Business Leader's Guide: "What Am I Paying For?": Part 2- Content Marketing SEO Servic


Updated Sept 2018

Welcome to part 2 of our series that helps you understand what business leaders like you need to know about what you are paying for when it comes to content marketing services.

By better understanding these services, you will have a more comprehensive idea of what is a good value and if you are getting the right ROI.

In case you missed it. Here is part 1: Content Marketing Consultations Demystified.

In this part, we'll discuss On-Page SEO. On page SEO, in a nut shell, is the things you do to improve traffic to your site that the audience can see. This is opposed to Off Page SEO, which is behind the scenes things you do off your site.

The cost of these services is dependent of the size of your site and whether you are investing in an analysis only or having someone fix these things for you.

Let's start with the most important.

UX - User Friendliness

A major part of assuring that your site is search engine optimized is making it user-friendly. User-friendlnesss includes things like:

  1. site speed

  2. how information appears on the page

  3. how and if links work

  4. whether pop-ups detract

  5. if it's easy to read/view (font size, color, etc)

  6. how it appears on mobile devices (that's a big one.)

  7. ease of check out

  8. ease of contact

  9. and so on.

If your site is not user-friendly then you will have a high bounce rate (people quickly leaving the site). Not only is poor UX creating a bad customer experience, but search engines factor this in when determining how high you rank, so this is a high priority. Your site should be thoroughly tested on several devices.

Much of your testing is manual, but here is a great tool from google to help you out.

Google Mobile Friendly Test - Gives you a score 1-100 for both desktop and mobile friendliness and speed. Makes recommendations to improve it.

Keyword Research

We still call it keyword, but in today's SEO a keyword is actually a keyword phrase of 4-6 words.

It is important to understand what key words to target. If you target the wrong words you will:

  1. get no traffic because you are buried by competition

  2. get no traffic because no one is searching for that word

  3. get no traffic because the word is not specific enough to what you do

  4. have a high bounce rate because the searcher thought your site was about something else.

An SEO strategist will use tools to scour 100's of phrases to identify the best phrases to target. They are looking at:

  1. how common a phrase is in searches

  2. how many of your competitors are already targeting that phrase

  3. which phrases really eximplify what you do

Bonus: An SEO Strategist will typically target low competition words to help you rank faster, while working long term to help you rank higher for more competitive words.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are code that tells search engines that something is very important. This is considered On-page because many of your meta tags appear in Search Engines when someone searches for what you offer or on your webpage directly. These metas are phrases or sentences that will be keyword rich and strategically crafted to help you rank higher while also enticing the audience to click or read more. They therefore require both copywriting and SEO skill and must achieve a delicate balance between the two.

Meta tags are placed on images, titles, headings, sub headings, etc because these are you more important elements on the page.

Engaging Content

Websites that run a regular blog rank higher than those who rely solely on their business content. An SEO blogger will know how to incorporate your keywords while still creating content that sounds natural and engages your audience.

This is important. If your content is not engaging or sounds robotic and key-word stuffed, people will not stay and they will not share it with others. While shares do not affect Google SEO directly, they do help spread the word and generate leads and loyalty.

Engaging content generates something called "dwell time", which search engines use to determine if you are providing a good experience. If people immediately back out of your site, there is something wrong with your site or content.

Bonus: Search engines value substantial content. So a 150-300 word post may be invisible. There are tools to use to determine "Can Google See My Page". Common practice is to shoot for at least 750 words, with some gurus touting 2000 words or more. Short content does still have value if not so much for SEO as you'll see here : Content on Trial. Do not totally disregard it.

Bonus: Anyone can call themselves a content writer or blogger. And many aspire to be one. But for results that you can see, your SEO content writer should be a phenomenal writer & marketing professional who understands your marketing measures and objectives and how to create content that will help you achieve those goals.

Multi-media

First, let's say, that it should absolutely be there. Don't be afraid of adding images, even funny ones if they align with your brand and content. Your multi-media should always add value to your page. Otherwise it just looks like clutter.

Search engines prefer sites that have multi-media, images, videos, gifs, graphics, polls, quizzes, widgets, etc. You might think, the more the merrier, but don't forget that your number 1 priority is UX. Too much Multi-media can slow down your page. Again, it's a balance.

Links

There are 3 primary types of links, Outbound, Internal and Inbound. All are important. I will get more into inbound linking in the next part and will focus on the first 2 kinds here.

Outbound Links

Outbound links are links to authority sites. Authority sites are respected industry sites, news sites, etc. By linking to authority sites, you not only show your customer that you do your research, but you also improve your ranking because you show search engines that you understand the difference between quality sites and opinion sites. Keep in mind that search engines can't actually read your content. Instead they have to look for clues that your page is not just a rant about how much you hate generic mac & cheese. When you link to authority sites, you demonstrate that you are about adding value and not just pushing an agenda.

Bonus: Your links work best when they are throughout your site, linked through your key words whenever possible. These are called "anchors" and they help that key word be more visible to the search engine because it is linked to something important.

Internal Links

Internal links help search engines relate pages to other pages. Just like above, they also draw attention to your key words if you anchor them. Think about it from the search engine's perspective. If you are able to link your pages to other pages, you are showing that your site is coherent, well-organized and will appeal to a target audience regarding the topics you cover. Search engines are constantly trying to evaluate if your site is quality. Since they can't actually read, this helps them determine just that.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Google judges whether your website is worthy of high ranking by looking at how people react to your website.

Part of SEO is optimized micro-conversions (clicks to other pages and content) to demonstrate that the visitor is engaging with the content

Social Media

Google says that social media sharing does not increase your ranking, however, it is still important to SEO. These are more leads and opportunities to generate viral content, which will improve SEO in a round-about way. More shares, means more eyes on your site. Social buttons should be prominent. They should be set up for easy content sharing.

Additionally, you should be sharing on social media to boost your SEO. You need a sharing calendar and automation. We'll discuss this in more detail in a later part in the series.

If you have time, I strongly recommend this 11 min video from Google that discusses how to set expectations for SEO and what to look for in an SEO professional.

Coming Soon:

Off-Page SEO - What goes on behind the curtain

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Leigh Clayborne is a Hubspot certified freelance content marketing / SEO content writer & strategist with 10 years healthcare management experience on 15+ years creating content. She is a strong proponent of creating the right customer experience to meet business goals.

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