Are you frustrated with creating new content for your website content simply isn’t getting noticed by Google?
You’ve probably heard numerous times that “content is king” when it comes to SEO (although there are many arguments over how true this is). It’s my experience that content is a vital part of an effective SEO campaign, like many SEO consultants, I fall in the middle.
Content is very important, but it needs the strong foundation of technical SEO to make sure it works properly.
Quite often when networking with business owners, I hear that they’ve tried blogging or content marketing, but that their “content isn’t ranking well”, if at all.
Here’s the crux of the issue, just publishing new content isn’t enough to improve your website rankings.
The content itself needs to be strategic, optimised and up to standard if it’s going to rank well. While it can be a time-consuming process to get right, your website will certainly thank you for it!
Here are the ways you can get your content ranking higher on Google to improve your search ranking and drive more traffic to your website.
Here are the ways you can get your content ranking higher on Google to improve your search ranking and drive more traffic to your website.
Back when I was cutting my teeth as an SEO copywriter, I was often asked to write cheap filler content for websites.You know the kind of thing.
Short blog pieces that didn’t offer the reader much in terms of value. Just text with a sprinkling of keywords thrown in with the hope that it’d help the website climb the search rankings.
In most cases it did help. The websites moved a few places up the rankings, but did they make the front page of search results?
No. They didn’t.
Because the content just wasn’t relevant enough to their target audience.
Google cares about what your target audience thinks of your content. If it’s not being read at all or if only the first few lines are read before your visitor clicks back to search results; then this sends social signals to Google that the content is low value and not worth it.
By knowing your target audience.
Do you have an ideal customer avatar (ICA) that you refer to every time you create content?
Do you know what drives your ideal customer, what their problems are, what their interests are and how your product or service fits in with them and their particular lifestyle?
If you don’t have an ICA, then chances are high that your content isn’t quite hitting the mark with your target audience, and that your content simply doesn’t resonate with them.
If you don’t fully understand your audience’s problems and why they might be looking for your product or service, how do you know the content they’re searching for with Google?
Fact – most people don’t search for your product or service directly.
They search for their problem and then they discover the solution, i.e. what you’re offering. If you’re not creating content around their problems, issues, difficulties (whatever that might be) then your content isn’t relevant to them.
Let’s say you sell weighted blankets.
You might be creating tons of content around weighted blankets for autism, ten reasons why you should invest in a weighted blanket, why a weighted blanket is a good idea.
But how many people are actually searching for the keyword “weighted blanket” . For search queries in the UK it’s 27,100, for “weighted blanket for autism” it’s even less at 880.
They seem like great numbers, but what if you could go even higher?
Think about the issues a weighted blanket could solve – like insomnia, for example.
74,000 people a month in the UK are searching for “insomnia” – so you could attract more traffic to your website by creating content around insomnia and including links to your weighted blankets, i.e. 9 ways you can conquer your insomnia today with number 9 being your blanket.
Other keywords with high traffic that are relevant to weighted blanket buyers are “anxiety” (135,000) and “depression” (135,000).
By understanding your ideal customers and the problems they are trying to solve, you can figure out the best content that’ll resonate with them to boost your rankings and your conversion rates.
I think one of the key reasons why a lot of website content isn’t ranking well on Google is because the website owners/creators are simply doing the same as everyone else.
Case in point. Yesterday I was chatting to a Pinterest manager who was writing her own web copy, but she felt it was “too long” because when she looked at all the other Pinterest managers, they’d written considerably less.
The word count was less than 400 – next to nothing on a web page when you consider that the highest ranking pages have over 2000 words on average.
Imagine you are Google and you’re faced with 10 Pinterest managers all saying much the same thing, with roughly the same amount of words, pictures and links. Google will find it hard to distinguish between the page and will look at the social signals and technical aspects of each website for answers.
Make it easier for Google and stand out from your competition by doing more.
If the first page of Google has articles with an average word length of 1500 for your keyword or topic– make sure you provide more quality content by having a 2000 word article.
If you see 7 reasons why type posts, go bigger. Make it 8 or 9. Add more value by adding more reasons rather than rehashing the content already out there.
Be original, use your own ideas, provide your content writers with your own notes on the topic – don’t scrape Google for content and then put it in your own words. It’s a way of creating content, sure but it’s not the best way for getting your content to rank higher in the search results.
