If you are like most business owners, you know that you need good content on your website in order to make that website work the way it should, generating lots of qualified leads for customers and clients for you. This need, while widely acknowledged among entrepreneurs and business owners at all levels, often goes largely ignored because of a simple yet extremely intimidating acronym: SEO. That word has been bandied about for years by people who often do not have the business owner’s best interests at heart. As a result, often when we hear it today, we simply stop listening.
However, SEO (search engine optimization) is crucially important to today’s business success if any part of your marketing, promotions, or product delivery happens online. In most cases, business owners need a content strategist or an SEO expert (or both) to help them meet their goals for their business. You may feel that in order to hire a good content strategist and/or SEO expert, you need to be one yourself. Fortunately, you do not have to know everything about internet algorithms or native advertising in order to get the content strategy you know your business needs. You just have to know how to talk about these things.
For that purpose, we have developed a list of just three things you need to know about SEO before hiring a content strategist. If you can discuss these things with your content developer, you will be well on your way to having the website you want working exactly as you envision.
Scary, isn’t it? It doesn’t have to be! As technology advances and search engines become better and better (for the most part) at doing their jobs of helping us find the stuff we want to find online, SEO and its associated algorithms and requirements change. This means that your content strategist needs to be informed about how content requirements are changing online and also how your specific type of service or product is affected by those changes.
For example, just a few years ago, conventional SEO wisdom stated a blog post could be between 250 and 300 words long. That type of post, it was said, was easy to read, easy to digest, and clearly not “padded” with extraneous words. Then, one day, the blogs with lots of this little “postlets” were simply no longer visible in the top results for their categories. In some cases, search engines booted them from the results completely! This change cost some businesses a great deal of money and time as they sought to restore their internet presence, and it could have been avoided if the individuals handling the content strategies on those sites had been monitoring how SEO requirements were changing and had evolved with the trend rather than simply replicating what had worked before.
Content strategists are both scientists and artists. The craft of content generation and SEO is a combination of creativity and the willingness to track, analyze, and evaluate results over and over again. Because your content strategists are working for three “masters,” in a sense – you, your audience, and the search engines – they must constantly adjust the combinations of length, topic, links, keywords and readability to find the perfect combination that gets you in front of the right audience, then keeps you there while also attracting the best-qualified leads possible to your website and avoiding, to the greatest extent possible, an audience that will either not use your product or service or who was not seeking you in the first place.
A decade ago, SEO mainly consisted of peppering website content with a few keywords considered to be attractive in your industry as frequently as you possibly could while still making grammatical sense. Remember those articles? “The best running shoe for runners is the one that will help the runner easily wear the best running shoe for runners while running a long way on the best running shoe for runners.” And, of course, that sentence would have had about a dozen links in it to said “best running shoe for runners” as well.
Today, keywords are still very, very important, but they are not the pivotal component of content strategy. Truly effect content strategy and SEO marketing now permits online business owners and promoters to get “credit,” so to speak, with search engines and audience members by actually providing information about the best running shoe for runners (for example) without drowning a reader in the keyword for that topic. This means a piece of content with actionable, valuable, original content about those wonderful shoes that uses the keyword two or three times at appropriate intervals and that links to valid source material as well as including a clearly stated, compelling call-to-action enabling a rapt audience to purchase said shoes, is more valuable in terms of SEO and sales than a piece of content of similar length that mentions the keyword approximately 1 million times. By the way, the latter option will get you bounced right out of the results. That’s a bonus need-to-know-about-SEO point for you as well.
So how should you employ this new information in your arsenal as you seek an SEO expert and content strategist for your team? Well, for starters, ask your potential content providers how they deal with these issues. For example, ask them what they find is working well in your spaceright now. If they don’t know because they have never encountered a business quite like yours, give them points for honesty and ask them to come back with a plan factoring in your unique business angles. If they tell you SEO is the same for everyone, though, be wary. They may not appreciate the “special sauce” angle that is crucial to successful content marketing.
As you evaluate potential content providers, remember that a good indicator that you have a truly skilled content strategist who understands SEO on your hands is the willingness to researchand design a plan that is customized for you, your business, and your goals. An individual or company willing to take the time to evaluate and evolve with you will garner far better results than one that simply insists there is one way out there — their way — and they know how that is done.
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