Good Content Isn't Enough for SEO
You know it, I know it, the whole digital community knows it: content is king. It’s impossible to consistently rank without content that’s relevant and engaging to your audience. Search engines are getting smarter every day (and like to pass down harsh penalties), so trying to trick the almighty algorithm into ranking your site is out of the question. That’s why digital marketers are developing content creation strategies that emphasize value-add content – it’s simply the best option for long-term SEO success.
But, dear reader, what they often miss is that good content isn’t enough for SEO. Good content is only part of the equation – the first step of an SEO content strategy is addressing your technical SEO.
When Nothing Goes Right, Turn Left
Think of ranking on search engines as a giant NASCAR race and individual websites as the stock cars. You’ve got all these different machines competing against each other, trying to move up in position. Every car, while similarly-built, has different mechanical components to give it an edge in the race: a certain model of engine, or a formulated fuel mixture, or a specific type of tire. Every bit of the “guts” of the car has been fine-tuned to race as well as it can.
Just like stock cars, websites need a lot of fine tuning before competing on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) racetrack. Is your URL structure SEO-friendly? Does your content load quickly on mobile? Are your meta titles and descriptions set up correctly? Is your domain and host trustworthy? These are just some of the mechanical components of a website that factor into ranking, and marketers need to understand how they affect SEO. For the same reason you wouldn’t put a spoiler on a car with no engine, marketers shouldn’t put quality content on a site that’s not raceworthy.
Technical SEO Areas
All too often we see marketers toil away making great content that ultimately doesn’t get any visibility because of technical website errors. Their hearts are in the right place, but their site definitely is not.
Planning SEO efforts without starting from the ground up is like putting optimized fuel in a car missing two of its wheels – it will move forward, but not nearly as fast as it could (and should) be going. It pays to take a long and hard look at your website to make sure these 7 areas are set up for success when you start optimizing for search:
1. Domain and Hosting
Search engines care about legitimacy and security, so ranking factors in things like domain age, geographic location of hosts, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. It goes without saying that untrustworthy domains/hosts are severely penalized in the SERPs.
2. Website Architecture
How your website’s content is laid out and categorized is a huge signaler to search engines as to what your site is all about. Your URL structure, content silos, breadcrumbs, and sitemaps provide a wealth of information and tells search engines how it should contextualize you in the wider internet world.
3. Website Usability
The user experience is key in retaining traffic and is a major ranking factor. Things like consistent formatting, appropriate readability, and friendly navigation all help the user actually use (and enjoy using) your site. You’ll never go wrong tailoring your website experience to your audience, which is why it’s so critical for long-term SEO success.
4. Yoast Optimization
According to W3Techs, WordPress powers around 40% of all websites on the Internet as of February 2021. Forty percent of all the websites that exist is a TON of websites, and one of the most powerful SEO tools, Yoast, is available as a plugin on WordPress. This is not a “set it and forget it” plugin, however, and requires some deliberate configuration to get the most benefit. Even if you’re not an expert in SEO, Yoast will take you step-by-step through the keyword optimization process.
5. On-Page Optimization
This is where we often see the biggest opportunities and quickest fixes for technical SEO optimization. Making sure keywords are appropriately targeted, meta data is complete and optimized for search, and alt attributes are utilized are all relatively easy changes that can pay huge dividends.
6. Off-Page Optimization
Another important ranking factor is the quality of the links to your site. Generally, links are a good thing for SEO, but links from untrustworthy (or toxic) domains will end up hurting your rankings. Sites need to keep their backlink profiles healthy by disavowing suspicious links and building a positive linking strategy with high-authority sites.
7. Social Media
While links from social platforms are virtually always nofollow links (thus not fitting into off-page strategy), having a presence on social media platforms is an integral part of any SEO strategy. These give you an outlet to share your content and bring in traffic, which is a signaler to search engines that people really like your stuff.
Take the Checkered Flag
These are the 7 “wheels” your website needs in place before embarking on a content creation strategy. Without them, you’re not competing with the racers on the first page; you’ll be lucky to even make it onto the track.
That’s why a technical SEO audit is such a crucial first step of an SEO content strategy. Taking a comprehensive look at these key areas and checking them against best practices will maximize your investment in content and ensure you’re getting the most out of every page, blog, deliverable, etc. that you put out for consumption. Having the greatest content in the world doesn’t mean anything if nobody can see it! Take the time to do things right from the start and you’ll enjoy the organic traffic benefits that come from being in the winner’s circle.
Need a hand putting together an SEO content strategy? Or are you not getting the organic results you expect from your current one? Let us know! 1 Bold Step is happy to be your SEO strategy pit crew.