This is where the slightly more technical side of things comes into play with on-page optimisation.
Google cares about user experience.
It wants its visitors to have a good time on your website, i.e. for the content to be relevant, to be readable, etc. Poorly optimised content can lead to a high bounce rate – where your visitors will “bounce” back to the search results page and click elsewhere, rather than exploring your website in more depth.
Any content that is difficult to read/process on a website and prevents your website visitor from getting the answers they’re looking for.
Problems like this can be to blame for poorly optimised content:
If it’s difficult to read, then it’s not going to be read.
If it’s not read, it’s never going to rank well on Google.
Some of these aspects are down to the design of your website and other technical factors, but there are things you can do when you upload your content to make sure it’s optimised for your ideal customers, and for Google.
You should only have one H1 tag, so if your website pulls through the webpage title as a H1 and then you add a H1 tag manually, you could be confusing things.
Use H2 tags to separate key sections of your text – much as you would headings in a report.
H3 and H4 tags are for further separation.
The main rule here is to use the H tags in the right hierarchy – so don’t have a H3 then a H5, for example.
Don’t use header tags to make your text bigger or bolder – use coding for that.
Avoid big blocks of text wherever you can.
It’s a better idea to vary your sentence and paragraph lengths so there’s some visual interest to your page, and so there’s plenty of whitespace to help your visitor read it more easily than have large essay style paragraphs.
We don’t read web content like we would a book or other printed material.
Whitespace is important in helping your eyes and brain process the information quickly and easily, it’s why we tend to scan rather than read things online
Pictures are helpful for breaking up text and adding some visual interest to your web content, but they should be relevant and add to your message.
Think about image size, placement and how it relates to your content. Use image alt text tags so screen readers can describe the picture for disabled visitors (and give Google some contextual clues too).
You should also compress your images to a small file size, so they don’t take too long to load and affect your user experience.
Links are important to your website’s SEO, and your content too.
It’s something that I often see neglected in websites I’m asked to audit for SEO.
There may be a link to some statistics somewhere, there may be a link to the contact page or a service page and that’s as far as linking strategy goes for many people.
How many backlinks does your website have right now?
Now, how many of those are for your actual content and blog posts?
Backlinks are difficult to get, which is why most people don’t bother to chase them. But that’s the point. If your competitors aren’t chasing backlinks, it’s a way you can get ahead of them in the search results.
Do you go networking for your business?
Are you more likely to go to a business that has been recommended to you than one you know little about?
Backlinks are the networking of the SEO world. They’re essentially a vote of confidence in your website from another website. “Go and check out the content/offerings here, it’s worth it!”
The more backlinks you have from reputable websites, the more belief there is in your website. Google uses this hyper around your website as a clue that the content is good and worth sharing with its users.
Note, I said “reputable” websites – they need to be relevant to your website/target audience, have a good rating with Google themselves and not use any black hat SEO techniques that could see their website penalised (and yours).
Backlinks are an important part of off-site SEO. The work that you do away from your website to attract traffic your way. Then there’s the PR aspect to consider too – a mention on a high-profile website could really give your business and brand a boost!
It’s not just about websites linking to you when it comes to a good linking strategy.
You need to use internal links to your other content and web pages.
Internal links help Google understand your website better, how pages work in relation to each other, etc. It’s also important for guiding your visitors around your website, down into that sales funnel towards being a paying customer.
For example, going from a blog post, to your service page, to your about page and testimonials before contacting you to enquire about your services. Making sure these pages are carefully linked together in a structured way is important for improving your conversion rates.
Of course, linking your posts and pages together will encourage your users to follow through and read them, which gives those all important clues to Google that the content is worth ranking higher in those search results.
Ok, so let’s move on to external links.
You know the saying “what goes around comes around?” – don’t expect websites to create backlinks for you if you don’t want to create external links yourself.
Sometimes I come across clients that don’t want any external links on their website. They might say something like this
“I never want to use external links. I prefer visitors to stay on my site and never leave for any reason”
I can understand trying to keep your visitor on your website for as long as possible, it’s important for a lot of reasons.
But your visitors are going to leave.
You literally cannot keep someone on your website forever. So, what do you do? Do you let them go wherever they want to, or do you guide them to more relevant and informative content?
The first one doesn’t help your visitors whatsoever, the second one proves that you’re a helpful business owner that understands your target audience and the content they need to see. It gives you the authority and credibility you need to stand out online.
