The digital marketing industry is abuzz with talk of “Content is King.”
The truth is, content can’t be king if it doesn’t produce ROI. Incorporating smart SEO with content marketing will generate website traffic, drive leads, and increase overall content ROI.
SEO and Content ROI – The History
In 2011, the Panda algorithm shifted SEO attention from links to content. Some internet marketers were already paying attention to website content and smart SEO, so Panda was good for their brand. For many brands, the Panda algorithm forever changed how to manage content marketing alongside SEO.
What exactly is modern, smart SEO, and how can it deliver content ROI?
Let’s review some key points in Google’s guide on building high-quality sites as they relate to smart SEO:
Blog Posts & Articles: Thin Content vs. Quality Content
Google warns against “articles that are short, unsubstantial or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics.” Before Panda 1.0 was released in 2011, publishing articles and blog posts on a high-value domain with just a few keyword stuffed paragraphs and optimized tags would work. After Panda 1.0, smart SEO teams started working with content marketers.
Keywords & Content ROI
In 2014, Google announced the roll out of Panda 4.0. Unlike prior versions, Panda 4.0 was a major algorithm update vs. a refresh. Panda 4.0 was a game changer, especially when it comes to keywords. SEO marketers had to abandon their keyword-stuffing ways or face ranking penalties.
Don’t get me wrong – keywords are important. But a modern, smart SEO keyword strategy demands that content creators understand user intent and the target audience. Crafting content with user intent will create a better overall website experience and send those “high-quality” signals that Google is after – low bounce rate, higher than average click-through rate, and quality backlinks.
Modern SEO & Content Guide
It’s important to note that Panda is an algorithm filter that runs periodically and it covers more than on-page content. Digital marketers should keep the following points in mind for content ROI:
- Create content that will rank in the SERP.
- Create and optimize content that builds trust with Google and website visitors.
- Create content that invites website visitors to interact with your brand and improve conversion rates.
A high-quality Panda friendly blog post doesn’t start with word count. Creating long-form content that uncovers new, helpful information and answers questions is the goal for SEO-friendly content. Content should go beyond simple statements and predictable information.
Still need a number? While Google doesn’t identify an ideal blog post length, the majority of research and case studies recommend a minimum of 1,000 words.
Content that is recycled and only differs by a few keywords from other pages will not pass the Panda algorithm. Create 100% unique content on every page to ensure that Google includes it in the search results.
Create content with sharing in mind. Before you hit the publish button, ask yourself, would someone want to share this page? Does it look like everyone else’s page on this topic? The more share worthy the content, the more organic backlinks the page will attract. Consider adding some high-value content to a page to make it more share-worthy, such as video, free downloads, or infographics.
Aim for the Click-Through
Content ROI is impossible without click-throughs. Smart SEO creates content that invites users and readers to click-through and engage with the content.
Start with the SERP. When your website ranks in the top three spots on page one, the titles and snippets shown in the search result will entice viewers to click or push them to click on a competitor site. When creating titles and snippets for important website landing pages, articles, and blog posts, keep these things in mind:
- Help Google understand your page by including structured data (aka rich snippets).
- Create page titles and meta descriptions according to Google’s guidelines.
- Serve structured markup for both desktop and mobile.
For example, I typed XenApp Consultant Maryland into the search bar. Here’s a screenshot of the results:
There is only one result that answers the query with the title tag and meta description tag; the rest are job sites and one Citrix partner listing. Is that company the only one interested in providing XenApp consulting services in Maryland? No, as there are plenty of Citrix consultants on page two, three, and beyond.
After you’ve optimized titles and snippets for click-throughs, go through each high-value landing page and post and optimize your on-page CTA copy and design. Consider A/B testing for the better results. High click-through rates will not only deliver conversions, but click-throughs will send trust signals to Google, confirming that your site aligns with user search queries.
Consider Reviews as Content
Reviews are showing up in the SERP on both mobile and desktop and are part of a smart SEO strategy. While brands can’t write their reviews or manipulate the system, they can ask satisfied customers and clients to leave reviews by giving them specific links to review sites. Google’s Developer Guide provides review guidelines to help you leverage reviews as valuable content.
- Avoid doorway pages; they are a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.
- Stay social. Social media is the perfect outlet to create local content and appear in the search results. Dive into your Analytics data to find the social channel with the highest referral rate and develop a long-term local strategy to drive even more traffic.
- Network with local businesses. How can you leverage the power of other local websites to create local content? Evaluate other local websites and discuss opportunities to share event information, news, or contributed articles.
Mobile friendly content requires more than responsive design or a mobile-friendly website.
While long-form content has been shown to rank better, it’s unrealistic to expect a smartphone user to read 1,000+ word blocks of content. Use plenty of sub-headers to break up large paragraphs, give readers plenty of click-through options, and make it easy to share your content on social media.
Buyer Journey Content
Aligning keywords and content that speak to buyers at the right stage will make an impact on visitor interaction with your website content.
Buyer journey content is broken down into four stages:
Develop personas for each stage and identify keywords and content that will attract them. For a detailed roadmap to help you align query intent with content for the buyer journey, click here.
Measuring Content Performance
In conclusion, gaining ROI from content marketing and SEO is only possible when accurate measurement and strategy refinement is taking place. In the world of data saturation, it’s easy to miss the takeaways that can help you improve ROI.
Set up Google Analytics filters to eliminate irrelevant data, and proper event tracking will help you analyze user interaction with website content. For in-depth tracking and reporting, work with an SEO company who is familiar with setting up tracking for content marketing goals.
What’s been your experience with combining SEO and content marketing?