Top 3 Ways to Optimize Your Content for SEO
HOSTED BY: RENEE YEAGER
GUEST: RON WEBER
AGILE DIGITAL LAB OWNER AND GLOBAL SEM STRATEGIST AT TERADATA
Ron Weber is an Internet Marketing veteran with more than 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s an expert in Content Marketing, SEO, Paid Search, Display Email, and Conversion Rate Optimization, but has proficiency in just about everything digital that can drive measurable results to a business. His current roles are Agile Digital Lab Owner and Global SEM Strategist for Teradata in San Diego, California.
Renee Yeager welcomed Ron to talk about the Top 3 Things to Know About SEO. Their conversation focused on three often overlooked opportunities for search engine optimization—content, design, and social media—and how marketers can get their content to the top of SERPs.
Renee Yeager: Hi, Ron. Welcome to the podcast.
Ron Weber: Thanks, really happy to be here.
Renee Yeager: Well, we’re glad to have you. So today we’re going to be talking about ways to optimize content for SEO. And when our content strategist Christy Buchanan, who I know you know suggested this as a topic. I just thought it was a great idea. You know, it’s something marketers. Just don’t talk about enough. We’re all off, creating our content and we wanted to be consumed, but we may not always go at it the best way. So, I’m really glad that you’re here with us today to shed some light on what we should be thinking about.
Ron Weber: Sounds good. I’ve been at SEO for quite a while and really happy to share with your audience.
Renee Yeager: Awesome. So just to level set a little bit before we really jumped in. So, marketers are creating more and more content. And we all want our content to be consumed, but it’s really competitive. There’s so much content out there. And it can be hard to get the exposure for our content that we’re really looking for. So can we start by talking a little bit about SEO in general and how it relates to content and why it’s important.
Ron Weber: Yeah, sure. So, so if we even step back for a second were SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is really the practice of making your site attractive to the search engines. And so you did that by producing great content you and you also do that by making sure your site is technically sound. So that both the users and the robots can get through your site pretty easily. And, so, the reason why you do that it’s it’s not only the quantity of traffic that you can get. It’s the quality And, when you think about search engines. It’s really a direct response medium, people are actually putting in information they’re looking for a certain query and the search engines. Give the, you know, reward those sites that that have the right answer, if you will. And so all this is important and really, you know, I think the most important things here for, for me, really, that the majority of site traffic usually does come from SEO.By far, almost every site. I’ve ever been associated with the majority of traffic comes from SEO. So, by far, the top channel. And then I think the other interesting thing to note, it’s, it’s, you know, 90% of people use the search engine, no matter what part of the funnel they’re in. So, whether it’s a prospect or someone that’s looking to renew or somebody’s looking to go to a competitor. And so all of this is really important. And as you think about your content. You really want to think about the users and why it’s important because search still matters in 2020 and it matters to searchers and it matters to business.
Renee Yeager: So are there overarching considerations that can be applied to all types of content formats for SEO and I know you know, people talk about keywords and, you know, writing for relevant search terms. And do you have any insight on that specifically like overarching considerations.
Ron Weber: Yeah, it’s probably going to be less about keywords. Keywords don’t matter, but it’s it’s really about usability writing for your user first reading for your audience first. And, then if you think about it, no matter what format it is if it sounds over optimized, it probably is. And I call it the uncle test. So, if, if you’re explaining whatever whatever piece of content you’re working on to your uncle or your aunt, for that matter, and it sounds funny, it probably is way over optimized.
And think about usability. Think about your user and each format is unique, but, you know, consider who’s consuming the content where they’re at. What’s the reason for consuming. Think about someone coming to your blog on a workday a likely don’t have time for a video, but the same person coming on a weekend does. And so it’s really about knowing your audience. And then I would say the, the final the final piece really here is on quality. So no matter what the content type or the format you really want to think about quality, first, so probably not the right SEO response, but it is, it’s, it’s, if you write a quality piece of content, then the SEO kind of follows after
Renee Yeager: Okay. All right, that’s really interesting. So let’s go a little deeper and jump in, you know, to today’s discussion. We’re going to talk about three ways to optimize your content for SEO and we’re going to cover some things that aren’t obvious. So that’s kind of exciting, but let’s talk about online content. What are some guidelines that you have for blog copy development web copy development that incorporate SEO best practices.
