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seo trends for 2019

5 Essential SEO Trends for 2019 You Can Put into Practice Immediately

As the final months of 2018 loom ahead, it’s time to start thinking about our strategies for next year.

It’s that time of year to already start asking our marketing selves…

How can we begin 2019 with a pop, sizzle, or a bang?

Better yet, what can we do right now to ensure we get nothing but positively sparkling results (like the fizz in champagne) as we think about a new calendar year? Achieve the ROI we’ve been looking for? Make sure our online content hits the mark?

How about finally earn more killer organic Top Three spots in Google we’ve been hankering for, for months?

Today, I’m sharing with you five key SEO trends for 2019 that I think will be big.

In fact, I think they’ll play a major role in content ranking success (or failure). Follow along and let’s see what tactics, strategies, and more will help you have a banner year, including SEO tips from today that are still relevant.

1. Be Mobile-Ready for Mobile-First Indexing 2. Featured Snippets Rankings Will Go Up in Value ...these & 3 other top #SEO #trends for 2019 by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

seo trends for 2019

5 Must-Do SEO Trends for 2019 to Follow Today

Unsurprisingly, SEO trends in 2019 are all about keeping up with technology, staying on top of Google’s latest developments, and reinforcing your commitment to content. Let’s get right to it.

1. Be Mobile-Ready for Mobile-First Indexing

Our first trend is one that’s continuing from recent SEO trends in 2018.

Back on March 26, 2018, Google announced they were rolling out mobile-first indexing on their Webmaster Central Blog.

Previously, Google web crawlers looked at the desktop version of your pages and content to populate the SERPs. However, with the switch to mobile-first, this means that Google will be looking at the mobile version of your pages for indexing and ranking.

So, what if you don’t have a mobile version of your website? (Oh, the horror.)

What happens?

Google will still look at your desktop site version to rank your pages.

HOWEVER:

Your pages probably won’t display properly for users on mobile devices (or they’ll be difficult to navigate, read, and use).

THUS:

Your page rankings will most likely suffer (if they haven’t already).

In other words, why haven’t you updated your website for mobile browsing yet?

Top #SEO trends for 2019? @JuliaEMcCoy got you covered in this information-packed, ROI-focused blog. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

To be as mobile-friendly as possible for all shapes, sizes, and types of devices, Google first and foremost recommends using responsive design.

image showing a website with responsive design

However, if you have two versions of your website (a desktop version and a mobile version), the search engine has some best practices you can follow for good results (via the Google Developers guide):

best practices for dynamic serving and separate urls

These best practices include:

  • Making sure your mobile and desktop sites have exactly the same primary content
  • Including metadata like titles and descriptions on both site versions
  • Including structured data for both site versions

For best results, ensure you have all of the above items checked for your site. What worked for technical SEO in 2018 will roll over to 2019.

Lastly, consider updating your site design so it’s responsive – it’s a better practice for the overall mobile user experience (UX).

2. Featured Snippets Rankings Will Go Up in Value

Overwhelmingly, featured snippets are taking over the top spot in Google rankings for lots of keywords.

screenshot of a featured snippet for a Google query

This is a big deal – users see these results at the top of the page, where the #1 ranked piece of content used to appear. In other words, that prime real estate is no longer guaranteed. Many marketers are thus calling this highly desirable snippet spot “position zero.”

Naturally, you should want key pieces of your content to shoot to top placements in featured snippets – but how?

A. Create Content that Ranks on Page 1

Before you can even think about getting your content in featured snippets, first, you need it to rank on its own.

According to Ahrefs, most featured snippets come from content that ranks in the top 10 results, or on the first page.

graph showing the Google ranking of featured snippets

In particular, the majority (90.1% of featured snippets) tend to get pulled from content pieces that rank in the top 5 positions.

It’s all about choosing the right keywords, writing great content for your audience, and providing value. (See trend #4).

B. Focus on Answers to Questions

According to a SEMrush/Ghergich & Co. study of 6.9 million featured snippets and 80 million keywords, only around 7% of generic keywords include featured snippets in the results.

In comparison, 41.59% of keywords with questions include featured snippets in the results – a 480% increase!

graph showing that questions can yield a 480% increase in the percentage of keywords with featured snippets

In particular, question keywords almost always include paragraph featured snippets. These types of snippets include a chunk of text that answers the question the user searched for (according to the study, these average out to about 46-84 words in length with a maximum of 370 characters).

imaging showing the paragraph length of featured snippets for question keywords

You can thus earn your ranking content a featured snippet by framing short, succinct paragraphs of text as authoritative answers.

For example, when I type the question/keyword “how many counties are in Iowa” into Google, the results show this featured snippet that directly answers that question AND provides supporting details:

featured snippet featuring the user's question and providing an answer

Question/keyword: How many counties are in Iowa?

Answer/featured snippet: “There are 99 counties in the U.S. state of Iowa.”

C. Use Numbered and Bulleted Lists, Especially for Subheaders

To get your content in list-style featured snippets, always make sure you use properly formatted subheaders (H2s and H3s) to break up and organize your text.

Google often uses subheader information to populate list-style snippets, like this result for “what countries are the Disney princesses from”:

imaging showing a list-style featured snippet

image showing the subheaders used to populate featured snippet lists3. Create the Highest-Quality Content

In August 2018, Google confirmed a major core algorithmic update that took a full week to roll out.

According to SEOers like Barry Schwartz and Glen Gabe, this update was all about quality. It particularly affected sites that had low E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness).

Barry Schwartz studied over 300 affected sites and found that 41.5% of those belonged in the health, medical, wellness, and fitness industries. He nicknamed it the “medic” update as a result.

image showing the medic update pie chart

Why were these sites hit hard?

Most health pages belong in the YMYL category – pages that Google says can affect the health, income, happiness, or financial stability of users. Low-quality content on these pages can directly impact people’s lives.

With this update, Google underlined their commitment to serving users the highest-quality content. If you’re not creating the best of the best, you will miss the mark and end up on page 3, 4, 5… or worse.

Featured snippets will dominate #SEO in 2019. @JuliaEMcCoy explains how content gets to star in Google's featured snippets in this information-packed blog post. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

4. Keep Voice Search on Your Radar

Another SEO tactic for 2018 that we need to keep on our radar for 2019 is voice search optimization.

As voice search technology improves and becomes more accessible, it will become even more common.

According to Stone Temple’s most recent voice usage trends survey, more people than ever are comfortable using voice commands and voice search on their mobile devices.

image showing the results of voice usage trends survey

And, a study Google commissioned found that 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search multiple times a day, every day.

mobile voice study results

It’s pretty safe to assume these numbers will continue to go up as time goes on, too.

To stay ahead of the game, optimize your content for voice search where it makes sense.

A. Optimize for Local Search

Most voice searches are local. According to Bright Local’s Voice Search for Local Business Study, 46% of those who search via voice are looking for local businesses on a daily basis.

voice search and local businesses

If it makes sense for your brand, use geo-targeted keywords, build up your positive customer reviews, and make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) are consistent across all of your online business listings.

B. Use FAQ Pages

To rank for questions as well as answers, create high-quality FAQ pages to compile the most common ones you encounter regularly.

C. Make Sure You’re Mobile-Friendly

Finally, to rank for voice search queries, you have to make sure your pages are mobile-friendly. Google will not pull voice search answers from sites lacking in this area!

5. Improve Your UX (and Understand RankBrain) – a MAJOR SEO Trend for 2019

One of the major SEO trends for 2019 is the emphasis on RankBrain. This is the part of Google’s core algorithm that uses machine-learning to serve users better search results based on their search intent.

(Back in 2015, in an interview with Bloomberg, Google revealed that RankBrain is their third most important ranking signal.)

According to Danny Sullivan for Search Engine Land, it works like this:

screen capture of an explanation of what rankbrain is

RankBrain helps the algorithm interpret complex, long-tail search queries and the intent behind them. It can “see patterns between seemingly unconnected complex searches to understand how they’re actually similar to each other.” Additionally, it can “understand future complex searches and whether they’re related to particular topics.”

In other words, it’s smart, and the more data it collects, the smarter it gets about user search intent.

Specifically, RankBrain looks at the context of user searches.

  • What are synonyms/related terms for the original search query, and which pages containing these synonyms have relevant information for the user’s search intent?

To figure out if the algorithm returns good search results, it looks at how users respond to them:

  • Which user actions indicate the search results satisfy them?
    • Low bounce rates (users are staying on the page after clicking the link in the SERP)
    • Longer dwell times (users are staying to read more than the first few paragraphs)
    • Higher click-through rates (more users are clicking on results in the SERP)
  • Which actions indicate the search is unsatisfying or the results are not what the user had in mind?
    • High bounce rates (users are bouncing back to the SERP after clicking on results)
    • Low dwell times (users aren’t staying on pages to read past the headline or introduction)
    • Low click-through rates (users aren’t clicking on results)

To simplify it further, let’s borrow a good comparison from Backlinko’s detailed RankBrain guide.

