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How to effectively optimize content

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How to effectively optimize content

30-second summary:

  • By using a range of techniques to optimize your content, you can make it easier for both search engines and users to consume your written text
  • Taking the time to plan your content topics and conduct extensive keyword research can make a big impact when it comes to performance
  • You should always write for the user first, but you can still implement SEO best practices while doing so
  • Understand the role of accessibility in written content and the importance of providing as much contextual information as possible

Content optimization is essential because it helps users and search engines to easily understand your written text. In addition to this, there are a huge number of other advantages you can gain by optimizing content. You can increase engagement rates, obtain links, generate brand recognition, and appear as an expert in your field. All while improving your organic search rankings.

Sounds good, right?

Let’s find out how you can benefit from all this, and more, by effectively optimizing your content.

Think about your topic

Before you write content, you need to decide on the topic you’re going to cover. This might sound obvious, but it’s worth thinking about. Spending some extra time planning will help you to identify specific subjects and talking points you can discuss. This will help shape your keyword research, which plays a huge role in creating SEO-friendly content.

At this stage, it’s worth thinking about what you want to focus on. You want the topic to be broad enough that you can produce detailed content about it, but not so broad that you won’t be able to cover it all. It might be the case that you need to split the topic into multiple articles. Or if your topic is too vague, you may need to home in on something more specific.

Conduct detailed keyword research

Keyword research is and always has been an essential part of producing good content. It’s the basis for content production and making sure you’re ranking for relevant keywords that you have a good chance of competing for. When performing keyword research, you should be on the lookout for several different types of keywords.

Short-tail keywords

Also known as the head or main keyword, short-tail keywords are made up of a maximum of three words. These keywords will typically have large volumes, but because of this, they have high search difficulties and therefore are highly competitive.

Because these keywords have a broad search intent, they should be used alongside more precise keywords to make it clear to users and search engines exactly what your page is about.

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are terms made up of more than three keywords and are much more specific than short-tail keywords. These keywords generally have lower volumes, but they also have lower search difficulties, which means they are less competitive.

These keywords are important because they allow you to target a user’s exact search intent. A user who searches for the short-tail keyword ‘motorbike’ might be trying to buy a motorbike, find more information about a model or simply look at a picture of one.

A long tail variation of this search might be ‘Motorbike helmet with Bluetooth speakers’, which narrows down the user’s search intent to a very specific product.

LSI keywords

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are keywords that are loosely related to your head keyword. While these keywords are relevant to your main keyword and the overall topic, they’re not necessarily directly related.

Instead, they’re used thematically to build broader topical depth and make it clear to both search engines and users what the overarching topic of your content is. If your short-tail keyword is the trunk of a tree and your long-tail keywords are the branches, then the LSI keywords are the twigs.

LSI keywords branch out from the main keyword but are still relatable enough to provide additional context and information. These can be a bit trickier to find, but by using the suggested search feature in search engines, you can get your hands on them.

Local keywords

These keywords won’t always be relevant, but if you’re looking to boost your rankings for local terms, then including local keywords is essential.

Luckily, this is a lot easier than implementing other keywords. You simply add your location into your content along with your main keyword. But remember, don’t stuff in keywords for the sake of it! Try to mix it up, using different variations wherever possible.

People also ask (PAA) key phrases

Like the suggested search function, the people also ask feature is an excellent way to obtain relevant keywords and phrases. These are phrases that users have searched for before, so we know that they hold value and have good search volumes.

So, how can we use this to our advantage?

By creating content that targets these queries, you’ll be increasing your chances of appearing in Search Engine Results Pages for these terms.

And the best thing is, these questions are often different to the main keywords you would normally target. This means your content will be more varied and unique and will specifically target pain points that your audience is looking for.

Always write for the user first

People skim content more than ever these days, so it’s important to keep it short, snappy, and engaging. The days of writing solely for search engines are long gone, and Google’s recent helpful content update has really cemented this.

This update emphasizes the importance of writing for the user first. Your focus should be on creating engaging, informative and easy-to-digest content. You can always go through your work afterward and make tweaks and edits to optimize for SEO best practice.

