Is blogging a major component of your digital marketing strategy? Columnist Daniel Faggella explains how to help your blog reach its full potential in search.
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, there is ample opportunity to boost your search engine rankings through blogging. However, you can’t implement a short-term approach to build a long-term source of organic traffic.
When you’re doing SEO, you need to be cautious. Some of the strategies that worked in the past will now get you penalized. On the contrary, some strategies that formerly weren’t worth your time are now essential.
If you want to build a sustainable web presence, then you need to adapt to the changes of Google’s algorithm. Whether you see these modifications or not, they are happening.
As you continue to align your content to the updated algorithm, you’ll gradually generate organic traffic. But more importantly, you’ll be able to attract prospects that could potentially become loyal customers.
Popular avenues for generating traffic to a business’s website include blogging, SEO, social media and email marketing. Many of these can (and, I would suggest, should) be used in conjunction with one another.
For example, blogging accounts for a large portion of traffic for businesses — and if you continue to create relevant, high-quality content, it will increase your rankings in the search engines, especially if you optimize your posts and promote them via social channels and email.
Today, I will share five tips that you can use to build a reliable source of organic traffic to your blog site.
1. Stop Focusing Solely On Keywords
Over the past few years, Google has made a concerted effort to value the overall experience of its users, which was all the more evident when it rolled out Hummingbird, a smarter search algorithm that looks at keywords in context. Their goal is to move away from seeing search queries as strings of keywords and towards understanding them as meaningful concepts.
A result of this is that Google now places greater emphasis on the value of your content than on the specific keywords it contains.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t optimize your content for keywords? No. The search engine still relies on keywords to some extent to understand the relevance of your content, but it’s gotten better at understanding context and detecting spammy, thin content — meaning that the days of achieving strong rankings simply by placing the main keyword in the title of your blog and repeating it over and over again throughout the content are over.
The key is to focus on creating quality content that provides useful information to your audience. If you want to rank number one for a keyword, then create content that deserves to be ranked number one. Stop looking for the shortcut in SEO. This mindset will do nothing but impede your visibility in the search engines.
2. Share Your Content On Social Media
More than two million blogs are posted each day. If you want to rank high in the search engines, then you need to get your content out into cyberspace. One of the best ways to do this is by building your brand visibility through social media.
Start sharing your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Create a social media regimen that holds you accountable each week. The more places your website is featured, the more data Google with gather on it.
Your social media fans are probably not ready to purchase your products. Unlike search engine users, they aren’t looking for an immediate solution to their problem. However, they are always interested in rich content related to the topics that matter to them and the problems they are trying to solve.
Creating thoughtful, useful content will ultimately improve the user experience of your fans. As you continue to provide value, they will start visiting your web properties. This will increase the level of engagement on your social media channels, in addition to your organic reach. It also can’t hurt that you’re potentially getting backlinks to your useful content pages.
Building a social media presence will enhance your brand’s visibility. Is there a concrete method to measure the SEO impact of social media? Considering Google hasn’t explicitly addressed this issue, I can’t say for sure.
What I can say is that in my experience, when you distribute your content through a myriad of social platforms, you’ll generally notice more links. The social media dynamic is similar to a “cocktail party.” Always lead with value, and don’t try to pitch your fans repeatedly.
3. Quality Versus Quantity Links
The more links to your website, the better, right?
Links are still a determining factor in the search engine rankings. However, the days of creating thin content and “link blasting” are over.
Buying backlinks is fast, simple and relatively cheap, and there are many SEO agencies that can provide hundreds of links to your website. But proceed with caution, because this practice could lead to a penalty (and potentially ruin your brand) if the following applies:
- You receive a large volume of links in a short time frame.
- The links aren’t relevant to the theme of your website.
- The linking websites have a low Domain Authority.
These days, the quality of your inbound links is what matters most. The link-building mindset change from “quantity” to “quality” can largely be attributed to Google’s web spam algorithm, Penguin, which was introduced in 2012 and was aimed at websites buying links (bad or good) strictly to boost their Google rankings.
Nowadays, any SEO impact that you get from link building is predicated on the idea that these links provide real value to users who might come across them.
4. Promote Your Content To “Earn” Links
Most novice marketers buy into this erroneous notion of “if you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. If you want to enhance your brand awareness, then you need to heavily promote your content.
If you don’t have an inbound marketing strategy that will help you “earn” links, then it will be difficult to build a sustainable source of organic traffic. My first piece of advice is to figure out who your audience is (through polls, surveys and cold calls) and what problems or needs those prospects are looking to solve or fulfill.
Your content should directly address these needs, and you should create a social media content promotion regimen that gets your content out in front of your audience on a regular basis (which social media avenues you use will also depend on your audience).
You might be asking, What are “earned” links?
They reflect the value that you deliver to your market. For instance, if you get a backlink to your website from guest posting on another site, that’s technically not an “earned” link. It’s a result of your time and effort. But when another credible source in your niche links to your website, then you have “earned” a link.
This idea of pursuing earned links has essentially forced marketers to step up their game. If you aren’t creating useful content, then don’t expect anyone to link to it.
There are no shortcut strategies to increase the number of earned links to your website. The best advice is to focus on creating thoughtful, useful content that meets the objectives of your audience.
5. Optimize Your Website For Mobile
The technology trends in our society have diversified your target audience. Your customers are no longer all sitting at their desk behind a personal computer to access the web.
Mobile has essentially taken over. Google has adapted to the behavior of its users, and therefore, so should you. The “Mobile Friendly Update” went into effect on April 21, 2015, which essentially leveled the playing field between mobile and PC users.
Google has stated that the majority of monthly searches in 10 countries (including the US) have come from mobile devices.
Here are three tips that you can use to optimize your website for mobile users:
- Layout. Ensure that your pages, menus and posts are optimized for mobile.
- Behaviors. Your landing pages and sales pages might require different strategies on mobile. Tools such as Crazy Egg will help assess the behaviors of mobile and desktop users.
- Content. Is there a disparity in the content that mobile and desktop users want? Determine what format is generating the most traction with mobile visitors to your website.
Nowadays, SEO is a long-term strategy that encompasses all relevant aspects of digital marketing. The best way to increase your search engine rankings is by creating useful content that addresses the core needs of your audience.
If you promote your content across a multitude of social media platforms, you’ll ultimately build a reliable source of organic traffic to your website.
What other strategies do you use to improve your SEO rankings?
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)