You’ve heard of SEO and chances are, you know why it’s important to your business. But do you know what it is? “The Language of Content Strategy” by Scott Abel and Rahel Anne Bailie defines it as:

“The process of using best practices to design and create content that will rank well in organic search engine results.”

The consensus within content doers is this: content marketing and SEO are two very closely related disciplines and should be treated as such. While the destination might be to get prime optimization, the first step on that path is to deliver high-quality content. Without that strategic component, people might easily find you, but will just as easily lose interest after one sentence if that content lacks substance.

SEO Trends

Search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms to improve the results users get. And, as devices and websites have evolved, users have changed how they search for information. 

Search remains the top traffic driver. Sixty-eight percent of all trackable website traffic comes from organic and paid search, vastly exceeding all other channels, including display and social media.  BrightEdge Research

Pay attention to how searchers use keywords. About 30% of keywords with 10,001+ monthly searches are made up of three or more words. Ahrefs

Location and mobile go hand-in-hand. Thirty percent of mobile searches are related to location. Think With Google 

Mobile matters. Sites that tank in position #1 on mobile get approximately 27% of clicks and sites in position #1 on desktop earn about 19% of clicks.  seoClarity

Search is skyrocketing. There were 81,000 searches per second in 2020, up from 63,000 searches in 2016. Backlinko

SEO Challenges

But can’t you just work the algorithm to improve your search rankings? Not so fast. The rub of a search engine algorithm is that it’s constantly evolving and there’s no sure way to know exactly what a search engine’s algorithm is. While page rank and SEO brings order to the web, if you happen to figure out how to game it, the algorithm will change. In fact, experts say that Google changes its algorithm several hundred times per year. 

Don’t be fooled, SEO takes work. “A cousin of overpromised technology, SEO snake oil is the promise of high search engine rankings with little effort. Who sells it? Slippery SEO consultants who take advantage of the fact that search engine formulas aren’t public.” These formulas change regularly, so no one—including these consultants—can guarantee rankings. “Mostly, good design and content go a long way toward good SEO.” – The Content Advantage

It all goes back to compelling content. Without it, SEO’s relevancy dwindles. Quickly. About 72% of marketers said relevant content creation was the most effective form of SEO, yet 46% also said it was the most difficult strategy. – eMarketer

Stop stuffing content with keywords. “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping SEO…If you want to get the most out of your SEO with AI in the mix, you need to: Stop stuffing your content with keywords, and instead create content that’s associated with a specific concept, category, or query if you want to rank well in the algorithm for more specific audiences.” KeyScouts

Address technical SEO issues too. “Technical SEO problems are also generally, but not always, site-wide problems rather than specific page issues. Their fixes can help improve your site as a whole, rather than just isolated pages.” Fixing problems with your indexation, NOINDEX, robots.txt configuration, and url canonicalization can go a long way to boosting your site in search.  How to Find and Fix 14 Technical SEO Problems That Can Be Damaging Your Site Now, Moz

SEO Opportunities 

Although SEO often seems like a moving target, if you focus on creating great content and excellent user experiences, you will be optimizing for search automatically. 

Invest in site speed. “When it comes to SEO, speed matters. The latest SEO data compiled in 2021 reveals that mobile sites that take more than 5-seconds to load have a 70% lower mobile session rate than those that load in under five seconds. According to Google, a delay of one-second can mean a 20% drop in conversion.”  safari digital

Archive outdated content, properly. “A large media organization asked us [Content Science] to advise on an archiving strategy.” “Here is an example of the very old content we discovered:”

Image of Bumblebee Camaro car from auto website

“Yes, that’s an overview of the bumblebee (black and yellow) Camaros available for sale on the site in 2009 / 2010….complete with an outdated hook based on the opening of Transformers 3. As you might have guessed, we recommended archiving this content.” The organization’s resident SEO experts, however, “tried to say archiving or removing any content would jeopardize the media organization’s domain authority. That simply isn’t true, especially when the archiving or removal is done properly.”  Don’t Let Outdated SEO Advice “Bumble” Your Content Archiving Strategy, Content Science Review

Maximize owned media. “Companies often overlook the significant value that can be captured by maximizing the value from owned media (such as a company website) and earned media (such as a blogger writing about your product). When managed properly, this category can help reduce the need for paid media, driving higher ROI in the process.” – McKinsey

Ensure you are using structured data. “Structured data is becoming increasingly vital, and it allows your content to be better understood by search engines. Google offers you a Structured Data Testing Tool that you can use to familiarize yourself with the concept and start applying structured data for your website and landing pages. This helps to deliver rich results from your website or landing pages to appear on SERPs.” Search Engine Watch 

Target “People Also Ask” questions: Moz found that along  with increased searches in 2020, users were asking more questions overall. “Google’s People Also Ask SERP feature is the most effective way for companies to answer regularly asked questions, and drive more traffic to their site…The main way we targeted landing in the People Also Ask section for clients was to tailor new and existing content around answering these user’s questions. Tools such as were vital in identifying these questions, and creative writers were extremely beneficial in attacking this SERP feature.” Moz

Evolve your content for voice search. Voice search is increasing in popularity. So, you need to make sure your content is built for voice. For example, “the average reading level of a voice search result is 9th grade.” Page speed is also important in voice search SEO. “The average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than the average page).” – Here’s What We Learned About Voice Search SEO, Backlinko

The Author

Content Science partners with the world’s leading organizations to close the content gap in digital business. We bring together the complete capabilities you need to transform or scale your content approach. Through proprietary data, smart strategy, expert consulting, creative production, and one-of-a-kind products like ContentWRX and Content Science Academy, we turn insight into impact. Don’t simply compete on content. Win.

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