How Can You Use Content to Rank Higher in Search?

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content-is-king“Build it and they will come.” It’s the mantra of many, but not one that content marketers use often. Smart marketers realize simply developing content isn’t enough; you have to get that content in front of your end users, your prospects, your existing customers in order to affect the bottom line. One way is to optimize content for search engines and promote it to encourage higher search engine results page rankings.

But how exactly can you use content marketing to rank higher in search engines? This post aims to examine the type of content that can rank well in search engines and drive traffic to your site, and give tips to help you get that content to rank. We hope that you can use this information to develop a great content marketing strategy.

Answer Questions to Create Top-Notch Content

What questions keep your customers up at night? Start investigating and figuring out what these questions are. Research your audience’s needs. Develop content (for landing pages, blog posts, papers, social posts and more) that answers their questions; it’s as simple as that.

Then, start to develop hubs of information on your site which answer these questions. Organize it in a way that can be easily navigated by your site visitors, and optimize the page for that long tail question.

There are many on-page ranking factors, but the elements of an optimized page from a keyword perspective usually include:
• Phrase you wish to rank for in meta title
• Meta description includes phrase (or partial match)
• Ensure that the phrase is listed in the page content
• Don’t forget to link to the page from your internal website using the phrase (or partial match)
• URL structure should include the phrase using “-” in between words (not an under_score)
• Ensure that the phrase doesn’t compete with other pages optimized for the same topic

Organizing your content

I like the idea of housing content within useful sections of your site, directly navigated from your “money” pages.

For example, say you’re an attorney and want to start ranking content around questions about the topic of DUIs. House this content on your site near your DUI services landing page and link to that content from your DUI landing page. Develop content all around the topic of DUIs within this hub of information on your site that visitors can easily find. Start promoting this content hub and start attracting natural links to your content: social links, no-follow links, do-follow links.

There are many sites and tactics you can use to uncover the types of questions important to your demographic. Here are a few sites to start your research:

• Quora or answer sites
• Google suggestions (found by typing a word into Google search and seeing what Google offers before you complete the phrase)
• Recommended queries at bottom of search results page
• Open Site Explorer Top pages report
• Poll your audience
• Poll your employees most of all!

Once you’ve developed this content (as in the example of our attorney’s site), start promoting it. Use your social channels. Get your employees to help socialize the content.

In the next column you write on a legal site, make sure to mention your content hub with a link to the DUI resources you’ve developed. Start a newsletter and include relevant content within it to encourage clicks. If you’ve done the optimization right and gained some traction with the social and natural links, you stand a good chance of having your content rank well and drive traffic.

Long Tail Search

Similarly to answering questions, uncovering long tail searches that users are conducting to find information can be key to your content development. Start looking for opportunities to integrate long tail phrases you uncover.

1. Evergreen content, or content that is timeless( requiring few, if ever, any updates), is a great type of content that can be focused around long tail keywords.
2. Long queries for your money keyword phrases (the phrases you want to rank for) can be uncovered using Google Adwords Keyword Planner or other keyword research tools.
3. All levels of the sales funnel are usually examined with long tail phrases. What level of the sales funnel are you missing with your content development?
4. Demographic specific content is often long tail and targeted; think about the persona of the individual you’re marketing to.
5. Repurposed content can also address long tail phrases. Take that Top 10 blog post and create a SlideShare or video.
6. Finally don’t forget to Test. Test. Test. Develop long tail content and examine its analytics on a regular basis to see how it’s working. Replicate and repeat what works well.

It’s important to remember a point discussed in the optimization section above: Don’t compete with another page on your site. Try to choose a long tail phrase that does not directly compete with another page optimized for the same or very similar long tail phrase. This is called keyword cannibalization and it can affect the rankings of your content if you’re not careful. Read more about it on Moz’s site here.

Google Authorship

In January Act On’s very own Martin Laetsch’s post “Google Authorship 101” discussed the concept of utilizing Google Authorship markup on your site. Google Authorship markup is code added to your site in order to tell Google who the author was for a particular piece of content. That information is then shared in the search results pages after Google verifies it. That verification is complete when an author creates a Google+ profile, and notes in their profiles which websites their bylined content is published on.

Ensuring you are implementing Google Authorship code and having your authors set up Google+ correctly is essential. Experts suggest that as authors build up their author rank their content will start to rank higher because their content is seen as more authoritative. When authorship information is available to be shared in the search results pages studies have shown an increase in click through rate is possible for that ranked piece of content. This is largely because that result takes up more real estate on the page, with an image included of the author in the result and is more personalized. Imagine the potential this has for the content you develop!

Author rank

Summary

As you can see, there are many ways you can use content marketing to rank higher in search engines. Start with understanding your audience’s needs, conducting research to develop strategy and start developing content to aid in answering their questions, addressing their long tail searches and figure out the evergreen content opportunities. Optimize that content after conducting some keyword research and using best practices. Promote your content and start measuring the effectiveness of it. Rinse and repeat this process and you’re sure to find the value of content marketing in no time. Learn more about our 8 step process for content marketing here.

How do you use content to rank well in search engines today? Share with us your experiences in the comments below.

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