Before RankBrain, Google looked at instances of keywords on a page with zero context. It guessed at whether the results it returned were in the realm of what you meant:

google search results before and after rankbrain

After RankBrain, Google knows what you mean when you enter search queries that could have more than one meaning. It gets your intent behind the search:

image showing that google now understands the intent behind the search

Understanding RankBrain is one thing. Using that knowledge to your advantage is another. The savviest content marketers will be on top of this for their SEO strategy for 2019.

A. Optimize Your Metas and Headline to Be More Enticing

Since RankBrain looks at the actions and context surrounding a search, use that to help boost your rankings.

For example, what can you do to increase click-throughs on your search engine listings? Pay attention to your meta titles (your H1/main headers) and your meta descriptions for each page. If they’re descriptive and enticing, you may pull in more clicks, which can equal votes for your content in the SERPs.

Understanding RankBrain is one thing. Using that knowledge to your advantage is another. This and more #SEO insights as @JuliaEMcCoy talks about the top 5 SEO trends for 2019. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

B. Pay Attention to Page Usability

Once users click on your result in a search, you want them to stay on the page. One way to do that is to improve your page usability. In other words, make it as easy to use as possible.

To learn more about usability, user experience, and how to make it better, the resource Usability.gov is a great starting point.

screenshot image of the site usability.gov

Guide Your SEO from 2018 to 2019 – and Beyond

SEO trends are constantly changing, so it’s important to stay updated – and stay relevant.

In 2019, some SEO trends will roll-over from 2018, but others are based on the future of technology and Google’s recent updates.

Keep ahead of the curve and update your 2018 SEO strategies so you’re ready to face 2019 with a bang! 🎉

SEO experts

20 SEO Experts & Resources You Should Be Following Today

If you want to learn to do something well, one of the best ways is to follow the leaders. This is as true in SEO as it is in any other industry. Luckily, the modern digital marketing world is filled with a huge assortment of SEO experts who are ripe with valuable information.

Here’s a breakdown of the top influencers you should be following.

SEO experts, SEO resources

20 SEO Experts Every Content Marketer Should Follow

Whether you’re a new marketer or an experienced professional just looking for some ways to improve your approach, these 20 SEO experts have lots to teach you:

1. Rand Fishkin: @randfish

The self-proclaimed “Wizard of Moz,” Fishkin is the founder of Moz and one of the foremost SEO experts on the web. Fishkin and his team conduct regular “Whiteboard Friday” sessions about the ins and outs of SEO and content marketing, and are some of the web’s biggest leaders in quality content.

2. Neil Patel: @neilpatel

Neil Patel is the founder of CrazyEgg, Hello Bar, Quick Sprout, and KISSmetrics. If you need advice on how to grow your online business, he’s the top person to follow. Considered one of the best analytics experts in the world of digital marketing, Neil Patel is also a columnist for Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post.

3. Danny Sullivan: @dannysullivan

The Founding Editor of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, Danny Sullivan is the go-to expert when it comes to solving SEO problems. He is also the Chief Content Officer of Third Door Media and has been an active member of the search marketing and search engine world since 1996, way before SEO was a as big as it is today.

For more Danny Sullivan, visit his personal blog, where he shares interesting information on a variety of topics related to Google and SEO.

4. Barry Schwartz: @rustybrick

Barry Schwartz is a reputable SEO expert, editor of Search Engine Roundtable, and the President and CEO of New York-based web service firm RustyBrick, Inc. A self-defined “Search Geek,” Schwartz knows a thing or two about search engine marketing, and stands out as a leader in his field.

5. Joe Pulizzi: @JoePulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is a Content Marketing Evangelist and the founder of Content Marketing Institute, which puts on the largest in-person content marketing event on the globe – Content Marketing World. He has written four books, including Epic Content Marketing.

6. Eric Enge: @stonetemple

If you’re inspired by active people who are natural multitaskers, you will love Eric Enge, the “Digital Marketing Excellence Practitioner,” from Stone Temple Consulting. For more than three decades, he has reinvented himself as a passionate speaker, talk show host, author and entrepreneur. Declared the 24th most influential individual in the content marketing sector, Eric firmly believes that passion is the key factor in success.

7. Ann Handley: @MarketingProfs

Ann Handley is the Head of Content at Marketing Profs. She’s also the author of the bestseller Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. Known as a first-class speaker, author and content creator, she does a great job of “Waging a war on mediocrity” in online content.

8. Henneke Duistermaat: @HennekeD

The UK-based business writing coach and “irreverent marketer” is a regular contributor at Copyblogger, and a trusted source for anyone who wants to learn to streamline and enhance their content marketing.

9. John Doherty: @dohertyjf

A professional marketer, entrepreneur, and startup advisor, John Doherty is the Founder GetCredo, an organization that helps companies find the right agencies to work with.

10. Ann Smarty: @seosmarty

Ann Smarty is the founder of MyBlogU and the Brand Manager at NinjasMarketing. She’s a fantastic source for all things modern SEO, and offers great, minute-to-minute insight into the industry.

10 Top Resources to Follow (Guest Blogs, Search Engine News, & More)

Now that you’re familiar with the top ten SEO influencers, it’s time to consider the best SEO resources out there. These organizations, firms, and companies are sources of quality content and insider information:

1. Social Media Today: @socialmedia2day

In case you are looking for a way to develop your own content strategy and explore social networks, look toward Social Media Today. Showcasing a cutting-edge mix of technology and data, and social business news, tips, and marketing advice, Social Media Today is one of the primary leaders in the world of social media marketing.

2. Marketing Land: @Marketingland

If you want to become a part of dynamic search marketing landscape, you’ll want to check out the weekly recaps from Marketing Land. One of the most respectable sources of fresh information, stats, and how-to guides. Marketing Land offers information on everything from mobile marketing to retail marketing, and covers all the aspects an SEO-savvy marketer should consider when developing a first campaign.

3. Search Engine Journal: @sejournal

If you’re interested in a trustworthy source focused on things like paid search, social media, content marketing, SEO, and search engines, then Search Engine Journal is a great pick for you. Featuring daily doses of well-written, informative, and engaging content, Search Engine Journal is your one-stop shop for search news.

4. Search Engine Land: @sengineland

Still can’t tell the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? If that’s the case, Search Engine Land is your go-to source. Designed to share the most comprehensive reports, webcasts, and white papers, Search Engine Journal is your source for breaking news and PPC and SEO analysis.

5. SEMRush Blog

For people who want to learn more about online marketing, keyword research, social media, SEO and PPC without having to read hundreds of pages, there’s the SEMRush Blog. SEMrush represents an amazingly complete source of inspiration. This blog delivers a full picture of modern SEO and marketing in a way even beginners can understand.

5. Hubspot Blog

The Hubspot Blog focuses on delivering quality marketing, sales, and agency content in a convenient package. With more than 2 million monthly visitors, this source is widely regarded as one of the most trustworthy on the web, and consistently ranks as a top resource among even the most discerning influencers.

6. SearchEngineWatch

If you want a popular channel that delivers fresh information that makes it easy to get acquainted with the written and unwritten rules of content marketing, SEO and PPC, start by reading the articles published by SearchEngineWatch. This source helps you discover the latest industry news, while also providing online marketing guides and all the details that you could ever require on PPC and SEO tools, tactics, and trends.

7. Social Media Examiner

When you want to check out the most recent social media events, get the latest social media marketing industry reports, receive free updates via email and make the most of informative podcasts, make sure you visit Social Media Examiner. An accessible and authoritative source with almost half a million likes on Facebook, Social Media Examiner shares useful and engaging articles that will enable you to take your social media marketing strategy to the next level.

8. Moz Blog

The Moz blog is the brainchild of Rand Fishkin, so you know it’s trustworthy. A go-to resource that features the wisdom of today’s foremost content wizards and experts, the Moz blog is especially well-known for its use of original statistics and research.

9. QuickSprout

QuickSprout helps people do one thing – create better content. The brainchild of Neil Patel, QuickSprout offers a resource called QuickSprout University, which helps marketers learn things like how to generate traffic on social ads and how to get more traffic across the web.

10. Express Writers

Express Writers is the content marketer’s content marketer. Specializing in delivering cutting-edge industry content with a focus on driving organic traffic and helping you create better content, we offer many weekly blog posts, lots of long-form guides, and plenty of custom visuals. Follow The Write Blog to keep up on it all.

Learn from the Experts

One of the easiest ways to master SEO is to follow the experts. When it comes to optimizing your website, forget about learning from your own mishaps and stay in the safe zone by following in the footsteps of respectable SEO experts. Abreast of the latest news and events, these experts can help you learn the ins and outs of SEO and grow your online traffic as a result.

Looking for a team of content experts to help you improve your content marketing strategy? Contact Express Writers today to hire our team of skilled copy experts.

seo and social media

Does Social Media Actually Have Any SEO Impact?

