VALUE: Intro to SEO for your biz articles and blog posts
Telling may be selling, but if you can’t get your brand stories in front of eyeballs, it’s not going to do you much good.
As Sam Hollingsworth says in his piece on Search Engine Journal, “Organic search is a huge part of most business’s website performance.” See why Sam says SEO is a necessity for your business.
Previously, we discussed how to craft compelling press releases and business stories for submission to news agencies, magazines, as well as your business website or blog.
Now it’s time to look at the steps you can take to improve how those articles rank with Google.
[You could spend time figuring out how to improve your rankings with search engines other than Google, but know that the big G and its associated properties are responsible for nearly 90 percent of all internet search results.]
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is a mix of art and science.
To help people find what they’re looking for—from cardboard craft boxes to double eagle gold coins—search engines use programs called “spiders” to look for information, organize it, and present users with a ranking of relevant data.
What we all call “Googling.”
By understanding SEO, you can tweak your press release or business story so search engines are more likely to connect your content with its ideal audience.
How to use SEO
There’s a whole lot more to gaining the attention of search engines than can be learned in one sitting. But, by following some basic guidelines, you should be able to boost your traffic.
- Don’t hide content – If you want a search engine to bring back your article to a potential reader, do not hide it behind any kind of virtual wall. Potential barriers include log-in pages, surveys, or any other popup forms.
- Spiders cannot read graphics – Be sure your important messages are all displayed as regular text, because Google won’t be able to see the words on a jpg, png, or any other form of visual art.
- Quality content – Just like quality content is worthless without good SEO, optimization is pointless without quality content. Be sure your headline, keywords, and body copy are all the best they can be, and that each of those elements complements the others. Spammy and shady tactics will get your content penalized.
- Keywords and key phrases – You might have heard about the importance of longtail keywords in getting your content noticed. These are actually key phrases people are most likely to use when searching for specific—yes, as opposed to general—information.
Tips on using longtail keywords:
Goals – What are you trying to accomplish? Simply wanting more visitors to your website is too vague if you really want to improve your business. Maybe you want newsletter subscribers, or people to share your story on social media, or even sign up for a free quote. Make a list of goals.
Ideal readers – Who are your customers? You needn’t be a marketing guru to know who your customers are. Think about them and their wants. Knowing your potential customers will help you customize your brand stories with the right key phrases.
Keyword research – There are conflicting schools of thought on whether to research the best keywords and write your content around them, or whether you should organically write your content. Even if robots don’t tend to penalize duplicate content (there are also debates on whether this is true) people (and robots) always prefer fresh, unique stories.
Finding key phrases – Experts say you should start by brainstorming the most obvious phrases.
Make a list. Some say as few as three to four words, but others believe this is too short of a phrase to do you much good. Just use your best judgment. This is where the art part of SEO comes into play.
Next, go to competitor websites and social media accounts. Be mindful of keywords and key phrases they employ in their ads, blogs, social media posts, and product information.
Adding keywords – Once you’ve identified some choice key phrases, you’ll want to add them to your content. Write your article as you naturally would and find organic and appropriate places to include the keywords.
How many keywords? – Some say you should keep your post narrow and only use two specific phrases.
However, one high-ranking article on the subject suggests you need 23 longtail keywords to get that coveted page-one ranking. Business blogging expert Neil Patel has lots of great information on how to integrate keywords here.
Keyword stuffing – Hey, why don’t I just use the name of my business and product 385 times each in my blog post? That’ll rank me number one for sure!
Wrong. This is called “keyword stuffing” and the bots will dump your page over the Cliff of No Hope with the rest of the too-clever-for-their-own-good marketers.
Everything you ever wanted to know about keyword stuffing can be found here.
Advanced SEO methods
While most business owners with a working knowledge of computers and the internet should be able to improve their content with the strategies mentioned here, there are advanced steps you can take to further improve your article’s rank.
These methods won’t help you with content submitted to other publications, but they will work on your company’s website or business blog.
Longform – The more specific information you provide potential customers, the better. Achieve this with longer brand stories organized into easily readable passages. Remember that positive user experience also effects your overall ranking.
Internal links – Link key words and phrases in your article to other pertinent articles on your site.
Streamline art – The faster your web page loads, the higher it will rank. Therefore, pictures and graphics should be as small in size as possible without degrading their quality.
External links – Think of external linking like networking. The more people in your field you know, the better positioned you’ll be to keep up on the latest trends and seize opportunities.
Well, the more websites which link to articles on your domain, the more trustworthy—and just plain worthy—Google’s creepy-crawlies think you are. Check out Courtney Feairheller’s piece on best practices here.
Help with SEO
If, after reading this article, your eyes have glazed over at the thought of implementing all or any of these measures, just know that help is available.
A good SEO blogger can quickly create your desired content from even the roughest drafts.
There are also a number of services, like Codeless, which will do everything you need—from creating the content to compressing images, and even loading articles and graphics to your website for you.
Have an idea for a press release, article, or blog post but aren’t sure where to go from here?
Contact Ben for a FREE consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.