For the longest time, Internet marketers considered Google to be THE search engine. Every business SEO marketing campaign targeted keywords to become one the highest ranking sites on Google. However, the Google algorithms have changed and Internet marketers are in a rush to keep up. It can be both confusing and challenging.
Many marketers still are not aware of any changes and cannot figure out why their website is not ranking higher in Google. Ryan Stewart, a digital marketer and web and SEO expert at WEBRIS, recently wrote an article explaining why he stopped selling SEO services. Stewart pointed out that when you initiate a search on Google, the top ranking results are not sales pages or business website home pages. The results are reviews, listicles, or content-rich articles.
The Google algorithm is basically giving customers what they want – the ability to:
- learn more about a product
- compare the product to similar products
- read what other people think about the product
Although the customers are able to get what they want, marketers may be confused about how to go about getting noticed again. There are a few ways you can make SEO work for you despite new algorithms.
Google Is Not the Only Search Engine
Google has become a way of life for many people in this digital fast-paced world. However, there are actually other search engines. Bing and Yahoo are frequently used for searches. But were you aware that sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, eBay, Yelp, and LinkedIn are all search engines? There are many more and the most important take-away is the fact that your community (tribe or following) are using these search engines/platforms.
Where Are All the People?
You can still use SEO, but you need to be strategic about how and where you place keywords. You need to establish the places your prospects are using for research and ideas. If you are a recruiter, you may find most of your tribe at LinkedIn. If your prospects are working mothers, your community can probably be found on Facebook and Pinterest. To stay relevant, you must get away from the notion that SEO marketing is all about the Google rankings. It is about the value you can give the people.
Valuable content will trump spam keyword articles every time. Your prospects value high-quality content-rich articles. People get excited about useful information, especially when it might help a friend. This content becomes highly shareable and increases your chance of the content ranking high in search engines all through organic search. As people like and share your content on Facebook and Pinterest, they are virtually displaying the effective method of word of mouth.
Paid Advertisements May Be the Way to Go
Stewart points out that just like Facebook generated paid ads for monetization, Google may be headed in that direction, too. When you inquire on a topic, the search results page will list reviews, listicles, and content. But, it also lists paid advertisements with a button that reads “Sponsored” or “Ads”. These ads may be paid ads or PPC. Just remember the trust factor. If you have not built a relationship with the prospect through your web presence, they will have no reason to choose you over another vendor.
SEO may feel obsolete, however it is not. Google is still the most popular way to search. Narrow down your target audience and research what platforms they are using. You will want to establish a web presence and optimize your website to attract the right people for your product or service.
SEO meta descriptions are the small search snippets found on search engine results pages. They give a brief description of the article and allow Google and other search engines to scan for relevant keywords. This is a great way to increase your website traffic by describing the content.
The purpose of the meta description is to give a brief preview of the article so the searcher can decide to click through. The meta description for each page should be unique and optimized with a keyword or long-tail keyword phrase. Moz, a software as a service company (SaaS), states that a meta description is typically between 150 and 160 characters and measures the width in pixels.
Using SEO Meta Descriptions
If you craft a powerful meta description using persuasive and creative copy, Google will bold the keywords on the search engine results page (SERP). The keywords do not impact Google rankings anymore, not since 2009, but the bolded words will catch your prospect’s attention. The goal is to get your prospect to click through to your website. This action will increase your click-through rates, and possibly your conversion rates, all from an organic search.
Copywriters use certain strategies to craft a persuasive meta description. The following is a list of a few of these strategies:
- Write persuasively with an active voice. Use a call to action to tell your prospect what you want them to do. For example, “Discover the 5 Ways to End Heartburn Today – Grab your copy of our free report.”
- Give your prospect the benefit they will receive when they read your article in the meta description.
- The meta description should be creative, but accurate. Do not oversell your content just for a click-through. It will only increase your bounce rates when your prospects leave your site disappointed.
- Knowing your target audience will go a long way in writing concise needs-based copy.
Google will not allow quotations to be placed in a meta description. Moz suggests that if your snippet must contain a quote, then use just single quotes so it is not deleted automatically. You do not want the search engines truncating any part of your snippet as you want to try to appear on the first page and above the fold on SERPs. Most people do not look at page two or even scroll down below the fold on SERPs.
