The world of SEO .

31418  Google search engine algorithms

The world of SEO is a constantly changing one. The irregularly regular updating of search engine algorithms means that techniques that delivered easy results in the past probably no longer work and this process will continue on in to the future. As a relative newcomer to the industry, I wanted to learn everything and become an expert, but this is not easy when everything changes so rapidly. Even in my time SEO has changed its focus almost beyond recognition.

The SEO industry is quite unique. No one grows up planning, let alone dreaming of working as an SEO, most people find themselves working in it or develop an interest in it as a result of past work, be that through broader marketing or through running your own website and wondering why you’re not No. 1 on Google.

So how do you learn to be an SEO? Despite the huge number of blogs and articles available on the internet, the industry is notoriously secretive in its sharing of tips and techniques, most preferring to strike a balance between sharing knowledge and trying to keep a step ahead of their commercial competitors.  They are a great place to start, however as they give a good indication of the basic techniques others are using.

Talking is another great source of information. Going to SEO events means being in a room with possibly hundreds of other SEOs. Despite the usual secrecy, there’s nothing SEOs like doing more than talking about SEO, the chances to do so usually being few and far between. 

The main lessons ultimately come from actively doing SEO. After sifting through the online content (and ignoring the clearly out dated ‘advice’ – there’s no such thing as quick and easy backlinking), combine this with building a picture in your mind of what search engines are ultimately looking for – honest, natural, popular websites that provide a valuable service, be that providing information or a product.

Experimentation is key. Sometimes trying something different will bring results, sometimes not. Trying to second guess what the next round of algorithm updates will bring is useful in avoiding potential penalties in the future. One thing I have learnt though, is that in both learning SEO and carrying it out, there is no such thing as a quick fix.

 

Image Source: http://www.doyoucompute.co.uk/google-algorithm-changes-2014/

 

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
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Sagittarius
sag-author100x100

Sagittarius

14 Nov 2014 - 5 minute read
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