Optimizing Your Content for Search
If you spend lots of time tweaking your Web design to make it appeal to search engines, you might be overlooking an important element of your search engine marketing—optimizing your content for search. Producing content that can entice both customers and Web crawlers is tricky, but this can be one of your most powerful weapons in maximizing your SEM.
Here are eight small business SEO tips to help you strike that delicate balance:
1. Offer diverse content
It’s important to have not only good content, but varied content. “Google rewards diversity of knowledge in your industry,” says Damon Burton, president of SEOnational, a Web optimization firm in Salt Lake City. “If you only write about red apples, the search engines won’t reward you as much as if you write about red apples, yellow apples, and green apples.”
In other words: If you’re an attorney who specializes in estate planning, don’t highlight trusts on every page—even if trusts are your bread-and-butter. Ironically, mixing in different but related topics can help people in need of a trust find you more easily via search engines.
2. Link internally
Ever have an annoying friend who tells the same joke over and over? Search engines don’t like repetitive content, either. In fact, Google can penalize your rankings if it detects you have the same content on your site in multiple places. A better strategy is to use internal links on your website to let people go to related content on another page.
An additional benefit of internal links is they cause people to look at more than one page on your site, which can boost your search ranking. If they look at only one page and leave, it can lower your ranking.
3. Be an authority
“Crafting unique content that offers value to your visitors and customers is the best way to grow your readership,” says Tom Key, a SEO consultant. “The search engines ultimately reward quality content with good visibility, so this is a great way to bring people to your website. Keyword research and technical tweaks will obviously help, but if smaller businesses focus on generating fresh and interesting content for their website visitors, then they can benefit in terms of both visitors and sales.”
4. Know your keywords
While quality content comes first, keywords still matter. “One of the most common mistakes I see from copywriters (especially those new to SEO) is going into the content creation process flying blind,” says Phillip Brooks, director of content marketing for SEMrush.com. “Even the most rudimentary keyword research can be the difference between creating content that resonates with your audience and content that never gets seen at all.”
Free tools, such as Google.com/Trends, can guide you on what keywords are hot right now. Another rich source of good keywords is your competitors’ websites. The ordering of the keywords is important as well in your SEM success, and Google provides guidance on how to arrange keywords for maximum impact.
5. Respond to comments
The internet is a two-way street. You should encourage visitors to your blog or website to leave comments, such as by asking open-ended questions that beg for a response. But here’s another trick that many small businesses don’t know: The way in which you respond to those comments can actually improve your search ranking.
The Advanced Content Marketing Guide, from the optimization firm Quicksprout, says you should go beyond simply thanking people for their response. Provide an answer in full sentences and complete thoughts, including keywords—it’s a great way to optimize the page without keyword-stuffing.
6. Mix words with graphics
It’s a visual age, but you’re doing yourself a disservice—from a SEM standpoint—if you don’t toss some words on those pages where you have graphics, slides, and videos. Accompanying text lets the search engines know what that compelling graphic is about, but many small businesses put up videos and other images without this important content.
7. Pay for press releases
How beneficial press releases are to SEM is, like many elements of website optimization, a controversial topic. Burton recommends posting a small business blog at least once a week and issuing a press release at least once a month. It’s important that the release have value—perhaps your comment on an issue in your industry that is breaking in the news—rather than just tooting your own horn.
But it’s equally important how you distribute the release. Burton says free press releases lack the credibility of paid-for services like Business Wire—and the search engine rankers know it.
8. Don’t be a black hat
The whole point of SEO is to make your content and website appeal to search engines—but trying too hard to game the system can backfire. “It is vital that smaller companies steer clear of looking for the quick and easy options often associated with black hat SEO techniques, things like paid link building, guest blogging, and keyword over optimization,” Key says. “Good SEO takes time, effort, and care.” Done right, however, it pays off big.
Make search (and search engine marketing) work harder for your business
Our search engine marketing solutions ensure that your business is seen on all major search engines by consumers searching for what you have to offer. From delivering guaranteed levels of clicks to your business, to providing leads to your business with a combination of clicks, calls, and emails, our search solutions deliver. YP uses your website and the information you provide to select a variety of keyword and category combinations for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising that’s right for your business.
YP also utilizes a combination of an automated platform and certified campaign managers for optimal campaign, ad, keyword, and bid management. We’ll create a customized online marketing campaign for your company that includes keyword selection, strategic search and online ads, ongoing campaign monitoring, custom URL, website proxy, video, and photo gallery integration.
Learn more about ypSearch℠ solutions.