In our recent report, "Content Marketing in the Real World,” we asked real-life tech marketers to tell us what’s really going on behind the scenes at their companies when it comes to content marketing and search engine optimization. According to our research, 56% stated that SEO was a “must have” when writing content. (The remaining 44% of respondents said SEO was “nice to have.”) Additionally, 38% responded that content marketing success equated to improved search ranking.
What does this all mean? As a tech marketer, it’s clear you already understand the importance of content marketing—and you also know why SEO strategy matters. (After all, 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic searches!) But tying the two together can be a challenge: you need to write on-brand content that spurs action by the reader and ranks favorably within Google.
Easier said than done, right?
Here are a few points for you to keep in mind as a tech marketer if you’re looking to increase your SEO rankings through content marketing. Use these with new content or to revive older content that might need a refresh.
Identify Your Goals
The first step in creating a strong SEO strategy is to figure out what you want to achieve with your content marketing. Do you just want more organic traffic overall? Or are you most concerned with directing traffic to specific pages? Do you want to write content that will generate more leads? Or content that better qualifies leads and reduces your sales cycle time? It may be tempting to say “all of the above!” but you can’t do it all. Instead, pick out your top priorities and the related KPIs you’ll use to measure success. Here are some ideas:
- More website traffic = # of visitors from organic search, # of terms on “page one”
- More traffic to individual product pages = # of visitors from organic search for specific keywords
- More content engagement = time on page, bounce rate
- More leads = conversion rate from organic search
- More qualified leads = avg. # of pages visited from organic search
- Shorter sales cycle = # of days to close for leads with an original source of organic search
Whatever you're trying to achieve, decide what kind of content your audience needs to make this happen and fill in the gaps in your current content marketing as needed.
Create Quality Content
Tech marketing content can have its challenges. After all, you’re writing about specialized and often complex topics—and you need to do so in an easy-to-understand, yet thorough way. Here are some points to focus on in your content marketing.
Write for your audience
The first step in quality content creation is analyzing your audience to understand their unique needs and peculiarities. Create buyer personas that speak to your customers’ personalities and challenges and use these to guide the kinds of content marketing you create. Remember, people don’t buy products…they buy solutions. Solve their problems vs. selling your product.
Incorporate keywords appropriately
Focus on creating content using keywords your customers are searching for to make sure you’re appealing to their needs. According to the HubSpot State of Marketing Report, 71% of marketers said that using strategic keywords was their number one strategy for SEO.
When using keywords, however, be sure not to “overstuff” your content with them. Aim to incorporate them once approximately every 200 words, or as often as is natural within your text.
(Gone are the days of writing like a robot…Google is smart enough now that you can write for humans, not bots.)
Create longer content more frequently
When it comes to length for your content, longer may be best. Longer form content (1,500 words or more) helps boost your SEO ranking. But don’t forget to include images and lots of subheadings to break up long blocks of text.
Posting frequency is also an important factor. How often you should post depends on your marketing goals. For example, if your goal is to create greater brand awareness through your website, one to four times per week is ideal. If your goal is to maximize organic traffic to your company website, you should post three to five times per week.
Not only will frequent, quality content provide useful information for your current and potential customers, it also builds your company’s reputation as a thought leader in your field. And creating fresh content often provides a way to engage with and build trust with your customers. If new content creation isn’t always realistic, repurpose existing resources into different formats to help you reach more customers.
Include Internal + External Links
Further optimize your content by including links throughout the text. These can be internal links to other pages on your company website or links to any related blog posts you’ve written. It’s also good to include links to reputable external sources for an SEO boost. Just set external links to open in a new browser tab so as to not lead your visitors away from your website. (Internal links can open in the same window.)
Want more incoming links—also called backlinks—to your own website? Link building is another way to build your site’s authority and rank higher. Writing guest posts for other sites and including your own links within is one way you can do this. The more sites that you can get to link to your content, the better.
Reduce Page Load Time
Today’s website visitors hate to wait. If you have a slow-loading site, here are ways you can increase page speed and reduce your bounce rate.
You know it’s good to include eye-catching images along with your content to engage readers and keep them on your website. But if you’re not optimizing your images, large file sizes can easily slow down your page load time and negatively affect SEO.
When it comes to file size, an image’s dimensions (width x height), file type, resolution, metadata and image quality all contribute to how “big” a file is. Here are some quick tips to how to optimize each of those criteria:
- Dimensions: Export your image at the largest size it will be used. In other words, you don’t need a 5,000-pixel-wide photo for a headshot of your founder that spans 2-columns. If your photo will span the full screen (from edge-to-edge of the browser window), export it as 2,400 pixels wide.