Social media is becoming more and more a necessary value instead of a commodity. But still, many people question its necessity and validity.

Some think that it can work well for certain businesses but that it might not be a tool that other businesses, including their own, will need. However, social media can be a great way to drive website traffic and bring in more clients and create long-lasting relationships with customers.

One of the main questions that people bring up when asking about social media for their company is if it has any impact whatsoever on their SEO and just how much of an impact it might have.

How Does Social Media Impact Your SEO?

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), we are all looking for new and improved ways to help get our content noticed. I’ve talked about the many different changes to SEO over the last few months, especially Google changes, and the one thing many people wonder about is if social media has any impact. It might not seem like it has much of an impact, but you might be surprised when you get into the nitty-gritty of new SEO tactics.

According to a Business 2 Community author, the reality is that social media does impact SEO and it helps to bring out great success for your website, content, and products. I am going to reference this article throughout this blog to give you some great reasons on how social media can and will impact your SEO.

Does This Mean You Really Need Social Media?

If you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon, now is the best time to do so. Many people wonder if they really need social media for their business because it seems like such a “young person club.” Many businesses that don’t reach out to younger demographics often question its validity, but it should be noted that many younger people started out with social media because their parents were on there, too. This means there is a wide age demographic throughout social channels, which can help you reach out to any age, not just young to older Millennials or even younger generations growing up.

Which Social Sites are the Best to Boost SEO?

There isn’t one specific site that truly boosts SEO the best. Google Plus is a great option to get ranked on Google, but again, it is not the only one that can do so.

What you need to do is play around with social media and try the holy trinity of Facebook, Twitter, and G+ in the beginning. You can branch out from there at a later time, but get your feet wet first before diving fully into social media. Once you’re more established or understand a bit of the social media game, then it is time to get working on other channels if they will benefit your company.

12 Ways Social Media Actually Really Does Impact Your SEO

Now that I have looked at why you need social media and that it can impact your SEO, you are probably wondering just how it does. I am also going to take a look at how you can use it to further your web content and business.

  1. Social Media Profiles Rank on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). In the Business 2 Community article I shared earlier, the writer mentions that social media profiles do rank on the SERP. When someone searches for a product or service, your social channels have a high likelihood of ranking in those search results, which can lead people to your business. This is why it is important to optimize your profiles fully before it is too late.
  1. Social Shares Can Give Your Webpage More Inbound Links. While you don’t always want to focus on inbound links, the Business 2 Community article points out that it does create great, organic inbound linking. These links will help to validate your website, and can help you become an authority with Google. When this happens, your website is more likely to be ranked higher than ever before, which is exactly what you are aiming for if you’re reading this blog. In short, your social channels and links will help create more visibility for your web page, which is a tremendous help to bring in new customers and more revenue.
  1. Mixing Social Media and SEO Increases Your Online Presence. Just like with blogs, social media, combined with SEO, can help increase your online presence, making it larger and more accessible. A larger Internet presence might seem daunting, but this is something you should be aiming for. If you do not have a larger presence, you are less likely to be found organically, which means more money being spent on advertisements to gain new clients.
  1. Traffic From Social Media is Organic Traffic. According to the Business 2 Community article, about 95 percent of all links created in traditional link building techniques aren’t very effective. They don’t bring in organic traffic nor do they bring in enough of your targeted audience to bring about the revenue and success you want to see. However, by using social media, you are much more likely to drive organic traffic from your links because it will come from your followers. This will bring in great quality visitors that are likely to turn into customers and they in turn can share your information bringing in even more customers.
  1. Social Media is the Best Way to Bring in Mobile Users. April 21st has come and gone, which means that Google’s latest, and largest, update has been in effect for a few days. This update makes it vital for all businesses to have a website that is mobile friendly, and what is the best way to bring in mobile users to your new, or freshened up, mobile friendly site? Using social media. You need to have a social media presence to bring in your mobile clients, and as we can all see, mobile users are a large demographic. Social media can drive people to your site, which will help benefit your SEO and improve you overall reach.
  1. Combining Social Media and SEO Can Boost Engagement for Your Brand. Engagement is a vital part of any online presence, which means that you need to make sure you are making it possible for your clients to engage. They can engage on your blog, but they are more likely to engage with you on social platforms. There are many things you can do to drive this engagement, and it gives you the chance to boost your SEO by way of organic link building and more. Just how does engagement help with SEO? The Business 2 Community article says it is because engagement means happier clients who won’t just be a one-time customer. They are likely to become long-term customers, and visit your site regularly. These repeat visits are great for your metrics and helps boost your rankings significantly.
  1. Each Social Channel Should Be Considered a Search Engine, As Well. Remember that while you want to bring in ranks and views from Google, or even Bing, the social channels act as search engines themselves. This gives your business more coverage and helps more people find what they are looking for. If someone is looking for a certain keyword, product, or service, they are likely to search Google or Bing, but they are also likely to search social media channels. Many times, people will look for certain trigger keywords to get find products, which is why you should use your keywords as your hashtags, as well. I’ll take a look at this a little later in the blog.
  1. Google Does Use Twitter to Look for New Content. While there isn’t a central system to file all web content, Google does use Twitter to locate new content to add to an index. If your content gains a lot of notice and traffic on Twitter, it is easier for Google to find your content and list it on the SERP. Different ranking factors that help Google discover include re-tweets, the amount of time people link to and tweet your content, and how quickly it was shared over a certain time. While you might not think that Twitter is a great resource for your business, it might just be a bigger help than you initially realized.
  1. You Can Use Your SEO Keywords as Hashtags on Social Media. Optimizing your social media posts will be a great way to help Google notice your content and help bring your blog or web content on the SERP. A great way to optimize your social media posts is to utilize your keywords as hashtags to bring in more views, clicks, re-tweets, and more. Make sure you choose the top keywords that help bring traffic from Google to your site to make sure you are reaching the right audience. You should also make sure you are playing around with different keywords to see if any others will bring in more, and different, clients.
  1. Google Plus is Still Vital to SEO and Ranks. When you create social media platforms, you always want to make sure you are utilizing Google Plus for your content. One of the biggest, and most obvious, reasons for this is Google Plus is a social media channel created by Google. This means that Google makes sure it is as important to ranking as possible. Sure, they’ve made a few changes to the importance of Google Plus and how it helps with ranks, but it is still a vital platform. It can help your content rank higher and help establish you as an authority in your industry. Being set apart as an authority is a great way to gain trust from your followers and customers, helping create long relationships and convert new visitors into clients. You can also optimize your Google Plus profile perfectly to drive ranks on the SERP and raise your position on the SERP to higher, more effective, one.
  1. Social Media Lets You Use Viral Content to Drive Engagement and Clicks. One of the great things about social media is access to viral content. There are two ways you can use viral content to bring in engagement. One is using and sharing viral content to drive people to your account to then see your social posts and links to your website. Viral content is a great advertising tool that also promotes more engagement and social shares from your followers. Another way is creating your own viral content that will encourage people to share your individual content to drive social shares. These can be in the form of infographics, videos, or other images.
  1. Build a Following on Twitter to Maintain Customers. As I mentioned earlier, social media is a great way to engage with your existing clients, creating repeat clicks on your links by those individuals. This looks excellent on social media and to Google and is why social media is vital to your SEO campaign. Use your social accounts to build a great following of loyal clients that will not only click on your site links regularly and make purchases, but also to help bring in new clients. If your existing ones are happy and feel you are engaging well with them, they are very likely to share your social posts, driving more organic clicks and traffic.

Drive Your SEO by Becoming a Social Butterfly

Don’t shy away from social media simply because you think that it isn’t for your business. As you can see, it will be incredibly helpful when you are trying to boost your SEO and gain new, long-lasting clients, as well as boosting organic traffic and link building. If you are looking for someone to help you create excellent, engaging social media content or fully optimized profile pages, then look no further. Express Writers has an excellent team of social media managers that can help you with your social media needs. Take a look at all that we can offer you!

Photo credit: pichet_w / iStock

chris-brogan-pubcon-keynote

PubCon Vegas 2014 Speaker Talks about SEO as Content Marketing

PubCon is the top social media and optimization conference: it’s supported by the top businesses, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors involved in social media, Internet marketing, search engines, and digital advertising agencies. (Yes, one day I’ll make it to one.) This awesome event always offers an in depth look at the future of technology, as envisioned by the top-speakers, in cutting edge sessions. Moreover, at PubCon Vegas 2014, a noteworthy speaker made it widely known that content marketing and SEO are irrevocably joined at the hip.

At the recent PubCon in Las Vegas, Carolyn Shelby spoke about how content marketing and SEO are inextricably linked. Shelby is the Director of SEO and SEM for Tribune Publishing. She also works for six Tribune newspapers, plus the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has been in the industry since 1994, and she has been professionally designing and developing websites for nonprofits and a diverse variety of businesses since 1995. She consults, she speaks, and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty with hard online work. Her specialty is rehabbing underperforming and outdated websites. In addition, her appearance at PubCon sheds some new light on SEO as content marketing.

