We’re creating a lot of content, but where’s the traffic?
What’s the deal with link building? Do I need to do this, or is it spam?
I add keywords to my content; why do I need an SEO consultant?
Do these questions sound familiar? Well, we have some answers for you.
Is SEO dying?
First things first: Yes, Google constantly refines its algorithm to get smarter – that is, it evolves to more accurately understand and match human intentions. As search engines refine their algorithms, they get better at recognizing relevant and authoritative content, and pushing that to the top of results.
This shift has caused many to look at link building as a wasted, dated practice and start questioning whether SEO is dead.
Like anything, SEO practices have progressed to keep pace with technology. This causes controversy in the SEO world, particularly around things like link building. Sure, long gone are the days of quick-fix tricks or getting hundreds of links from spammy sites. But SEO and link building will deserve your time and investment for as long as Google exists.
Marketers and SEO experts alike will tell you there’s good SEO and then there’s bad SEO (so do your due diligence when selecting a partner – if you hear promises of 100 links a month, instant No. 1 rankings or bargain-basement rates, you’re likely not going to receive quality work or results). You might hear it referred to as PR or content marketing rather than SEO, as it gets incorporated within these functions. But if you think you should ignore it altogether, prepare to lose out to your competitors.
We spoke with Loretta Jones, vice president of marketing at Insightly, about the importance of a concentrated SEO strategy. She advises companies just getting started to invest in a good SEO consultant for at least six months to a year for a jump start.
She says, “Working with a good SEO consultant is a valuable investment, as they can bring focus to the content you’re going to create, so you can get to the first page of search results sooner rather than later. Once you’re there, of course, you’ll need to work to maintain that position, particularly if you’re competing on popular search terms.”
Whether working with a consultant or handling this yourself, make sure you understand how to optimize your marketing activities to benefit your SEO. SEO and link-building efforts have become intertwined with PR and content marketing. Moz’s “State of Link Building” survey found that often, link building is packaged within larger SEO, content or PR services, showing just how aligned these activities are. Anyone working with you in these functions must be similarly aligned.
Two steps to kick off your SEO strategy There is a lot of information out there in the “ether webs.” Read up, but don’t get overwhelmed. Says Jones, “It's easy to get overwhelmed when the rules constantly change, and because of that, people tend to do nothing. Don't let this be you. Think about the task at hand, devise a strategy, and work toward it in bite-size chunks. Otherwise, you’ll get analysis paralysis and won’t do anything, which really hurts you.” (This is by no means a comprehensive strategy; there are many more factors to consider when improving your SEO. It’s simply a place for you to get started.)
Begin with your website copy and content. Look at your data and identify which keywords are most effective at converting qualified leads. Ensure that these top three to five words are used throughout your content – owned and earned. Keep testing new keywords and long-tail keyword variations, as well. You’ve created; now promote.
As any content marketer should know, writing and publishing content on your site is only half of the battle. You need to spend as much time promoting and distributing your content to other publications, blogs and communities to gain visibility, as well as help your SEO. PR and content firms can help you here, but you can also do it yourself if you’re starting out.
“Link building is important for SEO,” says Jones. “You should look to content syndication or amplification platforms. As search algorithms are refined, you want quality links, and you need to make sure the content that links to you is relevant.”
The takeaways: PR, content marketing and link building are not interchangeable, but they do certainly all help you work toward the same goal.
Write for humans before Google. Make sure what you’re saying is interesting and provides some sort of value to your audiences. These are the people you really want to win over, not a bot. Then take steps to optimize your content for search and distribute it far and wide to relevant, quality sources – in addition to your own site.
Remember, there’s always (warning: shameless plug) help out there when you need it.
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