Just be careful not to make it too robotic as search engines can spot keyword stuffing from a mile away! Keep it free-flowing and try to insert keywords in a natural way; both users and search engines will appreciate it.

Include alt-text for your images

If you’re including images in your articles (which you should be) then it’s essential that you add alt text. Alt text is the written copy that describes an image to users who can’t see them or if the image fails to load.

First and foremost, alt text is a core principle of web accessibility for visually impaired users. Its secondary function is to provide additional context and descriptions to search engine crawlers, allowing them to index an image properly.

As some images contain critical information or provide context for the rest of the page, it’s crucial to take the time to write appropriate alt text. By doing this, you are adhering to accessibility standards and improving your SEO at the same time.

Remember internal and external links

Another way to optimize your content is to include internal and external links.

Internal links can be used to take users toward relevant, closely related pages that will provide them with further information they might be looking for. This makes it easier for users to navigate your website and helps to create a strong site structure.

External links are also useful because they can be used to point toward external data and sources of information that back up your content. In the eyes of a search engine, the use of valuable external links improves the authority of your content.

Just make sure you have a healthy balance of follow and no-follow tags on your external links.

Consider site speed

Site speed is always important when it comes to performing well in search engines. No one likes a slow website, and users are more impatient than ever when it comes for waiting for things to load. Even an extra second’s loading time could put some users off and cause them to bounce from your website.

You should regularly review your site speed and make sure your website is performing well. Consider removing unnecessary code and compressing large images as these are common factors that contribute to slow site speed.

Break up your content

Imagine you land on a webpage and the first thing you see is a wall of text with no paragraphs, headings, or subheadings. It’s not exactly going to draw you in, is it?

Users are more likely to consume your content if it’s broken up into digestible chunks. This makes it much easier for them to quickly take in the information they’re looking for.

It also provides you an opportunity to weave keywords into your headings and subheadings, which are strong signals for search engines. It’s a win-win!

Keep things up to date

Remember, even when you’ve produced a well-written, SEO-friendly article, the hard work doesn’t stop there. Google LOVES it when you go back and update existing content because it shows you’re keeping your website up to date.

Has there been a new development that affects the topic of your post? Or perhaps some new data that you could use to explore a new angle? If there is some way that you can update your article and add information that will benefit your users, then it’s worth taking the time to do so.

Enjoy the benefits of optimized content

Now that you know how to optimize your content, you’ll have a better chance of ranking for your chosen keywords. In addition to this, your users will be more likely to stay on your website for longer, increasing your engagement rates and the time spent consuming your content.

As a result of consistently producing high-quality content, you may well find that your site is attracting more links from external sources. This will boost your domain authority and help you to appear as a trustworthy and authoritative source of information.

So, if you’re looking for ways to give your content a little boost, consider implementing some of these techniques into your writing. It won’t always be possible to include everything we’ve mentioned here, but if you write for the user first and take care with your keywords, you’ll be on the right track.


Rob Phillips is Digital Manager at Coast Digital.

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Google On Traffic Diversity As A Ranking Factor

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Google answers the question of whether traffic diversity is a ranking factor for SEO

Google’s SearchLiaison tweeted encouragement to diversify traffic sources, being clear about the reason he was recommending it. Days later, someone followed up to ask if traffic diversity is a ranking factor, prompting SearchLiaison to reiterate that it is not.

What Was Said

The question of whether diversity of traffic was a ranking factor was elicited from a previous tweet in a discussion about whether a site owner should be focusing on off-site promotion.

Here’s the question from the original discussion that was tweeted:

“Can you please tell me if I’m doing right by focusing on my site and content – writing new articles to be found through search – or if I should be focusing on some off-site effort related to building a readership? It’s frustrating to see traffic go down the more effort I put in.”

SearchLiaison split the question into component parts and answered each one. When it came to the part about off-site promotion, SearchLiaison (who is Danny Sullivan), shared from his decades of experience as a journalist and publisher covering technology and search marketing.

