How many times have you heard or recited the popular quote, “If you build it, they will come?”
I know the quote – love to use it, in fact. But I’ve never sat through an entire viewing of Field of Dreams. So instead, I choose to associate this popular quote with a much different category of profession than… what? Farming or sports field construction, I guess?
To me, this quote is associated with the buzzy term all marketing professionals know and love: search engine optimization (SEO).
If you’re a consultant or marketer providing SEO services, you already know the basics. In fact, we recently covered some basics and cool tools in recent blogs. SEO is a way to ensure that your site isn’t left out, helping users locate your content in a sea of topics, blogs, news and more.
Since we’re a PR firm that deals with B2B clients, and they want their material to stand out in complicated and crowded spaces, we understand that content shouldn’t just be well-crafted, but set up for success in search engines, too. But if you’re a PR pro that still needs convincing, below are some helpful statistics from imFORZA that may influence your thinking.
Did you know that…
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine? You probably knew the number would be high, but we’re talking more than 90% of people using direct, organic search queries here.
- More than 70% of clicked links are organic links, meaning that they aren’t promoted to the user via pay-per-click or display ads, and even if they are…
- 70-80% of users ignore those paid ads and focus ONLY on the organic results.
- When searching online, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. Call it lazy, call it whatever you want, but the fact remains — you need to be on that first page.
- Search beats out social media in terms of driving visitors to content sites, and not by a small amount. People prefer search to social media by 300%.
Building smart and efficient SEO strategies into your content is like using a custom key to unlock your content’s visibility potential.
But to get them to come, you have to build it and, most importantly, build it well. Below are some best practices to consider when creating an SEO strategy:
Keyword Research and Targeting
For people using the web, it all begins with their search query. To make sure your content is populating on the engine, research target keywords for your site by searching for content on similar pages. Then, vet the keywords by asking yourself questions like, “Is this term relevant to my content?” or, “Will my content provide a proper answer or resolution for visitors using this term?” By doing this, you can ensure that visitors stay on your site longer and work on turning them into repeat visitors.
Meta Tags and Descriptions
On your site, each piece of content should have a unique tag in the meta description. Providing your site has an XML site map (most do), this enables search engines to crawl your site and pull your content in their results. Also in the meta section for each piece of content, add a description of the copy to entice the reader to check it out. Rule of thumb: in general, it is a best practice to limit your headline tag to 60 characters, and your description to 155 characters or less. Also, adding a company name into the headline description can help boost SEO.
The body of your content on your site, including blogs, should be formatted with SEO in mind. Avoid one- to two-paragraph articles that hit on only one keyword. Instead, aim for a word count of 750 to 1,300 words. According to Forbes, the average word count for top ranking content on Google keeps on rising and is closer to that 1,300 word count mark than ever before. In addition, find natural uses for 2-4 target keywords that apply to the specific piece of content that you’re creating. It will help draw in a variety of organic readers to your site based on their interest.
When it comes to the essence of your content, make sure that your structure is doing the most work for your SEO strategy. H1 header tags will help search engines know the title (which hopefully includes a keyword) of your article. Feel free to use other header tags – such as h2, h3, h4, etc. – to specify article subheads and paragraph headers, based on the styling set up on your site. And don’t forget images! A text-filled page may be informative, but without a pop of color or an interesting picture, readers may “tune out” and bump up your bounce rate numbers. Images can also have their own alt meta tags and keywords to help your site’s SEO.
Lastly, be original. No matter how strong your SEO strategy is, if your content is the same-old-same-old take on an over-saturated topic or news story, readers won’t be compelled to visit your site. By showcasing original ideas, and describing your content with targeted keywords and descriptions, you’re being a thought leader and explaining to visitors why your content matters.
What are some of your tips on a great SEO strategy? Sound off in the comments below!