Today’s post is by Jessica Lee, Content and Media Manager at Bruce Clay, Inc.
Welcome back to Part 2 of our primer on jump-starting your SEO! In case you missed it, we used Part 1 to discuss the right approach to SEO, the basic components of SEO, and optimization techniques. Today, we’ll talk about something that’s changed quite a bit over the past couple of years: content.
If you’ve heard anything about SEO over the past 10 years, you’ve probably heard the term “keyword stuffing” – that is, trying to get all the important terms in your content that you can in hopes you’ll outrank the competition. This used to work, but the search engines have cracked down, and keyword stuffing is now recognized as optimizing only for the search engines without the user in mind, which is a big no-no in today’s SEO.
So what kind of content should you have on your site?
Make Your Content Useful
Content, like everything else in SEO, needs to show relevancy – and you can’t aim just for relevancy without also trying to be useful. That’s why all those sites with poor-quality content were hit with Google’s Panda update. Those site owners – or the marketers who were in charge of them – thought they could game the system and get away with just adding keywords to a bunch of content that provided little to no value. And Google said it was spam. And it was.
So on top of helping search bots decide if your Web page is relevant for a query, we want to also provide a useful experience for the people who visit your site. And this is a huge part of your SEO campaign.
With usefulness, we ask: Does the content match the user’s expectations? Does it offer something unique and of value to the user? Does it help them accomplish something or solve a problem or entertain? Whatever the purpose of the site is, the “useful” part of the equation is whether or not the content lives up to the promise.
Mapping Keywords to Useful Content
If you’ve been doing PPC for a while, you (or your account manager) should have a good idea of what keywords/queries matter to your business. Some may be top-converting words that drive people to make a purchase. Some may be broader, but still important.
When we look at content in SEO, we like to map our content to that conversion funnel, too. Some people may be in the beginning stages of trying to understand what your industry/sector/service/product does. Some may be ready to buy. Those keywords are very different, and represent very different problems the user has at that point in the funnel.
If you can create useful content that lives on your site, that’s optimized with those keywords, you can begin to drive more traffic and help your target customer make a more informed decision about whatever it is you offer.
And even if they don’t buy from you that day, the content is a branding exercise that keeps your business top of mind, so when they are ready, they hopefully think of you.
Think about content as a staple of your SEO plan, and one of the pillars of your user experience.
Of course, this is just the beginning. There’s lots more to organizing the content that lives on your site and making sure it’s a well-oiled machine for both search engines and users, but you can make great strides by cleaning up a few technical areas here and there, creating great content and optimizing the pages within your site the right way.
I look forward to your feedback and questions about jump-starting your SEO!
– Jessica Lee has been in the business of content and communications since 2005, with the past several years focused on the Web marketing space. She currently oversees content marketing for Bruce Clay, Inc., a global Web marketing firm. Jessica is also a contributor to the book, “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” (2nd edition). Connect with her on Google+ or follow her on Twitter @BzzContent.