How Google Finds Your Content Differently Now

Keywords are out, concepts are in.

Google’s algorithm has switched focus from keywords to quality content. So building your site around as many single high traffic keywords as possible is SEO circa 2002 and strikes customers like the guy at the party who’s clearly “networking.” Nobody likes that guy.

Similar to real life networking, in search marketing it’s more important to connect with the right customer than 1,000 people who don’t need your content.

Keywords still matter, but only if they feed into a larger concept. Search engines are in the business of answering questions, so they’re constantly trying to decode what your website says as a whole rather than which single words match.

When you’re optimizing your website content, write like you search. It’s not just “SEO,” it’s “easy tips for SEO” or “SEO 2014 trends.” Here’s an excellent step-by-step guide to optimizing towards concepts and a list of helpful SEO tools.

Google gives preference to people sharing their expertise, not just self-promoting.

This advice is like drinking 8 glasses of water a day or wearing sunscreen. You’ve heard it before, but you feign selective hearing.

The fact is if you want a growing web presence, the best long term plan is to keep sharing your expertise through content. This does NOT mean constantly self-promoting your business. People are getting increasingly numb to indirect advertising and will tune you out fast if you’re just tweeting company slogans and blogging about how great you are.

If you’re just starting out with building content try to nail just two things first: consistency and value.

Figure out a timeline that works for you and see if you can stick to it. Once a month is better than a ton of every day posts from two years ago (because if you try to start out fast and furious, I promise you’ll burn out quickly). Then, before writing anything, ask yourself: Does this bring value to my audience? If not, try again.

Social media conversations count, don’t let them be buried away in a comments section.

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A perk of a reliable audience is that they’ll start to do the marketing legwork for you. User-generated content is a smoke signal to search engines that you have a quality website. The more your customers talk about you, the higher you’ll rank.

A couple years ago, Google search results didn’t have little gold star rankings for any business or product search. That’s a prominent design feature that keeps people visiting highly reviewed links. Social media is another powerful form of UGC that many businesses still undervalue.

An easy way to boost your user-generated content is to make sure your social media toolbar is at the top and bottom of each share-worth page and you have a place for readers to leave comments on each article. If you have a storefront like a restaurant, post a Yelp badge on your website or a physical sign. (Just don’t outright ask for reviews, Yelp doesn’t like that.)

A higher level technique would be to share expertise on a platform like YouTube that drives customers back to your site. Own a yoga clothing line? Post videos of easy at-home poses or meditations. Sharing like this builds trust and will stick in the mind of potential customers.

SEO and content marketing are tools best used together, and one without the other won’t get you far. The bottom line for successful content marketing is: share great content that answers questions, keep your content consistent, and have a conversation with your audience. While you’re doing that, make sure that the content you’ve worked so hard on is optimized at all stages so your audience will see it in the first place.

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