SEO… that mysterious acronym in digital marketing that seems so important but is so difficult to define. And everyone you ask seems to tell you something different.
While we may never know exactly what Google wants us to do, we can know some things it definitely doesn’t want. Here are our top five SEO content marketing myths to cease and desist in 2016...
1. Keyword targeting your content
In recent updates, Google has got a lot more advanced than simply matching search queries to content, and will rank content higher for quality rather than exact search match. But this doesn’t mean keyword research isn’t still valuable as a process, especially when it comes to supporting your content with PPC.
Our advice? Do structured and data-driven keyword research, but don’t have it in front of you when you sit down to write your blog posts. Quality content that flows well and articulates a point will get more attention from real humans, and that real human attention will cause more sway with Google than any exact keyword match ever could.
2. Exactly measuring keyword rankings will indicate your online success
The measurement of keyword rankings and organic traffic is actually quite difficult. A combination of Google Search Console, Google Analytics and third party tools will give you a good idea of your search presence but won’t provide an exact picture with 100% accurate numbers. This is for a number of reasons, but the main thing to take away from this is that you should be looking for changes in data trends rather than exact numbers.
Our advice? The complex nature of Google’s algorithm will never be completely transparent, but we do know that an increase in organic reach will come from successful content marketing of all channels that are more accurately measured. Setting your goals and KPIs to focus on other aspects of amplification (email/social/outreach) and then assessing how this activity has affected organic trends is much more effective.
3. Your presence on social has no influence on organic traffic
We hear this quite a lot, especially from clients who believe their particular demographic doesn’t use social media (in response to which our head of engagement always has to hold her tongue!). But whether or not your audience use social in their daily routine, social authority will soon be a ranking factor in search, if it isn’t already. We know for a fact that Google and Twitter are in partnership, particularly now individual tweets are ranking in search, and it won’t be long before other social media channels follow suit.
Our Advice? Put a social strategy together that complements your amplification plan and make sure you have some presence in that world. You may gain new audience members that you didn’t consider before, you may find that your audience uses social media more than you think, but you will definitely add to your overall brand authority online.
4. Syndicating your content won’t hurt you in the long run
Our opinion here might cause some controversy as this has always been a tricky subject, and one of much debate in the content marketing/SEO world. Does syndication count as duplicate content? Essentially, we can’t find anything where Google outright tells you not to do it, but in our experience if something is too good to be true then it’s not really worth your time. Because the search engine will catch up with you… (remember Google Penguin?).
Our Advice? The content that you write, or that you spend your hard earned money paying an agency to write, should go towards your own blog’s authority. If you want to reach a wider audience, write a guest blog post that is solely for your chosen partner, and then write a summary and link to that post from your own website. It’s just much more… organic (for want of a better word) than syndication.
5. Creating a checklist of best practice and completing it, and thinking this means you are optimised for search engines
We can’t stress it enough - content marketing (and therefore SEO) is an ongoing process that requires your constant and loving attention. But as with any project you put effort into, you’ll be cooking with gas soon enough if you consistently track your activity and learn from your results. It’s so important to review and adjust your work with any marketing, but especially when trying to increase your visibility in search. Was their a Google update that affected your traffic? Did your latest blog post gain traction in search? Do you have any page errors affecting your authority?
Our Advice? Set up Google Alerts, or use your favourite blogs, to ensure you’re staying up-to-date with the latest news, and make sure you check your analytics and search console on a regular basis, not just when you come to report on your success for the quarter. And it goes without saying that you should make sure you are following and adjusting a full content marketing strategy so that you are always working towards a wider goal.
So that’s our top five! Given that we are all trying to follow the #newyearnewyou plan at the moment, why not try and build just these five aspects into your content marketing activity for 2016? Much easier than eating kale for dinner every night of the week.