SEO Notebook

Forget Everything That You Think You Know About SEO

SEO is an important part of marketing your business. If you want people to find your website, you have to ensure that they can find your website when they’re using Google and their other favorite search engines.

However, what you have to realize is that search engine optimization has changed a lot over the years. Gone are the days when stuffing your content full of the same keywords over and over was actually a successful method of optimizing your site for search engines.

Honestly, SEO is now easier than it has ever been. However, before you can be truly successful at it, you’re going to need to forget everything that you think you know about SEO. Sticking to the same bogus forms of search engine optimization is only going to harm your site and isn’t going to allow you to get ahead.

Forget Keywords

The main and most important part of search engine optimization is using keywords, right? Wrong. All of those fancy keyword tools aren’t going to help you now like they once did.

The truth is, people are searching for things differently now than they used to. No longer are people typing in awkward keywords. Now, more and more people are typing in entire sentences, such as questions that they might be curious about the answer to. Some people are even speaking these questions into their mobile phones and other devices.

Now, Google is on to all of us. That’s right — Google knows about all of the silly keyword tools that you’ve been using. It knows about all of the clever ways that you weave keywords into your content. The gig is up.

This isn’t a bad thing, though. Now, as long as you focus on creating interesting and informative content about your industry, you’ll do well. You can use content targeting — such as by finding out what people are searching for on search engines — to help point you in the right direction, but there is no need to weave keywords into your sentences. Just write normally, and Google will figure it out.

Stop Worrying About Backlinks

Once upon a time, people paid to buy backlinks to their sites. Then, people started figuring out that Google didn’t like that, so they started creating their own, usually in a semi-clever way, such as through guest blogging or article directories.

Stop focusing on this.

In fact, guest blogging can even be harmful to your site’s SEO if it’s done the wrong way. For example, if you post a guest blog with a link to your site on a website that is totally unrelated, Google will know what you’re trying to do, and it won’t reward you for it.

However, you can build natural backlinks — just don’t think about doing it. Instead, focus on building a natural following through forums, social media and websites that are related to yours. Stop counting backlinks and thinking about Google; instead, only post links to your site from other sites that might bring in an audience the natural, old-fashioned way.

Stop Focusing on Computers

Obviously, people search for things and look at websites on their computers. You might be using a computer right now. However, you shouldn’t assume that all — or even most — of your viewers are using computers to access your site.

The truth is, more and more people are getting online, searching, browsing, reading and interacting on social media from their devices. People love their smartphones and their tablets and their other similar Internet-ready devices.

You have to be ready for this, or Google will penalize you. In fact, Google’s latest update was all about targeting websites that aren’t catering to a mobile audience. If your website isn’t mobile-ready, it might not show up in the search engine rankings at all. Obviously, this is the last thing that you want to happen when you’re focusing on search engine optimization.

Stop focusing so much on computers. Obviously, you’ll want to check your site on your computer and perhaps on a few different browsers, but most blogging and website platforms like WordPress will work just fine on computers.

Instead, put some focus into making your pages mobile-friendly. This isn’t just about ensuring that your page loads and can be navigated on mobile devices, either. It’s also about things like breaking up your content into smaller paragraphs that can be easily read on mobile screens without people feeling overwhelmed. Keep your images at a smaller size that will look nice on mobile devices. These types of things can make a big difference for your mobile users, and believe it or not, Google will appreciate it as well.

Get On Board With Other Marketing Strategies

In the past, search engine optimization was probably the single most important way of marketing a website. You might still believe this, but you shouldn’t. Search engines are obviously still important, but if you’re building and marketing your site properly, then the search engine rankings will come. That is the beauty of Google’s newest changes — natural sites that are doing it right are going to rank, and sites that are trying too hard to rank aren’t. It’s that simple.

This means that you have more time to put into things like social media marketing, blogging, building ad campaigns and more. In no time, you’re sure to dominate all of these marketing arenas.

As you can see, things are changing fast, and they’re changing drastically in the world of search engine optimization.