I’m going to break down his answer so that it’s clearer what he meant

This is the part from the tweet that talks about off-site activities:

“As to the off-site effort question, I think from what I know from before I worked at Google Search, as well as my time being part of the search ranking team, is that one of the ways to be successful with Google Search is to think beyond it.”

What he is saying here is simple, don’t limit your thinking about what to do with your site to thinking about how to make it appeal to Google.

He next explains that sites that rank tend to be sites that are created to appeal to people.

SearchLiaison continued:

“Great sites with content that people like receive traffic in many ways. People go to them directly. They come via email referrals. They arrive via links from other sites. They get social media mentions.”

What he’s saying there is that you’ll know that you’re appealing to people if people are discussing your site in social media, if people are referring the site in social media and if other sites are citing it with links.

Other ways to know that a site is doing well is when when people engage in the comments section, send emails asking follow up questions, and send emails of thanks and share anecdotes of their success or satisfaction with a product or advice.

Consider this, fast fashion site Shein at one point didn’t rank for their chosen keyword phrases, I know because I checked out of curiosity. But they were at the time virally popular and making huge amounts of sales by gamifying site interaction and engagement, propelling them to become a global brand. A similar strategy propelled Zappos when they pioneered no-questions asked returns and cheerful customer service.

SearchLiaison continued:

“It just means you’re likely building a normal site in the sense that it’s not just intended for Google but instead for people. And that’s what our ranking systems are trying to reward, good content made for people.”

SearchLiaison explicitly said that building sites with diversified content is not a ranking factor.

He added this caveat to his tweet:

“This doesn’t mean you should get a bunch of social mentions, or a bunch of email mentions because these will somehow magically rank you better in Google (they don’t, from how I know things).”

Despite The Caveat…

A journalist tweeted this:

“Earlier this week, @searchliaison told people to diversify their traffic. Naturally, people started questioning whether that meant diversity of traffic was a ranking factor.

So, I asked @iPullRank what he thought.”

SearchLiaison of course answered that he explicitly said it’s not a ranking factor and linked to his original tweet that I quoted above.

He tweeted:

“I mean that’s not exactly what I myself said, but rather repeat all that I’ll just add the link to what I did say:”

The journalist responded:

“I would say this is calling for publishers to diversify their traffic since you’re saying the great sites do it. It’s the right advice to give.”

And SearchLiaison answered:

“It’s the part of “does it matter for rankings” that I was making clear wasn’t what I myself said. Yes, I think that’s a generally good thing, but it’s not the only thing or the magic thing.”

Not Everything Is About Ranking Factors

There is a longstanding practice by some SEOs to parse everything that Google publishes for clues to how Google’s algorithm works. This happened with the Search Quality Raters guidelines. Google is unintentionally complicit because it’s their policy to (in general) not confirm whether or not something is a ranking factor.

This habit of searching for “ranking factors” leads to misinformation. It takes more acuity to read research papers and patents to gain a general understanding of how information retrieval works but it’s more work to try to understand something than skimming a PDF for ranking papers.

The worst approach to understanding search is to invent hypotheses about how Google works and then pore through a document to confirm those guesses (and falling into the confirmation bias trap).

In the end, it may be more helpful to back off of exclusively optimizing for Google and focus at least equally as much in optimizing for people (which includes optimizing for traffic). I know it works because I’ve been doing it for years.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business for Local SEO

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that business owners can use to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps.

This profile also puts out important business details, such as address, phone number, and operating hours, making it easily accessible to potential customers. 

Google My Business profile shown on Google MapsGoogle My Business profile shown on Google Maps

When you click on a business listing in the search results it will open a detailed sidebar on the right side of the screen, providing comprehensive information about the business. 

This includes popular times, which show when the business is busiest, a Q&A section where potential users can ask questions and receive responses from the business or other customers, and a photos and videos section that showcases products and services. Customer reviews and ratings are also displayed, which are crucial for building trust and credibility.

Business details on Google My Business profileBusiness details on Google My Business profile

Using Google My Business for Local SEO

Having an optimized Google Business Profile ensures that your business is visible, searchable, and can attract potential customers who are looking for your products and services.

