Search engine optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and increasingly, paid social media placement can achieve remarkable results. Using smart keywords and accessing segmented, up-to-date user data troves like Facebook’s can produce the kinds of attention that drive revenue, and occasionally even “go viral”.
But sometimes these tools lead people to believe they can omit the first, essential step: creating findable, useful website content. That’s like crafting the most compelling guest list, designing the most elegant invitations, and concocting the cleverest seating plan — only to serve cold Big Macs. So before you put out that RFP for the SEO makeover that vendors assure you will forever transform your site’s metrics of attention, engagement, and revenue, start here:
You should regularly publish high-quality, structured content with the right metadata to your mobile-optimized website, while using analytics to test and form hypotheses.
Defining the terms above:
- regularly: Create a content calendar to drive a regular publishing schedule. Publishing regularly is good for your readers, and for search engines that reward updated content.
- high-quality: What makes high-quality content? Build readership by going deep into fewer subjects, and by creating evergreen content that may be relevant to users over longer periods of time.
- structured: Structured content enables you to “create once, publish everywhere” (COPE), allows others to re-access and use via RSS or APIs, and makes it easier for search engines to find and display.
- metadata: Metadata helps both humans and search engines find your content. For example, metadata pulled in when an article is shared to social media improves user experience, and correct metadata for sites, pages, and posts helps search engines assess your content.
- mobile-optimized: Mobile matters not only to your users but to search engines that increasingly reward mobile-friendly sites.
- analytics: Use analytics to measure what matters — including how users are finding your site from search and other referrals. Form hypotheses about what might work, and then iteratively test and measure.
None of this is breaking news or rocket science, but these elements are surprisingly often under-invested in or even completely overlooked. When I am asked to weigh in on SEO/SEM/paid social initiatives, conversations often reveal that the organization hasn’t yet solved the underlying web content problem. You can have a killer CRM implementation, the best SEO protocols, and a hefty budget for paid social — but solving the web content challenge will yield guaranteed returns for your investment.
Download the cheat sheet below:
Last modified: September 7, 2015