If you want to get an unambiguous answer to the question from the title, I’ll disappoint you. There is no straight answer to that. You cannot specify whether content generation or content optimization for search engines is more important in content marketing strategy. You should find the budget and time for both. However, there is no point in investing in activities that are no longer effective.
Thus, if you want to find out how to balance between these two approaches to make the most of it, sit comfortably and continue reading. Below we will discuss when it’s the right time to optimize existing content and when to put all your efforts into creating content that is brand new.
How do I create content that incorporates SEO best practices?
It doesn’t matter if you want to create content from scratch or if your SEO efforts involve updating existing content before coming up with new ideas. There are a few principles you need to follow to rank high.
A lot of new SEOs and content writers are tempted with keyword stuffing. This is mistake number 1. Search engines now don’t like keyword stuffing and if you want your content marketing strategy to work, you need to write for humans, not for bots. More on that later.
That being said, keyword research is absolutely necessary if you want to reach your target audience. Any good SEO strategy starts with keyword research. There are many tools that will help you find the right keywords. Semrush and Ahrefs are one of the most popular ones.
Don’t forget about the meta title tag – it should include your target keyword, but also be attractive enough for users to click on it. It’s a hard task, but very rewarding when you see a high CTR on your blog post.
Finally, backlinks. Both external and internal links should be a crucial part of your SEO content creation.
Content is king
Maybe content is king but the king needs his queen to rule. You might have a great collection of quality articles, but you will not get any benefits if no one finds them among a plethora of information. On the other hand, driving huge traffic to your website will not make any good if visitors don’t find relevant content there and leave straight away. Thus, you have to find a balance somewhere in between to benefit from content marketing. One won’t go without the other.
I know there are also other forms of content distribution, but you really should make friends with Google. Your presence on its search engine results pages (SERPs) is crucial for your online visibility. You want your business to be found, you want to attract clients and keep them with you. The former can be achieved thanks to keyword optimization the latter is possible thanks to a value your audience can drive from relevant, high-quality content.
Combining SEO with quality content creation will be your powerful tool for gaining inbound links and organic traffic, which boost your rankings and lead to increased sales and brand exposure.
SEO is the process that many marketers often get confused with. The main reason is that it constantly changes. With every new update introduced by Google, approaches in optimization that we’ve followed so far can become useless. I can imagine keeping up with all the upgrades might be frustrating.
When we try to optimize our content, lots of questions emerge. Should the meta description be keyword-rich? Should I submit my page to Google manually? Does the number of my pages matter? Is local SEO important? Should I focus on link building? These and many more queries appear when we try to get along with Google. Now I’ll try to answer them with these ways below.
9 Ways You Can Make Your Local SEO Successful
1. Create a Google My Business Account
Optimizing your Google listing (aka your Business Profile) is perhaps the most effective way to rank higher on Google Maps as well as gain visibility in Google Search local results. In order to get access to your Business Profile to make these optimizations, however, you need a Google My Business account associated with that profile. Once you provide all of the requested information in your Google My Business account dashboard, all of that information will be added to your Business Profile, which appears in Google Search local results, the Google Search Knowledge Panel, and Google Maps.
To optimize your Business Profile on Google, ensure that you:
- Create a Google My Business account and verify ownership of the business
- Provide accurate and up-to-date information
- Include your logo, hours of operation, acceptable payment methods, the product or service you sell, and plenty of images
- Encourage your customers to review your business online
- Respond sincerely to customer reviews
- Publish posts (announcing products, events, and special offers) to your Business Profile using the Google My Business dashboard.
2. Get Regular Reviews from Happy Customers
Getting your customers to write glowing reviews for your business doesn’t just optimize your Google My Business presence; it also encourages more local customers to buy from you. BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey reveals that 85% of customers believe online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Here are some tips to encourage customers to leave reviews:
- Ask for a review in person after the close of a sale
- Send a post-purchase email or text asking customers to write a review (but only after you’ve screened them via an internal survey to ensure you’re not approaching dissatisfied customers)
- Respond to existing reviews in a professional way, thanking reviewers and addressing complaints in not-so-favorable reviews
Note: Google says it’s okay to ask your customers for reviews while Yelp actively discourages it.
3. Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search will grow rapidly in the coming years. Therefore, in local SEO, it’s vital to optimize for how people ask questions when they speak into devices, as opposed to how they type out their searches.
Essentially, your customers use more long-tail keywords when doing voice searches compared with regular search. Because of this, you’ll also have to adjust the SEO of your content to fit the more conversational tone of someone speaking. For example, you’ll want to account for the traditional question starters (who, what, when, where, why and how).