What are SEO and Content Marketing?

As you know, SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization. SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a specific website or web page in a SERP’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. Lee Odden, an industry expert from the Content Marketing Institute, recently described SEO as “a customer focused content marketing program.” He went on to say that it’s like a “sandwich” in which “SEO is the mayonnaise.” Although the mayo touches just about everything and enhances the sandwich’s flavor, it’s not exactly appetizing on its own.

Content marketing is marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media content in order to draw in and retain customers. You might liken it to the bread of Odden’s sandwich. Good quality bread can really make a sandwich and complement its contents. While the bread may be scrumptious all on its own, it’s usually the contents of the sandwich that lead us to eating it.

Why You Need SEO in Content Marketing

If SEO is like mayo and content marketing is like bread, then obviously both are important. In her segment at PubCon, Carolyn Shelby listed the following reasons for why you need SEO in your content marketing:

  • It helps identify the goals for your marketing, and it creates a performance benchmark
  • It helps you select your themes and topics through good old-fashioned keyword research
  • It assists you in writing that unbelievably amazing, on topic content
  • It allows you to decide where to distribute and promote your content for the best visibility to your target audience
  • It gives you the capability to run reports that show your ROI

However, these aren’t the only reasons you need SEO and content marketing as a combo. Regardless of what people say, SEO and content marketing aren’t duking it out to see which species survives to the next step of cyber evolution. We’re not looking at survival of the fittest or a corporate takeover. We’re staring at a merger.

The people who go around pushing “Content Marketing vs. SEO” are chomping at the bit to pit them against each other like a couple of prizefighters. Not only do they want you to pick a side, but they also need you to do so. Do I have your attention?

SEO versus Content Marketing

The apparent implication comes across that, in order to be wise with your digital marketing budget, you have no choice but to choose between hiring only one type of specialist over the other. In this case, it’s the SEO guru over the content marketing king. Maybe you have a $3,000 budget dedicated to marketing to allocate as seen best fit per month. The dilemma then becomes, do you put your eggs into the content marketing or SEO basket?

The only way this makes any kind of sense is if the intended SEO in question is of the black-hat variety. Black-hat SEOs were indeed a booming, albeit questionable, business practice for years. Today, their methods are entirely unethical, ineffective, and downright dangerous to your SEO strategies. Search engines don’t take too kindly to websites caught running a black-hat SEO tactic and they penalize those found guilty of doing so accordingly. It can be disastrous.

The truth is white-hat SEO practices are tried and true methods of increasing visibility and ultimately readership, thus leading to conversion. One of the most talked about white-hat SEO methods is creating and publishing high quality content. Guess what? We just stepped into the domain of a seasoned content marketer. There is no choice between SEO and content marketing. They work together. In fact, awesome content is quickly turning into the ultimate SEO tool!

SEO as Content Marketing: Two Sides of a New Coin

Savvy online marketing professionals should come to the conclusion that content marketing and SEO are the two key contributors in an enterprise-focused marketing strategy. If your website is lacking in one or both of these areas, it has to be brought up to par.

SEO experts shouldn’t be living in fear of the extinction of the craft they’ve worked so hard to build. Their roles will continue to be vital for a brand’s marketing strategy because they know better than anyone that effective, ethical SEO can’t happen without the necessary content to optimize. And where the content gurus know the ins and outs of epic content—like citations and internal linking going SEO viral—the SEOs know how to get search engines to see that content.

We all strive to create high quality content with the intention of supporting our marketing objectives. If done properly, an integral part of our execution strategies will be focused on creating optimizations that will increase the probability of our content being discovered on search engine result pages.

As it stands, claiming that SEO and content marketing are two separate marketing tactics with no interaction is akin to saying that headlines and copy are mortal enemies. However, as Google continues to perfect the search users’ experience, content is taking on new meaning. One might even go as far as saying, as Shelby did at PubCon, that SEO is becoming the new content marketing. Content marketing is huge!

Baskets Be Gone

Remember how we talked about the content marketing and SEO baskets? One of the greatest struggles is that of a majority of people attempting to distinguish between various tactics by putting them into separate baskets. In truth, as SEO becomes the new content marketing, we are effectively merging the two baskets to create one—a better one. Ideally, instead of seeing each one as an individual entity, they should be seen as an aspect of one strategic, overarching process.

Our SEO can literally hand us vital information about our target audience. The performance of our SEO can indicate which content is working and which is not. Shelby pointed out that the Tribune Content Agency actually leverages their SEO as an influencer and informer on behalf of their overall content strategy. That strategy encompasses everything from topic selection to the actual content creation and its placement.

Content is King…

…but it needs SEO to reign supreme. The fundamental element in marketing is and always has been content. As we move forward, content should continue to serve as the basic foundation of your online marketing strategy. Google wants high quality content, and their every algorithm update supports that desire. But it’s not just the wishes of the almighty SEO setter. It’s the wants of audiences around the globe. They want relevancy, but they want awesome content, too.

Content is king, but it should be populated with vital information expertly tailored to speak the language of your intended audience. At the same time, it must adequately and accurately address the problems and desires that are at the forefront of your audience’s mind. It must offer value; otherwise, it is worthless. Content must be able to answer whatever questions your audience has, alleviate their fears, and encourage them to action.

Here’s the thing: the accomplishment of your content marketing goals, according to Shelby, hinges on your SEO. You can’t have one without the other. Regardless of whether your content marketing goal is to build brand awareness, beef up your site’s content inventory, generate that fuzzy feeling, or offer up some link bait, it’s all for not without at least some SEO.

So, before you go separating your 2015 budgets and contemplating which is more important, stop! SEO becoming the new content marketing is happening. To choose one over the other is to choose a disadvantage. Regardless of whether you’re taking the plunge to outsourcing your content creation and/or SEO or not, you have a mission. Be sure to make room for both content marketing and SEO. It’s the only way you can have your cake and eat it too!

Photo credit: zakokor / iStock

 

topics

The Future of SEO: Topics Instead of Keywords

Recently, there’s been a big push in the SEO community toward “topics rather than terms.” While the SEO of yesteryear was obsessively focused on keyword research and inclusion, today’s SEO has expanded to be more natural, conversational, and user-focused.

Over the last several years, we’ve seen significant shifts in optimization, including Google’s massive push for high-quality, well-written content and the introduction of ranking tools like RankBrain, to name a few.

While keywords can be valuable, and they’ve gained their important position in SEO for a good reason, they’re not the most natural strategy for modern SEO, and many site owners and users alike have found them stale, stuffy, and unproductive.

This has created the ultimate opportunity for a new approach to take over.

the future of seo

Why “Topics Over Terms” Takes the Cake

If you’ve worked in the content marketing industry for years, you know exactly how many changes this industry has seen.

From Panda to Penguin, Google has shifted its ranking algorithms regularly, and marketers have changed their approach to developing content, in turn.  This has caused a dramatic change in the way people discover content, and the way search engines rank it.

While Google and other search engines used to deliver content based on its adherence to standards, like keyword saturation, those rules have ceased to be useful or relevant, and today’s focus is more nuanced. Today, value and relevance take the cake, while spammy, SEO-obsessed content falls by the wayside.

This is where the push toward topics rather than terms enters the picture.

Today, people are using dozens of different methods to search for the content they love, from mobile platforms to voice searches, and Google has had to adapt as a result. This has led to a push for authoritative content that delivers a positive user experience.

We’re staring down the barrel of a new key focus: today, the only way to the top is to understand your target audience and produce the kind of quality content they want. When you do this correctly and take the current SEO environment into account in the process, you can establish yourself as an authority in the industry and enjoy a wider reach than ever before.

The Variability of Modern Search Engines

In recent years, the way search engines process and obtain information has shifted dramatically. Historically, marketers have paid careful attention to keyword rankings within search engine results.

Even though keyword rankings change depending on where you are, how you search, and which terms you use, and thus have thousands of different arrangements at any moment, people have historically looked to them as trustworthy ranking mechanisms. Unfortunately, they’re not.

Further adding to the instability of traditional methods of determining ranking is the shift of search engines toward featured snippets, which platforms like Google now roll out more and more to cater to users and offer value.

Google, specifically, has also begun to lean toward machine learning, most notably with its RankBrain algorithm, which helps Google process its millions of daily searches and understand the user intent behind them.

Thanks to developments like RankBrain, Google now knows that someone searching for “Fitness studios in NYC” is likely also interested in a yoga or Pilates studio, even though they never explicitly used these keywords.

This is called semantic search, and it’s at the center of the “topics rather than terms” revolution.

Your Target Audience Is Everything

For years, there’s been a rallying cry throughout the world of content marketing: know your target audience. And that holds just as true in the age of topics over terms as it did in years prior.

