie in not knowing why a piece of content ranks at a certain spot, as machine learning has an influence on the algorithm.

5. Voice search

Billions of searches are done each year via voice commands, and the number is only expected to grow. This trend will have an impact on our keyword optimization since we don’t speak in the same way we write—think asking a question versus typing a statement into a search box.

The move toward conversational search among a variety of devices will definitely have an impact on SEO, especially as we consider the “one correct answer” given by a device. This goes back to quality content and making sure you are providing the most thorough and most readable answer.

2016 internet trends

Kleiner Perkins Caufiled & Byers 2016 Internet Trends Report

6. Quality links

Well-organized resources filled with useful content can make quite a difference in the building of trust with your audience. Links still matter and contribute to rank, and as Google reminds us, creating “unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity” pays off.

Experts differ on the importance of link building. Adam Audette at SEJ believes that content developers would do well to focus on link building for amplification rather than for SEO purposes. Think of it like a circle: if you create great content, and promote it well, that content will be linked to and subsequently return value to your site.

We’ve seen it happen: a year after I published this podcast with Joanna Wiebe, CrazyEgg picked it up and linked back to our site, citing it in their post defining conversion copywriting. The link quality was almost 80 DA (domain authority) – a huge link boost!

So, remember: backlinks still matter. These links back to your webpage still need to be authoritative and relevant as it relates to SEO. Create amazing content, publish it, share it: you’ll get links from high quality sites if they think it’s good enough!

4 Key Tactics to Keep in Mind for Creating More Fantastic Content in 2017

While predictions from a host of experts can be helpful going into the new year, what exactly are we supposed to do with all of this information?

1. Optimize for mobile

Accessing the internet via the phone and tablet surpassed desktop usage in 2016. Those numbers alone should be motivation for all of us to better understand AMP and mobile-first indexing.

stat counter

It isn’t enough anymore to build a site for desktop usage and then scale it back for mobile users. Not only does this drive users away, but it may prevent them from visiting at all. As Search Engine Land notes, content and links on a mobile site are key drivers in search engine visibility while ranking is still based on the desktop version of a site.

2. Focus on long-form content

Every SEO strategy should focus on the building of high-quality content that is relevant and authoritative.

Joe Pulizzi talked about the rebirth of long form in an exclusive email that went out just last Friday to the CMI audience in an exclusive email, PDF export here:

Now how, in this world of “snackable” content, multiple smartphones, and no attention span, are we seeing these longer­form pillar collections of content cutting through the clutter?

The point I’m trying to make is that nearly every marketer we talk to has run to shorter posts, shorter social media updates, shorter videos, shorter podcasts … thinking that audiences don’t have the desire to invest themselves in content for a longer period of time. But they absolutely do … if the content is worthwhile. Those marketers who take a longer­form approach can immediately position themselves and their stories as differentiated simply because of the length.

So, when all your competition is going small, maybe it’s your time to go big – in­depth article series, hearty and detailed podcast interviews, a full­fledge custom print magazine, and possibly even a customer event. When everyone else zigs, you zag. – @JoePulizzi

[clickToTweet tweet=”When all your competition is going small, maybe it’s your time to go big in content. – @JoePulizzi” quote=”When all your competition is going small, maybe it’s your time to go big – in­depth articles, hearty and detailed podcast interviews. – @JoePulizzi”]

Joe hits the nail on the head.

Long-form content also gives the writer an opportunity to share authoritative information with quality sources to back it up. Readers will return if they know they are going to receive solutions to their need.

3. Keep pace with technology

The chatter about artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and voice-search innovation. Over the course of just two years, Amazon sold nearly 5 million Echo devices, which allow users to control their home through smart technology and perform voice searches.

The rise in the use of digital personal assistants will change how the average user searches, increasing the number of conversational queries during the process. Whether we are asking Siri or Google Assistant, the way we search with our voices is different than how we type in a search query.

Adapting your SEO strategy according to how the audience is using your site and developing content with a conversational tone are just two ways to stay engaged with the newest digital inventions.

4. Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Google tells us that PWAs are engaging, reliable, and fast, bringing a new level of quality to a home screen. These apps are live and installable, eliminating the need for an app store.

