People love to talk SEO, we do too. Most people don’t even need a marketing consultant or SEO guru these days to help them understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Probably everyone that owns a basic website today understands the rudiments of Search Engine Optimization and how essential it is if they want to be visible on search engines like Google or Bing.

The first thing many prospective clients want to discuss with me is SEO, “We need to put our SEO in place, so we really need to start generating content. We need a blog, we need social media, we need you to do the keyword research, so we can build the content around it. We have a White Hat SEO guru in India who’ll help us with link building”.

Well I’ve got some bad news folks, SEO doesn’t work like that; creating blog content around keywords only leads to useless content that could actually hurt your SEO efforts. Social Media posts, retweets and likes do not directly affect search engine ranking. White Hat link building requires reputable content, so no one can do it for you if you don’t have reputable content already in place.

 

How Creating Content Should Work

Search Engines intend to help people find the most relevant answers to their queries – plain and simple. And to do this successfully, they have to rely on keywords and links among other things. Also, because search engines like Google want to remain relevant, they’re going to continue to improve how results are indexed by constantly tweaking their algorithm.

In the not too distant past, people abused keywords and link building using tactics like keyword stuffing where they bloated pages with the keywords they wanted to rank for and used link exchange programs and spam to ensure that their links were on as many sites as possible. But search engines have grown smarter since then, search engines actually do a pretty good job in determining whether content is relevant or not. Google’s AI has become so advanced now that it considers multiple things when ranking, making it really hard to for useless content to rank high.

Whether you repeat your keywords 30 times or 3 times, a Search Engine will be able to judge how relevant your content is based on how those that find it use it. If for instance, your bounce rate is very high, it’ll be assumed your content isn’t relevant because even though people are getting to it, they are not reading it. If on the other hand, people are sharing your content, it’ll be assumed your content is relevant, and if your content is of good length (usually about 2,000 words or a little more), it’ll also be assumed that it provides enough information to make it credible.

When creating content, the one thing you should do is think of your audience and not the search engines. The best approach is to write your content first and then think of how to integrate the relevant keywords and not the other way around.

With links, you also have to be extremely careful. You only get points if your links come from reputable sources that have some sort of relationship with your content. For instance, if you have a well written, brilliant article on personal finance and an article about The Avengers Infinity War linking to it, even if the Infinity War article is supposedly from a reputable source, you don’t get any points. Sometimes you actually loose points. Also, if you’re an American business but all your links comes from Russia and Saudi Arabia, they’re not deemed credible and you could be penalized and loose points in your SEO ranking. It’s important that the majority of your links come from the same country or at least a country that speaks the same language as your intended audience.

There are times you’re unaware that the wrong type of links are referring to your content, because believe it or not, for some strange reason people will always spam. In situations like this, you need to be on top of your SEO game, there are many tools like SEM Rush that show you the sites linking to yours. Check frequently and try to get rid of irrelevant links. Building good links takes strategy, but if you have great content it could also just happen if the great piece of content is in the right place at the right time, and that’s where social media comes in.

 

No, Social Media Doesn’t Directly Improve SEO, Here’s What it Really Does

If content was a car, social media will be the fuel. If the car was a 2018 Mercedes Benz E-300 AMG, while it’s a beautiful car, without fuel, it’ll just sit in the driveway. With fuel, it’s able to move but without a destination, it really just burns fuel. And if, you accidentally put diesel instead of gas, it’ll ruin your engine – get my drift? When you tweet or publish a post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ and include a link to your content, while you don’t get any SEO cred, you get to drive and if you have a destination, you drive towards your destination. When people like your post, retweet, comment and share within the networks, you still don’t get any SEO points.

This is what really happens with Social Media (Most times):

You share the link to your content on social media, people in turn like, share, comment and click the link leading to the content. For every time someone lands on the content, stays long enough to read it and shares it from your website, you get a bump in your reputation and some SEO cred. The more people that land on your page via social media, read and share, the more points you get and this is really why social media is important for your SEO strategy.

While it’s good to be consistent on social media, it’s more important to be relevant. If to stay consistent, all you ever do is retweet, share and comment on other peoples posts, it really does nothing for your SEO, instead it’ll probably annoy your followers that you have no originality thus they start to either skip your posts or completely unfollow you which makes it hard for you to get likes, retweets and shares when you actually deserve it.

You can’t develop content for the sake of developing content. It has to be able to either impact knowledge, emotion or discovery. If it does none of these, it really doesn’t need to exist.

(Check out what Levi Flint of Leverage Marketing has to say about improving SEO with Social Media)

And Finally, What You Should Do First

Before you start to put together your SEO strategy, you need to put in place your technical SEO. You can have the perfect strategy, but without technical SEO, search engines wouldn’t even find you to attempt indexing.

To start with technical SEO, ensure that your site is secure. HTTPS is not just about sucurity and privacy these days, it has been a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm for a while now. Your site speed is also a small ranking factor so you need to ensure that the page downloads fast.

Once you have a fast, secure site, go to Google and type site:{yoursitename.com} into the search bar. You should immediately see how many pages on your site are discoverable and ranking. You’ll need this to also discover pages you don’t want indexed, for example old versions of your site and even spam.

Technical SEO

You need to make sure you have a robots.txt file on your site and it’s configured right and an XML sitemap. Your site has to be easy to navigate so your internal linking structure shouldn’t be an after thought. Know when to use NOINDEX and NOFOLLOW commands to keep unwanted pages from indexing. Make sure you use URL best practices. Your slug should include your important keywords and use hyphens to separate the words.

Setup 301 and 302 redirects to avoid 404 errors. Avoid duplicate content. This might seem simple but usually duplicate content is unintentionally caused by canonicalization on sites. For example, without proper canonicalization, your site’s home page actually has 3 or more different URLs: mysite.com, www.mysite.com, mysite.com/index.html. Googlebot spiders will see each URL as a different page and won’t know which one to send users to. To avoid this, one way is to have a server side redirect that sets one of those URLs as the “official” version of the page, and only serves that version, regardless of which URL was the destination.

There is so much more to technical SEO, the team at Ignite Visibility do a great job and breaking some of it down in this article. You can always check it out.

 

Conclusion

The primary purpose of this article is to help people understand SEO best practices. This is not an offer or an attempt to sell anything. It’s honest help intended to give a bit of advice to anyone doing SEO. That should be your motivation every time you sit down to create content – give something for nothing. That way, you succeed whether or not you rank on the first page of Google or Bing.