After all, your target audience is your ultimate consideration. Since they’re who you’re creating content for, it pays to get it right and ensure that they’re receiving it as well as you’d like them to.

This isn’t a new realization. In recent years, sources like Moz (in a Whiteboard Friday) have explained how targeting specific kinds of people (your target audience) and the topics they’re interested in could be one of the most efficient traffic-driving strategies, blowing keyword-based ranking out of the water.

While a general keyword strategy can help your target audience find your content, it won’t ultimately help them engage with it.  The reason is simple:  an excessively strict keyword creates restrictions.

Readers want relevant, informative, and engaging content. They want to learn something new, and it’s hard to do that with content that’s only focused on achieving a 3% keyword density. Now that rates of voice and mobile search have skyrocketed, and Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update, which helps the search engine process natural language queries, has launched, it’s more important than it’s ever been to identify the topics your target audience is interested in.

If you were to focus only on keyword inclusion, you’d be hemmed into 10 or 20 keyword phrases. Expand that to a “topic” focus, though, and you’ll quickly find that there are dozens of long-tail variations within each given topics.

According to Fishkin’s whiteboard, creating landing pages with each key term or phrase can create unnecessary words, overlapping information, and user confusion. With search engines determined to bring the best possible experience to the user, it’s a sure bet that confusing content won’t make it high in ranking.

How to Focus on Topics over Terms in Your Content

The benefits of focusing on topics over keywords are undeniable. The question now is where do you start? Here’s your five-step breakdown.

1. Research Your Product(s) and Service(s)

Mike Small from SiteProNews recommend using the Google Keyword Planner tool (it’s free) via a Google AdWords account to research and select your keyword themes. You can also stick to the most notable “core keywords” you have already identified to choose your keyword theme, and then move to step two.

Keep in mind that long-tail keywords count, and these keywords are invaluable for placing in local searches and building out your topic strategy. Once you’ve found a few keywords you want to target, work on building out topics that complement and enhance them.

2. Get Creative

When you rank content with keywords, you simply try to identify every opportunity to stuff a keyword. When you rank content on a “topics over terms” basis, though, you’ve got to get creative with your topic ideas.

The idea of a topic cluster is to use one primary search term and then build out topics around it. Here’s a diagram from HubSpot to demonstrate:

HubSpot Graphic

The idea here is to be natural, not mechanical. What are people interested in? Which topics, if covered, will help you improve your internal link strategy? How can you cover the topic broadly while also informing and exciting your audience?

When you answer these questions, it’ll be easier to develop a smart topic cluster and use it to your advantage.

3. Refine Your Cluster Content

Once you’ve created your topic group, it’s time to improve it. You’ll want to edit it, ensuring you’re optimizing your cluster content to attract traffic. How best can you attract readers to these topics. Is there anything you’re missing?

Keep in mind that the goal of cluster content is not necessarily to drive conversions. Rather, it’s designed to bring in the traffic you need to make your pillar content as high-converting as possible. As such, you don’t need to think about “selling” nearly as much as you do educating. Isn’t that a nice weight off your shoulders?

4. Measure the results

As with any content creation, the next step is to measure the results of your effort. Once you’ve created your content, it’s time to pay attention to how many people come to it, and how often.

Collect feedback from your readers. Is there anything they’d like to see more of? If so, how can you shift or alter your strategy to offer it for them? The more you measure the results, the easier it will be to ensure you’re catering to your target audience exactly.

5. Adjust as Needed

If you’re noticing areas where your new content falls short, adjust it as necessary. The more frequently you do this, the better your content will be in the long run.

Make Way for the Future of Topic-Focused Content

We all love themes. A theme opens the door to a wide variety of topics and subtopics; all housed under one primary or mother theme or, in this case, keyword.

While developing topic clusters and moving, mentally, from a focus on keyword-rich content to topic-focused content can be intimidating, this is a relevant and timely move to make in the modern world of SEO. The sooner you wrap your mind around it, the better.

Need content that’s conversational and approachable? Visit our Content Shop to hire our expert team today.

keyword optimization

Keyword Optimization: 5 Do’s and Don’ts to Follow to Score SERP Rankings

Keyword optimization isn’t as technical as you may think.

It’s not about counting keywords and doing math equations.

Instead, excellent keyword SEO involves:

  • Inserting keywords using natural language where it counts

… That’s it!

In fact, as long as you strategically place your focus keyword/secondary keyword in the right spots, you can forget about keywords altogether as you write.

Using this strategy has helped my own content nab top rankings in Google, including the #1 position.

Sound good? I thought so.

Let’s examine the nitty-gritty do’s and don’ts of keyword placement and SEO to help guide you to SERP success.

keyword optimization

5 Do’s and Don’ts to Improve Your Keyword Optimization

1. Don’t Focus on Keyword Density

Keyword density refers to how often your keyword(s) appear within your content piece. To figure out the keyword density of a piece of content, you count how many times the focus keyword shows up and divide that figure by the total number of words.

However, you don’t have to understand how this works, because keyword density is an outdated concept.

It doesn’t matter. You do NOT have to count keywords when writing for SEO.

keyword density

Google and other search engines are smarter now than 10 years ago (when KD was a big deal). They’re no longer looking for instances of a keyword in your content – instead, they’re looking for context and relevancy, and matching the user’s search intent.

The only time you need to worry about keyword density is if you’re using your keyword(s) too many times. That’s called keyword stuffing. That’s spam.

So, what should you do, instead?

2. DO Pay Attention to Keyword Placement for SEO Content Optimization

Instead of inserting your keyword(s) wherever you can, focus on strategic keyword placement.

Use your keywords in the right places, using natural language, and your content is more likely to get ranked.

Search engines look at how keywords are used on your page. The algorithms use these clues to figure out what your page is about.

If your keywords appear in key places, that sends a signal to search engines, i.e., “Hey! This page is about [insert your focus keyword here]!”

These are the key spots to insert your keywords so search engines take note:

  • The H1 (the headline/title of your content)
  • H2s (the main subheaders)
  • H3s (sub-subheaders)
  • Once in the intro/first paragraph
  • Once in the conclusion/last paragraph
  • Sprinkled throughout the text (used naturally)

These key placements apply to your focus keyword as well as any related or synonymous keywords.

For an example of correct keyword placement in a blog that’s ranking right now, look at EW’s own post, “How to Outsource Your Content Writing (Successfully).”

The keyword we wanted to rank for was “outsourcing content writing.”

outsourcing content writing

As you can see, we’re currently ranking #1 on Google for this keyword (after the paid search listings).

This is why:

A. The focus keyword appears in the H1, in various H2s throughout the blog, and within the introduction.

focus keyword

B. Related keywords are sprinkled throughout, and are used in some H2s.

headers in blog posts

C. The concluding paragraph has a keyword-optimized H2 and contains the focus keyword, plus a related term.

D. All of the keywords are inserted in the text naturally, effortlessly, and with variations as needed for correct grammar.

strategic keyword placement

All of these strategic keyword placements add up to blaring signals for Google and other search engines to latch onto – they can’t ignore these signals!

Once the keywords are in place, if the content quality is high, and if the piece is relevant to the user, Google will rank it highly. That’s exactly what happened here.

Another keyword we rank for using the same strategic keyword placements: “blogging statistics.”

This is the post on Google, currently in the #3 position:

blogging statistics post

To help you get a big-picture view of what optimized keyword placement looks like, check out this zoomed-out screenshot of the blog post in question, “Why Blog? 52 Incredible Blogging Statistics to Inspire You.”

keyword placement

In addition to using the focus keyword, “blogging statistics,” in the major spots, we also have instances of related keywords in key areas, like “results from blogging,” “blogging online marketing,” and “blogging commitment.”

We did NOT count how many times we used the keywords, but rather used them when it felt natural, with grammar variations to keep the text readable. 

THAT is a major part of why this blog ranks so well right now.

3. Don’t Ignore Less Obvious Keyword Opportunities

SEO content optimization isn’t only about the textual content. It’s also about details the user can’t necessarily see on the page, but you can tweak on the back-end. 

Don’t miss these keyword opportunities.

A. Meta Titles and Descriptions

To boost your SEO, your metas should be optimized for all your content pieces. The meta title is an obvious one (A.K.A. your headline or H1), but don’t forget to add your focus keyword to the meta description, too.

To learn how to write and add optimized metas to your blog posts, check out our guide on blog optimization.

B. URLs

Yep, the URLs for all your content can be keyword-optimized. Blogs each have their own page/URL, so this is especially relevant for that type of content. 

To make them user and search engine-friendly, include only the most important words and separate with hyphens, i.e.:

“https://yourwebsite.com/focus-keyword-or-phrase-here”

For example, this is the URL for our post where the focus keyword is “blog optimization”:

URL keyword example

Imagine if the URL for this blog looked like this:

“https://expresswriters.com/blog/asdjklei/1282398/hse248ha-optimization-12”

That looks scary for a user coming fresh to your site. (Are they on the right page? What are you trying to load onto their computer??)