Ron Weber: Alright, so this is where a key words do matter and it’s really about using a focus keyword. And so whatever piece of content you’re writing on. You know a lot of people think you should put as many keywords as you can into that piece and I take the opposite approach.
I think your content can only stand for one or two keywords and so I like the idea of a focus keyword. So think about one keyword and if you have secondary keywords or tertiary keywords definitely try to try to fit those in, but really think about each page you write. Each infographic you write each video you create it all with one keyword in mind. Secondarily length does matter. If we’re talking about a blog. It’s 600 words or a best practice or more. And in fact, the longer the the content. Usually, the better ranks. Use imagery to optimize you know definitely optimize your images and then take advantage of newer blog types listed goals. I think are really interesting. Where it’s a blog format, but your listing out with with more visual yeah items in and that seems to go really well gives you additional areas of optimization instead of one image or know optimizing five or as as many as 10
Renee Yeager: It’s a kind of a mix between an infographic and an article.
Ron Weber: In a way. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And, and I think these, you know, newer types of content formats interactive content polls, quizzes, gamification. You know those types of formats can help you stand out from the crowd to your other point if everyone’s creating content, then if you’re creating unique content. It makes it’s going to make your content stand out.
Renee Yeager: Can you jump back for a minute to the focus keyword idea because I really like that. And do you like what’s the best way to come up with the best focus keyword.
Ron Weber: Yeah, there’s, I mean there are, there are a number of tools for one. But even if you didn’t have an SEO tool. It’s really about knowing your audience. And understanding you know who’s, who’s coming to your site. What is your goal for having them come come to your site and and think about the searcher, think about what their what they possibly could be searching to find the content that you’re producing.
Renee Yeager: And we talk to our clients a lot about that. Like, you have to put yourself in the shoes of your buyer. You know what it sounds like this is this is as true of cases me to do that.
Ron Weber: Yeah, exactly. While I love the technical aspect of SEO, it’s really that human aspect, right, what, what are people thinking, where are they searching. How are they searching and how can they possibly find you. That is really fascinating. And that’s the fun part of SEO. And so if you can marry your content with what somebody is possibly searching. That’s when you have the best of both worlds.
Renee Yeager: Okay. I know you mentioned keyword frequency and gave some numbers there. But can you talk a little bit about cross links and and what your thoughts on there, are there and why they’re important and what we should be thinking about
Ron Weber: Yeah. So think back to that uncle or aunt test where you definitely want cross links, but you know people like them in search engines like him, but you don’t want to over optimize those as well. And so my rule of thumb, really, is that three times for every 600 words. And, you know, and same with the focus. Focus keywords. We do not want those more than three or four times for every 600 words. It just, ends up being over optimized. Yeah.
Renee Yeager: And you can get dinged for that. Things like keyword stuffing – people talk about that a lot.
Ron Weber: Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up. So I think the penalties for Google really can be pretty severe when it comes to content. Usually the worst thing that can happen is that your content doesn’t rank.
Really the penalties for Google are when you buy links or when you do some things that that just aren’t natural in the eyes of Google. That’s when your site gets gets dinged. And so that’s, you know, I think that that’s the tragedy of it. You spent a lot of time and energy on your content and it just is never going to see the light of day and so that’s really the penalty there.
Have you, in your experience, have you seen things that surprised you that got content to rank higher or is it kind of these block and tackle things that we all should be doing, or is there, are there any interesting little nuggets that you have.
Ron Weber: Yeah, I think, it goes back to the content that is the most interesting is, is really the the content that that stands the test of time. You know, I created a budget calculator, a free budget calculator at a former company that I was at and it still ranks. It’s now four years later, they’re still ranking on page one. It’s because it’s unique and it’s different, and it’s it’s something of value that you know people are still going to in droves. And even, you know, to your point, like the best content out there is really the ones that you yourself would want to read.
