July 17, 2017

Content Marketing and the New (old) SEO

It’s no startling revelation we've come a long way in a short time since the birth of modern SEO, which can marked by the introduction of PageRank by Google in the now ubiquitous Google Search Bar circa 2001. Before that, in the dark ages historians refer to as ‘the 90s’, SEO was all about keyword purchase power. Whoever had the biggest wallet tended to end up as the top result in the SERP. Since PageRank (recently and ironically hidden by Google to deter marketers from obsessing over it) SEO has been almost entirely driven by search relevancy, so making what was actually on your webpage relevant to what users were querying in Google became very important. Still, there were way to game the search system with backlink farms, keyword stuffing and many other not-quite-above board tactics.

Fast forward to 2017, and Google, the predominant search engine by far with over 80% of search market share on any given day, has released a series of major updates over the past two years in a direct initiative to make search relevancy the number one value in any search equation by devaluing softer off-page methods such as metatags and reference links in strong favor of strong on-page content relevancy.

Enter the age of content-driven SEO.

This is not breaking news; content has always been at the forefront of a high quality search result. But this concerted effort by Google to reduce the potency of nearly every other avenue of SEO marketing sends a clear signal: they want the search result to be as closely matched to the search as possible. It has therefore never been more critical to ensure that not only is the content on your website rich in relevant information relating to your brand, products and services, but that it is also delivered and consumed in a way that is clear, engaging and relevant to the user. This new content-driven reality then demands consistently updated content that maintains a high level of quality and relevancy along the search path.

Over the past 18 years as one of the oldest digital marketing agencies in Charlotte, we’ve found this to be an increasingly critical component in a client’s marketing mix. Social relevancy, blogs, and concise product or services descriptions can make or break the user experience and drive the position in the SERP up or down the page. Infrequently updated webpages will certainly see a decline in search results, and can often be attributed to poor bounce rates in analytics. Too few or too many keywords, inaccurate product details, or simply a flat, transactional website with no connection to the human reading it will all be detrimental to a website’s search health.

So, what to do?

First, it helps to perform a content audit of the website. Make certain all the content is up to date and formatted correctly. Cache or update any outdated content that may confuse or mislead the user. Make certain keywords are placed in such a way to feel human and organic.

Second, make certain your reference links work and go to their appropriate destination. Google will punish dead of improper links. Check your nofollows and make certain you’re not keeping anything out that may be beneficial to you, and vice versa.

Third, Do a run through of your site navigation to make sure the content all relates to the subject matter as intended. A website that’s difficult to navigate is a powerful way to immediately put off potential leads.

Lastly, make certain your content looks and feels like it was written by a human. Nothing can be more off-putting to a reader than content that has obviously been constructed as a sales pitch. People don’t want to read a sales PowerPoint, they want to read your story…so tell it.

Content is the king now more than ever thanks in large part to the recent updates to Google, and they show no signs of slowing down. Remember, everything your write, every video you create, every image you post, tells the story of your brand. And in search, the most important story is not the one you tell, it’s the one users tell each other. Create compelling content, and they will come.

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