‘Content Is King’ is the phrase which has been the central place of many digital discussions. Digital marketing is often seen by some as content marketing as many businesses hold the medium key to their commercial strategy. Indeed, content is incredibly effective for marketing, mostly because of its versatile nature encompassing anything from on-page website text and long-form blogs to videos and podcasts. Moreover, you can see that content follows every stage of the customer journey.
Content is everywhere on the internet, forming the backbone of marketing and SEOs are proud of the work they do to ensure strong written work is produced. However, before you may start to believe that content is all us SEOs do, there is more much at work here.
The first clue is in the title, SEOs look to optimise pages/sites for performance on search engines and while content is a key part of that process, it is actually a holistic approach with many different factors. Therefore if we do agree with the notion that ‘Content is King’ then taken to a chessboard, we’re still missing many other pieces. Providing content alone isn’t enough to rank #1 on your desired search engine, so beyond content creation, there are plenty more jobs for an SEO to do. By Google having the market share in this field they have tended to dictate the process and to appease their demands of having a good site, they expect more positive components of a site ranging from positive user experience to technical performance. In this blog, we’ll cover the further strands that SEOs aim to cover when optimising your site.
Keywords are the foundation of any organic marketing strategy and the cornerstone of almost all SEO tasks! Before any content is dreamed of or a webpage is built, a good SEO will have developed a list of important terms that ideally you’ll want to include in your content and therefore ranking on a search engine. Keyword research is critical to the work an SEO does and is a top skill to have. SEO tools or clients may give you a starting point for deciding your keywords but an effective keyword arsenal involves a considerable amount of time and analysis to understand how your prospective users will be searching for your business. Matching your keywords to user intent is a critical process that all SEOs must be able to implement in order to maintain a successful campaign. Furthermore, detailed analysis is always needed as some keywords may not be suitable for SEO. You might decide your trophy term is ideal, even perfect for your campaign however a look at the volume tells you not many other people searching agree or on the other scale, it is far too popular to realistically compete with bigger brands.
By matching the best, appropriate keywords in your content, your metadata, and your advertising to the language your potential visitors use, you will help connect searchers to your site. This is the ultimate goal and the collection of key terms begins before anything else. It also happens continually throughout any campaign or strategy that you want to implement. Often businesses will update their products, change their services or want to target a new audience. In this case, you will be required to perform new keyword search so your language is up to date with the current needs of the site and match the intended searchers. It’s good practice to be updating or reviewing your keyword list regularly even if the business stays the same as certain keywords will go out of fashion or more appropriate terms can be found.
The themes of SEO discussed here can be substantial blogs all of themselves and non more so than the topic of user-friendliness. In the early days of SEO, ranking a page was less of an art than a series of ticking boxes which didn’t often care for how the user interacted with the site. Keyword stuffing and other blackhat techniques have thankfully been mostly done away with in favour of Google’s algorithms that recognise the need for users to be satisfied with the journey they take on a website. To rank well on a search engine, there are significant key performance indicators that identify how positively a user interacts with your website. These can be affected by a host of factors from technical to common web design errors.
As of 2020, the two most important factors in user-friendliness are page speed and mobile accessibility. This decade will see a continuation of the overhaul for mobile searches and an unoptimised or unresponsive page showing on smartphone signals poorly to both users and search engines. Page speed is another element that heavily affects the experience of a user both on desktop and mobile. Poor or slow page speed tends to leave a negative impression on the user who tends to want results or answers immediately and will look for other resources if a site can’t deliver. SEOs take these themes into account when preparing a strategy long before content because any written work on unfriendly pages isn’t worth creating in the first place. Ultimately, an SEO will want to playtest the site on a regular basis, recreating the user journey on different devices and with varying motivations to succeed.
Ranking a page doesn’t always involve working on the page itself or even the same website. A significant amount of work SEOs commit to is off-page or off-site such as link building, local SEO, and socials. All off-page activities can be up to 30% of an SEO’s total work so shouldn’t be underestimated or underappreciated, a good link here or positive social media post can be a great help to a site’s performance. Even with the great work a social media team will do, SEOs are valuable in contributing to their work through keyword research and providing the right content at the right time.
Link Building has seen it’s ups and downs over the years, dropping slightly in importance to search engines however it’s still highly recognised that if many reputable sites are linking to yours, it’s a good sign your site is trustworthy. What has been found of equal importance to gaining links in recent times has been to disavow or remove potential toxic links from pointing to your site. A thorough and deep link review of your site, especially a large one is worth doing on a regular basis to prevent penalties or negative SEO.
Local SEO is also a praised job that sometimes goes unnoticed by businesses but in fact, is highly successful in practice. Updating and optimising your Google My Business or Bing Places can see a small business grow quickly in visibility with added coverage on local maps or in search. Beyond this, ensuring local directories, blogs, and news outlets are covering your company is a great way to be seen around the web. SEOs are focused on increasing business to a brand not only from search coverage but via all mediums. Any chance to increase footfall will be taken.
All SEOs will understand the basics of technical SEO and know why having a well-run site is beneficial to all parties. Search engines are now adept at crawling your site to discover faults or underperforming areas they believe will cause users to be dissatisfied and click away resulting in the poor ranking. Making technical improvements to a site to improve rankings can be as simple as fixing internal linking or as complicated as a full migration. No site is perfect and will generally see regular faults and issues that SEOs need to address to ensure the sound running of a site. While some problems are simple to fix, addressing technical issues often relies on a good relationship with developers and great communication.
Some technical issues tie into the theme of user-friendliness as problems for the site often lead to broken pathways for the users. An example of this are sites with a number of 404 broken pages or links. Overtime websites, especially larger ones, will see significant changes to their content with pages being moved, improved or ultimately deleted and without clean up will lead to 404s. These broken pages don’t offer a positive content to users or search engines, even more so if you omit a dedicated 404 page so SEOs will spend time on tools such as search console reviewing sites to ensure broken pages or links are fixed.
One of the most difficult but also the most rewarding aspects of SEO is keeping on top of the continuing shifts in knowledge. Search engines like Google tend to update their recommendations, improve their algorithms and generally change the rule book on a consistent basis. Worst of all, they tend not to give the game away entirely, leaving us in the dark for some rules. Indeed, it’s highly recommended to be on top of SEO research, reading about the latest trends, and consuming appropriate digital content for industry experts. Often you’ll be able to discover insights before your competitors or prepare for a big change long in advance of the change over point.
Maintaining and improving your industry knowledge is probably the most overlooked element by SEOs themselves who get lost in performing their routine tasks. Therefore, it’s not too difficult to find yourself a year or two down the road and behind everyone else. To SEOs or even laypeople with an interest in how sites perform, I fully advocate a regular schedule of Seo learning.
While we do agree content is one of the biggest aspects of SEO due to its versatility and impact on search engines, there is much more to ranking pages than just the written word. Here we’ve covered some of the themes of SEO with keywords, user-friendliness, off-page optimisation, technical improvements, and knowledge & understanding trends but this is a finite list as we know the job of search engine optimisation is endless.
If you’re looking to expand your digital marketing output by improving your SEO, contact one of our friendly marketing experts at HROC today!