So you want to improve your website’s search ranking for relevant queries on Google, the world’s most widely used search engine? You’re certainly not alone. Search engines continue to direct the majority of traffic on the web. In addition, unlike people goofing off on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, people using Google show interest and intent—based on the keywords they use. The benefits of higher search engine rankings are significant:
Increased Organic Traffic
Your prospective customers rely on search engines to find the products and services they need—this is the heart of inbound marketing. Just like you, they’re busy people! Don’t expect them to scroll too far down search results pages. For most products and services, the percentage of searchers that venture past the first page of results is minimal. If your website doesn’t have strong search ranking positions for the services you offer, you’re losing out on potential customers. Better search rankings means more traffic to your website, giving you the chance to sell your products and/or services to a large market and improve your lead generation opportunities.
Improved Brand Image
Web searchers believe that pages ranked higher on Google for search terms must feature authoritative, relevant content. Google itself has come out and stated the following: “Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.” Google’s stated philosophy is simple: focus on the user and all else will follow. Google frequently updates its search algorithm for quality assurance purposes—the end goal is to better serve the needs of searchers. Expect searchers to have a more positive perception of brands that are ranked higher on search results.
Improving Your Search Rankings
How exactly can you improve your website’s search engine ranking position for a variety of keywords relevant to your business? We have to think like Google (or how Google is starting to think in 2013) to perform well on Google—this means we need to focus on delivering the best user experience possible. The answer involves a mix of content curation, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), and guest blogging for links on relevant, authoritative sites.
Let’s briefly go through each one.
You might be familiar with the term “content marketing,” but have you ever heard of “content curation?” Content curation involves gathering and organizing quality content from authoritative sources and then presenting this information (often in a mashed up way) to your audience in a concise, coherent fashion. A content curator performs the same general task that a museum curator does. A museum curator is responsible for every stunning piece of art seen in a museum. These artworks are determined, acquired, and organized by the museum curator who then designs their placement in the museum. In much the same way, a content curator handles the organization of a significant amount of information that’s often coming from a variety of sources.
As a general rule, content curators should give credit to the original source of the information by incorporating hyperlinks into the curated content back to the full page source. When you curate content from relevant, authoritative sources, you’re sending a strong signal to search engines that your site features useful information. Any content marketing specialist will tell you that continuously churning out quality content is no easy task. Consequently, focusing on content curation helps you add fresh content to your site that’s highly topical and rich in keywords—and, yes, Google still needs text to rank your site. Additionally, as other industry leaders and professionals discover your content, they may link to you as a trusted source, which will help improve your website’s search engine rankings.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords
In the old days, search engines relied heavily on keyword density to gauge the relevancy of a web page. Let’s say you have a page on “Kate Upton,” and you observe that the top result on Google for the term uses the phrase “Kate Upton” 32 times in the text. You decide to sprinkle in “Kate Upton” 34 times in your text to outrank the competitor. Case closed. But is this really fair? Google now penalizes such “keyword stuffing” tactics, and it has officially stated that “filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.” This is where LSIkeywords come into play. Before we dive into this, however, check out a portion of a recent infographic published by Google—”How Search Works”— that sheds light on LSI keywords:
The term “Semantic Indexing” is just another way of saying synonyms (show in the infographic as a clue algorithms take into account to understand what searchers mean). Using a variety of synonyms related to your target keyword is extremely important to rank higher on search engines.
One of my clients here at Blue Corona, for example, is a natural gas company. As opposed to sprinkling in just “natural gas company” throughout the copy, semantically related terms include (but are not limited to) fossil fuels, natural gas prices, natural gas supplier, heating oil, propane, etc. It’s important to use these terms in your copy so that it sounds natural and creates a beneficial user experience, which is the key to higher search engine rankings.
Now, content curation is directly related to the LSI keywords. How so? The process of curating content from legitimate, trustworthy sources will naturally lend itself to incorporating LSI keywords within the copy you produce.
A well-executed content curation strategy is a definite way to improve search engine rankings, which means more traffic to your website and more lead generation.
Guest Blogging for Links
The discussion we’ve engaged in about content curation and LSI keywords is primarily centered on onpage SEO optimization, which refers to all the things you can do directly on your website to rank higher on search engines. But what about offpage SEO optimization—all the things you can do off your own website to rank higher? While it’s certainly possible (and likely over time) that curated content will be linked to by other authoritative sources, guest blogging remains one of the best ways to build external links that will help improve your website’s search ranking.
Guest blogging is the submission of a blog post or article to some external website, which will hopefully be featured on the site. Most websites that offer guest blogging opportunities have clearly articulated submission policies regarding things like topic, word count, linking, etc. You should incorporate a link within the guest post back to your website—preferably a deeper page as opposed to the homepage to display ultra-relevance to search engines. For example, a guest blog post on Jeeps (as part of a link building campaign for a car dealership) should feature a deep link back to the Jeep section of the website. Also, as is the case with LSI, variety is key when selecting the anchor text to use within your guest posts—Google views the use of a variety of different anchor texts as more natural.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam and Quality Control Team, has stated that guest blogging for links is certainly useful as long as it meets two important criteria. First, the submitted content should be original, engaging, and of high quality. Article “spinning,” or article rewriting, must be avoided at all costs. Second, the submitted content should go beyond a “bare minimum” of 300 words. All this being said, use guest blogging as an opportunity to showcase to Google (and the world!) that you are an industry expert. The search ranking benefits will naturally take care of itself.
People have long tried to fool Google to achieve higher search engine rankings. However, Google has become very sophisticated in terms of identifying and penalizing spammy, shady SEO tactics. Cutts recently posted on Twitter about a fraudulent Russian link network:
Needless to say, don’t try to fool Google.
A focus on content curation, LSI keywords, and guest blogging for links creates a powerful onpage and offpage SEO strategy because it is geared toward offering a positive search experience. All this takes time, however, which you may not have. While you’re out fixing an HVAC unit, running a car dealership, or training clients at your fitness center, allow the content marketing specialists at Blue Corona to handle your online marketing strategy.
Provide us all the relevant, useful literature you have about your products and/or services so we can understand your industry and craft a content strategy that will help drive targeted traffic to your website and improve your lead generation opportunities.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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