Strengthen Your SEO Strategy for 2017

Strengthen Your SEO Strategy for 2017

Author: Jodi Harris / Source: Content Marketing Institute One of the greatest benefits of content marketing is its ability to play matchm

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One of the greatest benefits of content marketing is its ability to play matchmaker: to help eligible businesses find and engage with its most desirable consumers – i.e., those who might have an active interest in what they have to offer. And because it is such a powerful driver of awareness, search is one of the main contributing factors to how successful your content will be at attracting those qualified leads.

While it’s not always fully transparent how or when Google’s search bots will crawl and index your content – let alone exactly how its search algorithm determines its rankings –content marketers don’t have to just sit back and wait for Google to pass judgment on whether their work merits a first-page listing on the search engine results page (SERP). In fact, you can take plenty of deliberate SEO actions to boost your content’s value in the eyes of your target audience – if you have the right strategies in place.

At CMI’s ContentTech virtual conference, Orbit Media co-founder Andy Crestodina and Act-On’s Senior Marketing Manager Noelle Mahoney took to the (digital) stage to offer some top tips, tools, and techniques for working the systems of search to your content’s best advantage. Below are just a few of the helpful insights and recommendations they shared.

Look for question marks in the queries

As Andy asserts, each visitor your content receives through search has an intention in mind; the searcher took the initiative to actively look for something. To find it, one of three main types of key phrases was used:

  • Navigational: Phrases that help the searchers find the best path to a specific brand or experience they already identified
  • Transactional: Phrases that indicate they are looking to make a purchase of some kind – either immediately or in the future
  • Informational: Phrases that signal that they have questions and are looking for answers on a particular subject

As Andy explains, content marketers’ greatest SEO potential lies in optimizing pages to rank better for informational key phrases, as these searchers aren’t necessarily looking to achieve a quick task (like finding a brand’s page or purchasing an item right then and there) and move on. Thus, they are more likely to enter your sales funnel and become viable leads upon discovering the value you offer.

What gets Google’s gears spinning?

How do you go about making your content pages more relevant to informational searches on your target keywords? The first step is to have a basic understanding of the mechanics of SEO, which means getting into the mind of its top judge, jury, and executioner: Google.

What makes a site relevant to Google? While its algorithm is said to account for a wide range of inputs and data points, Andy considers inbound links to your website to be one of the most critical ranking factors:

  • Quantity of links: On some level, Google judges the number of backlinks your content has received as if each one is a vote in a popular election: the more you have, the more credible and worthy your content appears to be, thus, the greater its potential to deliver the value that visitors are looking for. (Thankfully, Google hasn’t yet implemented an electoral college-like system, or nobody would have a clue what to expect from their SERPs.)
  • Quality of links: While quantity does play a role, it’s the quality of those links that truly impacts your content’s ability to move up (or down) in the search rankings for relevant informational key phrases. In other words, you don’t just need SEO to bring more links to your domain, you need it to attract links from credible, authoritative pages that already earned the respect of Google’s rank-bots.

Remember, search is a game of competition: For every spot you want to move up in the rankings, someone above you needs to be displaced. With this in mind, Andy and Noelle focused on ways to attract those all-important links by making your content more visible, valuable, and appealing than its SERP competitors – both in the eyes of Google and the consumers who rely on it.

Clocking your keyword competition

To discover the best place to start your optimization efforts, you must first understand two key factors that affect your potential rankings. The first is your level of authority. This metric provides an estimate of how likely you are to rank for a term, based on how credible your website might seem in the eyes of a search engine.

Google used to tell us…