Native Publishing: The New Thought Leadership Frontier

“You need to build thought leadership” is easy advice to give a marketer looking to build their online presence. Grow your perceived expertise in your field, and you will gain credibility in the eyes of your audience, who will begin to lean your way when the buying decision inevitably arises.

But just how do you go about building thought leadership? Content marketing is a major force, as methods like blogging and webinars (even webinar series) give businesses large and small an outlet to establish their expertise. Traditionally, most content marketing occurs on your own website. But increasingly, social networks are beginning to enter the conversation, establishing the new frontier in thought leadership: native publishing.

What is Native Publishing?

First things first: don’t go looking for definitions of native publishing, because they simply don’t yet exist. Instead, think of it along the lines of native advertising: hampered by years of audiences focusing their attention away from sidebar and banner ads, advertisers have embraced the option to focus on promotional messages that appear within the general content area. We’re talking about newsfeed ads in Facebook, search ads atop the organic results, etc.

Native publishing is not all that different from native ads in that the content appears within the medium a user spends their time in to begin with. ‘Traditional’ content advertising requires promotion of the content (which is hosted on your website) via a link, requiring users to exit Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else they may spend their time. Native publishing, on the other hand, allows users to read the entirety of the content without ever leaving their social network of choice.

The Options in Native Publishing

The advantages of native publishing from a social network’s perspective are obvious: just like you, they don’t want their users to leave their site and read content elsewhere. Put simply, the longer an individual session, the more advertising dollars the network can earn. Users who click a link often don’t return to their social network of choice, incentivizing these networks to offer native options instead.

LinkedIn was the first to do so, when it broadened its Pulse publishing platform to the entirety of its user base last year. Now, the network offers daily featured articles customized to each user’s individual interests and preferences that appear right in its newsfeed.

Facebook has long offered a native publishing option with its Notes feature, but saw its use diminish to almost nothing over the past few years. So the network reacted this September, when it updated the feature to offer more incentivesto publish long-form posts right on the network. Some (including us) have speculated that Twitter’s rumored removal of character limits will not apply to all Tweets, but signify a new, long-form publishing option on the network. In short, native publishing options are growing rapidly.

Native Publishing Advantages

Of course, the mere presence of a new marketing option doesn’t automatically guarantee success of justify spending valuable time and resources. Social networks know that as well as we do, which is why they’re sure to advertise the plethora of advantages that can come out of publishing thought leadership content natively rather than on a blog. And as it turns out, the advantages are undeniable.

Think about the process probably use currently to publish and promote your content. You write a blog post, which will live on your website and hopefully gather page views from your subscribers and its search engine optimization. But in addition, you likely want to promote it on social media, ensuring that it reaches a wide audience of people who may not yet know about your brand. As a result, you need a two-step process: publish your content, then promote it separately on social media.

Native publishing ostensibly removes one of these steps by taking care of the promotion for you. LinkedIn’s Pulse offers publishers the opportunity to ‘tag’ their posts, which in turn boosts viewership to users who may have never heard about your brand before but are simply interested in the subject. Gather enough views, and your post will become ‘featured,’ which means it’s sent out in a daily digest to users around the world. In short, LinkedIn takes care of the post promotion for you.

Integrating Native Publishing Into Your Content Marketing

If you’re ready to abandon your current content marketing strategy and jump fully into the native publishing realm at this point, we don’t blame you. But don’t be hasty: instead of merely switching all of your efforts to this new frontier, it pays to carefully integrate native publishing into your strategy as a new, additional tool instead of the new normal.

For starters, a major advantage of content marketing is that it increases your site visitors, via SEO and other inbound-focused methods. Building thought leadership can only be successful if you offer users a natural ‘next step’ to take, and that’s done far more easily if the content lives right on your website. In other words, website-based content continues to be a valuable marketing tool.

Native publishing on the other hand, is particularly helpful if you’re looking to build awareness and thought leadership among new audiences. Someone who has never heard of your brand before will be much more likely to read your content if it requires minimum effort, such as not having to leave their current medium. At the same time, content that’s curated on a platform like LinkedIn’s pulse will allow you to reach users who may not (yet) be actively searching out your services.

