Producing Useful Content Is the New SEO
A great SEO strategy has a lot of moving parts. For small business owners, it can be difficult to keep pace with the ever-changing elements that go into optimizing your content for search engines. After all, Google alone uses hundreds of metrics to rank pages for search results, and they keep those metrics (and how exactly they’re weighted and used) under tight wraps.
So if you’re already busy running a business and don’t have time to stay up to date on all the ins and outs of SEO, I have a shortcut for you. Focus on producing useful content, and in the process you’ll check off a lot of SEO boxes.
Why Should I Focus on Producing Useful Content?
Search engines like Google and Bing are so ever-present in our lives that it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that they’re also just businesses. They want to be helpful to their users, just like you want to solve problems for your customers.
For a user visiting a search engine, they want to enter a query and get a useful response in the fastest amount of time. So search engines have a vested interest in putting the best content front and center on their first page of search results.
To do so, they look at hundreds of metrics. Some of these are common knowledge, but for the most part Google doesn’t release details on their metrics, so even the greatest SEO expert can’t be 100 percent sure how Google is ranking sites. There are factors like dwell time (how long a visitor stays on a given page), click-through rate (how many people click on your blue link on the SERP), and number of external links that we know are a part of SEO.
But rather than driving yourself crazy trying to focus on each of these specific factors involved in ranking, creating great content will inherently check those boxes. If your content is useful, people will want to click on your link in SERPs. They’ll stay on your page for a while, combing through the rich well of information. And your meaningful content will be backed up by research from other reputable sites, which you’ll link out to. Just by focusing on creating a well-researched and informative piece of content, you’ve already ticked off several SEO boxes in the process.
What Does Useful Content Look Like?
Okay, so you want to create useful content, but you’re not sure where to start or what it looks like. It’s best to start by doing some keyword research. Knowing the keywords that your audience is using to search for your products or services, or for general information on your field, can help you to hone in on content topics that will address their biggest questions and concerns.
Let’s say you run a lawn care service, and you discover that a lot of people are searching for green or pesticide-free alternatives to maintaining a great lawn and garden. This gives you the opportunity to highlight your environmentally-friendly offerings on your homepage, build out your product pages for your green lawn care services, and create a blog post about why green lawn care is important to you and why your services work so well for your clients and the planet.
So the first step to creating useful content is understanding what your audience wants to know. Next, you should shake up how you tell your story. Think beyond the written word when it comes to content. Today’s consumers want image-rich blog posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts. Content is only useful if it’s in a format that’s easy for your viewers to digest. That means it’s time to think beyond just blogs and consider other media.
How Can I Get the Most Out of My Content?
Once you understand how to produce useful content, you want to maximize its reach and effectiveness to get even greater SEO results. That’s where hub pages come in.
Hub pages are ultimate guides to a given topic that’s relevant to your business. Returning to the lawn care example, you learned in your keyword research that customers are concerned about green lawn and garden care practices. That’s a pretty broad topic to cover, from reducing water waste to natural alternatives for chemical pesticides to selecting the right mix of plants for soil health—the list goes on.
A hub page can become the go-to section of your website for everything related to that topic. You create “The Ultimate Guide to Green Lawn and Garden Care,” and build a table of contents that covers all of the major subtopics. You include links to your relevant blog posts, videos, and podcast episodes, plus link to a number of relevant posts from reputable outside sources.
This page is a gold mine for your prospects and customers. They come to your hub page and read multiple articles, share links with their friends and neighbors, return again after a few days to learn even more on the topic, and spend a long time on the page sifting through all the great content.
These hub pages address a lot of the major SEO metrics, and search engines realize that readers love them. Pretty soon, this page is ranking at the top of the first page of SERPs, and you’re getting even more eyeballs on your great content.
Building hub pages around your most relevant topics is the final piece in the content creation puzzle. It ensures that your meaningful content is all housed together, and rather than relying on each individual piece of content to carry its own weight, the hub page elevates all of your content simultaneously and gets you noticed in SERPs. By starting with smart keyword research and ending with a well-structured hub page, you set your business up for content success.
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The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur
by John Jantsch
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—Ryan Holiday, #1 Bestselling Author of The Daily Stoic and The Obstacle is the Way