The word SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is regularly tossed around in the world of digital marketing despite many not having a clear understanding of what it really is. You might wonder how does it actually work and what about it makes you rank higher on search engines such as Google? Honestly, it is not as complicated as it may seem, although there are small and simple things you can learn and develop over time in order to separate yourself from the pack. That said, allow me to briefly lay out the essentials for what it takes to Blog in an SEO appropriate manner. Follow this guide, and you will not only boost traffic to your site but the right traffic, which in turn, will increase conversion rates and increase your sales.
Content Cluster Strategy
In an ever-shifting and evolving content landscape, developments in the ways users search as well as the search logarithm itself have forced content creators to adapt accordingly. What might have worked for SEO five years ago will not produce the same results today. As Darwin believed, adapt or perish. Recently, a new SEO phenomenon has developed that has had ripple effects on the entire content marketing industry. It is known as Content Cluster Strategy, and some say its rising popularity makes it “the future of SEO.” The reason for this is search engine algorithms are eschewing keyword jammed content in favor of topic-based content.
What it involves is modeling your topic strategy where a “cluster” of content is created around one pillar of a topic. That pillar page is a broad overview for all of the specific subtopics that all relate to it. This pillar topic umbrellas and touches on all of these subtopics in a manner where all of the relative long-tail-keywords link through the other topics and back to the primary topic creating a hyperlinked root system, of sorts, of ideas and topics. This also allows cluster topics to provide further or more in-depth detail about more specified keywords within the main topic.
Related: What Does a Content Cluster Do?
To input this strategy you must first come up with a central topic, after that, subtopics should be quite easy to build out. This central topic should encompass your key service or transaction pages. Following this, build out in-depth content around each one of those pages or subtopics. Doing these things, producing a variety of pieces that support and build on a pillar topic lets the search engine algorithm know that you are a reliable website. This grants your page authority over others that might only have one broad-based or all-encompassing post on that subject. Further, when you internally link your clusters, you grant your core transactional pages further authority on a subject.
So, for example, if you are selling drones, cameras and video recording equipment, it would behoove you to set up navigational pages for each one of those subjects and then create content around them. Therefore for drones, you might have subtopics on DJI camera drones, beginner drones, expert drones, racing drones, hobbyists. After, you do the same and build out your other categories.
Doing this, increasing your specificity and depth of content, will improve your search results. Instead of typing keywords, a user may search for general topics and then the search engine will provide pertinent information to that main topic.
Be sure to lead with your best seller, the most popular product or service you provide, since that is the most likely customers will search for and potentially buy. Doing so will increase your sites traffic, conversion rate, and revenue.
Avoid Black Hat Practices
Today, Black Hat SEO encompasses any Google disapproved SEO practice that could manipulate SERPs (search engine results page) without adding sufficient value to the seeker. If you are caught employing Black Hat practices and like this violate Google’s terms of services, Google could potentially ban you for life. Frankly, it is not worth it, especially when we have seen this content-based approach work far better while also providing potential customers with relevant and helpful information. According to the Google guidelines some of the following practices are big no-no’s:
- Abusing rich snippet markup like breadcrumbs, events author, ratings, videos, reviews.
- Automatically generated content like random blocks of auto-generated text filled with search keywords.
- Cloaking by providing the user with a different result or link than what they expect to see after clicking.
- Creating pages with little or no original content or scraping content, which is pretty self-explanatory, do not take other’s words or information and present it as your own.
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, Trojans or other badware.
- Doorway pages – referencing pages intended solely for ranking high in specific searches and transporting the user to the same end goal.
- Hidden Text or links- by making it illegible, whited out or any other form that manipulates SERP rankings instead of creating good content.
- Keyword stuffing – by filling pages with gibberish and stuffing keywords throughout this indecipherable script.
- Link Schemes – where you link to something to boost your ranking instead of providing relevant or helpful information.
Related: How Content Cluster Benefit SEO
Diving Deep Into Your Topic
After you decide on the proper keywords, it is time for you to begin creating content.
The ideal length of any piece of content sits at around 2,000 words. The reason for this being that longer content generally ranks higher since it likely provides more additional content. Write content that is engaging, insightful or all-encompassing. This could include taking several sources or ideas and amalgamating them into a comprehensive breakdown of the subject. Writing solely for SERPs is not only a possible violation of Google’s terms, but it is also incredibly dull to read and can turn off potential customers. Your goal should be to provide them with a beneficial experience that leaves them more knowledgeable or interested in a topic than when they began their read.
- Regularly updated content – Google rewards topics that are newer since they fare more likely to have the most recent information. As you know, information and knowledge are continually being updated and improved. Therefore, while you may have an incredible blog post on blockchain technology when it was first emerging, that information may be out of date or no longer relevant since that market has undergone such a dramatic shift. Be sure to publish new content on a regular basis.
- Keywords – Chose your keywords wisely, and while keyword stuffing is frowned upon, including keywords that are relevant and helpful within the context of the discussion will help increase traffic to your site. Do keyword research in order to find the right keyword for your post. Doing so will help you grow your blog or website and increase your click-through rate. There are a variety of means by which you can discover keywords. If you wish not to use a program, you may use Google Search to help find target keywords. By typing a phrase into Google Search, Google will provide an auto-suggested search query. You can then take those autosuggestions and create a list of keywords.
- Titles – Create titles that catch your reader’s eye or perhaps piques their interest. As you know, first impressions are hugely important, so a title is your chance to entice a potential customer. A good title will help you rank for a keyword and will make users desire to click your page. If you have chosen a reliable focus keyword for your post, you should be sure to include that keyword within the title. Not having that focus keyword in the title will hurt your ranking ability.
- Links – Be sure to link your pages to quality sites or other pages that compliment the context of your website. Creating a network of sites will benefit both of you and will encourage them to link back to you as well.
- Avoid duplicate content – As mentioned above, never publish someone else’s content on your site and claim it as your own. Doing this creates duplicate content, which Google will flag and penalize you.
Optimize Your Meta Data
If you are trying to boost your ranking in SERPs optimizing meta tags will aid your click-through rate. Tags work as a way of helping the browser decipher what your blog is about and can help customers or readers filter out relevant or irrelevant pages.
- H1 Meta Tags – Meta tags are page descriptors found at the beginning of the head of an HTML code for your site. They are optional, and although the audience does not see them, they aid the Google algorithm.
- Title Tags – A title tag, while not actually a meta tag, is a required element found in the head of the HTML code and look like the following: <your title> optimized keyword title</title>. Potential customers will see the page title highlighted and underlined within the SERPs.
- Meta Descriptions – Your potential audience will not view your HTML code. However, they will see these descriptions within the SERP results. The meta description should be between 150-160 characters, so think a Tweet. If you do not include a meta description, the search engine will auto pull text from your site, and that may not be at all relevant. So, create a meta description that is relevant to your page’s content.