Now that we are well aware of the difference between “thin” content and “quality” content, here are 5 optimization tactics you can focus on to bring the right awareness and attract the right audience to your website.
1. Bring Your Brand’s Unique Identity and Insights to Your Content
The new standards of quality content can seem intimidating. There are some shortcuts, however, to creating original, robust content. In The Future of Content Marketing, Andy Betts, search marketing consultant to some of the world’s largest brands, explains, “The answer lies within the heart of a business.” When brands get very specific as to how their products and services meet the needs of their customer segments, they can’t help but be original, robust and helpful. One term being thrown around quite a bit these days is “brand journalism.” If you are part of a marketing team for an enterprise level company, you may have inherited this additional duty without realizing it. Brand journalists tell the brand’s stories, interpret industry news for customers and create blog posts that benefit end users. The goal of this practice is to create goodwill AND generate leads for the company. To understand the way a brand journalist has to think, consider local news. While the meaty, investigative journalism typically goes to the nationwide stations with the big budgets, local news works hard to relate the big stories to their city and its residents. After all, residents get the facts and speculation from the national channels. When they turn to the local news, they want to know about their city’s response and perspective. For example, CNN and other national news networks handled every detail of Malaysian flight 370’s disappearance; while local news teams found the families of passengers from their own areas to interview. Similarly, your brand should do your own version of local spins on large stories, bringing your own unique perspective to the facts. While most companies don’t have too much to say about national news (unless there’s specific news about their industry and if so, great!), they can hit on timely topics most Americans share: national holidays, recognition months and seasons. Then prepare to deliver your company’s angle on the subject. For instance, a trophies and awards company knows the 4th of July or Independence Day holiday is coming up. While backyard barbecues may not need trophies, medals and plaques, the many 4th of July races and marathons certainly do. An article on “Planning Your 4th of July Race: Top 5 City Government Agencies to Contact First” will provide helpful, relevant information to an audience who most likely will need awards, too. Mentioning the availability of the awards in the article is perfectly acceptable. Which brings us to . . .
2. Create Crystal Clear Pictures of Your Target Audience
As search marketer Andy Betts claims in the article mentioned above, “the best type of content always starts with the user in mind.” Most likely, you’ve heard this 1,000 times already. Like you, I heard the recommendation to get a handle on your target early on, but didn’t quite assimilate it completely, UNTIL I bit the bullet and started imagining one—JUST ONE—of my friends who fit the demographics of a particular target audience. For instance, thinking “middle-aged, middle-class, moms of teens,” never really came to life for me until I tuned into my friend Sarah, a frazzled but happy and hard-working mom. At that point, I knew exactly how to start the article and what points from me would specifically help her make her day at work or home better, more productive, more fun, etc. When coming up with content ideas, if your company hasn’t developed a complete set of “personas”, work hard to imagine at least one representative client from each segment and how your products and services can solve their needs and pain points. Then write directly to that individual. It’s wise, too, to keep the sophistication level of the ideal reader in mind. On Search Engine Land, editor and close Google watcher Barry Schwartz explained, “If you have a more scientific or technical [web] searcher, who may be an expert in the topic you are covering, then writing a more scientific response with detailed technical jargon is probably a good strategy. But probably there would be more volume on the less scientific searches, so writing content that a “6th grader” or non-expert can understand is going to get your more traction.”
3. Bring in Quotes from Other Sources and Supply Links to More Information
These are signals to Google that your content is robust and you’re really delivering helpful, well-researched information to your customer base. It’s also a signal to your readers that you know what you are talking about and are providing the resources to back it up. Besides links found in this article, here are some other resources I used:
4. Aim to Make Your Content the Best, Most Thorough & Unique Answer Available
This may sound like a tall order, but believe me, once you follow the pattern suggested in this post, you will get the words needed for your blog posts and article pages. A local traffic attorney, got ranked quickly by writing several blog posts about “San Diego Red Light Ticket.” His posts were “3 Ways to Beat a San Diego Red Light Ticket,” “Got a San Diego Red Light Ticket? What to Do First” and “Reducing the Fees on a San Diego Red Light Ticket.” To develop each post he:
- Added illustrative examples from his own experiences thereby making it not only unique and detailed, but difficult to copy or “rip-off”;
- Considered the needs of specific audiences: “As a working parent, know that you can show the order from the court to your boss and you are legally entitled to go to court during work hours.”
- Linked out to decent sources.
5. Consider Longer Posts to Improve Your Website Content
If Google is rewarding “robust, unique” content, it only makes sense that longer posts and articles have finally come into favor. In the beginning it was being recommended that blog posts stay around 300-500 words to meet a business’ needs of creating some text around a keyword with good potential for their business. However, this isn’t necessarily what consumers wanted. While consumers do still appreciate “scan-able” text with bullet points, lists, a friendly conversational tone and short paragraphs (all of which I’m aiming for in this post), the ubiquity of text- and eye-friendly screens on iPads, phones and other gadgets has people reading just as long as they would in print. I’ve noticed this trend and other search industry experts are speaking up about it too. In a March 2014 article, “How Long Should Each Post Be: A Data Driven Answer”, search marketing pioneer Neil Patel explains,
“…Longer posts usually perform better on every level. . . a higher word count typically results in more search traffic. There are more than 200 factors that influence how your content ranks in the SERPs and evidence suggests that the more content your page has, the better chance it has of a top position in Google results.”
As Patel points out, the longer the post, the more times the targeted search term and its synonyms and the verbal network surrounding it are exposed. Of course Google is going to like that because now that content is “robust” and not “thin”.
Keeping You Positioned in Google
Here is the good news. Google has really stuck with its overall directive from the beginning of creating quality content, attracting links from relevant websites and promoting websites in a natural way. They are just getting better and better at serving up sites that fit this criteria and quality content will rule for as far as I can see. If you feel you need to improve your website content, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I consult with companies who are looking for help with their SEO campaigns to gain more visibility in the search engines. It’s what I do.