Digital content needs to clearly represent your brand and should be relevant to your audience, connecting with them on an emotional or intellectual level. But crafting great content is only half the battle. You also have to make sure that people can find it. The best way to do that is through search engine optimization.
SEO isn’t a static concept that can be learned once and forever mastered. It's an art with many moving parts that invites all kinds of opinions from so-called "experts." One thing everyone dealing with SEO can agree on is that it's become absolutely crucial to the success of a messaging campaign.
How can you make your content stand out in search? Here are some SEO tips, courtesy of Evan Prokop, digital marketing manager at TopRank Online Marketing and a speaker at PR News' upcoming Google Conference on Feb. 11 in San Francisco:
- Always write with your target keyword in mind. Determining your focus keyword before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyword) means that your content is much more likely to come out already optimized for search. It's much more difficult to go back and edit your content after it's drafted and can result in content that reads like it was "SEO'd."
- Don't forget your keyword strategy when it comes to supporting content. Promoting your primary content pieces via supporting amplification tactics such as social messages, email campaigns or paid search and social ads is a fantastic way to get more eyes on it and increase its SEO value (by attracting links, shares and mentions). It's only logical that any supporting content is intended to reach the same audience as the piece you are promoting, since your target audience still has the same questions and pain points regardless of whether they are on Facebook or using a search engine.
Making sure to optimize supporting content around a consistent keyword focus gives you the best chance to reach your target demographic wherever they spend time online.
- Integrate influencers and thought leaders into your content whenever possible. There's a good reason influencer marketing has exploded in popularity—it works. Including well-known industry thought leaders in your content via quotes, links, mentions or collaboration is great for earning exposure and credibility with both search engines and real people.
- Make sure your website is technically sound. The best content in the world won't get much organic search traffic if search engines can't find or index it easily. At minimum, you should make sure your site is accessible to search engines, has an up-to-date sitemap to show searchbots where to find things, loads quickly (both search engines and people have an increasingly low tolerance for slow sites) and isn't full of broken links and pages. Technical SEO optimization can be tedious, but it tends to have a global effect on website performance, so improvements here can pay huge dividends.
- Don't rush the details. After taking the time to draft a killer blog post, shoot a clever video or craft a compelling press release, it's tempting to rush through SEO details like meta title and description tags, image alt tags or OpenGraph markup. Resist the urge to hit the publish button just yet. While these finishing touches may seem insignificant, a a little extra effort here gives your content a much better chance of ranking highly for target keyword searches, standing out from the rest of the competing search results to earn the click, and looking great when it's shared on social channels. In other words, it's time well spent. Good SEO probably won't be much help to poor quality content, but bad or no SEO can torpedo great content by robbing it of visibility. Don't let that happen.
For more information on using SEO to improve the visibility of your content, join us for the PR News Google Conference, taking place on Feb. 11 in San Francisco.
Follow Evan Prokop on Twitter: @eprokop1
Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene