If you follow the SEO industry, you'll know that there's a constant debate about whether or not the practice is really "SEO" (search engine optimization) anymore. Because for the most part, it's not. Sure we still do on-page optimization that helps create search-friendly pages, but that's only one small part of what most SEO companies provide moving into 2016.
Instead, most of what Wikimotive does as an SEO company boils down to one core principle: creating value. There's no room for outdated, time-wasting SEO tricks anymore. You either add value to everything you do or you won't succeed.
But if you're looking for a little advice on how you can succeed with SEO, you're probably wondering how to go about creating value on your site or your client's sites. Below, I'll discuss two of the most important components of SEO and how you can use that core principle of creating value to do better work each and every day.
Your Content Needs to Create Value for Readers and Potential Customers
Before you, or anyone who writes for you, ever starts writing a piece of content for your website, they need to take two things into account: the audience and their goals.
What does that mean?
Think about content like advertising. You wouldn't start an advertising campaign unless you knew the audience you were targeting, would you? Of course not! Especially not online, where you have the most advanced targeting tools at your disposal.
You need to define your audience in order to properly discover ways to better serve their goals. If you were to simply start writing based on the information you have on the subject, you wouldn't be able to add a personal touch that grips readers and convinces them to convert.
Doing this also aids in your fundamental SEO goals, as the closer you align your content with what people are searching for, the more relevancy your content gains within the target topic. You'll find Google is better able to decide where to rank you if you simply focus on satisfying the needs of the end user.
But what does this process look like?
If you're confused about how to analyze your audience and discover their goals, here's a quick step-by-step guide to getting started:
- Start with Keyword Research via the Adwords Keyword Planner - Don't think of keyword research as something you'll use to just insert high-volume keywords into your content. When the focus is value, the purpose of the practice goes much deeper. We're looking to discover what people are searching to paint a bigger picture of their search intent. This means discovering the difference between informational and transactional keywords, so that we can target the right audience with our content.
- Create Two List of Semantically Relevant Keywords Related to Your Topic - Once you've got your research going, start singling out keywords that are related to your topic. These should be keywords that are nearly interchangeable in search--meaning that they should return the same results. You should create two lists during this exercise: one for informational keywords and one for transactional keywords. Informational means the user is specifically looking for answers to questions or to gain knowledge on the topic. Transactional keywords are the types people use when looking to make a purchase. An example of an informational keyword is "buying a new car," while an example of a transactional keyword is "buy a new car." A small difference in phrasing, but a big difference in intent.
- Audit and Analyze Your Keyword List -Your two lists don't have to be hundreds of keywords long, but it's nice to have 10-20 on each in order to gain the best idea of what people are searching. Take a good hard look at each list and try to analyze the differences in how people word transactional searches vs. informational searches. This will allow you to fine-tune your writing to match the goals of your intended audience.
- Create a New List of Goals Searches Have When Using Those Keywords - What do those keywords tell you about your audience? You should be able to come up with at least a few ideas of what the average searcher is after just from reviewing those keywords. These ideas will allow you to piece together the bigger picture of intent to get your content started.
Once you've gone through this exercise, don't just set the data aside and start writing. The best way to actually apply it is to create a content outline that utilizes the goals you addressed and presents the content in a way that reels in the intended audience.
From here, you'll have a set-in-stone guide that allows you to succeed with each and every piece of content.
Your Link Outreach Needs to Create Value for Prospects
If you're having trouble with link building, your failures likely come down to one core problem: you're not thinking about adding value. You're reaching out to potentially hundreds of sites--potentially in an automated way--without thinking about what you can do for them. That's because your goal is to have them do you a favor.
But why would they do you a favor by linking to your site? What do they gain? Absolutely nothing.
Instead, start thinking like your prospect--just like you'd think like a search user to create great SEO content. Ask yourself: what would motivate this person to link to my site? What problem can I solve for them?
Here are few of the link building tactics you can motivate someone to link to your site by solving problems:
- Broken Link Building - While not a new concept, broken link building is probably one of the least used tactics out there for earning links. The idea is simple: find broken links, contact the owner, inform them of your site and/or offer it as an additional resource. By helping out a site's owner, you solve a problem and provide them with the motivation to fulfill your request.
- Guest Posting - Yes, guest posting is in the SEO doghouse; however, it's still powerful when done properly. Take a look at your target's content and figure out a way to contribute something original that blows the site's current content out of the water. If you don't have the time or resources to write content up front, email the target and let them know about your idea and why it'd be a great fit.
- Influencer-bait - Influential people, like any of us, love to hear their names mentioned. So what's the best way to get the attention of online influencers within your industry? Mention them on your site. Could be in a list of quotes, list of top influencers, or a story about a specific person. Once you've got that content, let the influencer know you mentioned them. They could reward you with a link on their site, or at the very least a powerful tweet that sends relevant traffic to your site.
- Infographics and Videos -While infographics have certainly lost steam in the past few years, they're still a great way to build links to your site from similar high-authority sites. The process boils down to three steps: tackling an interesting content, creating a well-designed graphic, and picking the right sites to target. You can take this same method and apply it to videos as well. In fact, given the reach YouTube provides, it's more advantageous to create videos nowadays. (That is, if you have the resources. These methods aren't one size fits all.)
Regardless of the tactic you use, it's important to always keep value in mind. Think of it as the content creator's mantra. Because the second you slide back into old habits, you allow your content to slip in quality. And unless you're happy with subpar results, you can't allow this to happen.
Originally Published to Wikimotive.com on November 16, 2015.