Here is our recommendation for integrating native publishing into your content marketing and thought leadership efforts: use it for top-of-the-funnel messages that are industry focused and not promotional, simply offering a way for audiences that haven’t yet heard about you to learn more about their industry. Meanwhile, you can continue to use more involved methods like webinars and ebooks on your website to draw users in who already know about you as a valuable resource in their industry, ultimately enabling them to take the next step toward becoming customers.

Building thought leadership and establishing credibility is crucial in today’s digital age. And while there are a multitude of methods available to do just that once users already trust you enough to hand over their information, marketers have lacked options to convince audience who have never heard of them about their expertise. Enter native publishing, the next frontier in thought leadership building and one that, done correctly, could transform your content marketing efforts.

Content Marketing Notebook

Killing it with Content Marketing and Structured Data

 

Let’s say that you’ve done everything right. You’ve created a killer website and even had a few blog posts or articles shared amongst your friends and family. We’ll even say that you’ve been analyzing your website, looking at your traffic and determining what makes your visitors jump in excitement. But, you can’t seem to break through the glass ceiling and into the world where having a website really matters.

This will undeniably leave you staring at your website thinking, “Now what?” Naturally, there is so much more to building a website than simply creating awesome content and getting it shared on social media. In fact, there is an entire world out there that simply revolves around content marketing and different ways to bring that content to new audiences.

Content marketing is a huge part of what makes or breaks a website. Your content has to be geared towards search engines so that it will pop up in search results. It must have keywords that pop out and mesh with what people are actually searching. But, here’s the secret, your website must have all this built into it too.

This is where structured data enters the picture. Structured data is something that can greatly improve the ranking of your website. Unfortunately, it is something that many web designers overlook as an important feature.

What is the Purpose in Structured Data?

When we use our human minds to view a website, we have a certain capability to understand it well. This is because it was written by another human; someone who we can relate to and understand. Computers, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of having a human mind. They are made up of wires and computer code, and don’t understand the way that we think any more than we understand the way that they think.

Because we are so different, computers must do a few different things in order to understand what we are trying to say with our website. Search engines are forced to ‘crawl’ our website looking for particular words that will help the system to make sense of the meaning of the content on the pages.

With these words, the search engine is then able to place our websites in line with others in a search result. The process is actually pretty amazing if you really think about it. Computers have finally found a way to communicate with us. But, because of our differences, they don’t always get it right.

For example, let’s assume that your website is about mustangs. You fill your pages with everything about this breed of horses. Everything from their wild streak to the beautiful colors that make up their coats. While it is extremely obvious to humans that you are talking about horses, a search engine will have a difficult time deciding if you are talking about an animal or a car.

It needs a bit more information to help get your site in the right spot. This is what structured data does for search engines. It gives more information about the words on your page. With this information, search engines will know exactly where to place your site and which type of audience will enjoy it.

How does it Work?

So, now that we understand the concept behind structured data, we need to understand more about how it works. When you perform just about any web search, you are likely to see some examples of structured data.

When the list pops up, you are going to see quite a few things. In some instances, you may receive a direct answer. This occurs when you have asked Google a question. In other instances, you may see a list of links to websites. On these times, you will probably notice that some stand out more than others.

Why is that? Probably because the link is actually more than a link. Either the link also has a small picture attached to it or there is a bit more information than normal. This is an example of structured data. The designers of the website in question have done a little more work in order to make their content pop out. Most of the time, they use microdata to do this work, but microformats and RFDa are also popular options.

What do I do now?

The key to doing this correctly is to give search engines the information that they need in the background. This means that you will need to format the HTML code to explain exactly what your website is about. So, if you have a website about mustangs, your microdata should inform the search engines that you are writing about mustang horses.

The important thing to remember is that you need to be careful about the keywords that you include and make sure that they will be picked up properly by the search engines. Spend some time researching the exact phrases that your target market enters so that you are one of the first ones that they notice.

You will also have the option to add more information when you are working with microdata through the HTML code on your website. Adding this information along with a tag for your content is what makes it so stand out even more from the crowd.

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