The bad news: you can’t trick Google’s algorithm. The good news? Turns out you don’t need to.
The concept of search engine optimization (SEO) first arose in the 1990s, and it has since come to be considered a non-negotiable part of any holistic content marketing strategy. The term was coined by John Audette, who taught his staff how to manipulate search engines in order to get their clients’ brands to rank highly when prospects searched for certain key terms. Since then, although the Google search algorithm changes multiple times per year, the typical goals of SEO have remained largely the same: game the algorithm to make your brand more visible.
There are numerous techniques that SEO consultants and specialists use to achieve this goal. These include keyword optimization (sprinkling your content with commonly searched terms at a rate that plays to Google’s preferences), link building (establishing partnerships to increase inbound links to a page), and page structure optimization. The problem with these strategies, though, is that while they do offer some degree of advantage in terms of SEO ranking, they miss the forest for the trees. If you’re creating poorly researched, grammatically faulty, uninteresting or irrelevant articles, it won’t matter how well you optimize them: that content still won’t show up on the first page of Google.
User behavior is what drives SEO. If you write for the most relevant user (your target audience), Google’s algorithm will favor that content. With that in mind, here are three ways you can create content that is not only optimized for Google’s algorithm, but also optimized for Google’s users.
1. Understand how your customers use search engines to conduct research.
With tools such as Alexa or WooRank, you can see what search terms are currently leading people to your site, as well what search terms are leading people to your competitors’ sites. This information allows you to gain insight into how prospects are seeking information, and pinpoint instances in which your competitors are providing this information better than you are. Use these insights to inform your content strategy, focusing on creating content that thoroughly addresses and responds to key search terms — and then optimizing those pages for Google.
2. Adapt your website properties to make information easy to find.
Give your site curb appeal through titles, snippets, and extensions. Make sure that you’re not just writing metadescriptions that yield green dots on Yoast, but also ones that help to directly answer key search terms that your company is targeting. Once a prospect clicks on the page, the information they’re searching for should be easily findable, not buried in a dense block of text.
3. Identify and close “gaps in coverage.”
Every company has a key term that they want their brand to be associated with. When you think “online shopping,” you think Amazon. When you think “ride sharing,” you think Uber. If your company hasn’t yet established brand dominance over its term of choice, then you need to engage influencers in your industry, generate digital buzz via social media and email marketing, and earn relevant backlinks to your site. Do everything in your power to create that connection in the minds of consumers, and they just might seek out your services the next time they need — well, whatever service it is you provide!