I know which one I prefer!
Make sure you have links as part of your marketing strategy, they are an important ranking factor for Google and they’re going to boost your SEO big time.
You’re not going to reach the golden heights of Google aka first page results instantly for your content.
According to a study by aHrefs, the highest ranking pages are actually three years old.
The answer to how long does it take for content to rank on Google is literally “it depends”.
It depends on hundreds of thousands of factors(some of them only Google know). Some content can rank well in weeks or months, some will slowly climb the rankings and reach that sweet spot in its own time.
This is why SEO is a slow process. But it’s a robust one, once you’re ranking well it’s difficult to get knocked back down again.
The point I’m trying to get at here, is that new content isn’t going to be found instantly on Google.
So, the social signals that Google uses to know if it’s good content or not (the user experience I talked about earlier, how often it’s shared, comments, etc) take a while to kick in too.
That means you must share your content often and promote it as widely as possible to get your target audience to pay attention to it.
And no, a one time share when you upload your new blog post is not enough.
I tend to take a three-pronged approach to sharing new content for myself and my clients through:
Sharing on social media is important.
You want your current followers to interact with your new content and share it to their followers (so make sure you have share options available on your blog posts). This helps you reach new audiences and maybe even help your content go viral.
Don’t post and run though, share your new content frequently until you publish something new, then add it to your future posts so it crops up again every few weeks to capture new interest.
My favourite platform for sharing content is actually Quora – the question and answer website.
Yes, it takes a little bit of work in that you have to create some new content, essentially a mini blog, to answer a question that’s been asked. But you can drop links in to your own content in your answers. This gets you a backlink, it sends traffic to your website where your blog is then read and sends those social signals back to Google that this is some good content!
Here’s one of my answers to a question “How can I write SEO-based content?”
Other platforms you can use to promote your content include:
The trick here isn’t just to copy and paste the content or link.
You need to repurpose it a little, summarise the main points and link to the original content for more info, turn the key points into a PowerPoint presentation for SlideShare or video content for YouTube.
In fact, you absolutely should turn your content into videos on YouTube, it’s owned by Google and they like showcasing video content in search results right now!
Your followers on social media might see the post but not have the time to read it there and then.
So, make it harder for them to miss by dropping your content directly in to their email inbox.
Grab their attention with a subject line that works for them (which is why segmenting your email subscribers is so important) and create a brief and colourful email that explains why they absolutely must not miss your latest content.
The great thing about email marketing is that you can analyse the results – who is opening the emails, who is clicking through to the content, etc. This can help you determine how relevant your content actually is to your target audience and ways you can tweak it to make it even more effective.
Let’s talk about the tendency to publish and run in a little more detail, shall we?
It’s ok, I’ve been guilty of it in the past too.
I’d spend days summoning up the energy and motivation to write, edit and upload. I’d create a few social media posts, drop the link in some FaceBook groups and on LinkedIn and then I would move on.
I know many of my clients when I was a copywriter were doing the same thing, I’d write and upload their content for them, but I’d be lucky to see more than one social media post about it from them afterwards.
They then wondered why their content wasn’t working for them…
I’ve highlighted why continuing to promote your content and generate backlinks consistently is important, but there’s another reason to keep on top of your existing content…
issues might crop up over time you’re not even aware of.
Did you know that Google measures meta descriptions in pixels rather than characters now, for example? Those meta descriptions that worked so well for you two years ago might not be any more because they’re getting chopped off on mobile search results.
Google algorithms change, a lot and often!
If you’re not reviewing your analytics regularly to see what’s working and what’s not, if you’re not tweaking and improving your existing content to keep it up to date and relevant for your audience and if you’re not using the best SEO strategies for today – your content isn’t going to rank as highly as it potentially could.
Google rankings can be a complicated thing.
With a 1001 factors that seem to play a part in where your content ends up in the search results, it can be easy to focus on just “the best SEO strategy” today, according to whichever SEO guru it is you follow.
The thing is, effective SEO needs a comprehensive strategy to work well.
You need to address the technical problems, make sure your user experience and on-page optimisation is good and yes, you need a strong content marketing strategy to get your website receiving traffic and reaching that first page of Google results.
If you want your website to rank higher on Google, get in touch with me today to discover how I can create a custom campaign that’s effective for your business.