I try to present technical issues in a way that people can easily understand them.
I'm not by any means an expert on SEO. However, I am an avid researcher and a prolific writer. It seems that the topic in quite confusing and challenging to navigate though. As I am going down the road of developing my own website, and always being asked by others how to improve their sites, I decided to start reading and writing on the subject. This piece is only focused on content, but I plan to put out future pieces on other aspects. If you see something I've missed or need some "guidance" on, please comment. This is a basic work for inexperienced users to understand the process.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the most important thing you can invest your time in when building a new website, starting a blog, or publishing online. It’s called an art by some, a science by others, and no matter which side you choose once you understand it, you’ll agree that it’s unforgettable as part of a success strategy. There are on the page factors and off the page factors that combine to give your website or document an all-important “ranking” on Google, Yahoo, or Bing with the higher being better. If you want to earn advertising revenue, then a high ranking and traffic will boost earnings.
Page Ranking Matters
The site publisher or webmaster has control over the on the page factors, and by paying attention to the “bigger picture,” they can help their own cause. The most important thing on any site is quality, meaning that the pages have substantial, well-written content. This is more important than keywords as the newer web engines are looking at content made for users, not for search engines. Avoid tricks to improve your search engine rankings, as that is what has been occurring over the past few years. Countless companies offer ways to improve SEO rankings and countless site owners bought into their plans, which resulted in a bunch of sites that may or may not have been poorly designed or have weak content being ranked high due to trickery. A unique, highly engaging, and valuable website that stands out from similar ones in the same field is an optimized site. By offering users a unique experience, you’ll get both new and repeat visits. Remember that Google is a business and their product is search results and answering questions. If a Google user gets first page results of sites which don’t give them their desired benefit, them it’s likely those users will look to a different search engine.
Get to the Point
Part of what is driving this refreshed approach is connected to mobile devices and voice controlled searches. Your personal assistant on Apple products can interact with you, but if she came back with results that weren’t optimal, she wouldn’t be useful. To keep pace with that type of need, search engines must provide answers that are relevant and timely, which is why quality content is so important. In the past many sites simply served as redirects to other sites and because they were keyword optimized received lots of hits, but users saw this as a wasted step as it didn’t give them an answer, just another door to open with a new set of ads to look at. Sites with original and new content on the other hand may not provide a perfect answer, but they will give the searcher a positive experience without duplication or multiple hoops to jump through. Google has been diverting from the keyword driven approach of the past to deliver pages with the richest content.
Rich content or quality content comes in many forms and means more today than it did in the past. With the level of technology available to the average person, the web is being filled every moment with new videos, podcasts, photographs, recipes, and more. It’s content that is relative to what is going on in the world today, such as stories about world events, attacks, or celebrities. Content that is entertaining, educational, or instructional also rate as high quality; recipes, DIY sites, and how to sites all perform well under this premise. Content that people are encouraged to but also want to share on social media is considered high quality. Content that is easy to understand and not anchored to pop-ups or intrusive advertising is high quality. Content that users feel is written in their language and meets their needs is considered quality, such as a niche site that is for millennials or women only. There are many more things that dictate high quality content but they all collectively telegraph a message to users that your site is original and trustworthy. Understanding that business sites and personal sites are looked at differently is another factor to consider.
Personal or Business?
You may publish a personal blog or have a small site that you use for a hobby and if you are lucky enough to drive solid traffic you can earn advertising revenue off of it. A business site on the other hand may be dependent on their site for sales, which limits the amount of new content they can publish regularly. The one balancing factor is that these business sites often has access to monetary resources to buy content or invest in in-house staff to focus on keeping their sites refreshed. For business sites it’s critical to provide them with content that matches up with them and their values. A used car site could tie inn content that makes the shopping experience better, weather driving tips; car set safety, and other things that car buyers would find useful. Keeping the content focused on the customer and not the product is critical.