SEO efforts can be boosted by utilizing PWAs while you increase the level of engagement through an app-like experience for your audience.

Moving Forward in Your SEO Journey this Year

Every content developer should know that SEO copywriting is only as good as the skills and tactics behind it.

While 2017 lies open like a crisp book full of blank pages, content developers can continue to keep learning and keep connected with the latest updates on the most effective SEO tactics.

If your resolution is to create better content, connect with us over at Express Writers for some goal-worthy ideas!


A Guide To Writing & Optimizing Great SEO Content (Gifographic)

How can an infographic get better? Add moving parts. Our fantastic design team created and designed this first gifographic from Express Writers. In it, we’re showing you the major tricks of the trade when it comes to writing and optimizing great SEO content. Tell us how you liked our first gifographic, and for a limited time, we’re taking gifographic orders! Full transcript below.

seo content gifographic


A Guide To Writing & Optimizing Great SEO Content (Gifographic)

Here’s Why Creating Great SEO Content Is So Crucial To Your Marketing

  • Web traffic drives content marketing. The largest portion of content marketing success, 63%, is derived from website traffic. A big reason why you should focus on having correctly SEO optimized content on your site.
  • 2/3 of B2B Marketers say content fuels their marketing. And if your content is well-written, answers questions, and is optimized for your buyers to find it, buyers are willing to finish 57% of your buying process without even talking to a sales rep.
  • Google loves it! Google has said that quality content is key to rankings.
  • Google Panda is the gatekeeper. The Google panda update has been launched primarily to ensure only high quality content ranks the best. This Panda algorithm looks into factors specifically that include how expertly the content is written, the quality of the source and author, if it is original and not duplicate, authoritative, complete, well-researched, and not-over populated with ads.
  • Optimized blogs are powerful. 8 out of 10 Internet users are reading blogs and social media, which accounts for a whole 23% of time spent on the Internet.

3 Major Types of SEO Content & Tips on Correctly Optimizing Them

Content is the fuel for what you publish on the web. Here are a few of the most common web content types:

  • Web pages. Web pages are one of the most commonly optimized forms of SEO content. Boost your web page ranking through the inclusion of related, well-researched keywords, well written title tags, meta descriptions, awesome headers, and high quality writing. Never skimp on the quality of the writing if you want the best results from your web pages.
  • Blogs. There are approximately 152,000,000 blogs on the web and with that kind of competition it’s obvious that optimizing your blog for SEO is an important way to get it to stand out. Include high quality citations (links) that reference any statistics you include and shoot for 2,000 words of high quality, well-researched SEO content per blog or more.
  • Product Descriptions. When it comes to writing product descriptions, you want people to be able to locate them online quickly and easily. Don’t skimp on copy here either. Include keywords in your product descriptions and write descriptive headlines and meta content for each one.
  • Social Media. Did you know that social media can be optimized, too? Except with social media, you optimize your content so that it can be located and shared by people rather than search engines. So don’t write around your keywords; write your social content around your audience. 

3 Rules of Thumb in SEO Writing

1. Keyword Amount: Stay under a 3% keyword density in your content (web pages, blogs, etc.) Using them naturally is your #1 rule. Headers, subheaders, and throughout the copy are key areas to use them.

How to Calculate:

Keyword Density = (How many times you used the keyword / Total words in the text) x 100

Example: (20 / 800) x 100 = 2.5%

2. Don’t count your keywords. We mean it! Think of your audience, the quality of your content, how well you’re researching the content, and if the copy addresses every question the topic could raise. This is far more important than counting keyword density every time. Simply optimize naturally with keywords.

3. Find original sources when you’re stating a claim, and citate (link to it). See our sources at the bottom of this infographic? Those are our citations. You’ll want to actually hyperlink inside your blogs or other content where you’re making a statement or claim that you’ve read online. Make sure you use the original source when you hyperlink.

