If we could make one point about SEO it would be this: To optimize your site for search engines you need only to optimize it for your ideal client. If you create a website that provides real and specific value that is clearly communicated to those who are searching for what you have to offer, you will be rewarded by search engines with higher rankings on their results pages, which in turn will bring more people to your site which will in turn help your search rankings.
The era of hacking the system is over. To make search engines happy, make your audience happy.
Use Social Media
When used correctly, social media works like a giant conversation. The instigator of the conversation often does so by sharing some form of content or insight and then those that are interested respond with simple platform engagement such as likes and retweets or with higher level conversation like comments or even full responses. While sites like Twitter and Facebook can give you a very good look at how your content is being received, one site that is starting to prove its worth as a yardstick of consumer attitude is Quora.
Quora.com is a site were users will posit questions they want to see answered by an expert. These questions range from every topic imaginable including insurance matters. Other users who feel they have the expertise to provide some value on the question will then contribute responses. Readers use a simple upvoting and commenting system to react to the answers. Popular and valuable entries that rise to the top get showcased by the site on its home page and through emails. It is a simple concept yet the potential for insight into the actual intentions of the populace at large are enormous. Whether you use this site as a jumping off point for creating your own content for your blog, or if you become a contributing member as a way to gain more exposure for your advisory is up to you. What is clear is that if you are looking for insight into what questions the public are asking, Quora is one of the best sites for you to explore.
Consult Analytics to Determine What is Working
If you are looking to understand which of your content pieces are reaching an audience, there are few tools as necessary to utilize as your analytics engines. Agency Revolution customers have access to an in-product analytics page that tracks the most important metrics to determine which content is attracting the right audience. For others, Google Analytics will be a good resource to keep an eye on the numbers.
When tracking analytics, it is important to choose the specific measurements you will track over time and to stay at it long enough to get a consistent idea of your audience size and behavior. All websites experience ebbs and flows when it comes to traffic, but after a few weeks, you will start to put together a picture of what your readership looks like. This will give you the opportunity to identify which content pieces stand out as outliers, either positively or negatively – allowing you to determine the efficacy of your content.
One thing to remember when tracking your content analytics is the importance of minimizing other factors that might affect your findings. Does each piece of content receive similar treatment when it comes to distribution (i.e., are you posting things to the same places, a similar number of times)? Another factor that can often influence an article’s popularity is the art used with it. Was there something different about the featured picture that might have drawn people in or repelled them? What about the headline you used? All of these elements can affect your analytics and need to be taken into account when painting a broader picture of audience intentions.
Be Open to Engagements
Too often we see advisors who create and share great content, put it out into the world through social media and then never revisit their posts to respond to engagements. Comments by users who find your content are not only important because they provide social proof that you have a vibrant online presence, they are also a key indicator of what kinds of topics and insights are proving valuable to your core audience. They are a chance for you to network with potential clients in a low risk, low-pressure environment all while developing your overall content strategy to fit with their needs better.
It should go without saying that you should never attempt to steer the comments on a piece to make them more positive or even worse, post comments yourself under an alias. These shady tactics will put you in hot water with compliance in a heartbeat. But interacting honestly and openly with your audience is a sure fire way to create an inviting environment where you will come across as open and approachable. It will also help you understand your audience in a way that future content will be better tailored to their needs and will be more easily found by search engines.
Effectively Using Tags
There are two types of tags that you should pay close attention to when publishing your content:
Title tags and Description tags. Most publishing platforms (including Agency Revolution’s Attract™) will give you direct access to these tags.
Why are these tags so important to your SEO efforts? They define exactly how your content will be displayed on search engine results pages. This will affect how many people click on your content and what they will be expecting to see when they get there.
Title tags need to be considered very carefully. A good title can be the element that makes or breaks a piece of content. Some of the elements of a good title tag are that it:
- Contains accurate information about the content it represents.
- Communicates a value that the user can expect from the content.
- Sounds like it was written for humans rather than search engines.
- Is 60 Characters or less.
- Contains a keyword in the beginning.
- Is unique.
When it comes to which types of titles are the most popular, the numbered lists still reign supreme. These titles all follow the mold of claiming that the content will be a list of some number of items that will lead the reader to a better understanding of a topic. While you should not feel obligated to make all of your titles fit into this one format, their effectiveness should not be ignored.
Description tags are the second important tag to focus your energy on. If you do not fill out the description tag, search engines will take the first few lines of your post and fill the tag in themselves. While that is often a passable description, depending on the intro to your content, it may not describe it well at all.
The description tag is your chance to dive deeper into the value proposition of your content while also communicating to search engines which types of searches your content is best suited to provide answers for. If you are exploring an angle on a subject that is a little more nuanced than your title has the ability to communicate in under 60 characters, the description is the place to expand on those ideas. Some of the elements of a good description tag are that it:
- Contains the keywords you expect your ideal customers to be searching.
- Presents a clear, readable, and accurate description of the content.
- Provides some sort of hook to capture a user’s attention.
- Is 135-160 characters.
- Is unique.
If you spend a small amount of time crafting your title and description tags before posting any piece of content you will greatly increase the number of people who will click on your content and the satisfaction they will experience once they get there, all of which will improve your search engine ranking.
Finding Opportunities to Guest Blog
Guest blogging is perhaps one of the most popular forms of link-building. Reaching out to people who have already created online communities is a great way to find your own audience. When it comes to improving your standing with search engines, the links you establish back to your home site will go a long way to improving your search engine page rankings. But it begs the question, how does one find guest posting opportunities?
Time and time again it will turn out that the best tool you can use for most parts of search engine optimization is an actual search engine. A great method to find good guest posting opportunities is a feature every search engine includes: exact match. In this case you will be searching for “guest post” in quotation marks plus whatever keyword you would like to write about. This will return a slew of sites that either have posts demarcated as guest posts or that contain some sort of call for guest posting. It will also probably return several ‘round up’ articles that will include links to various sites that are looking for guest posters.
Once you have found a few sites that look like they would be good potential platforms for your expertise, use a site like Moz Open Site Explorer to investigate which of the sites has the highest page authority ranking. The higher the ranking, the more the link going back to your site will be worth.
Another slightly more sneaky way to use that same Moz tool to find guest posting opportunities is to investigate who is linking to your competitor. Besides the authority score, when you enter a site into the explorer it will provide you with a list of other sites linking back to that site. You can then pursue the list and see if there are any that would provide an opportunity.
The other way to find guest posting opportunities is to ask the community you are building online. Look at that people who are engaging with your content. Do any of them run blogs? You would surprised at how many people fall into the category of ‘blog owner’. They are much more likely to give you a guest posting spot because they are obviously familiar with your material and are fans enough to engage with you on social media.
Improve One Thing at a Time
With all of this information working on your SEO may seem a bit overwhelming. The good news is you can choose in any one of these tactics and focus on it to improve your SEO. Working on them all can be a long term goal and it is definitely one we want to help you with. Here at Agency Revolution we want you to think of us as your marketing team. We create the tools that you need to market your business but we also want to help you gain the knowledge to execute the strategies that will make you a success.