SEO meta descriptions shared on social media sites like Facebook must be compelling. If no description is listed, Facebook will pull one from the article’s text. This piece of text may not be powerful enough to lead to click through.
Writing a Meta Description Is Not Always Necessary
Crafting a meta description can increase your click-through rate and possibly, your conversion rate. However, there are times when a description is not necessary on your part. If the content is large or complicated, the search engine can create one for you. The newly created meta description will highlight keywords and long-tail keywords that are relevant to the search. The only problem with this service is that the text used will probably not be persuasive enough for click-through.
Do not use keyword stuffing in a meta description. Keyword stuffing refers to the technique of using an inordinate amount of keywords to try to gain higher search engine rankings. If your description (or your content) is flagged for this, you can be penalized and your website banished. It is better not to have any meta description listed, than to resort to keyword stuffing.
Writing SEO meta descriptions is just like writing any other content. Practice and hone your craft and your click-through rates will increase over time.
Sharing on social media is a mainstay. People love to share quotes, pictures, videos, and articles with each other. The search engines also love sharing because it creates higher rankings organically.
People share content to fulfill certain psychological needs:
- Relationship building
Your audience also shares content for a sense of social acceptance. When they see thousands of people of a certain group liking and sharing a post, they will too. It is the “jump on the bandwagon” mentality.
People also share content to nurture relationships or start a discussion. Aesthetics also play a role in why people share so much content. If the content is a meme or infographic, it will be shared if it is visually appealing.
What This Means for You
So how does all this sharing help your website and search engine rankings? Having a lot of social media shares will raise your rankings organically. It is like free advertising as your customers or prospects share your content. It is virtual word of mouth. Followers sharing your content will give you social proof and credibility.
Mark Traphagen, the Senior Director of Online Marketing of Stone Temple Consulting, reported on Moz.com, that he does not believe that social media is a direct ranking factor, however the increased activity may have a positive effect on the search engine algorithms.
Traphagen analyzed the results of a study to see what made the websites successful. He studied the social shares of each website and reported that 45% had no shares at all, while 66% had less than 300 shares. However, the remaining websites scored high in content sharing.
To be fair, those websites with no social shares lacked social media buttons on their pages. If you have remarkable and valuable content, make it easy on your readers by providing them one-click sharing. Some readers will find a way to share your content if they really like it, but the chances are much lower if you do not provide an easy method to do that.
Knowing your target audience and ideal customer will help you give them content they are likely to share. This is true only if you know where to find your readers. Depending on your industry and niche, the social platform your audience visits will vary. For example, lawyers and recruiters can be located on Linked In more readily than Pinterest. However, your friend that owns a craft shop will likely spend time on Pinterest and Etsy.
Frequent the specific social platform your prospects are using to build relationships and trust. Your content will be more attractive to these individuals than just a general audience.
A very popular piece of content that will increase your shareability is the How-to. These articles, guides, and e-Books offer a solution to your prospect’s problem. How-to books have been around for a long time and their success is proven.
Look at Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This classic was first published in 1936 and has sold more than 15 million copies. Your How-to article may not be a life-changing book selling millions of copies, but it may be life-changing just the same.
People love to share How-to content with their friends if they believe that by doing so a dilemma can be solved. You need to focus on your target audience’s pain points to create the perfect content piece. You can observe what your prospects are saying by hanging out on their social platform.
To really make your content shareable, remember to stand out from the crowd and deliver solutions.
SEO and content marketing go hand in hand. You want to write great content that is both valuable and useful to your target audience. Both the content and your website need to be search engine optimized to ensure your content will show up when someone searches for your topic or niche. That is where keywords come into the picture.
Once you know who your target audience is and have a clear concept of your ideal buyer, you should make a list of keywords you may need for the content. For those marketers having trouble with ideas for the list, Luna Metrics published an article revealing how easy it can be to use keyword generation tools.
Keyword Generation Tools
The Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool is one of the most widely used tools. It allows you to search keywords, historical statistics, and even see how a keyword list might do. The drawback of AdWords is that sometimes it sends back results that are less than optimal. Some of the words may not be relevant and the long-tail keywords with less than ten queries per month have been deleted.
Luna Metrics offers a few tips on how to use keyword generation tools. With AdWords, it is recommended to use your own landing page or another business’ URL to get a list of keywords.
