In our current marketing climate, where âcontent is king,â many once successful SEO practices have become irrelevant or damaging to one’s site in light of improvements to Google’s ranking algorithm.
Once upon a time you could simply stuff a keyword in the title, subheaders, alt tags, slug, meta-description, and body of an article, and you’d land your content on the first page of Google. This type of SEO (keyword stuffing) hasn’t been in play for close to a decade, but many SEO tricks are still functional today â although it seems like a new article comes out almost daily on either Moz, Backlinko, or Quicksprout arguing that one practice or another is now obsolete.
Google’s attacks against old SEO methods have led many to cry, âSEO is dead.â While this is not true at all (SEO is alive and well), it is undeniable that SEO has changed. The difference is that SEO and content creation have become linked and entwined in new ways, as never before.
As we approach 2017 â a year where content marketing is predicted to play a larger role in digital marketing initiatives than ever before â it is helpful to take a look at some of the current trends in content marketing and what factors will lead a piece of content to rank highly.
Content Marketing Tips for 2017
UX signals reign king Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
It is Google’s dream to grant their crawl bots the power to actually read and assess what content is useful and well written. While this ability is currently beyond the power of artificial intelligence, Google moves closer to achieving their goal every day.
Part of this evolution has been shifting away from semantic analysis and focusing more on user experienceÂ (UX) signals, such as bounce rate and time on page. For instance, if a user clicks on a search result page in Google, stays on the page for awhile and then goes on to another page on the same site, this tells Google that the content was most likely informative, useful, and authentic. This is what Google wants from their first-page content.
UX signals cannot be cheated, like keyword stuffing used to do, but instead relies upon the content actually being good and informative. As such, well-written content that provides a high utility will result in a higher ranking than uninformative drivel packed full of keywords.
In 2017, research and writing skills will hold a greater value than knowledge of SEO tricks.
Close measurement and analysis of content performance
Measurement and analysis will continue to play a vital role in a company’s content strategy. It is imperative that you track and monitor every piece of content to assess what is working and what is not.
You want to be aware of each piece of content’s impact on conversion, i.e., how and where the content fits into the âbuyer’s journeyâ from the first click to final purchase.
You will also want to keep an eye on UX metrics to help inform you about how new and returning users interact with your content.
Video content will be more prevalent
As platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube continue to remain successful, video content will grow in importance as part of a company’s content marketing plan.
Live streaming will also continue to gain relevance, as demonstrated by Facebook’s adoption of live streaming features.
Video content is also great for boosting UX metrics, as a ten-minute video is much more successful as keeping a reader on the page for ten minutes than a 2000 word article.
Creative writing skills will beat out SEO tricks
Good writing skills will be more important than ever in 2017. The Internet has never been known for the caliber of prose that most of web writing demonstrates. But in an age where time on page and social shares play a larger role in search engine result pages (SERPs) rankings, writing skills will hold a greater value.
Captivating headlines, sub-headers, copy, and voice will keep people on the page longer, and this is what it’s all about. The Internet might have killed the newspaper star, but it will also resurrect him.
LSI still helps
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is an indexing that utilizes a mathematical technique to decipher patterns and connections between various search terms. In practice, LSI denotes those alternate suggested search terms located at the bottom of a Google SERP listing.
By sprinkling the LSI listings for a given keyword throughout an article, this helps Google better understand an article’s content.
This practice has been around for a while but is still very effective.
Having other high-quality sites or influencers link to your content is still a vital part of ranking well in the SERPs. There are thousands of articles on how to obtain backlinks on the web already, so I won’t bore you. But the general idea, in short, is to create content that highly influential people or companies in your niche are likely to share and/or link out to as a source.
This can be achieved by researching what kind of content high influencers have recently shared and/or linked to and using that information as inspiration to create something of high value.Â
Social shares will become more important
Â As was the case in 2016, social shares will continue to hold high value in 2017. To achieve success in this competitive space, it will be imperative that you put aside some money from your content marketing budget for social promotion.
The key here is to find influencers in your niche with high follower counts, who you can pay to share your content with their audience of loyal followers, thereby growing your audience and spreading brand awareness.
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