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Metia Insights: Put content at the centre of your SEO

Metia Insights: Put content at the centre of your SEO

We recently released the Metia Insights 2014 report, which has expert opinion on different areas of digital marketing, including social media, PR and design. Here is one of the essays from the document - you can download the whole thing here.

Put content at the centre of your SEO

Search is crucial to a digital marketing strategy. Ranking high in searches can mean the difference between success and failure. But many businesses that focus solely on traditional technical nitty-gritty of SEO (black-hat strategies) to beat the system have been sliding down the rankings.

Content’s impact on your SEO

Both Google and Bing have changed their approach to content and how to rank sites. There was a time when you could game the algorithms with carefully chosen key words and back-end tagging. Now Google and Bing both use increasingly dynamic and complex algorithms to determine the value of a page’s content. Google focuses on site behavior and credibility of incoming links, while Bing focuses on social behavior and the freshness of content.

In both cases, the response that your consumers have to your content will make or break your discoverability. Further, your content’s life off of your website is just as important as your on-site content. Make it shareable if you want to improve your rankings. In short, if you want to rank number one on search engines, you must have a content strategy.

A quality content marketing strategy starts with understanding your customers and producing the right stories in the right format, at the right cadence for your audience. The most important thing that any marketer can do to improve search rankings is focus on stories that have meaning for their audience, and then tell that story consistently on the right channels.

If you are running a content factory that focuses on high-volume publication without proper followthrough, then you are not engaged in SEO – you are engaged in a massive waste of time. Successful content communicates without selling – which helps brands build powerful customer relationships.

The search engines track the quality of those customer relationships and use that data to determine how your business ranks. It’s a simple concept, but it isn’t necessarily simple to execute. Marketers struggle with an abundance of choice, a lack of data or insight, disparate publishing systems, and – perhaps most importantly – old habits.

How to create content that will resonate with your customers

Step 1: It begins with a story

Your business has a story to tell – and I’m not talking about a list of features and benefits. I’m talking about the real and relatable impact that your product or service has on the people who use it. Find your most powerful story, and then remix it into a variety of formats based on the places where your customers hang out. The format should address the customers, where they are in the buying cycle, and the environment in which the content is being consumed. Make it interesting.

Step 2: Help your audience find your story

Your strategy must include online and offline channels – how does your story fit into advertising, PR, events, websites, banner ads, etc.? Amplify your story across channels – promote and sell the story, not the product. By creating a compelling story that builds curiosity, your customers will inevitably find their way to your brand and website.

How? There’s no single recipe for success, but you can start by:

  • Promoting posts on social channels
  • Pushing your story to the front page of your website.
  • Making sure that the right people in your organization know about the story, and are ready to talk about it.
  • Using it for PR, case studies, and speaking engagements.
  • Linking to it in the footer of your email. Including it in company newsletters and email programs.

Step 3: Engage

Every hour, enough information is consumed by internet traffic to fill 7 million DVDs. And just a few years from now, it’ll be four times larger than that. Search engines don’t want you to pump the web full of useless or uninteresting content – consumers need content that will delight and engage.

Social media also factors into rankings. You don’t need to wait for someone to respond on your company’s social channels – find people who have a similar interest and are active online. Tell them about your story, and ask them about theirs.

Bottom line: You are not a content factory

Your job is to understand the stories behind your brand, and to create authentic connections with your customers. The stories will do the selling. You just do the telling. Start with one great idea and tell it ten different ways.