You’ve had a great business idea, created a promising business plan, found some partners and investors and started your business. Now you need new customers! There’s no better way to get new customers than from organic online searches. In fact, there are many potential customers out there; searching right now for your product or your service and you need to ensure that they immediately find your business as one of the first search results! The competition in most industries is getting tougher. In the past, many people have tried to find ways to rank easily on the top of the results pages on the search engines. However, this soon caused problems, because so many spammy sites appeared in the search results. As a result of these problems, Google embarked upon a series of massive search algorithm updates; all of which which caused a big outcry in the SEO scene. The most famous Google Updates were Panda (Panda 1.0 was launched in February 2011) and Penguin (Google Penguin 1.0 was launched in April 2012). Since that time, Google has produced many more updates, sometimes more than three per month. Why exactly did Google do that and what is the aim of these updates? Penguin Updates specifically target:
- Low quality links
- Aggressive internal linking
- High number of links from low quality sites (link networks)
- High number of links from low quality business directories
- Very low anchor text diversity (what’s the name of the link which links to you?)
Panda Updates specifically target:
- Low quality content
- High bounce rates
- Duplicate content
- Huge ad/content ratio
- Bad html/content ratio
- Keyword stuffing within the content
What does this mean for your new business? Quite simply, forget everything you heard about “the old way” of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)! Here are some examples of “old ways” of doing SEO:
- Sections of text designed specifically for search engines, below the relevant content (mostly irrelevant content produced to focus on specific keywords)
- Producing as many links as possible (wherever they might come from: comments links, link-networks, or wherever links can be generated!)
- One-to-one link exchanges
- Stuffing your content with relevant keywords (adding a bunch of keywords somewhere on the site)
- Stuffing your meta-tags with relevant keywords
- Creating a huge amount of content
In previous years, it would have been quite easy to rank well with these techniques. However, times have changed and now, it’s important to re-evaluate your approach. How can I start with my content marketing? How do you optimise your pages in 2014? How can I help the search engines to find my valuable content and my products? Content Marketing is key –and in recent months, this has become more important then ever. Let us divide this into the different process steps:
- Create a content schedule
- Create your content
- Work on content presentation
- Market your content
- Update your content frequently
1. Create a content schedule Content is important and for the production of high quality content, you need time and available resources. As a first step, you should make a plan based on the most important topics that might bring you customers. In the beginning it can be impractical, not to mention overwhelming, to attempt to write unique product descriptions for every single product that you sell. An effective schedule will help you to focus on the most important pages first and prioritize them. It makes sense to choose your best selling category; and focus initially on the area that brings you the most revenue. Once you are done with these category pages, you can delve deeper; focusing on your most valuable products and creating unique product descriptions. Also keep in mind to refresh your sites from time to time. If you created a page a few months ago, it makes good business sense to keep this page on your schedule to update the content with new information, add more details and so forth. This will show the search engines that your content is reviewed and updated regularly. 2. Creation of your content Once you have chosen a category, start creating a category page. On this page you can, for example, provide more useful information about your products. Think about:
- What will be relevant information for your customers if they want to choose one of your products?
- What are the newest products?
- Which of these products would you recommend to your customers?
Try to imagine: “What would my customers ask me, if they were standing in front of me?” If you struggle with this, visit an “offline” store, which offers similar products to you and observe the customers. Which kind of questions do they ask the staff in the stores? 3. Content presentation Once you have some useful questions/topics, it’s up to you how you want to help your customers. You might just want to keep it as basic, informative text, or add an interesting infographic or short video. 4. Content marketing Make your content easy to share. Make sure you have all relevant social media platforms included and that the shared content will appear in an appropriate format on each platform. I’ve seen a lot of shared content in the past where only a link was visible and the image was not. Inform Blogger about your content and invite them to use your findings, images, video on their blogs. Again this makes only sense for them if this specific content brings value to their blogs as well. That’s why it is so important to produce good content. 5. Update your content As mentioned in the section on scheduling above, the search engines are checking the topicality of your content. That’s why it’s important to keep your pages, once created, on your schedule. Check every few months to see whether the content is still up to date and consider whether there is more media available to support your topics, or whether you can produce new images or videos to accompany the existing content. If it makes sense and adds value to your site, do it! Be creative, diverse and always keep in mind that you should help your customers and not only search engines.
About the author: With 10 years experience in the digital space Michael worked for one of the biggest publishing groups in Europe, one of the biggest mobile telecommunication companies in Germany and a Hotel Group in Hong Kong. In these roles he managed P&L targets with xxx-million budgets. He specialised in developing international digital strategies, re-launchend websites, Search Engine Optimisation, Conversion Rate Optimisation, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Value. hk.linkedin.com/in/michaelwolczyk