In the past business sites relied on what is referred to as Vertical and Horizontal content strategies for success. Horizontal Content Strategy focuses on a holistic or inter-connected approach, covering every part of their business from the sales team to the factory and all things in the middle. Site designers were always thinking about how one page worked with another to sell their general business goal. This is the most common approach used by e-commerce companies. Vertical Content Strategy also has a wide overall business approach but puts a heavier focus on one specific content aspect at a time. This means taking one of these aspects of content and figuring out how it works best across different platforms or with different audiences, kind of a shot gun approach in some people’s eyes but nevertheless this is what many marketing and PR companies will recommend as a content strategy. These are evolving with the amount of web traffic coming from social media is exploding as marketers are now developing strategies for new or emerging products that originate in Facebook posts instead of on the main page of a website. User-generated content such as positive posts on social media are becoming part of overall marketing strategies.
Most business sites have huge teams to handle their needs, but back to the smaller sites and how to improve SEO. Bloggers can have a better chance of success by following some simple guidelines. If you really want to be taken serious, you need your own domain name and hosting. It shows the search engine that you are serious about your site which helps the trustworthy score. Hosting your blog on a free platform doesn’t help your SEO, it helps the sponsor of the site. The first thing is to write about something people care about. An article on the physiology of African bats may be interesting, but few people are going to seek it out. A blog on chili on the other hand will have a much wider audience. Second tip is to make it long enough of a post to count. Two sentences won’t get it done, not will a paragraph. Try to achieve at least 300 words, but if you can get to 500 or more, go for it. Search engines tend to favor in-depth content in the range of 1500-2000 words. Also, utilizing backlinks (hyperlinks from other pages which send people to your blog or site) from social media, other similar sites will help drive your SEO up. There are numerous methods for achieving a higher level of connectivity throughout the internet using this method; beware of anyone attempting to sell you backlinks as it could actually hurt your SEO.
Social media is critical in today’s world, especially with the number of web searches coming in from them collectively. It’s impacting strategies as I’ve noted above for business but for bloggers, it’s like a weather gauge that guides the internet as to what people view as important or trending. If you can get your blog post links tweeted, pinned, liked, or any of the other sites jargon, it means people find it interesting. When you post something on social media, make sure to write an original sentence or two about the post as it will increase the value. Find others on social media who are similar to you and repost their works in hopes they will reciprocate the favor. Quality content can be mutually beneficial. Your overall on-line visibility is a big part of long term traffic generation.
Site design, mobile optimization, color scheme, and other items also are important for site optimization, but I'll leave them for a future discussion. Remember that content is king, but quality content rules!
Thanks for reading!
Shaurya Singh from New Delhi, India on July 22, 2016:
Great read Mr Schwartz ! Nice and succint
manatita44 from london on March 26, 2016:
Well, the website is first. I know of people who are talented and sell their books that way quite successfully. Only they would charge me nearly $2000.00 for a website. I have no money.
Plans? I have nearly 300 poems. Soon I will bring out a book called Blossoms of the Heart. The website would be a way of marketing it. I am also a writer and would like to re-publish and promote my book: My Guru Sri Chinmoy: Life And Teachings.
I am in the middle of Maxims For Our Children and would also bring out some more poetry, probably Questions and Answers, etc. I am trying to look at Marketing and Promotion - not my strength - and the experts say that a website is a must.
You're a very good writer. Find an interesting field, and go for it! The girl I mentioned is very spiritual. But interestingly enough, she went for romance with a spiritual twist, and she seems to be doing well. She also have a website. Happy Easter, Bro.
Ralph Schwartz (author) from Idaho Falls, Idaho on March 26, 2016:
I'd like to hear more about the plans. I'm thinking along the same line.
manatita44 from london on March 26, 2016:
What a useful Hub! I need a website badly, as I'm heading to the book and poetry business. But I know sod all! Thanks for the info. You see, I told you that you are a great Soul. So many areas of expertise!