Welcome to the fourth quarter. If you’ve been running your own business, freelancing or involved in entrepreneurship for a while, you know that the fourth quarter is the time to start building plans for 2017. That way, when the calendar flips, you’re ready to take your first quarter by storm instead of playing catch up. There are many different aspects of your business to address: budgeting, marketing, progress goals, etc.
In this post, we’re going to talk about SEO and how to make sure even more people can find you through the search results.
It might seem a little silly to try to plan ahead for your SEO, especially since the rules that govern Google’s (and the other search engines) almighty algorithms change frequently. Even so, now is the perfect time to look at what you’ve been doing, what the anticipated trends are for next year, and what kinds of shifts and changes you need to make to keep up. If a major change in SEO gets rolled out, don’t worry: there will most likely be advance notice of the change so you can tweak and adjust as necessary.
Implement any (or all) of the methods below to see improvement in both your content creation, audience targeting and search rankings.
Schema is a specific group of tags or microdata that you can add to your site’s HTML code to improve the snippets people see on search engines. Officially named Schema.org, it is important because it collaborates with all of the major search engines to improve your ratings across the web. And it works. According to a recent blog post by Cody Jensen at SearchBloom, the service saw significant improvement in the site’s numbers when implementing localized targeting with their content and search results — through the use of Schema. Jensen reports that he has seen this happen over and over again across multiple sites.
You can see the full breakdown of this summary from Cody, here, or also refer to the screenshot below from Google to see how different sites and travel notifications are using Schema to improve their search results.
Typically, freelancers and business owners focus on the keywords they most want people to use when searching for their services or products. If this has been your approach as well, it’s time to change. Instead, you should be focusing on the keywords people are already using to find you. The best way to do this is to run a new and current SERP so that you have up to date information on your sites. Use this information to inform your content calendar over the next few months to take advantage of people’s’ existing expectations.
An example of how this type of research and keyword planning can help with creating content for your site can be seen in my recent post on BloggingTips.com. The article is focused on 80 different experts, all answering the question of how to create a successful blog. The end result is a 10,000-word piece that not only answers the question, it also helps solidify the site in creating content, gaining backlinks and social shares all around the existing goal of ranking for “blogging tips” and “how to start a blog” related keyword terms.
This same method can be put into place on any existing website or blog. It’s not so much about creating new content for keywords you would like to suddenly rank for, it’s about knowing where you are currently ranking and how to improve and solidify those rankings.
Another example of this can be seen on InfographicDesignTeam.com, where they asked 57 experts for their best content creation tip. The cool thing about this scenerio, was that each of the experts didn’t need to actually use the site service or infographics to take part in the content creation process. This is a great example of why so many brands and businesses are jumping in on the expert round up trend — it simply works!
It is no longer going to be enough to simply place keywords and links on your page. You will want to start planning your content so that links and keywords appear “above the fold” on your site. These links and keywords get much better play than those located near the bottom of the page–especially on those sites that lack top-page ads. Yes, there is something to be said for placing a link or keyword organically and that still takes priority. Still, try to work your content so that the organic nature of the keyword or link happens on the top part of your page.
At the same time, it’s also important to think about the placement of target keywords and phrases within the title of your articles as well. This works especially well if you are trying to target a specific name or brand. You can see an example of this in the screenshot below. While the article is titled “Mark Dubowitz: Waging Financial War on Iran“, it will likely rank much higher for the term Mark Dubowitz, versus “War on Iran” for two reasons… the first being that it’s right at the beginning of the title and mentioned throughout the article, and the second is that it’s a very specific word with less competition.
This is just one example of how target keywords and phrases can be used within content and titles to rank more effectively in Google. Place the main keyword or phrase first, along with a few follow-up words that grab attention and cover the basis of what the article is about.
Are you still running your marketing campaigns separately? Do you have a social media plan, an SEO plan, an email plan, etc? One major trend in 2017 is going to be to pull each of your separate plans together into a cohesive and hybridized plan. This is something we are seeing a lot in the email marketing space lately. No longer are solutions just providing a way to collect and send out to email addresses, they are now providing full marketing automation solutions. You can see an example of this through the screenshot below, and how individual user tracking and action flow charts are quicking changing everything.
The exciting thing is that this same concept can now be used with content creation, social sharing, outreach, and SEO as well. There are many solutions now in place to not only make each of these components easier and faster, while also allowing you to connect to different APIs, social platforms, and 3rd party solutions.
One of the most important things to remember here, is that not only are the options for content creation and promotion automation available to you… but also that your competition is likely already using them. Those who wait to implement such methods, will likely fall behind in 2017.
Google has long been opposed to the purchasing and selling of links between sites. It is one thing to buy legitimate advertising space and Google accounts for that but they do still have ways of sniffing out paid content links. So, if you are still using this technique, you need to stop. Google is getting stricter about site links and you risk being delisted entirely if you get caught buying links to inflate your page rank. Instead, focus your energy now on building relationships and backlinks organically so that you’ll start 2017 at a great spot in people’s’ search results.
A better way to approach SEO in 2017, is through the use of original and premium shareable content. This method has worked extremely well for websites and brands of all sizes for the past several years, and it should continue to do the same for years to come. A perfect example of this type of content creation can be seen through infographics, explainer videos, slideshares and more. No matter what niche you are in, or audience you are trying to go after — always focus on creating the best content possible. When people love your content, they are much more likely to share it with their audience (while also increasing your backlinks, social shares and search rankings).
It’s the 4th quarter which means it is a perfect time to do some market research. Poll your audience to find out what is working for them and what isn’t. Gear at least one of these polls toward SEO topics so that you’ll know how to make improvements there before the turn of the year.
SEO is an ever-changing system of organization and rank. Everybody knows this. Even so, keeping up with the trends is important.
My name is Zac Johnson and I have been an online entrepreneur for the past 18 years and blogger since 2007. This is my personal blog and I welcome you to the site. In full disclosure, it is safe to assume that I am benefiting financially or otherwise from everything you click on, read, or look at while on my website.
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