Feb 13, 2013

SEO Tips for Developing Effective Messages

It should go without saying that if you’re publishing content online, you should be capitalizing on the opportunity to positively influence search engine rankings for your organization.   Each piece of content a brand publishes can (and probably should!) improve the search engine rank of the company’s web properties.

At the Online Marketing Summit this week, a number of speakers offered advice on SEO and content strategy, many of which are useful for PR.

A slide from the Andrew Delamarter's presentation

A slide from the Andrew Delamarter’s presentation

Create a keyword-driven editorial calendar.  

Andrew Delamarter, director of search at Huge, emphasized the importance of using keywords to direct content creation, suggesting that brands build keyword-driven editorial calendars.  In addition to aligning content production around target terms, this tactic also ensures that the content a brand publishes is broadly aligned with key themes.  It’s a good idea, and as he noted, it’s not technical. It’s storytelling.

Appreciate and attract authoritative signals.

Great content generates potent authority signals that search engines notice.  When people like and share content on social networks, the are driving high-quality traffic to the content.   Visitors that elect to click on your content upon the recommendation of a peer are generally spend more time on page and act upon the calls to action you’ve provided them.  These interactions with content indicate to search engines that the content is valuable.

“Offer incentives for readers to share content, ” advised Daryl Colwell of MediaWhiz. “Focus on the why not the what.  How will your content help your customers?”

Develop understanding of what content works in mobile, and mobile user behavior.

We act differently when we use mobile devices for search.  Our intentions are often different, the keywords we use are different, and the content we’re seeking is different.  Search gurus are predicting that mobile search will overtake desktop search within a year or two.  One of the most important things communicators can do is to build knowledge around your organization’s audience behaviors on mobile devices.   Communicators need to manage their communications at a platform and keyword level.

“Dark Traffic” – an important new metric

Driving social interaction is great, but it presents one difficulty – it’s tough to track.  URL shorteners, which are so frequently used to share social content – strip out referring data, and show up in your web analytics reports as “unknown” sources of traffic.  Delamarter suggested that communicators should pay attention to increases in the quantity of unknown traffic – it indicates more social traffic around your content, and that’s a good thing.

Search engines are continuing to tighten their algorithms in order to deliver truly relevant results to their users.   New signals they’re valuing include things like Klout scores (in the case of Bing) and citations (rather than simple links.)  From a strategy standpoint, the best search engine visibility benefits will be driven by the content your audience finds most useful – and that should be one communicators’ primary content goals.

Related reading:

SEO trends for 2013 & what they mean for PR

Search, Social & Content Marketing

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

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