  • Increased reliance on online discovery: More consumers are going online to search and find local businesses, making it crucial to have a GMB listing.
  • Be where your customers are searching: GMB ensures your business information is accurate and visible on Google Search and Maps, helping you stay competitive.
  • Connect with customers digitally: GMB allows customers to connect with your business through various channels, including messaging and reviews.
  • Build your online reputation: GMB makes it easy for customers to leave reviews, which can improve your credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Location targeting: GMB enables location-based targeting, showing your ads to people searching for businesses in your exact location.
  • Measurable results: GMB provides actionable analytics, allowing you to track your performance and optimize your listing.

How to Set Up Google My Business

If you already have a profile and need help claiming, verifying, and/or optimizing it, skip to the next sections.

If you’re creating a new Google My Business profile, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Access or Create your Google AccountAccess or Create your Google Account

Step 1: Access or Create your Google Account:

If you don’t already have a Google account, follow these steps to create one:

  • Visit the Google Account Sign-up Page: Go to the Google Account sign-up page and click on “Create an account.”
  • Enter Your Information: Fill in the required fields, including your name, email address, and password.
  • Verify Your Account: Google will send a verification email to your email address. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account.

Step 2:  Access Google My Business

Business name on Google My BusinessBusiness name on Google My Business

Step 3: Enter Your Business Name and Category

  • Type in your exact business name. Google will suggest existing businesses as you type
  • If your business is not listed, fully type out the name as it appears
  • Search for and select your primary business category

Adding business address to Google My Business profileAdding business address to Google My Business profile

Step 4: Provide Your Business Address

  • If you have a physical location where customers can visit, select “Yes” and enter your address.
  • If you are a service area business without a physical location, select “No” and enter your service area.

Adding contact information to Google My Business profileAdding contact information to Google My Business profile

Step 5: Add Your Contact Information

  • Enter your business phone number and website URL
  • You can also create a free website based on your GMB information

Complete Your ProfileComplete Your Profile

Step 6: Complete Your Profile

To complete your profile, add the following details:

  • Hours of Operation: Enter your business’s operating hours to help customers plan their visits.
  • Services: List the services your business offers to help customers understand what you do.
  • Description: Write a detailed description of your business to help customers understand your offerings.

Now that you know how to set up your Google My Business account, all that’s left is to verify it. 

Verification is essential for you to manage and update business information whenever you need to, and for Google to show your business profile to the right users and for the right search queries. 

If you are someone who wants to claim their business or is currently on the last step of setting up their GMB, this guide will walk you through the verification process to solidify your business’ online credibility and visibility.

How to Verify Google My Business

There are several ways you can verify your business, including:

  • Postcard Verification: Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Phone Verification: Google will call your business phone number and provide a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Email Verification: If you have a business email address, you can use it to verify your listing.
  • Instant Verification: If you have a Google Analytics account linked to your business, you can use instant verification.

How to Claim & Verify an Existing Google My Business Profile

If your business has an existing Google My Business profile, and you want to claim it, then follow these steps:

Sign in to Google AccountSign in to Google Account

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access Google My Business: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, create one by following the sign-up process.

Search for Your BusinessSearch for Your Business

Step 2: Search for Your Business

Enter your business name in the search bar to find your listing. If your business is already listed, you will see it in the search results.

Request access to existing Google My Business accountRequest access to existing Google My Business account

Step 3: Claim Your Listing

If your business is not already claimed, you will see a “Claim this business” button. Click on this button to start the claiming process.

Editing business information on Google My BusinessEditing business information on Google My Business

Step 4: Complete Your Profile

Once your listing is verified, you can complete your profile by adding essential business information such as:

  • Business Name: Ensure it matches your business name.
  • Address: Enter your business address accurately.
  • Phone Number: Enter your business phone number.
  • Hours of Operation: Specify your business hours.
  • Categories: Choose relevant categories that describe your business.
  • Description: Write a brief description of your business.

Step 5: Manage Your Listing

Regularly check and update your listing to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date. Respond to customer reviews and use the insights provided by Google Analytics to improve your business.

