With the new changes Google as implemented regarding how relevant content, links, and page titles influence “search” this maybe a good time to learn how to be a content writer…for your own business.
Due to big changes in the SEO landscape, designers, photographers, videographers and writers have new opportunities to build their reputation, expand brand awareness and generate more leads. This post describes five important developments that content creators should be aware of, and then we’ll outline several ways to capitalize on them.
Five SEO Developments That Favor Content Producers
Thanks to self-publishing and social networks, the world is drowning in content. Google’s response: make it easy for searchers to drill down to exactly what they are looking for. Today, we can perform a search and look at the results all together in one big chunk, or we can carve off just a piece. We can look at search results from complete strangers, from people we know or from both.
1. Personalized Search
While search engine users are accustomed to getting objective results on search engine results pages (SERPs), Google now serves up “subjective” results as well. When logged into Google and with personalized search turned on, you will see SERPs that include results based on your Web browsing history, as well as content authored or endorsed by your social connections.
Personalization can radically change what you see in regular searches and image searches. Here is a Google image search that demonstrates the difference. My search for “how to use twitter” with personalization turned off yields different results then if you were searching globally. This is why Google has made it important to network with Google+ and network with as many people doing business with you as possCreators become visible to their direct connections.
2. The Importance of Social Shares
One factor that Google considers in evaluating a page of content is its social shares. Google sees likes, +1s, tweets and other types of shares as indicators of content quality and trustworthiness. This is reasonable enough: a blog post with 1500 retweets has more clearly established value than a comparable post with five.
At the moment, how much value Google accords to social shares is still unclear, which is fair enough because many questions remain unanswered. Is a tweet more or less valuable than a like? How do you evaluate the authority of the person doing the sharing? How are people gaming the system to inflate the number of shares?
Nevertheless, we should expect social sharing to grow in importance for SEO. First, there is demand: people would love to consider social endorsements for certain types of searches, provided they have confidence in the data. Secondly, there is self-interest: Google is committed to its social network, Google+, and isn’t about to ignore it on its own search engine.
3. The Rise Of Search Segmentation
In the old days, there weren’t too many ways to slice and dice search results. Today, there are scores. Tomorrow, there will be hundreds.
More segmentation means more opportunity for freelance authors to improve their search visibility based on the nature of their content. When results are lumped together in one big mass, it’s challenging for a small enterprise to stand out. However, if creatives focus their content efforts on, for example, standing out in a particular segment, then they could capture a larger share of segmented searches. (An example of how to go about this appears in the “Reading Level” segment in the next section.)
Note, too, that segmented search offers a “personalized” option, where, again, users can zero in on content based on their browsing history and social connections.
The trend: Google will continue to categorize content to help users drill down to search results that are precisely relevant to their intent, rather than broadly relevant to their keywords. In particular, segmented search options for images and video will become much more sophisticated, in response to our insatiable appetite for visual content.
Quick tip for creatives: Stay current on how Google segments content, and shape yours to stand out in segments that are natural homes for your work.
4. More Emphasis on Quality and More Transparency
For years, creatives have complained that “black hat” SEO tactics pollute rankings, pushing high-quality content down the page. However, as Google’s algorithm grows more sophisticated, it gets better at combatting black-hat practices — more great news for content producers.
Google fights content spam by emphasizing quality in its algorithm and by being transparent in how quality is calculated. Quality has always been a focus; the current level of transparency is something new.
Google’s Panda update, released in 2011, was a declaration of war against content manipulators. A primary goal of this algorithm change — and of many that followed — was to decisively penalize worthless content and to reward highly relevant, meaningful and trustworthy content.
In addition to the algorithmic measures, Google is taking the smoke and mirrors out of search by more openly communicating algorithm changes to SEOs and the general public.
Why? In some cases, black-hat tactics were inadvertent, caused by website administrators using outdated techniques or misinterpreting Google’s algorithmic intent. Furthermore, a good deal of high-quality content gets lost in the search shuffle because creators simply ignore SEO. More than ever, Google wants every website to be optimized and optimized properly. The more high-caliber content Google can serve up to users in SERPs, the more business it will do.
