Rising Through the Ranks | A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization (Part II)

Last week, I launched a series of blogs to provide a primer to––or a launching point for future discussions about––one vital way to augment your digital presence: Search Engine Optimization (or SEO).  I argued that by making our digital content easier for the average internet user to find, we can boost traffic to our websites––and by extending the reach of our voices, expand our audiences.

I have already examined the specific benefits to refining the way we use keywords, particularly in our website or blog titles, tags, and so on.  This week, I’m going to turn to matters of content.  How can we better utilize the meat and potatoes of our digital content––the bodies of our blog posts, for example––to push our websites up through the ranks of similar websites that show up in search engine results? 

Step 2: Optimize Your Content

Even though traditional strategies for SEO (like keyword optimization) are vital and critical practices for the average blogger, the search engines of today call for even more sophistication.  Consider: in 2013, Google alone had already indexed more than thirty trillion individual web pages.  That’s 30,000,000,000,000 pieces of content vying for the top slot on any individual search.  Thankfully, search engine algorithms are fairly good at slicing away unrelated material, but you get the idea.  There is a lot of digital content, so you have to take certain steps to make yours stand out––and the best way to stand out is to create unique content. 

The basic notion is this: readers have access to plenty of useful data, but they are looking for something more than just another blog on a given topic.  They’re looking for the best blog on a given topic.  And search engines like Google are getting better at finding it!  According to blogger Sujan Patel, Google in particular looks for “longer content, images, videos, correct spelling, proper grammar, proper text formatting and […] both outbound links to other high quality sites and inbound links (and social shares) from high quality sources.”  You’ll note that this list implies a certain level of polish in respect to presentation (grammar and et cetera), but leaves room for you to play with subject and theme. 

If certain elements of SEO sometimes seem like common sense, that’s because search engines are getting better at shaping common sense into measurable data sets, and using those data sets to refine the search process.  It may prove helpful to consider search engines as just another ‘average’ reader, albeit a powerfully influential one.  So, how do you create content that hooks in the average reader or search engine?  By posting regularly, on diverse but thematically resonant topics, using means that are equally diverse and up-to-date as well as easily shared across social media platforms, and by tying your content to other websites using links, keywords, and meta data.  (As a matter of fact, Google does hire actual and real people to rate websites for quality of content.  The process is a fascinating one, and well worth a look.) 

As I mentioned last week, it’s important to remember that we’re not just looking for more users to stumble across our websites; we’re looking for the right sort of users––those users who will stick around long enough to fall in love with our written voices and, hopefully, our books.  We all have probably had some experience in stumbling across bloggers who are so good at making their content findable that they forget to make it readable, personable, or worthwhile.  Ultimately, your readers want to find a little bit of you in every blog post (or YouTube video, or tweet, or Facebook post) you put together.  You are what keeps them coming back, week after week after week.  Taking the time to craft quality content that reflects your personality is a practice that will pay dividends for a long, long time.

Check back every Wednesday for the next installation of this blog series!  I’ll be taking a look at titles and tags in a week’s time––and how can you use lofty ‘meta-data’ to bolster your SEO.  See you then!

If you have a question about any of these tools for self promotion, would like to hear from me about something specific, or have other big news to share, please comment below!

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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