All you really need to know about SEO content, you learned in grade school.
When we were kids, movies about the future told us we would be walking robots by now, automatons controlled by corporations and/or the government. Our shopping habits, particularly, would be pre-ordained by an inner circle of evil programmers determined to eradicate all power of choice. Maybe it was the very fear of that future of fakeness that caused us to divert our fate and demand more accountability from the people who make the products we consume. Because in 2016, authenticity is everything.
Even Google can smell a poseur a mile away. Today, a keyword-bloated phrase like "little black dress cocktail dress short dressy dress occasion dress" would be quickly demoted by the search engine's intelligent algorithm. In its place at the top of the search results, there are scores of pages stocked with actual black dresses, collections of articles about the cultural importance of the LBD, people discussing LBDs on Twitter, along with situational styling tips and shopable editorial photography. These pages are high up because they are useful to those in the market for a black dress. Google knows so because the content has been shared and clicked on thousands of times.
This is SEO in 2016. Your keyword-stuffed, length-padded, robot-written web pages are over. The good news is, what will get you visibility on a search engine is the exact same thing that will make your user fall in love with your brand—and shop your pages. The bad news is, you can no longer get away with content that appears to be written by a third grader. And yet, everything you need to know about SEO content in 2016, you probably learned in third grade. Follow these tips from your school days and watch your search ranking soar.
KNOW THE CORRECT ANSWER
When you are looking to rank high on Google, what you are really doing is trying to be the best answer to whatever questions your customers have. Are you a sandal brand? Write about pedicures and beach vacations. If you're a jeweler, write about romance and milestones, and so on. You'll get an A in SEO.
You're only cheating yourself if you cross-post or plagiarize. Content needs to be original to be valuable. Google is like Santa Claus. All-knowing. If you use the same content in multiple places, Google will notice and your search ranks will plummet. And you'll only have yourself to blame.
Maybe this tip is more Mr. Rogers than the conformist crap you picked up in school, but seriously, you are the only you in the world. Your content needs to demonstrate your brand's special snowflake status. The Internet is full of brands peddling products that appear very similar to yours, and customers literally only need to move a finger to check them out and compare your prices with theirs. Unless you give them content that only you can own, they'll get it somewhere else. Differentiate. Differentiate. Differentiate.
BRING ENOUGH TO SHARE
In content, sharing isn’t caring. Sharing is GOD. The search engines are focused on the user, and you should be too, because if the user likes your content, she will share it. And when it gets shared, it gets viewed, and when it gets viewed, it appears more useful and it gets more visible. That is the structure of the upward traction spiral of content marketing. The reason why viral content is viral is because it's good. There is no way around quality anymore.
THINK OF OTHERS
The most common mistake brands make in the process of creating content is thinking about themselves and their products too much. It's hard for us to care about how awesome you are if you do not demonstrate how that awesomeness helps us.
Try the following exercise at a time when you know you won't be disturbed:
1. Relax your body and take 10 deep cleansing breaths.
2. Imagine entering a Being John Malkovich hole of your ideal customer.
3. What do I want?
4. Now create your content.
Wall flowers don't do well in SEO. You need other sites to be linking back to your content, or it won't rank as high as it deserves to. Ignoring the back link game is like sitting by yourself every day at lunch and then wondering why you were picked last in gym class. Talk to others about your content. In 2016, there is this thing called social media that makes it super easy, and you won't even feel like you need a couple cocktails first. Post your content like crazy. Back links are #goals.
DON'T PAD LENGTH
There is a lot of content on the Internet today that is the adult equivalent of a book report with the word "very" filling up the page. Please don't do this and think it's good for SEO because you heard your pages had to be 500 words or they wouldn't rank. It's true that in-depth articles will get a bit more weight, but that's because they tend to be rich with relevance. Don't use more words than you need to get your point across. Google sees what you're doing and is not amused.
TELL THE TRUTH
The rules for SEO are really not much different than those for life, if you think about it. Honesty is appreciated. Authenticity is cool. Don't build a house of cards and expect it to stand. Base your content program on a steady stream of consistently relevant, reliable information, and you will eventually be rewarded. Trust us, someday you'll understand.