It is more important than ever to integrate a rich content marketing program — one that focuses on search engine optimization — into public relations campaigns for companies and brands that want to grow. But as the strategy becomes more and more prevalent, the rules are changing, and communications pros need to constantly refresh themselves on what’s new, what’s still true, and what’s coming down the pipeline. Here are some recommendations to consider.
Remember the “Golden Rule.” SEO writing is becoming more of a science, but it’s still writing, and the golden rule of good writing is always about the reader. The golden rule of website optimization is to think about “the user first — NOT the search engine,” according to SEO copywriting guidelines from Vector Media Group.
Consider ROI, not just keyword rankings. Since its emergence and expansion over the past 10 or so years, SEO has focused on keyword rankings as a means of measuring how well your site is doing. Today some marketers are calling for more of a focus on return on investment and hard metrics, instead of page rankings, and the sophistication of today’s web technology makes pulling these kinds of metrics a snap. For example, a product placement in a major, top tier publication might win a company thousands of clicks, but no conversions, while a much smaller, niche blog might yield more actual leads because of its hugely engaged audience. Knowing which one is which helps focus precious resources and maximize results.
Design for the mobile user. The trend toward viewing pages on mobile devices only grew in 2014 into 2015. Smart phone screens are getting larger and larger, further ingraining our habit of viewing sites on mobile, rather than at our desks. Most publishing platforms today include basic mobile optimization, making it easy to accomplish, but it’s still good to keep in mind during the content creation stage and make sure your site pages are optimized not just for SEO, but for mobile.
Write for the “long tail.” While web pages are typically optimized for up to three keywords, other key phrases can be included thoughout the copy to pick up on “long-tail variations,” which are the types of phrases users enter into search engines, according to our friends at Vector. For example, “affordable art” might be a main keyword, but people are more likely to search phrases such as, “the best place to buy affordable art,” as well other closely related terms.
Connect content creation to distribution. This piece of advice comes via Forrester analyst Ryan Skinner, who argues that the emphasis on high quality content as a content marketing strategy often leaves marketers with great content that nobody sees. Ramping up distribution, Skinner says, “improves content’s quality, as the feedback cycle accelerates.” He also pays homage to the now-famous quote from Buzzfeed’s Jonathan Perelman: “Content is king, distribution is queen, and she wears the pants.”
But high quality, original content still applies. All that said, high quality, fresh content still earns its keep in an SEO, mobile-ready world. Useful, well-written, relevant content is more likely to get read and shared than content that sacrifices quality.