Unverified Google My Business profileUnverified Google My Business profile

Step 6: Verification 

Verify your business through postcard, email, or phone numbers as stated above. 

Now that you have successfully set up and verified your Google My Business listing, it’s time to optimize it for maximum visibility and effectiveness. By doing this, you can improve your local search rankings, increase customer engagement, and drive more conversions.

How to Optimize Google My Business

Here are the tips that I usually do when I’m optimizing my GMB account: 

    1. Complete Your Profile: Start by ensuring every section applicable to your business is filled out with accurate and up-to-date information. Use your real business name without keyword stuffing to avoid suspension. Ensure your address and phone number are consistent with those on your website and other online directories, and add a link to your website and social media accounts.
    2. Optimize for Keywords: Integrate relevant keywords into your business description, services, and posts. However, avoid stuffing your GMB profile with keywords, as this can appear spammy and reduce readability.
    3. Add Backlinks: Encourage local websites, blogs, and business directories to link to your GMB profile. 
  1. Select Appropriate Categories: Choose the most relevant primary category for your business to help Google understand what your business is about. Additionally, add secondary categories that accurately describe your business’s offerings to capture more relevant search traffic.
  2. Encourage and Manage Reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your profile, as reviews significantly influence potential customers. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and timely manner. Addressing negative feedback shows that you value customer opinions and are willing to improve.
  3. Add High-Quality Photos and Videos: Use high-quality images for your profile and cover photos that represent your business well. Upload additional photos of your products, services, team, and premises. Adding short, engaging videos can give potential customers a virtual tour or highlight key services, enhancing their interest.

By following this comprehensive guide, you have successfully set up, verified, and optimized your GMB profile. Remember to continuously maintain and update your profile to ensure maximum impact and success.

Key Takeaway: 

With more and more people turning to Google for all their needs, creating, verifying, and optimizing your Google My Business profile is a must if you want your business to be found. 

Follow this guide to Google My Business, and you’re going to see increased online presence across Google Search and Google Maps in no time.

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

LinkedIn is launching several new features for people who publish newsletters on its platform.

The professional networking site wants to make it easier for creators to grow their newsletter audiences and engage readers.

More People Publishing Newsletters On LinkedIn

The company says the number of LinkedIn members publishing newsletter articles has increased by 59% over the past year.

Engagement on these creator-hosted newsletters is also up 47%.

With this growing interest, LinkedIn is updating its newsletter tools.

A New Way To View & Comment

One of the main changes is an updated reading experience that displays comments alongside the newsletter articles.

This allows readers to view and participate in discussions more easily while consuming the content.

See an example of the new interface below.

Screenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Design Your Own Cover Images

You can now use Microsoft’s AI-powered Designer tool to create custom cover images for their newsletters.

The integration provides templates, size options, and suggestions to help design visually appealing covers.

More Subscriber Notifications

LinkedIn is improving the notifications sent to newsletter subscribers to drive more readership.

When a new issue is published, subscribers will receive email alerts and in-app messages. LinkedIn will also prompt your followers to subscribe.

Mention Other Profiles In Articles

You can now embed links to other LinkedIn profiles and pages directly into their newsletter articles.

This lets readers click through and learn more about the individuals or companies mentioned.

In the example below, you can see it’s as easy as adding a link.

1718346362 491 LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter ToolsScreenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Preview Links Before Publishing

Lastly, LinkedIn allows you to access a staging link that previews the newsletter URL before hitting publish.

This can help you share and distribute their content more effectively.

Why SEJ Cares

As LinkedIn continues to lean into being a publishing platform for creators and thought leaders, updates that enhance the newsletter experience are noteworthy for digital marketers and industry professionals looking to build an audience.

The new tools are part of LinkedIn’s broader effort to court creators publishing original content on its platform amid rising demand for newsletters and knowledge-sharing.

How This Can Help You

If you publish a newsletter on LinkedIn, these new tools can help you design more visually appealing content, grow your subscriber base, interact with your audience through comments, and preview your content before going live.


Featured Image: Tada Images/Shutterstock

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