When it comes to SEO and content marketing, just when you feel like you’ve got a handle on it, something changes – algorithms, ranking rules, best practices, technologies – and you’re left feeling like a wheel spinner. At least, that’s how a lot of the marketing folks I know feel about the “S” word.
So to help, now that a few months have passed and we’ve become comfortably ensconced in 2019, why not take a look at what’s trending for SEO this year and what tips and best practices will be most useful for content marketers? Here’s a roundup of some great SEO articles to start off on the right search foot:
As Content Marketing Institute (CMI) points out, this year keyword rankings are harder to come by as Google continues “downplaying traditional search engine results” and zero-click results make things tougher for content marketers. And that’s just typed search – let’s not forget voice search is also now a factor. What does this mean? That marketers must make a (more) meaningful effort to ensure their content and websites stand out in all searchable arenas.
To that end, CMI’s notable suggestions to improve SEO keyword rankings include:
- Devote time to the ranking factors that should shape keyword choices, like domain and page authority, content and website size and domain name.
- Be sure to nix issues with basic website structure components like content headers, SEO page titles and page URLs.
- Aim to secure a featured snippet by creating content that answers questions, or by following some marketers’ suggestions to include tables, lists and numbered steps.
- Keep SEO top of mind as you’re creating new content, especially page headers. And modify existing content to beef up keyword use.
- Consider the things you might not always think about, like backlinks, page load speed, image file names and alt text, internal links, mobile friendliness, structured markup and user engagement.
- Using FAQ pages as an SEO “treasure trove.” A great point made in a related CMI post.
When it comes to creating content that’s an SEO standout, marketers might think that ensuring the right keywords in an article, blog post or other piece is the most important factor. In reality, the backend of the site itself and the structural integrity of a post or page are just as crucial.
While from March 2018, the recommendations in this Contently post around lesser-known SEO factors still hold merit today:
- Metadata. This is “data about data that a search engine uses to validate the relevancy of content compared to what’s promised in the page’s code.” While not a ranking factor, crafting this to align with the latest search algorithms can give you a competitive edge.
- Site Speed. The fact is, site speed influences search engine results pages (SERPs), including mobile search. By loading faster than a competitor, you could gain an edge in rankings. So be sure Java and CSS are compressed.
- Schema Markup & Structured Data. Pages have microdata and metadata. Metadata is what the page is about and microdata is comprised of the actual elements on that page (accounted for by schema markups). You can use these to signal that you want content to rank for particular items most impactful for your piece.
- Site Architecture. You can set up a completely logical site map by “writing a file called robots.txt to tell search engines how you want them to crawl your site.” But be sure to avoid blocking directories that have content or backlinks you find useful.
- Mobile-first Indexing. Google now “uses your mobile site as the primary version when indexing your content.” So, optimizing a site for mobile is a marketing must.
Improving keywords and optimizing site performance are important, but just as integral to SEO performance is automation. As Marketing Land points out, “Automation is critical in making informed, data-driven decisions in a world in which the amount of data companies are attempting to manage is unprecedented.” This spills over into SEO, where increasing efficiency, eliminating redundancy and improving the customer experience are top goals.
Here are key points from Marketing Land that content marketers should keep in mind when pursuing SEO improvements this year:
- AI, machine learning and deep learning are at the heart of fast analysis of large datasets, advanced analytics, pattern recognition and more.
- AI has matured to the point where “automation can help identify new revenue opportunities and make recommendations on content topics, attributes, optimizations, strategic CTAs, etc.”
- Intelligent SEO gives marketers insight into how “search optimizations impact customer experience throughout every stage of the journey.”
- AI-driven search provides more personalized, relevant results.
- With AI automation, SEOs can optimize for voice search and create more descriptive text.
- A good place to get started with automation is to apply it to “time-consuming, repetitive tasks like keyword research, data visualization, reporting, data collection, SERP similarity comparisons, testing JS rendering, generating content ideas, link building and technical auditing.”
Given that winter is finally over, it’s natural to go into spring cleaning mode. But while us marketers are tidying our desktops and streamlining our shared drives, let’s set aside time to do a little “SEO spring cleaning,” too. As Search Engine Journal (SEJ) points out, “Not every SEO change you make needs to be a difficult overhaul. Instituting small but important fixes and tweaks can have an important impact on your rankings.”
That’s why I’m sharing this article last. It highlights 17 simple, yet impactful small changes that can be made over the course of the year to yield positive SEO results. Here are just of a few of the recommendations:
- Optimize titles and headings to include keywords
- Repurpose headings by creating hub pages
- Enhance site credibility
- Interlink your pages
- Add links to trusted sites
- Check for duplicate content
- Fix broken links and redirects
- Transcribe videos
As 2019 marches onward, content marketers will undoubtedly face new SEO hurdles. But on the flip side, never before has there been so many tools, tricks and tips to help us strengthen our search strategies and refine our keyword resolve. What I’ve shared in this post merely scratches the surface of what’s already become a hot topic this year, but I hope it proves helpful to all my marketing colleagues.
Every quarter I’ll plan to highlight another hot topic in the content marketing world. So stay tuned for the next installment of my quarterly content marketing corner! In the meantime, stay informed on the latest B2B marketing topics right here on our Outlook blog.
Are there other SEO tips or trends you think should be highlighted and you’d like to share? What SEO challenges are you experiencing? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us in the comments, or share them with us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
Author: Stacy Greenberg, Content Manager, Outlook Marketing Services
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