Renee Yeager: Yeah, right. Things that are really usable or have really great information. I think your comment about quality is just so critically important, because we get in this pattern of wanting to create more and more content and doing with doing it with a specific frequency and oftentimes we forego quality for that volume. Do you have any take on quality versus quantity
Ron Weber: It is interesting because both matter for SEO. Yeah, if you had a million pages and your competitor had 100 you would always outrank them. And so, so there is a need for quantity but really you know the quality. I think it’s really about researching and understanding. Understanding your target.
Renee Yeager: And kind of finding a balance between that quality versus quantity
Ron Weber: Exactly. Most businesses can do 10 pieces a month right that that ends up helping you with in the quantity game, but it’s small enough of an amount that it that you can focus on the quality there as well.
Renee Yeager: So this next one I found really interesting and I think it’s not something that we think about a lot as marketers. The second way to optimize content for SEO is about design. So graphic design we know has an impact on how your content is perceived and even consumed, but I don’t think a lot of us think about it from an SEO perspective.
Ron Weber: Yeah, right. It’s that one thing that most marketers, say, Oh, I’ll let my designer handle that.
Renee Yeager: Right, right.
Ron Weber: And it’s super critical to your point, it’s not only the look and feel, but it’s the usability your information architecture. It’s your navigation – this all plays a role in SEO. And you know the rule of thumb, really, if you design a website that makes it easy to find and consume your content, whether it’s a search engine robot or designing for humans, you’re halfway there right and then the rest of what you’re looking for is really the quality of that of that content piece. But it all plays a role that all plays a role.
Renee Yeager: It’s interesting because, you know, and especially in in our world of being an agency. We always want to design everything to be really beautiful. And over the years, what I’ve discovered is that sometimes beauty can impede consumption. You know, we can make something really great, but it’s hard to navigate through it or it’s hard for you to have a steady thought stream when you’re reading if there’s too many images breaking it up. Do you, do you find that to be the case you have any guidance on on a best practice around that?
Ron Weber: Yeah, it’s where you see a homepage that’s all very, very image heavy and there’s no content. Where we fall in love with our imagery and I just always say strike a balance with your SEO partner. It’s super critical and you do have to account for both. And it’s, you know, I know there are some businesses like apple that don’t necessarily need the SEO traffic and they can get away with an image heavy site, but most of us cannot.
Renee Yeager: And then, do you have any best practices around image sizes or things. I mean, I would think that it’s common sense that your images should relate to the content on the page and there needs to be synergy there. Surprisingly, you don’t always see that. But in terms of really large imagery or are there best practices for what we should be doing and blogs and websites?
Ron Weber: Yeah, I think you’re right, it’s going to be relational to the content on that individual page. Now, if, if we’re talking about a blog, it should be consistent. So, if every blog has an image, that’s fine, but if you have some blogs without imagery and others with some imagery, it’s confusing. But really with image size, it’s about image weight. And your images should be optimized for the web. So, they must look great, but weigh as little as possible. And, it’s really about site speed and rankings are happening based on how fast your site is. And so really, I think that’s the balance these days, less about the size and more about the weight.
Renee Yeager: That’s an interesting point, actually, we didn’t talk about, video. We haven’t talked about video but the use of video and how that can kind of factor into the content on the page. And slow site speed, but what do you have any insight on you know image over video and best practices around that and you know where we should incorporate them.
Ron Weber: Sure, yeah. The more you can embed video or pull video from other sources, the better. You know, if you’re using a content delivery network that’s another factor. You want the main pieces of your site to load fast whether it’s a large image or a video player. And so how however you go about that, whether it’s whether it’s through a CDN, or through a player embedded. That’s really the way to go.
Renee Yeager: Can you talk a little bit about content delivery networks for those who might not be as familiar
Ron Weber: Yeah, it’s, it’s a place to organize all of your content and really streamline not only your cataloging of that content, but really you you determine how, when, when that loads on your site. It’s more on the enterprise level. I haven’t seen it too much with small business but but certainly it would would be worth looking into if you have a slow site.
Renee Yeager: So, the last way to optimize your content for SEO is social media. And this was another one that kind of took me by surprise, a little bit because I just don’t think of it. And I don’t know that our audience thinks about it for SEO, even though it is content. So, what should we be doing to make sure that we’re getting the most out of our social media efforts?