Search engines don’t like it, either. A short, clean, descriptive URL is best-practice in both cases.

C. Image Alt Text

One final place where you can use keywords: image alt text.

Alt text is an attribute within the code for displaying an image in your content. It tells the web browser what to display if the image can’t load. This can be an opportunity to use descriptive keywords.

alt text code

When the user hovers over an image with alt text on a web page, a tooltip with the alt text will appear.

alt text example

Plus, if your visitor uses a screen reader (which usually means they’re disabled or blind), they’ll be able to understand the page better because of your descriptive alt text. Thus, using keyword-rich alt text is a good practice for accessibility as well as SEO.

4. Never Attempt to Force a Keyword Where It Won’t Fit

A huge tip for writing content with keywords:

Forget about the keywords.

(Wait, what?)

Yes, seriously.

When you’re writing the body of your content, let all thoughts of keywords fly out of your head. Instead, focus on explaining your topic or subject as clearly as possible.

Usually, when you do this, you’ll find yourself naturally using the keywords you need, including variations and related terms.

That’s how human language and communication works. We use related concepts, ideas, examples, words, and metaphors to get across meaning.

If your intent is to truly create a useful piece of content on a particular topic, the keywords will follow.

On the other hand, if you try to force keywords into your content, it will be really obvious.

keyword stuffing

Image via Quora

Granted, there will be times when you need to use a really strange-sounding keyword that doesn’t make much grammatical sense. (E.g., “best dentist Oklahoma” or “gourmet cupcakes NY”)

If this is the case, I still recommend forgetting about keywords and just writing the content. Then, once your first draft is finished, go back over it and find a sentence you can edit to include the difficult keyword in question.

Smooth out that sentence as much as possible. Read it back to yourself out loud to make doubly sure it sounds natural. If you need to, change up the grammar of the keyword phrase, as such: “The most delicious gourmet cupcakes in NY are made with the freshest ingredients.”

If you can’t find a way to smoothly insert a difficult keyword, don’t force it. You shouldn’t sacrifice the readability of your content for one measly term.

5. DO Think About Helping Your User Understand the Content

As we move through the basics of keyword optimization, you may have noticed a trend:

Every aspect works together to help the user understand the content. 

Placing keywords in specific locations sends strong signals to Google that your content is topically relevant to the search term in question, but it also sends those same signals to your audience. These cues tell them your content covers what they want to know.

As long as you consider your human audience first and what helps them make sense of your content, you’ll probably make good choices for SEO, too.

Remember: Keyword Optimization That Wins with Users, Wins with Search Engines

Keyword optimization is not about beating the search engines. It’s not about gaming Google to sneak to the #1 position for a keyword.

Instead, it’s about making your content the best it can be for the optimum user experience.

Above all, the user should be able to understand your page, and understand whether it fits their search intent.

That’s the nuts-and-bolts of it. Keep your users top-of-mind, and good SEO practices should follow.

content for SEO

8 Reasons Why Content is the Most Crucial Element of SEO Today

If you are in the SEO business or in case you are thinking about it, there is one major rule you will have to keep in mind: the search engines don’t care about companies; they only rank content. It doesn’t matter how great your company is if you can’t offer the readers high quality content.

The main purpose of search engines (including Google) is to offer their users the best experience possible. When a user searches the answer to a question, the more details the answer has, the more useful it is for the user. As a result relevant and high quality content will have a better ranking in the search results.

All this determines your goal in content creation: publishing marketable, useful and relevant information. This will boost your ratings and it will ensure that your SEO strategy will have long-term effects.

So here is why content is the key element of SEO:

1. People Are Interested in What You Have to Say

According to Brafton.com 52% of people made purchase decisions based on what they read on blogs and 57% of the marketers gained new customers because of their content. 42% of people look for articles and blogs about the products that they wish to purchase and 60% of the marketers claim that content helps them make better decisions. 61% of the customers say that they are likely to purchase the products of a company that offers custom content. All this should show you how important your content really is.

Brafton's Infographic: Why Content for SEO?
Now that you know your content makes all the difference, what could you do to improve it for higher SEO ranks and more traffic?

2. Give the Consumers What They Need

First of all, you have to know what your target audience is. Secondly, you need to know what they want and what information is relevant to them. If you don’t, you will waste time and energy offering solutions to problems that don’t exist. Once you know what the target audience wants, make sure that the content you offer is really helpful.

Think of the most common questions and offer answers. This way you will become the source of knowledge to the readers. While the other people will be too busy with self-marketing, you will give people exactly what they need which is the best self-marketing strategy ever.

3. Just Give Yourself

Regardless of the kind of content you are thinking about, you can be sure that there are hundreds of people who thought of it before you woke up this morning. This is why you will have to find ways to make your content stand out; find ways to present your content in a way that has never been used before.

If your content is similar to the others’, you will just need to add value to it. There are many different ways to make your content stand out, such as adding videos, infographics, images, or anything else that would make it unique.

4. Boredom Is the Death of SEO

You may be working in a field that is boring or dry, but you can be sure that they are always ways to add a fun and creative spin to it, even if you are in the field of toilet seats.

One of the most important aspects that you will have to be thinking about is branding, according to Seth Godin.  Based on information from brafton.com, half of the users are more likely to visit a page if it appears several times among the search engine results. For this you will need a diversified content strategy. It means that you should have blogs, webpages, images, videos, whitepapers, social snippets, infographics, and anything else you could think of.

All this will result in people being engaged with your brand. You will be able to fill the content gaps and you will maximize the benefits of all your content.

5. Content Reduced to Keywords

When you’re searching for something with the help of search engines, you have to type in keywords. These are the same keywords that the users type in to find your content. Since you know what your target group wants, you should have a pretty good idea of what keywords they might use to reach the desired content. All these keywords must be a part of your pages. This way in the moment the user hits enter, your content will be first on the list of results.

6. Can Keywords Reduce Your Ranking?

In order to have high ranks on the search engine results, there is need for your content to contain keywords. So, why wouldn’t you include all the keywords that you can think about? The truth is this is a very bad strategy. Keyword stuffing isn’t the solution to your problem. If you have too many keywords, the content will lose its purpose and it won’t be useful to the readers. This is why there is a keyword density accepted by common sense. If your web content keyword density is higher, it will hurt your ranking. On the other hand, if you don’t have keywords, it will become very difficult to attract traffic to your content.

7. Is Your Content Engaging?

If you have high quality content, you will be able to engage the readers and this is something that the search engines also measure. The more time readers spend on your site, the better the rankings will be. If you don’t have high quality content, the readers will simply bounce back to the search results and, again, this will hurt your ranking.

8. Be “Socially” Involved

You can see social media everywhere you look. If you get shares, likes, tweets, or any other kind of social feedback, it means that you have high quality content and this is something that the search engines will appreciate as well.

All in all, no matter what kind of feedback you’re striving for, it all comes back to your content and whether or not your readers like it. Regardless of what you’re writing about, always consider what the readers want; the search engines want the same thing as your readers: high quality, informational, engaging content.

 

 

SEO predictions

10 SEO Predictions for 2014

Last year, search engine optimization (SEO) gurus rode a wild rollercoaster of change as Google updated a slew of search engine algorithms. New and exciting algorithm changes are expected for 2014, but one staple of SEO seems to remain static: high-quality, fresh content.

 

SEO Is Not Dying, But Evolving

 

The truth is: SEO is far from dying; it’s evolving. In 2014, Google will be working overtime to weed out fraud. To ensure that you’re earmarked as a productive plant instead of a weed, here are some of the top SEO predictions and how to apply them:

 

Prediction #1: Google’s Crackdown on Spam

“Cheaters never prosper.” This idiom holds unmistakable application to SEO cheaters and spammers, the folks who rely on shortcuts over good, old-fashioned hard work. Those who cheat will lose credibility and reputation in 2014. Eventually, they will fail altogether.

Guidelines aren’t issued just to look pretty, and Google is getting more aggressive about penalizing sites who insist on operating outside of their posted SEO guidelines. Familiarizing yourself with Google’s guidelines is important as we embark on a new year because spammers and cheaters will find themselves getting the ranking boot. Here’s what to avoid:

  • Don’t ignore Google’s SEO guidelines, familiarize yourself with them.
  • Don’t load your content with keywords over quality, relevant material.
  • Don’t backlink without proper research.
  • Don’t use shortcuts thinking they will give you quick ranking until you “find time” to flesh out content per SEO guidelines.

 

Prediction #2: Negative SEO Attacks Are a No-No

The competitors’ war wages on and, unfortunately, some like to take their gloves off in the ring. In 2014, you’ll need to be wary of competitors who attempt to attack your rankings through low quality links. Search Engine Watch published a great piece discussing the ins and outs of negative SEO attacks.