The trend: Google will push hard in this direction, devising more accurate methods of evaluating the relevance, substance and trustworthiness of content. It will get better at interpreting both the inherent quality of the work itself and the social-sharing data associated with it.
Quick tip for creatives: Stay up to date on how to communicate the quality of your text, images and video to Google. (Links to step-by-step tutorials on how to do this are provided at the end of this post.)
5. Google+ and the rel=author Link
Google enthusiasts see the Google+ social network as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Most everybody else thinks Google+ is less useful for marketing than sliced bread. But whether or not you like Google+, the network cannot be ignored for SEO. Content creators ought to take note of two particular aspects of the network.
First, Google+ content gets indexed and ranked. In fact, when you publish original content on Google+, not only is it indexed and ranked, but it is given prime positioning in personalized SERPs. Images and video that are stored on Google or associated with personal pages on Google+ also receive greater exposure in search, as demonstrated earlier in the screen captures for image search.
Secondly, the rel=author link associates a page of Web content with its author’s personal Google+ profile. This is a technical mouthful, but it’s a big deal for creatives. Google has begun to link content to its creators as well as its publishers. “Authorship markup,” or “author rank,” is being developed at a furious rate because people sometimes want the option of searching for content by a particular creator or want results ranked according to the authority or expertise of the creators.
The trend: High-authority creators will see their content become more visible in search results, and for that reason, publishers will need to seek out high-authority creators to boost traffic to their websites.
Quick tip for creatives: Set up a personal Google+ profile and incorporate the rel=author link into your published content. (Instructions on how to do this are provided in the next section.)
How To Capitalize On The New SEO
Given these recent developments, let’s look at how authors can manage their content to increase its visibility and obtain all of the benefits that go along with that. Some of the following suggestions are technical in nature, while others are creative techniques that are not always thought of as aspects of SEO. However, with Google getting better at evaluating the quality of content, people are now less able to inflate the ranking of inferior content through technical manipulation and must instead treat the quality of their content itself as the linchpin of their SEO program.
Create Highly Sharable Content
SEO is no longer a game of mechanical keyword placement. In fact, SEO has moved even beyond a game of relevance and substance. For content to succeed in search today, it must be relevant, substantive and sharable. Content creators can use a variety of stylistic and marketing techniques to enhance social interest in their content, including the following:
Convert dry text into visually engaging content to generate immediate interest;
Provide consistently informative, well-researched and enlightening content that generates long-term interest;
Develop a unique voice and style;
Take a provocative stance or add humor when appropriate and compatible with the corporate style;
Provide detailed content on a topic that has not been widely covered (scarcity of information increases demand);
Attribute information to factual sources (trustworthy content is more confidently shared);
Link generously (encourage sharing by setting a good example);
Title content creatively to spark curiosity;
Use Web design and typographic best practices to optimize readability and scannability;
Embed video in blog posts and Web pages;
Display attractive and intuitive social-sharing buttons;
Give users an incentive to share.
Set-Up Methods and Benefits: Use The rel=author Link
Here’s a basic outline of how to set up rel=author links for your content. Google has a more thorough rundown.
Create a personal Google+ profile page with a high-quality headshot;
Validate your email address;
In the byline of any content that you create, set the anchor text to be your name as it appears in your Google+ profile, and link to your profile with a URL that looks like this: https://plus.google.com/102318046680468697385?rel=author.
When your content is published, link back to its URL from the “Contributor to” section of your Google+ profile.
Once your content is indexed, your Google+ profile picture and name, along with the publication date, title and description, will (sometimes) appear in SERPs, in both standard and personalized results. This gives you more exposure, and it instills trust in users that the content has a human author, and that the author is reputable. This adds up to higher ranking and more people clicking through to your content.
Hope this article sheds some light on how important content and a good marketing plan can benefit a small business. This is why we use WordPress to deliver a high performance platform with good strong & strategic content.