A Crowdsourced Guide to SEO

August 20, 2013

By: Justin
It's rare to come across a company nowadays that doesn't have its own blog. And as newsrooms continue to see their staffs shrink, editors are turning to the experts themselves to help generate fresh ideas through thought leadership pieces. It should come as no surprise then that content rules the day. But with so much competition for eyeballs, optimizing that content so that it beats out others in search engine rankings is just as important as the content itself.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tricky beast; people even dedicate their entire careers to mastering this art form and keeping up with the latest SEO developments. Google is by far the most popular search engine, with bing and Yahoo coming in a distant second and third, respectively. In order to remain competitive, algorithms are constantly changing to deliver the best possible results for searchers. Any PR pro worth his salt knows the basic minimum to boost SEO rankings, such as including important keywords and linking to reputable sources, for example, but how does a content creator reach SEO nirvana?
Fortunately, there are a lot of experts out there to help optimize your content to the max. And I do mean a lot; a quick Google search of “SEO best practices” yields nearly three million hits. So to keep you from wanting to pull your hair out, the Metis team took it upon ourselves to crowdsource our favorite SEO tips that we think everyone should know.
Google loves itself. You can't really fault Google for wanting to pimp its services. Google+ has a profound effect on SEO results. (In fact, social media in general heavily influences your SEO ranking, so make sure it's easy for readers to share your content). Despite this, few brands are actively using Google+ to engage their key stakeholders. This is likely due to the low usage of the social network's subscribers. Despite there being around 500 million Google+ accounts, only 135 million users are actively using them. And visitation time is even more disappointing, with the average U.S. user spending just under seven minutes on the site in March, compared with six hours on Facebook. This is reflected in the brand numbers, as well: of those with Google + pages, around 40 percent are either inactive or post infrequently – and that includes major brands like McDonald's, Nike and Pepsi. So while you may not see the direct engagement you're getting from sites like Facebook and Twitter, Google+ gives you a chance to be more competitive in your SEO rankings by simply posting your content.
Size matters. Here, we have two competing ideas at play. Something you'll hear over and over is that in today's high-productivity, short-attention span, blog-reading world, short, simple articles are more likely to be read through completely and thus encourage audience engagement. But articles that are more than 2,000 words long actually perform better in search engine rankings. So how do you know what to go with? The important thing is to write for your intended audience and not weigh down your article with words just to make it longer. One idea is to create two different versions of your article – one that's simplified for easier digestion, and one that goes into more depth. Or you could strike a happy balance that lengthens your article, but still makes it a quick read. Of course, we'd love it if size didn't matter at all, but that's not the reality.
bing what and Ya-who? The combined number of bing and Yahoo users only equals a little more than a third of Google users, and there is still very little information out there about optimizing for other search engines beyond the granddaddy of them all. But these search engines should not be overlooked, as they represent more than 300 million sets of eyeballs. The good news is that bing and Yahoo are simpler, relying on old standbys like keywords, links and anchor text. But these search engines won't find your post if there isn't a way for their spiders to find them, so make sure your content is connected to your home page, if it's not already.
What are some of your favorite SEO tips?

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