Ron Weber: Yeah, this, this is an interesting topic because way back when, when Google had Google Plus their own media network. Rest in peace, Google Plus. It was, you know, the order of the day that they were counting followers and that you know the more followers you would have, the better your rankings would be in so that did not come to fruition.
In fact, the search engines usually do not crawl beyond kind of the home screen of each of the social media sites. So, there’s not a direct impact. However, there is an indirect impact. And so, if you think about social media and social media amplification. We all should be promoting content. That’s the best thing we can do for our brands. And so not only important for search engines, but in important for prospects customers and influencers. And just think about if you can find the right influencer at the right time. That influencer may link to that that article or that infographic, or that video. And that’s what really drives your SEO. And so there are a number of reasons to do it. It’s great for your brand. It’s great to be out there in social media but social media amplification. It really is in getting your, your content in front of more people. And the more people you’re in front of the better chance you have of getting some inbound links to that content and all of that is going to play in your ranking. So, the myth is Google is not ranking to see how many fans or followers you have, but they’re definitely looking to see how many links.
Renee Yeager: So then basically everything you post should have some kind of link or content attached to it.
Ron Weber: Exactly, exactly. Exactly right. You’re gonna get more bang for your buck that way. Yeah.
Renee Yeager: What are your thoughts on, you know, in the B2B world we’re pretty much focused on LinkedIn and Twitter, and maybe a little bit on Facebook. And that continues to kind of evolve and change and I hear arguments on both sides for that. I guess it depends on what business you’re in.
Ron Weber: It is, and it’s it really all comes down to your audience right at the end of the day, and, you know, on the paid side as a targeting strategy I always use both Facebook and Instagram, and I use LinkedIn. And I use Google for retargeting because folks will go like I said from a website over to Facebook or Instagram or they’ll come from a website over to LinkedIn and so it’s just just human nature these days. And so if you can’t get folks directly, you can certainly re target them in those channels.
Renee Yeager: What are your thoughts on sharing content across all channels, or do you recommend kind of specifying certain content types for different channels.
Ron Weber: Yeah, I would say if you have unlimited time and resource. Then, then yes, I’m with you on that on the testing. Yeah.
Renee Yeager: So any takeaways that we should keep in mind when we’re developing content, just to kind of close up, like big things that have either changee your thinking or have influenced how you go about your content marketing.
Ron Weber: Yeah, there’s a there’s definitely a place for paid promotion where I probably never would have said this in the past. But, in order, you know, when you think about your distribution networks and I’m glad we were talking about social just now, but there’s an organic piece of social which we talked about which can, you know, get influencers can bring inbound links. We should be doing that, at a minimum, but there’s also this paid promotion. There’s a number of ways to get your content out these days, and including using paid search or paid social. And even something like more native distribution and so very, very important to go out there and test and and the reason why I say that it’s, you know, with content marketing, we’re being of service. We’re hopefully giving something away of value and best example I’ve seen is Goodyear tires giving away free information on how to fix a flat tire. Not in their interest to do so but that’s what I think about when I think about content marketing that we are giving information away we’re giving something of value. We really want to not sell to people. We want to give people a taste of our brand, but we also want to be very, very helpful. And so in that spirit, when we are thinking about content marketing and content promotion. It’s really all about our distribution channels. Organic social does not go far these days. And so we really need to think about a paid promotion strategy. And then on the paid search side, I just don’t see a lot of people giving away ebooks or white papers or really promoting their content in any way, shape, or form. It’s usually a paid search ad that’s promoting the business. And let’s think about paid search in not only promoting our brands but let’s see if we can also promote content.
Renee Yeager: I love that. That’s really great advice. And interesting that it’s not more commonly done right.
Ron Weber: If you search online for free tech guide or a Buyer’s Guide, you’re actually looking for something like a free ebook you’ll, you’ll be surprised by how few people are actually giving something away.
Renee Yeager: Yeah, all right, content marketers, now you know where to focus! Put a few dollars to promote the content that you’re spending all this time and effort to create!
Renee Yeager: Thanks so much for being on the podcast, Ron. I think this is really, really insightful and hopefully the next time our listeners go to create a piece of content they’re going to think a little bit differently about how they go at it.
Ron Weber: Thank you, Renee. Really appreciate it.