Although SEO is a field that is constantly in flux, with even subtle changes to the Google search engine algorithms creating chaos within the industry, some basic principles of SEO rarely change.
These basic, unchanging principles act as a set of ground rules within the SEO industry. If you follow them, you will be setting yourself up for an effective digital marketing strategy.
Following these basic principles of SEO doesn’t just have an impact on the success of your digital marketing strategy from a numbers point of view, however. It also helps to build customer trust in the brand you are marketing.
Online users are becoming increasingly tech–savvy these days. While in the early days of SEO – when digital literacy rates were much lower – it might have been acceptable to stuff a blog post with links, keywords, and any other combination of SEO tricks, this is simply no longer the case. More often than not, if a user stumbles across an article that gives the impression that it has purely been written as a tool in which to stuff SEO content, it won’t take them long to navigate away.
For a business looking to increase its online presence, this can be potentially damaging to its reputation. As such, it is important that when you are creating written content with a view to optimising the SEO impact of the piece, you are producing content that truly provides the reader with value.
In this article, we set out the 10 Commandments of SEO that will help you to create compelling content that is not only valuable to the reader, but will also increase your SEO presence in a natural way.
- Focus on quality first
The first, and perhaps most important, principle of SEO is to focus on delivering quality content.
Don’t look at a content marketing strategy as simply a means to an end. Rather, consider it an opportunity to build a relationship with your target audience and to provide them with high–quality content that is useful to them.
- Avoid keyword stuffing
While it is tempting to stuff your content with as many keywords as possible, this is not necessarily the most effective content marketing strategy.
Search engines have long been aware of this practice, so stuffing your content with keywords will only harm you in the long run. Similarly, users are savvier than we often give them credit for, and will generally click away from content that simply seems to be crammed with keywords.
If you are going to utilise keywords – which you should – use them strategically, sparingly and organically.
- Create original content
While this might seem like an obvious point, you would be surprised at just how much plagiarised content finds its way onto the internet!
While it is tempting to look for examples online when you are writing SEO material, always remember that ultimately your content needs to be original. Beyond the ethical dilemmas associated with plagiarism, writing original content gives you the opportunity to have your brand’s voice heard. Additionally, content that is simply copied from elsewhere will generally score lower on the rankings, which is another incentive to be original!
- Write for humans, not robots
Although SEO is essentially a process of optimising your content for search engine algorithms, this does not mean that your content should be written for robots!
Always write as if you are writing to another human rather than an AI. This will not only create compelling content that your target audience will actually want to read, but it will also score better in the search engine rankings. The SEO algorithms are well able to distinguish content that has been written for humans rather than search engines, and will rank your work accordingly.
- Use meta descriptions
Although meta descriptions won’t necessarily have a direct impact on your Google search ranking, as we covered in a previous blog post, they are nevertheless an important part of creating quality SEO content.
Meta descriptions provide users with useful information to help them decide whether a page is worth visiting or not. Also, given that it acts as the first point of contact that your target reader will have with the material, the meta description can determine what impression they have of you.
It is therefore important to ensure that you have a meta description that is not only descriptive, but also helps to entice the reader. A first step is ensuring that your meta descriptions are kept up to date and are formatted properly. This is an element that is frequently overlooked by content marketers, so try to avoid falling for this trap!
- Cross–platform functionality
According to statistics, more users than ever are using their mobile devices to access a range of e–commerce and digital services.
From banking and paying the rent, to doing the weekly grocery shop, mobile phones are at the centre of everything that we do these days.
With this in mind, you should always consider the platforms from which your target user is likely to access your content. There is little point in spending hours crafting perfect and fully optimised SEO content if it won’t display properly across all devices and browsers.
Avoid simply formatting the editorial or blog that you are working on for the platform you have used to create it, and think about how it will display on the device from which your target audience is likely to access it. Mobile optimisation is key, so don’t overlook it.
- Use internal links wisely
Inbound links embedded within written content are a useful way of displaying the validity and relevancy of your content to search engines. The same is also true for internal linking within your website.
Internal linking is an easy and natural way to drive users towards a service or product, and increase its prominence.
However, don’t fall into the trap of stuffing your article with internal links as a way of increasing your chances of conversion. More often than not, a potential customer will simply be put off by a high volume of links in an article. This could have the opposite effect to what you originally intended and drive them away from the website.
- Remember to include a call to action
There is little point in writing a perfectly crafted blog post if you forget to direct the reader to further engagement with the product or service that you are marketing.
The call to action (CTA) doesn’t just provide a conclusion to your article, but also adds an opportunity for the reader to engage with the product or service for which you are trying to drive traffic. It is also likely to be the last thing that the user will read before navigating away from the page, so it’s important to make a good impression.
- Keep your content fresh
When planning your marketing strategy, it is also important to bear in mind the ‘freshness’ of your content.
There is a significant difference in the effectiveness of content from an SEO point of view, depending on whether or not it is ‘evergreen’.
Evergreen content is essentially content that will stay fresh indefinitely as it doesn’t contain time–sensitive information. It will generally rank better and for longer in the search rankings as it will remain relevant for a longer period.
Sometimes, however, you will want to ‘piggyback’ on specific search trends. As such, it’s important to keep in mind the lifecycle you want your content to have when planning your marketing strategy.
- Be mindful of inbound links
A well-planned SEO strategy will use both inbound and internal linking strategies to boost the SEO rankings of your content. While it’s important to get your content out there, this should not be at the expense of quality inbound links.
Inbound links will score well with SEO algorithms when they occur naturally within text. Using nefarious link sources, link-swapping and link farms could see you blacklisted by Google, so it is also in your interest to play by the rules!
If this article has left you feeling energised and ready to get the most from your content marketing strategy, consider getting in touch with a member of our team. We can help you to design, deliver and execute a content marketing strategy that will boost your online presence.