In essence, a negative attack occurs when a competitor tries to destabilize the organic visibility of a website or single page on Google. Some experts predict such attacks to grow in 2014. The good news is that Google is aware of such unscrupulous tactics and while they admit damage to rankings is possible, they stand by their webspam team. Crackdowns on spam will be the undoing of anyone choosing to wield this tactic.

 

Prediction #3: Social Media and Google+

We already know social media is a cornerstone of search engine optimization. The staple platforms continue to grow and adapt to the needs of audiences, businesses and marketers. Social signals are predicted to grow continually important throughout 2014. Search engines are now crawling actual social sends, and it’s practically assured algorithms will adjust accordingly. Social network dominance will only improve your SEO results.

If you aren’t using Google+ religiously to post new content and media, you’re missing out on a huge SEO opportunity. In 2014, G+ Pages and Helpouts will likely drive the popularity of both the network and its weight in the SERPs. You see, Google’s emphasis on author rank is quickly becoming an effective means of significantly increasing your credibility and reputation. Here’s how it works:

Google is encouraging users to get more active on their Google+ profiles by connecting to their content. By linking articles, blogs, press releases, etc., to your Google+ profile and making a link appear on your profile page, author rank will be triggered. Google+ posts are crawled, and index almost immediately— and, thanks to Google Authorship, all of your content will be branded to you. By using Google+ consistently, you can increase your SEO results exponentially.

 

Prediction #4: Long Tail Keywords

In 2014, long tail keywords will likely grow in popularity. Such keywords consist of 3 to 5 word phrases designed to target specific, relevant search phrases with the goal of pulling in traffic through targeted content.

We expect to see the popularity of these keywords increase due to Google’s focus on generating more targeted search results. Consumers know what they want. They are more likely to enter a phrase versus keyword into a search, such as “how to plan a wedding on a budget” versus “wedding planning.” As a result, the more focused you become in your optimization efforts, the more likely you are to see excellent results.

Google’s search algorithms are armed with the ability to detect synonyms. Quality content won’t be stuffed with long tail keywords. Instead, it will be well-written, engaging and fresh. Keywords can and will be adapted to preserve the copy’s quality above all else.

 

Prediction #5: Linking Is Not Dead

Contrary to popular opinion, link building for SEO is not dead. Surprised? It’s true that in 2013 we saw a lot of hype from many sources, all crying wolf that link building was coming to an end. Google says differently, and they are the ultimate decision maker. SiteProNews put it perfectly, link building for SEO is still important “because search engines…need context about the content you’re publishing, and its related utilities.”

Link building is not a simple matter of linking to random content or popular websites and expecting traffic to roll in. On the contrary, link building is a well-researched strategy. When choosing links, keep the following in mind:

  • Ensure the content of the link add to or expand on the topic of your content.
  • Research the link prior to using it. Things like Domain Authority (DA) matter. You might try using a free tool, such as MozBar, for researching links.
  • Back linking is beneficial. It’s like a personal recommendation and establishes content specialization. It will become more important in 2014 as longer more specialized content becomes the trend for website owners seeking to command traffic and conversions.
  • Advanced techniques—like finding and filling broken links on popular, high-ranking websites—will be “un-sexy but highly necessary,” according to SiteProNews.

 

Prediction #6: Responsive Designs Will Win

Mobile web surfing will increase in 2014 as people move further away from laptops and desktops in favor of tablets, smart phones and other mobile devices. Therefore, simple responsive designs will make you a winner. This means it is imperative for all of your online content to be optimized for mobile viewing.

Optimizing content involves more than just using a website design that is workable for mobile viewers. Another type of optimization must be taken into consideration as copy is written: keeping the content appealing to a highly busy audience. Paragraphs should be kept short; otherwise they’ll look like pages on a small mobile screen. Sentence structure should be kept simple so readers can quickly digest the content. It will take a high caliber copywriter to ensure these standards are met while staying on topic and keeping the content interesting.

 

Prediction #7: Local Mobile Searches Will Explode

Mobile users are on the rise. In 2013, we witnessed a migration as over 50 percent of Internet surfers left their desktops behind. The majority of people today depend on their compact portable devices when searching and surfing the Internet.

Have you noticed search engines and other apps pinpointing your location? A trend arose in 2013: the majority of people searching on a mobile device expected local results based on their current location. Mobile search and its correlation with finding what’s local based on the device location will continue to climb in 2014.

 

Prediction #8: A Shift in Ecommerce

Customers are less concerned with price and more concerned with quality of service and speed of fulfillment. We’ll be seeing this shift in ecommerce in 2014. As a result, quality content will be a killer SEO strategy.

Studies indicate consumers are happy to pay more for quality, service and rapid response. They aren’t looking for the cheapest price. They are looking for the best quality, for an investment in value. Your best friend in 2014 will be a seasoned copywriter, one capable of writing compelling, relevant copy.

Consumers are searching for information above all else. They want to know why to invest in your product or service. How will it benefit them? Why are you different from the competition? The best way to make a lasting impression is through informative, educational content.

Consumers who feel educated are more likely to buy. If you are the source educating them, your credibility and reputation grows. Potential consumers will become more comfortable purchasing from you, and you’ll push your rankings over the top by backing everything with proven rapid responses and excellent customer service.

 

Prediction #9: Press Releases

The point of a press release, informative document, educational article, blog or business presentation is to generate PR and, ultimately, the bread and butter of sales conversions: traffic. Moving forward, experts predict that press releases of any kind will need to be newsworthy to generate traffic.

How much time do you have in a single day to read? When we say read, we mean to really read, not skim for a general idea. Most of us are lucky to have an hour of freedom to dedicate to really reading. If you expect your press releases to generate traffic, take your own time restraints into consideration; chances are your audience is in the same boat.

What makes you stop to read a press release, or any type of content for that matter? The decision to dedicate a small amount of precious time to really read will revolve around the following factors:

  1. The title and/or accompanying graphic have caught your attention because it’s thought provoking or emotionally charged.
  2. A quick glance at the headings appeals to your current needs or touches on a topic that recently grabbed your interest.
  3. The first sentence of the first paragraph you read, which could have been anywhere on the page, grabbed your attention.
  4. Every sentence you read thereafter kept you enthralled.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: quality content is the heart and soul of SEO. Your content has to demand attention, provide relevance, be substantial and deliver.

 

Prediction #10: Quality Content Matters

We already know quality content is important, but in 2014 it will matter more than ever. Quality traffic will be the direct result of unique, engaging content strategies. High-quality content will be the focal point of every winning strategy.

How many times have you read content (for the reasons listed under “Prediction #9”) and felt let down in the end? While the writing was upbeat and held your attention until the bitter end, the end was just that: bitter, disappointing, lacking. What happened? Honestly? The content fell short of quality.

You see, quality content isn’t about keywords, hot topics, relevant backlinks and social media dispersion. Yes, all of these aspects are part of creating and marketing quality SEO content. But at the core of true quality is value.

Successful content must offer something of value—the solution to an issue, the conclusion to a problem, the extension of hope, the satisfaction of answering at least one big question—otherwise, it isn’t quality. The reader will feel ripped off, left to wonder why on Earth they wasted their time. Don’t let this happen to you. A lack of quality content will reflect on your business or brand. Potential customers will redirect their time-limited attention spans elsewhere.

 

What It All Means

 

Just what do these 10 predictions mean for you? You no doubt see the commonality between them all, the statement we kept repeating: high-quality content. It is the ultimate, killer strategy for 2014.

Search engine optimization, rankings, credibility, authority, it’s all attainable through a focused effort to generate and market high-quality content. Social media, long tail keywords, linking, responsive designs, local mobile searches, newsworthy press releases, these are all icing on the cake. They’re the decoration that says, “Happy Birthday to You When You Choose My Company/Brand.” But decorations and icing are just sugary fluff.

Well-written, pristinely formatted, relevant, engaging and value-packed copy is the delicious cake that fills your content marketing strategies for 2014. You might even call it the meat to the potatoes. You can’t fill up on sugars and starches with the expectation of feeling full and satisfied; you need the main course for that!

Audiences are looking for the companies and brands that supply a full course content meal. Don’t leave them feeling shortchanged and unsatisfied by skimping on or watering down your content. 2014 is the year to satisfy your audience’s every need, a task you can accomplish simply by giving them the high-quality content they crave.

 

seo keyword research

How to Research & Prepare Your SEO Keywords for the New Year

According to Search Engine Watch, a leader providing search engine industry analysis, SEO marketing “finally matured in 2013.”

In a single year, over 500 algorithm changes took place, changing the face of search engine optimization forever. In 2014, you’ll need to adapt to change if you expect to hold onto your SERP (search engine results page). In preparation for the New Year, we’ve investigated multiple resources and sorted out the pertinent research that will prepare you for the new word of SEO.

SEO Copywriting Is More Important than Ever

Newbie webmasters and business owners sometimes falsely believe that SEO copywriting is neither useful nor necessary. Such ideas could not be farther from the truth. In fact, we tackled this topic head on in one of our blogs on SEO copywriting. If you doubt for even a nanosecond that optimization for search engine placement is dying, you had better catch up by reading our post!

