I spend a lot of time talking to clients about search engine optimization (SEO). As business owners, we all understand the importance of search engines to the future of our business endeavors but what we really want to know is, how do we impact search engines? What can we do to increase the value of our site? The answer is always the same. Create unique content.
When I tell that to clients, I often get a blank stare back. What does unique content mean? More importantly, how do I go about creating it.
What type of content?
When we talk about content, we generally mean text content. Text content is the bread and butter of your SEO. The reason for this is simple. Search engines do a really good job of indexing text. They have a more difficult time understanding images, videos and animated GIFs. So, while images, videos and animated GIFs make up the most valuable (and most shared) types of content on social networks, text is what wins when it comes to SEO.
Types of text content include long and short-form articles, lists, tutorials and whatever else is appropriate for your business. For me, this comes in the form of articles like this one that pass on value to small business owners.
Search engines learned a long time ago to weed out duplicate content. The only type of content that has any value for your website is unique content that can only be found on your site. Content provided by a content creation service is going to be of no value if they are providing it to other businesses within the same space - realtors, auto mechanics, web developers… your competitors. Local or distant, on the web any similar business is your competitor. This type of generated content used to be valuable when you were publishing it locally or regionally in a newspaper or magazine but now that content is published globally, it has to be unique for it to provide any value to your site.
So far, we understand that we need to create unique, text content but that can still leave us searching for what type of content to create. You’re probably still thinking, “What should I write about?” This is where a good keyword strategy comes into play.
Your keyword strategy should be done early in the SEO process. Frankly, it should be part of the development of your site but most folks start their SEO (or start thinking about their SEO after the site has already been launched). A good keyword strategy determines the words or phrases that your customers would use to describe your business. Words that they would use to find a business like yours when doing a search. Often, as professionals, we use words or phrases to describe our business that customers just won’t use. We have to avoid using terminology or jargon because it will only attract other professionals, not paying customers.
If your strategy is to raise your profile within an industry then you should create content and use terminology that will attract other professionals. Otherwise, talk to clients and customers and find out what they are looking for and the words that they use to describe your business (or a business like yours).
The wrong kind of content
It’s often easier to create the wrong kind of content because that type of content may scratch a particular itch of our own. For example, I really like to write tutorials on the technical aspects of the content management system that I like to use. This is fulfilling for me because it exhibits a level of understanding that proves my value as a developer and problem solver. These types of posts, while popular, don’t provide traffic from paying customers. They tend to attract other developers that are trying to solve a similar problem.
Attracting the wrong type of customer can have negative repercussions on your business.
First, any time spent not making customers happy or working on client work (ie. paying work) is taking away from your long-term business goals (making money). I have a client who has some expertise around taxes and he writes blog entries to share that expertise. Unfortunately, those entries don’t lead to more business. They lead to phone calls in which people pick his brain about the article or the issue that he discussed in his article. We’re all nice people so we don’t want to tell people to “drop dead” when they respond to an article requesting clarification. Also, it just feels good to help others (plus we get to feel like an expert for a few minutes). But it doesn’t help our bottom line. Side note, I’m working with the client on a way to monetize that information. Stay tuned!
Second, if an article like this were to go viral and see an explosion in traffic, your server could buckle under the pressure of all of that traffic. Traffic that makes your site inaccessible is never good, but it is especially bad when it keeps paying customers away. In that case your throwing away your time and putting up a barrier between your business and your clients. Double whammy!
Ultimately, you need to create content that both search engines (unique, text content) and your clients find valuable. Need help coming up with an SEO strategy? We’d love to talk to you about your project / business.
Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/92t8FA