3 SEO Tools for the Web Content Creator

  • SEMrush is a powerful keyword tool that allows users to optimize their sites for SEO, create intuitive pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and conduct social media and video advertising research. When it comes to using SEMrush to find keywords for your ad campaign, you’ll want to look into niche-specific long-tail keywords that apply specifically to your industry. While it’s all well and good to target a high-volume search keyword, it’s also harder to rank for these keywords, which means you may be better off focusing on a less competitive, more specific keyword phrase that allows you to rank strongly from the get-go.
  • Wordtracker is another keyword research tool that allows users to search multiple sources for effective keywords. This tool can help you find keywords that nobody is competing on and will be an essential tool for SEO success.
  • BuzzSumo is an effective tool for finding the key influencers that can help you promote your content and get it noticed by a wide audience base. It can also help you find trending content topics and take inspiration for audience related content. Although it’s not specifically SEO, developing great topic ideas and feeding off of industry leaders is every bit as important as SEO optimization.

10 Key Factors of Great SEO Content

1. Write great headers! Aside from your body content, the most important piece of content for SEO is your header. A header tells people what the piece is about, grabs reader attention and gives a general overview of the topic. To make your header as interesting as possible, include your keyword and focus on writing a header that asks a question or addresses your readers’ fears. Create headers that are irresistible and make your readers want to click; include the keyword naturally.

2. Stay away from “stuffing.” Keyword stuffing is a dangerous practice that will get you in trouble with the search engines, decreasing your site’s rank and making it harder for users to find you. Plus, it just looks spammy. So when writing your content, shoot to use keywords naturally. They should be in your header (if it’s possible to include them while still feeling organic) and they should appear a few times throughout the body content. You want your keyword density under 3% for everything you write.

3. Optimize your keywords for many channels. Keywords are important for your website, but they’re also important for social media and email. To optimize for multi-channel visibility in places like blogs, web pages and social media sites, be consistent with your keyword phrases across all the platforms you use.

4. Write good meta content. That little bit called your meta description might be more important than you realize. Think of them as your organic PPC copy; what users will see if your content ranks high enough. 2-3 sentence is all you need there, and be sure to include your main keyword. Treat your title tags like a 4-8-word advertisement for best results.

5. Be unique. All of the content you create should be unique, so you’ll want to strike a balance between curated content and original content. This is one of the best ways to optimize your site for SEO.

6. Include citations. Find and mention industry leaders throughout your content to back up your content. Google cares about your sources and to rank well you’ll want to link to industry leaders. Moz’s MozBar can help you make sure you’re using good sites; the DA (Domain Authority) score should ideally be 50 or more. However, the DA metric isn’t set in stone, so use it with judgment. Additionally, in web content you’ll want to link strategically throughout your own text back to the most important pages of your site.

7. Have high word counts. Did you know that word count can play an important part of SEO ranking? To provide the most value for your audience and rank as well as possible in SERPs, write long-form content between 1,500-2,000 words. Seek to address every question that could be raised on your topic.

8. Make sure all of your content is well- Sounds simple, but it’s crucial. Content that is filled with typos, misspellings, poor-quality links, or too many keywords will harm your SEO ranking and drive readers away. Proofread everything (or hire a proofreader).

9. Earn great links. In addition to using good links in your content, you’ll want to earn high-quality links from the outside as well. The best way to do this is to create and publish useful content that includes your keyword terms and draws social shares. Over time, the links will come.

10. Post often and consistently: Content is the #1 ranking factor for SEO and when you post often, your content gets shared more, viewed more, linked to more and helps you earn better rankings. For best results, post to your various channels several times a week and never let a blog sit unattended for long.  


Content Marketing Institute:


Executive Board:


Google Webmaster Central:


Search Engine Watch:


Search Engine Land:



content strategy guide

What Guides Your Content Strategy?

Just think about it: having an excellent content strategy is like having money in the bank. There’s at least one good reason why you should always plan ahead when it comes to crafting content: it’s easier to reach your destination when you know where you’re heading. Truth be told, at this point your prospects can be influenced to respond to your calls-to-action through a plentitude of marketing channels. But the question is this: do you promote and distribute your web writing randomly or is your content strategy as elaborated as a well-played game of chess?

3 Dangerous Pitfalls of Content Strategizing

A cohesive, personalized, long-term content strategy can help you become an extremely competitive player in your industry over a short period of time, leading to:

  • Improved conversion rates
  • Increased brand visibility
  • A solid community and a bigger client database built around your brand
  • Superior organic search rankings
  • Reinforced social following

However, these improvements can’t be witnessed overnight and require sustained efforts on your part. To stay on the right path to content strategizing success, you have to be able to spot and avoid the most common pitfalls associated with this process.