In 2014, SEO will become more vital than ever. However, it absolutely must be handled correctly, otherwise it will be for naught. And the work you’ve already put into optimization now needs an overhaul, otherwise it’ll be hopelessly outdated and nonfunctional. You want website traffic? You want conversion and sales? You better listen up…

Keywords Matter but They’re Not Almighty

Over the years, opinions and facts about keywords have rapidly changed. At one time, content was bursting at the seams with keyword after keyword, repetitively stuffed in to gain high search engine rankings. Google put the kibosh on this outdated (and frankly, irritating) method of optimization for ranking in favor of quality content. People aren’t robots; they’ve never “crawled” over content and “indexed” it like early model search engine robots. Instead, audiences the globe over have cried out for the chance to read quality content, not sift through incoherent piles of keywords and phrases culminating in an “Order Now” button.

As we wrap up 2013, one of the biggest and most buzzed about changes to SEO keywords is the loss of the Google Keyword tool. Moving forward, what does this mean for you?

A Moment of Silence, Please

Putting the Google Keyword tool to rest is an eventuality almost all of us have been expecting. For those of us neck deep in SEO research, we understand the transforming fact: users want quality content and a great experience above everything else, and Google has heard their voice. Cut the fluff and educate! That’s what consumers want.

Back in 2011, Google started dropping hints to SEO marketers that their models and algorithms were about to change. The Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates pushed an attention shift from the almighty repetitive keyword insertion to content quality and relevancy.

As we step into the new world of 2014, it would be prudent to take a hard look at your SEO campaigns. It’s time to ensure they’re keeping up with the changes. Otherwise, you’ll be pushing campaigns that won’t push business, and that the last thing you want to do. It would mean a complete waste of planning and funds.

SEO Content in 2014

For those of us on the warpath, determined to give our audience of potential customers exactly what they crave, many of the same standards we’ve adopted in the past year are still relevant. For example, we have written on our blog about never sacrificing content quality for rankings. This philosophy is still one of the essential SEO content writing tips and the best policy going into the New Year. In fact, you might say it’s the only policy. Climbing the search engine rankings is about to focus on longer quality content, relevant material and the use of keywords with variations.

As the New Year is ushered in, every business owner and marketing guru will meet the change of dealing with new obstacles. Let’s take a look at 3 of the most monstrous obstacles:

#1: Traditional SEO Methods Won’t Cut It

Remember the days when inserting keywords and variations of those keywords equated to higher SERP rankings? Don’t live in those days because they’re going, going, gone. Mobile searching has taken root, and the almighty Google has made it a point to determine where users are searching from. As a result, SERPs are not static.

Google is also tossing customer opinion into the mix. What customers say about you is going hold more weight than other SEO elements on your page. What does this mean for you?

  • It’s time to see beyond an SEO strategy. You’re going to need a local, national, and international strategy so that searchers from any location have a chance to see you.
  • Local search terms are about to be vital for your local SEO success.
  • Customer testimonials will be more important than ever.

#2: Static is Out

Neither Google nor your market is static. Just because you hold a high search engine ranking today, doesn’t mean you’ll still hold it tomorrow. You have to play defense to keep your rankings high, and you have to expect them to fluctuate throughout the year. What does this mean for you?

  • Ranking competition is fierce. You need a defensive strategy to survive the upcoming competition of 2014.
  • SEO isn’t a one-time deal. It must be maintained and evolve as SEO practices change.
  • If you plan on successfully defending your visibility, traffic and conversions to sales, you need to allocate both money and resources into your budget for 2014. Skimping is out of the question!

#3: Quick Fixes Lead to a Quick Death

The rule of 2014 is to following SEO best practices. Cutting corners and attempting quick fixes—you know, the “I’ll tie up the loose ends later” approach—is something Google will not tolerate. A quick fix would get you quickly banned from Google!

The 2014 SEO Game Plan

Now that your head is reeling from the challenges, let’s talk game plan. It’s time to push a positive spin on the new frontier of SEO. After all, it’s entirely possible you already have plenty of best practices in place:

  • Keywords. Rest assured that keyword research isn’t gone. It is the very foundation of all on-site SEO and will continue to be such. However, keyword use has changed. You want to avoid inserting an awkward keyword, one that stumbles the reader as they read your content. Google is equipped with synonym identification, meaning you can vary your keywords to better match your content. As a result, Google still indexes the content, but your audience is much happier. Be sure each page of content stands for a single topic. Avoid multiple pages covering the same thing, especially if you’re using synonyms to describe the same or similar thoughts.
  • Quality. It’s been the huge SEO topic of 2013. Google wants to make sure we’re replacing fluff with quality stuff. The days of hyping sales are quickly coming to a close, and as a result attention is shifting to producing quality content. This means presenting well written and well formatted material; material that comprehensively covers a topic or issue.
  • Length. We used to shoot for 300 to 500 word blog posts and website copy. We kept it short and usually fluffed it up to cover over keyword insertion. These days are in the past. Readers prefer longer content, and Google is catering to them. In 2014, quality content with a length in the 2,000-word range is going to be preferred. At any rate, word count should never, ever sacrifice quality, as it is you primary concern.
  • Freshness. Fresh content doesn’t need to be ground shatteringly new. Literature and the written word have been around for centuries. Every idea known to mankind has been written about and explored in some manner. Your goal in 2013 should be to make your content fresh. You need to present your business and ideas from a fresh perspective, going outside the norm.
  • Engagement. If your audience is engaged, they’ll stay on the page to read the content. It’s important to gear your content toward your audience. What issues concern them? What problems do they want to solve? How will you assist them with this?

Google’s New Direction

One of the biggest shakeups of 2013 was Google’s move to 100% secure search. This loops back to the death of the Google Keyword tool we discussed earlier. You see, for those of us watching the tool, we saw a steady rise in the appearance of “Keyword (not provided).” As keywords disappeared, we knew sooner or later the tool itself would vanish. But most of us didn’t expect it to happen this soon.

The release of Hummingbird came right around the time of the Google Keyword tool’s death, and this timing was no mere coincidence. Hummingbird zeroed in on marketing with meaning versus sales fluff. As a result, the push for quality content delivering a clear message grew. Keywords became less important. Content quality and relevancy became everything. What does this mean for your website?

Google Webmaster Tools are taking on a newfound importance when trying to make the most of your SEO campaigns because it’s the only source of keyword data. You’ll now be measuring the effectiveness of your page not by performance, but by potential. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to:

  • Know and understand your audience. Who are they? What are they looking for? How does your company fit the bill? How will your audience search for information? SEO success in 2014 involves thinking beyond traffic and revenue. You have to focus on your audience.
  • Optimize for multiple keywords. Google’s synonym technology has grown in leaps and bounds. Your audience knows there’s more than one way to refer to something. Variety is the spice of life, and it should be present into your copy. Readers—potential customers—want to be engaged with diverse, entertaining content, not boring and irritating repetition.
  • Know your competition. Who else is ranked using your keywords? You can bet they’re hungry to defend and advance their SERPs. You need to know your competition and be ready to defend and advance your SERPs.

The Evolution of SEO

Search engine optimization has evolved dramatically, but 2013 was undoubtedly a year of surprising revolution. In order to be successful in 2014, you need to be on board with change. We’re going to make it easy to spot any changes you need to make to your SEO campaigns with a simple comparison of the current do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t focus completely on keywords. They are only an aspect of search engine optimization.
  • Don’t be a robot. A methodical and mechanical approach to SEO is outdated.
  • Do create quality content. It should be targeted, relevant, and fresh.
  • Do join social media. Think of social media as a digital cocktail party. The who’s who will be there, and that’s where you want your brand to sit.
  • Do focus on building relationships. Your copy and social media should focus on one vital thing to your business: people. Your goal is to reach out and start forging relationships.

As you slide into the New Year, you’re presented with a remarkable business opportunity. The latest changes in search engine optimization in 2013 are pushing businesses to connect with people. A new opportunity to gain a stronger local presence is rapidly approaching.

Social media has taught us that people have a voice, and that a single voice can accomplish remarkable things. In 2014, you have the opportunity to connect with those voices, carry on valuable conversations, and be seen as more than a product or service. You have the unparalleled chance to let your customers see you as a relatable entity, a business sharing their principles and values. As you pour the heart and soul of your business into engaging and moving copy, you’ll accomplish your marketing objects while also building one of the strongest relationships possible with your customer base—a rapport based on trust and loyalty.

Need help with your content? Talk to us today.

choosing seo copywriters

Should Copywriters Choose Between SEO Practices and Creativity?

Striving to comply with the virtually unpredictable changes of dynamic online environments, numerous copywriters have the distinct impression that their white-hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics are inevitably compromising the substance of their copy. In fact, most novices are probably asking themselves the following question: Am I writing for living, breathing human beings, or am I crafting Web content for search engines?

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