When viewing the Keyword Ideas tab, do not neglect to take a look at the Ad Group Ideas tab. You may find some gems there. If you are struggling to create more keywords, then look at the Keywords to include feature. This feature will allow you to enter two or more words into the search box. The result will be keyword ideas that originated from you.
Keyword Suggestion Tools that are autocomplete-based can make this searching for new keywords a breeze. If you need a long-tail keyword, you can search for a head keyword and watch the dropdown box lower with many alternatives for that keyword and alternative topics that others have used to search for something online. Although the Keyword Suggestion Tool is no longer fully functional, some of its features are still active.
Google Autocomplete will allow you to enter search keywords, even ones that would appear in the middle. For example, you can type in “SEO_marketing” and the Autocomplete will fill in that blank in the dropdown box. You can also generate questions with this tool that your prospects may be asking. With the popularity of smartphones, more people are asking questions when they perform a search. Now you can find the question really bothering your prospect and offer a solution.
Another tool you can use to discover what questions to ask is Keywordtool.io. This tool is free and easy. Luna Metrics recommends it as it scours the search engines. It pulls results from Google, Bing, YouTube, and the Apple App Store. The questions should be relevant to your keyword and give you plenty of ideas for articles or blog posts.
UberSuggest has been recommended by various Internet marketers as a great keyword generator. You can use the ideas generated to refresh your content or create something new. The keywords are SEO and can really help to grab your prospects’ attention on the search engine results page.
With all these tools at your disposal, you should be able to put together an SEO content-rich article or blog post. Of course, you can use keywords with any form of content including videos and podcasts. The most important thing to remember is that you have to build a relationship with your audience or keywords won’t really make a difference.
When developing a content marketing campaign, it is important to know your target audience thoroughly. You should have an ideal buyer drawn up to focus your marketing efforts on. This is how to serve the wants, needs, and desires of your prospects.
If your target market is the Millennials, then you may need a few tips to relate to this generation. But first, for those that don’t know, Millennials is the term used to describe the generation born in the early 1980s to the year 2000. This generation was born during a boom of technology. Therefore, the Millennials tend to be “in the know” about even the most obscure tech device and they enjoy sharing on social media.
This segment of the population makes up 82 million people in the United States. According to NewsCred, a content marketing platform, by the year 2020 Millennials will make up $1.4 trillion in spending power. NewsCred conducted a valuable survey and analyzed the data to produce a special report PDF.
Why You Must Create Content Differently for Millennials
In the survey, NewsCred reported that Millennials respond to content when it is adapted to their cultural interests, their location, and their age. Your content must be laser-focused and relevant to this generation.
Your content must entertain, inspire, or educate in order to have the chance of being read. 31% of Millennials reported on the survey they would buy from a company that delivers valuable and educational content.
However, if that content is too long, 41% said they would abandon and click-away. Try to keep your content shorter in length and concise. Millennials tend to read content they perceive as intelligent.
Millennials are emotionally driven. They tend to make decisions based on their emotions. The majority of Millennials surveyed said they share content that is funny (72%) and thought provoking (62%).
This generation of sharing can be explained by four psychological reasons:
- Relationship building
Your target audience can be found on multiple social media platforms. When drawing up your ideal buyer, you will narrow down the characteristics to a single person, and thus probably only one or two platforms. Millennials can be found searching Google, Facebook, and Pinterest. Of this generation, 65% of prospects search Facebook for content.
How to Create Content Marketing that Will Target Millennials
To reach this generation of fast-paced young adults, your content must be:
- concise and thorough at the same time
- targeted to the location of where the prospects live
- written with a sense of culture
- valuable and authentic
When it comes to sharing, 32% only share after taking the social platform into consideration. Some Millennials never post on Pinterest, but practically live on Facebook. Find which of the platforms your target audience is spending the majority of their time on.
Since Millennials tend to share content that is funny, thought provoking, or is relevant to their inner circle, you should consider the different forms of content. Millennials watch mostly online video. You could create videos using YouTube or Periscope to attract your audience. Memes and GIFs are great forms to use to deliver funny, shareable content.
Millennials appreciate transparency and engage in communication with their favorite brands online. Most of the online participation is done by 52% of Millennials through company websites and 49% surveyed use the brand’s social media page. This generation prefers brands they know and trust and that have a great product.
To target Millennials in your content marketing, take time to search engine optimize your website and social media pages by offering valuable and useful information.