At our April meeting of the Reading HubSpot User Group (HUG) the main topics of discussion were keywords and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
As marketing's responsibility for revenue generation grows, the teams that look after company websites and digital marketing diversify. This often leads to confusion about what SEO is and who's job it is to look after it.
The evening's presentation, by Amanda McGrath, Content Strategist at Blend Marketing, described how SEO has evolved, what keywords mean to content marketers and how to embed SEO into your content marketing strategy.
Here's the presentation from the evening:
On the basis that 'content is king', SEO is frequently neglected in modern marketing organisations. Optimising content, as it is created, for attractive keywords is critical to overall success, however.
Search engine optimisation has evolved
Search Engines have evolved from a time where results were based simply on keyword density and meta tag contents, which are easily gamed, to using more more complex algorithms that seek to reward quality and relevance.
These algorithms use a great many signals to rank pages, but the topic of the content, or the keywords, are still the cornerstone of their process. The dominant search engine, Google, is now able to identify the keywords that determine the topic of a piece of content while ignoring, or even penalising, most attempts to manipulate the system.
Content creation has become one of the most effective ways to give Google the right signals in order to make your website rank more highly. The term 'content is king' has become widely used to reference this trend.
Technical SEO gets lost
While these changes to search engines have been happening, more and more businesses have turned to digital and content marketing without acquiring technical SEO knowledge. As a result, a great many content marketing efforts are limited by a lack of keyword strategy and optimisation.
A divide has been created between deeply technical SEO experts and SEO-novice content marketers. In order to succeed, marketers need to adopt the middle ground.
Keywords and your content strategy
The successful use of keywords in your content strategy really comes down to three things:
- Having a strategy
- Clarity of use
- Applying best practice
Knowing which keywords are most attractive for your business should come before optimsing any content. Using great tools like HubSpot, Moz or SEMRush, or just by Googling, you can develop a shortlist of attractive keywords to use in your content.
Content marketers who are not aware of the impact keywords have on SEO are at risk of making their content too brand, personality or metaphor driven. For Google, and other search engines, to understand the relevance of your content, you really need to write with clarity.
Finally, it's essential that keywords are applied to the page correctly and in line with SEO best practice. Important on-page factors are URL, meta title, meta description, h1 tags, image alt text and internal hyperlinks.
Technical SEO is a critical component of content marketing success and it is not beyond the average content marketing to master and implement the necessary tools and methods.