3 of the Worst Mistakes You Could Make Instead of a Great Content Strategy

1. Putting the responsibility on somebody else’s shoulders. (Half-heartedly tossing a list of keywords at your secretary and having her come up with a few blogs for the week, for example. Is this you? Don’t feel too bad…we have some helpful steps for you below.)

2. Thinking that your product, brand or industry is boring. There are no boring products; there are only boring marketers. Every item available for sale has a value, a price and a well-defined market. Your job as a marketer or content creator is to put its unique features and benefits on full display and make it look insanely attractive in the eyes of all potential buyers.

3. Acting like what you write and how you write about your company won’t affect your online reputation and your bottom line. In a world in which online interactions are your most powerful ally when it comes to getting and staying on the same page with your audience, what you write helps your readers determine who you are and why they should (or shouldn’t) do business with you.

10 Ways to Guide Your Content Strategy

1) Evaluate Your Unique Marketing Techniques and Unique Business Objectives. Before getting to work, make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve and how you plan to accomplish your mission. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Many content creators, strategists and marketers get stuck at some point simply because they don’t know which business goals they are supposed to follow. So ask yourself this: why are you investing time, money and energy in a content strategy in the first place? Do you want to rank higher in search engine results, boost customer loyalty or increase conversion rates?

All these objectives are different and require different courses of action. Instead of opting for an overarching goal that doesn’t say a lot about who you are and who you plan to become, it would be better to come up with a list of smaller, manageable ones.

For instance, if you run a small-scale auto shop ensuring affordable repairs and you also sell used cars, you will try to attract 2 different segments of prospects: those who wish to get their car fixed and those who are interested in buying a used vehicle from a local dealership. In this case, you will most likely try to grab the attention of local clients by promoting your inexpensive, high-quality repair services, while spreading the word about your decently-priced line of used cars. Based on these small goals, you can elaborate your own content strategy and make wiser decisions.

2) Understand Your Audience. According to Search Engine Watch, it is extremely important to build your content marketing strategy based on the particular interests of your targeted audience. We all get it: your end goal is to improve sales and increase brand awareness but to do so, first you need to build credibility and trust. Keyword research and social media listening tools are two valuable elements that you can rely on to find out what makes your segment of public tick.

3) Understand Your Industry.  If youwant to win big you have to become familiar with the rules of the game. Find the most accurate answers to the following questions:

  • What motivates your prospects make online purchases?
  • Who are the most powerful influencers in your industry?
  • Is your audience service-oriented (and eager to spend more on premium packages) or price-focused (and always determined to pinch pennies)?
  • Are you out-shined by an influent competitor that is currently dominating the entire industry? (If the answer is yes, it wouldn’t hurt to take a closer look at its community, web content and social media presence).
  • What type of content is received with more enthusiasm in your niche?
  • Are there any gaps in the content creation strategies displayed by your competitors, which you may be able to fill?
  • Would you be able to create and maintain solid relationships with industry experts and influencers?

4) Find the Perfect Distribution Channels. How exactly do you plan to reach your audience while distributing your first-class content? According to The Guardian, the mix of media channels that you select to broadcast your message is extremely important. You should evaluate the strengths, drawbacks and costs associated with every single channel before making a final call.

5) Use Surveys and Rely on Real Customer Input. Do you want to know how your digital content, blog or website is performing? Are you really ready to assess the quality and effectiveness of your web writing? If so, explore the unmatched power of surveys, accessible online or included within a certain publication. Surveys are the 21st century oracles that will tell you what you need to know about your current content strategy and the best course of action that you may want to embrace.

Furthermore, note that big brands do everything in their power to guarantee a memorable experience for all their buyers every single step of the way: from the “I’m just looking” phase to checkout and doorstep delivery.

For excellent results, follow in their footsteps and listen to what your clients have to say long after they hit your “buy now” button. How would they rate your content? Did the product match its description? Sometimes, the most brilliant ideas allowing you to take your content strategy to the next level come straight from your buyers.