- File type: Whenever possible, export illustrations (vector artwork) as an SVG file. For photos, use JPGs. PNGs should only be used when you need a transparent background as they have the largest file size.
- Resolution: Typically web-optimized images have been 72 dpi, but Retina displays have many more pixels per inch. At the risk of getting too technical, view your website on a high-quality monitor and save images at the lowest resolution at which they still look sharp.
- Metadata: When you take a photo with a digital camera, it’s tagged with “metadata”—info about the location, date, camera, etc. This data isn’t necessary on the web and should be removed using an image optimization tool to decrease file size.
- Image quality: When compressing an image, you have two options: lossy and lossless. Lossy is a filter that eliminates some of the image’s data; this method reduces file sizes the most, but can negatively affect image quality if taken to the extreme. Lossless is a filter that compresses the image’s data; this doesn’t degrade the image quality like lossy, but also doesn’t reduce the file size as much. Which is best? It depends! Play around with different compression techniques and see what works best for your specific image.
Enable AMP Pages
Set Up a CDN
A CDN, or content delivery network, is a network of servers distributed across the globe. By using a CDN, your content will be served up by the server closest to the visitor, reducing page load time.
Minify CSS and Script Files
Use a tool like Minify to clean up your code by removing white space, stripping comments, combining files and optimizing common programming patterns.
Add Tags for Google
Help Google understand what your page is about by adding (mostly) behind-the-scenes tags to content and imagery.
Title tags show in the browser tab and in your SERP listing. They should be under 60 characters and as relevant to your content as possible. Here are some other tips:
- Use your company name, but separate it from other phrases using the dash (-) with a space before and after. The days of using pipes (|) as separators are gone.
- On the homepage, put the company name first, followed by a short statement. On interior pages, but the short statement first, followed by the company name.
- Keep it straightforward and save the fluffy adjectives for on-page copy. For example, “Enterprise ERP Task Manager - Company Name” is better than “The Best Choice in ERP Task Management - Company Name.”
Meta descriptions are a sentence or two that further describe what your page is about. They should be under 160 characters and will show up on the SERP listing. Always end your meta descriptions with a good ol’ CTA, like read, watch, learn, etc.
- Bad example: “Our product will transform the way you do business and our experts have the knowledge to help you grow. We’re here to help you meet your goals.”
- Good example: “Our cloud-based ERP solution will help you manage your manufacturing data and gain insights. Read tips and tricks from our industry experts.”
Image alt tags are great for screen readers, but also important for Google.
- Describe the image and be specific. Use both the image's subject and context to guide you.
- Keep your alt text fewer than 125 characters. Screen-reading tools typically stop reading alt text at this point, cutting off long-winded alt text at awkward moments when verbalizing this description for the visually impaired.
- Don't start alt text with "picture of..." or "Image of..." Jump right into the image's description. Screen-reading tools (and Google, for that matter) will identify it as an image from the article's HTML source code.
- Use your keywords, but sparingly. Only include your article's target keyword if it's easily included in your alt text. If not, consider semantic keywords, or just the most important terms within a longtail keyword. For example, if your article's head keyword is "how to generate leads," you might use "lead generation" in your alt text, since "how to" might be difficult to include in image alt text naturally.
- Don't cram your keyword into every single image's alt text. If your blog post contains a series of body images, include your keyword in at least one of those images. Identify the image you think is most representative of your topic, and assign it your keyword. Stick to more aesthetic descriptions in the surrounding media.
- Leave alt text blank if an image is purely decorative (ex; a stylized rule or a background pattern)
Need an example?
- Okay alt text: <img src="escalator.jpg" alt="man on escalator">
- Better alt text: <img src="escalator.jpg" alt="man walking on escalator">
- Best alt text: <img src="escalator.jpg" alt="man wearing backpack walking down escalator">
Schema markup provides search engines more specific information that is used to understand your content and provide readers with results more relevant to their search. For example, if you’re using the word “jaguar,” how does Google know if you’re talking about an animal, the car or the football team? Yes, it will reference the rest of the page to take a guess, but by adding schema markup, you can let it know for sure. Easy items to tag on a website include:
- Address (location name, street, city, state and zip)
- Phone/Fax number
- Social media links
Outsource Your SEO
While you may understand the importance of increasing your SEO rankings, you might not have the time or expertise in house to do it. If you haven’t spent much time working on content marketing SEO in the past, you might find the competition to be fierce. In this case, it’s best to hire an expert to help you analyze and optimize existing content, and create new content as needed.
No matter which strategies you use to increase SEO rankings, one thing is certain. Patience is key. Building a strong reputation takes time, but we guarantee it will be vital to your company’s online success in the long run.