As the Internet has become an integral part of every company’s marketing strategy, there’s been a feverish push by companies of all sizes to create more easily discoverable online content. A massive explosion of content has, in part, driven this focus on SEO.
In 2010 the Internet comprised of an estimated 215 million websites and 152 million blogs, and according to Technocrati, almost 80 percent of existing blogs are written by hobbyists and self-employed bloggers. With less than $25 a year, anyone can broadcast with no editorial constraints, ethical obligations, or truth.
Traditional publishers, once focused solely on providing great information, are now at risk of having their digital content swallowed up in a sea of online posts often lacking in quality but having good, or even better, SEO.
A Universal Challenge
While this article highlights traditional publishers, the challenges they face and the tips recommended herein are applicable to any online content creator. Meaning, if your company has a website, a blog, or occasionally publishes a whitepaper – you are a content creator.
With this tremendous glut of online information, what can you do to differentiate and draw eyeballs and interest to your content? Here are 10 tips for making the shift from old-fashioned print writing to real time web writing.
Old-Fashioned Content, New World Tactics
1. Use Real Time Data to Uncover Trends (Global and Local) and Stay Ahead of the Curve
The real time web is the ultimate barometer for news and events. Looking at real time data both off your site (i.e., Twitter trends) and on your site (i.e., visits from a specific keyword) can keep you ahead of the curve and allow you to take advantage of trending search terms.
2. Share Results With Your Editorial or Marketing Staff
What better way to convince your content creators that SEO matters than to show them where their pieces rank? Share real time results with your staffs and include them in SEO discussions. Train them on the tools that will help them do their work better and you’ll both win.
3. Optimize for Social, Not Just Search
No matter how good your content is, if it isn’t easy to share, it will be less discoverable. Use popular social networks and their native share buttons to enable mass content distribution with just one click. Don’t include too many buttons; focus on the most popular social sharing options like Tweet, “Like,” Share on Facebook and LinkedIn.
4. Target the Right Personas
Many marketers today are creating search personas, in order to better actualize and understand how an ideal online customer searches the Internet. This is akin to walking a mile (or, in this case, searching) in your customers’ shoes. Once you build your clear and accurate search persona, refine your writing and content to their specific interests and tastes.
5. Increase On-site Discovery With Internal Links and Dynamic Content
Important metrics are page views and time on site. Increase both by making discovery of other content on your site easier and faster. Use dynamic content (popular topics, most shared topics, etc.) to promote relevant topics to your audience. Be sure to use internal links and anchor text as much as possible where relevant.
6. Optimize for Long Tail
Publishers, due to the size of their websites and audience, have the ability to be found on both head terms and long tail terms. While long tail terms have small search volume, for websites with thousands of pages, those numbers add up. Optimizing pages and winning on the long tail terms will yield an exponential increase in visitors and pageviews.
7. Post New Stories, Not Updated Ones
With an ongoing story or topic you’re covering, create new pages. Don’t simply update an old page. Link between the pages, old and new, and always point back to the core piece you wish to be ranked and found.
8. Use Media (Images, Videos, Podcasts, Presentations)
The Twitter UI previews videos and images on users’ accounts. Yahoo shows video and image results at the top of its SERPs, and Google and Bing are showing multi-format results (video, images, tweets) on their first SERP. Don’t limit yourself to text, and you’ll improve the chances that your content will be discovered, shared and ‘Liked.’
9. Optimize Your Title and Write Great Abstracts to Encourage Sharing
Titles are usually visible on social networks and search engines. Abstracts provide more details on your content. Users like to self-promote, so they’ll comment on already distilled overviews or sound bites more so than they would on a densely worded blog post. Include an abstract at the beginning of your content (or write a great introduction paragraph) and include your target keywords to allow users to “preview” the content and share it.
10. Optimize URL Structure
Don’t ignore URL structure. Smartly constructed URLs will help people find your content easily and encourage them to click on shared links. Customize shortened links to let people know what they can expect on the other side of the click.
Some traditional writing rules do still apply. Having a unique, exclusive and captivating story is critical to getting noticed. By combining these old-fashioned journalistic values with today’s SEO rules, you’ll arrive at great content that’s concise, easy to understand and share, and most importantly, relevant to what today’s digital readers are searching for online.