Since they get to test your product, they are the ones who could point to flaws, features and benefits that you would have never thought about. Therefore, you should keep in mind that a good strategist is always a good listener. Pay attention to new directions indicated by clients and find the best way to include real customer input in your content pieces. There’s one more aspect that you should take into consideration: credible testimonials are a great way to build trust and attract new potential buyers.

6) When in Doubt, Just Ask! Even the most experienced strategists get stuck at some point. If you don’t know how to resonate with your audience and how to guide your content strategy in a new direction, don’t hesitate to ask the right questions. At the end of the day, your curiosity will be rewarded. Ask your visitors:

  • What do they enjoy reading the most?
  • What are the topics that they would like you to expand on more often?
  • What kind of content are they interested in finding on your website or blog? Do they prefer text-based content, videos, infographics or a combination of all these elements?

By simplyasking a few basic questions, you show that you care and that you are looking forward to improving your content strategy based on the specific needs, demands and expectations of your targeted audience.

7) Look for Awesome Opportunities in Your Own Backyard. Before setting extremelyambitious goals and targeting new playgrounds, make sure you explore all the tempting opportunities that may be hiding in your backyard. Analyze your existing audience and find out if you could deliver more value to your customers.

After all, you can enjoy pancakes without that delicious maple syrup, but what would be the point to do so? In this case, value represents the sweet syrup that prospects wish to taste when they choose to buy your product or do business with you. A feature blog would enable you to inform, educate and entertain your prospects and give them another reason to land on your website, purchase your merchandise, subscribe to your newsletter or spread the word about your brand or your new line of products.

8) Create a Useful Editorial Calendar (and Stick to It). One thing’s certain: content planning should not involve any guesswork. Unfortunately, in some cases, this is easier said than done. To prioritize your goals, stay relevant and come up with first-class content pieces designed to attract clients like a magnet and improve your bottom line, you have to stay organized at all times. According to HubSpot, when it comes to guiding your content strategy, you have to map your web writing to the buying cycle and elaborate an editorial calendar.

In this case, the key is to set up and follow very strict weekly (or monthly) benchmarks, indicating who your public really is and what it wants from you, what kind of topics you should expand on, the best ways to share your content, what type of formatting you should use and so on. Never forget that practice makes perfect; creating and following a strict timeframe will give you the chance to put your thoughts in order, avoid distractions and strategize in a much more effective manner.

Ideally, you should be able to take a small step back every 3, 6 or 12 months, harvest the fruits of your labor, evaluate the end results of your content strategy and optimize the aspects requiring urgent improvements. Before you start working on your content pieces, first make sure that you can count on a large audience that is interested in what you have to say and is willing to share your web writing. This is the moment when you start reading what your competitors are writing, while keeping an eye on social media to spot excellent engagement opportunities. According to Moz, by investing in long-term relationships with influencers and powerful players in your industry you will manage to get the bigger picture and upgrade your current content strategy fast and painlessly, without breaking the bank to make it happen.

9) Give the Green Light to the First Batch of Fresh Web Content. Ultimately, you will guide your content strategy based on a trial-and-error process. Even though you’ve done your fair share of keyword research and have used every SEO tool in the box to perfect your web writing, only time will tell how your readers will rate your content. Before launching the final version of your content piece, you have to make sure that it actually:

  • addresses the real needs and concerns of your readers
  • provides value and presents certain topics from a different perspective
  • helps you reposition yourself as an industry leader
  • reflects the vision, mission  and purpose in business of your company and is accompanied by a number of extras ( illustrations, photography, charts, infographics, videos and so on), which enable your audience to filter and assimilate your message much more effectively

10) Measure Your Results. After a certain period of time, you have to go back to your old content pieces and measure their effectiveness. By assessing your own website and reviewing past campaigns you can find out what types of content make your prospects rub their hands in anticipation and which ones make them yawn. You can use various tools to measure your success and improve your interactions with your readers. For example, Google Analytics allows you to reengage with your potential buyers by interpreting their particular set of on-site actions.

All in all, a clear understanding of your industry, audience and your own business goals will help you make the best decisions when it comes to creating and implementing a successful strategy. Keep in mind that no industry or product is truly boring. The key is to identify and reach your own segment of public and build interesting, informative content based on a solid plan. As long as your content is shared and enjoyed by a large audience, you are ready to strategize for success in the long run.