It’s also crucial to consider user intent when optimizing for voice, as these searches are most often performed when the user needs a specific piece of information. If they’re baking and ask Alexa to convert tablespoons to cups, they’re expecting a quick and useful answer. If a potential customer uses voice search to ask what your business’s hours are, this information should also be readily available
4. Create Content Based on Local News Stories or Events
There’s nothing quite like authoring content that speaks or relates directly to a local issue to grab your local customers’ attention.
Some strategies include:
- Writing blog posts around local news stories, activities, or events
- Creating videos about local charities or causes that your business supports
- Setting up location-specific webpages on your website with high-quality local content if you serve different parts of a region
Let’s say you’re a local real estate business. You can create different pages, one for each of your locations, where you can feature hyperlocal content around news events or changes in the local real-estate market. This strategy could also help you get ranked for each specific location.
5. Optimize Your Website for Mobile
A 2018 Stone Temple study that looked at 2017’s mobile vs. desktop trends found that the shift to mobile is occurring faster than expected. Mobile visits to websites grew from 57% in 2016 to 63% in 2017, and the overall visits to websites from desktop shrunk from 43% in 2016 to just 37% in 2017.
Another 2017 study from Acquisio determined that traffic from local searches can be especially lucrative, with a remarkable 75% of all mobile searches that exhibit local intent actually producing in-store, offline visits within 24 hours.
This confirms that you have to optimize your website for mobile to be a player in local SEO (and, really, for good SEO period).
Here are some tips to achieve this:
- Ensure your website loads quickly (no more than three seconds)
- Use bigger fonts that are easy to read
- Use images and copy sparingly, conveying only the information you need (no room for filler on a mobile screen!)
- Ensure intuitive UI for great UX
6. Hone in on Local Keywords
Your keywords should be relevant to local customers. It only makes sense, doesn’t it?
Google’s own Keyword Planner lets you filter keyword searches based on location so you get an idea of the popular search terms for a given region. This lets you create a list of locally relevant keywords to target. Once you have them, they should make appearances in your site’s meta content, copy, and URLs.
Also, include mentions of region-specific landmarks and hotspots in your content. For instance, if your local restaurant serves dinner in downtown Seattle, include references to “dining by the Space Needle” or “just steps from the Space Needle” on your site.
7. Quality over Quantity
I hope it comes as no surprise to you that the quality of your backlinks and own sites is more important than their number. Links are an important part of your website’s authority, but remember that linking is not a numbers game anymore. The relevancy and diversity of these links is the key.
Thus, if you were to invest in your content strategy, I’d rather recommend hiring someone who would write for you instead of a person to do link-building. Indeed, the second strategy often leads to a growing number of sources. However, they are not necessarily of the highest quality. Link-building done correctly is still valid and valuable, but quality content generation is a long-term investment that would bring more relevant links over time anyway.
It goes the same with the number of your own sites. Naturally, the more pages you create the more chances of showing up for various searches you have. Again, the quality rule applies here as well. You might have lots of pages indexed in the search engine, but if the content is not relevant to your audience you will not drive qualified traffic and leads.
Practice writing headlines. In Google Search Console you can check search queries and CTRs. If you see that one of your pages has a huge amount of impressions, but not many clicks, it’s time to try another header to drive more traffic.
8. Write for Humans Not Search Engines
Keyword optimization is important for ranking, but do not exaggerate it. You want your pages to be indexed on the SERPs, but it’s not an end itself. You want to be found in order to drive traffic to your sites and convert them into subscribers, sales leads, or whatever your goals are.
Thus, don’t overuse focus keywords. Try to naturally incorporate them into page titles, which should be easy to read in the first place. Your audience goes first and you should write for them, not for Google. Stuffing keywords will result in much less attractive writing and even can end with penalties from Google.
On top of that, the algorithms are no longer trying to match the exact keywords user types into a search engine to keywords from your website. Google tries to understand a given query and match it to relevant and high-quality content, so it also evolves in this direction.
To sum up, your SEO content creation shouldn’t mean writing for Google (or any other type of search engine). Always think of the readers first.
9. Create a Dedicated Webpage for Each Product/Service You Offer
While it can be tempting to just lump all of your products or services together in one big page, resist doing so. Instead, dedicate one page to each unique product or service you offer.
Your local SEO juice isn’t as powerful if you lump everything into one page because search engines tend not to see your brand as an authority in one specific area. This lowers your ranking possibilities.
If you’re a business without different products or services, but have various locations, simply utilize location-based copy for each page. For instance, “dental marketing” will become “New York dental marketing” or “Buffalo dental marketing.”
Digital marketing is all about perfecting your web presence. Hopefully, you should know by now if your content needs just a refreshing touch, or should you brainstorm new ideas with your teammates.