Content Is Still King

When it comes to SEO it appears that content is still king, over and above all the advice given by so called “experts”. I first wrote about this back in 2014.

There’s a lot of bull written about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) . Why? Well because the people who write the bull make a lot of money from people who don’t know a thing about SEO.

There are the guarantees for starters. Page 1 guaranteed! Really? How do you do that, when Google can’t do that?

What the field of SEO has done by its emergence is give a lot of people a lot of opportunity to write contradictory information and confuse the hell out of the average person.

“You need to use Google authorship to get good ranking”.. “No you don’t, Google is ditching authorship”.

“This or that no longer works because of Google Panda updates”, or whatever update is the most recent.

“To really rank you need to use long tail keywords”.. what?

“You need to put keywords in the title and the first paragraph of the content”.

OK, that’s just a tiny cross section of the type of stuff that people write about SEO.  I haven’t written too much more, because what I have written so far is enough gobbledegook.

Then about a fortnight ago, I wrote a blog post about the dangers of artificial intelligence. I wrote this because I have been very slack on my blogging of late, and it was an easy post to write, since I am fascinated by the idea that if we develop a computer system that ends up smarter than us, we by definition will be unable to control it.

I wrote this post and did my standard posting it to Facebook to get a few people to read it. I didn’t give a moments’ thought to SEO. So I was surprised when I did a Google search for the dangers of artificial intelligence, in order to research more on this topic, to find my little blog post was on the third page of Google about a week after it was posted.

Why? Because despite what the so called “experts” say, content is STILL king.

Google themselves say, “don’t write for search engines, write for people”. That is true about a blog and true about a web page. There are tools that check your content and say “Well you don’t have the keywords in the first paragraph”. What if it doesn’t fit well into what you want to write? What then? Do you shoehorn it in and make the content look absolutely stupid? No of course you don’t. You write for people, as Google suggests.

One if the rules I constantly break is,”Long posts (greater than 1200 words) work best for SEO. I don’t actually care if they do, because when I find a 1500 word article, it’s TL;DR (too long;didn’t read). I would rather write 500 words that get the message across succinctly than 1500 words of waffle. And if that penalises me in the eyes of Google, too bad.

Do You Hate Email Opt-In Popups?

do you hate email opt-ins?

I really don’t like email opt-in popups they’re really annoying. But if they work, what then?

There’s a lot of advice out there these days about what you do to increase visitors to your website. The pundits are having a field day with it all, each one giving out different advice. Social media, blogging, guest blogging, et c. There is so much to do and perhaps so much of it does nothing in the end to do what you want it to do, which is grow your brand awareness.

One of my rules (for the time being anyway – always subject to change) is that if I find something annoying, it doesn’t go on my website.

One of the things I find really annoying is popup boxes asking you to subscribe to an email list. My thinking is that if I want to subscribe, I will find a subscription box in a sidebar or at the bottom of the page and will subscribe there.

Truth is, I don’t often do that, unless there is a compelling reason why, such as a free pdf document. I feel it is a fair trade off. Get some information I want in return for being added to one more email list that goes to an email address I never look at. My rationale is that I can always unsubscribe later. For the most part it’s like junk mail in the actual physical mailbox.. straight to the bin without even being looked at.

Now apparently my dinosaur thinking needs to change. Email opt-ins are the go. People hate them but they get results. One anecdote I have read told of how a blogger found that an email opt-in at the right of the screen. converted at 0.4% whereas a popup converted at 5.5%. Those kind of numbers are hard to ignore.

It’s kind of obvious really when you think about it. You put something to one side where people may look at it if they get round to it, which they won’t, or put it in their face, where they have to make a decision then and there.

I’m a web strategist, so I can’t ignore such things. I need to know. Do these things work? That’s my excuse for putting something annoying on my website. I need to be able to give advice to others on the effectiveness of such things.

So I may break my rule of not including something I find annoying on my own web site.

However, one thing I am never going to do is have one of those pop-ups that come up as you are about to leave, saying “Before you go..” That is just desperation.

And I am never in my life sharing one of David “Avocado” Wolfe’s facebook posts

 

All about content marketing

 why content marketing is all important

When it comes to the web Google is king (at the moment).

There is no denying that. At the moment worldwide, Google accounts for approximately 90% of search traffic.

This means of course that Google wields enormous power over pretty much everyone on the web. A page one spot on Google is coveted.

As a result Google guidelines are studied over and over again for that special trick that will allow you or your clients to skyrocket up the search rankings. It’s just what you have to do. Google says, “jump” and we all ask, “how high”.

Is there an alternative? Well no not really. You can’t buck the system on this one. You just aren’t seen if you do. Until someone else comes along who gets the same search volumes as Google we are stuck. They have managed to effectively monopolise the search engine market. Yeah sure you can use Yahoo or Bing – and get 3% of the search traffic.

Everyone who comes to me asking about SEO wants page one of Google.

I have to be honest with them. It isn’t that easy. Let’s face it, for any given search term, there are only 10 spots on page one.

You have to do what Google says to get anywhere near page one. Google wants your site to be mobile friendly? Time you got working on that. Google wants location data? You had better provide it.

The latest term to enter the lexicon in SEO terms is content marketing.

Let’s have a look at what content marketing is. From the Content Marketing Institute :

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Now to me that sounds a bit too much like gobbledegook, so in plain English terms, content marketing is about writing articles (content) like this one that both interest and inform readers, with the obvious end goal being that you turn readers into customers. What Google says is, “Quality content is the key to Google rankings”.

This is why I continue to maintain a blog on this website and why so many others are doing it too. That is content.

When Google bots crawl the web they are seeking to weed out the spammy types of sites from their search rankings. It’s why sites that have been around for a long time rank higher. It’s also why active sites (where there are frequent content updates) rank higher.

What Google doesn’t want is attempts to rig their search engine results. They frequently say create a site with people in mind, not search engines. That is where content marketing comes it.

Somehow Google know all. The algorithm they have created can distinguish high quality content from low quality content. Their own guidelines say:

“Your site’s content should be unique, specific and high quality. It should not be mass-produced or outsourced on a large number of other sites. Keep in mind that your content should be created primarily to give visitors a good user experience, not to rank well in search engines.”

Note that last sentence – a good user experience before search engine rankings. That is the crux of the matter. For years people managed to rig search engine results with techniques such as keyword stuffing. This approach is now likely to get you removed from Google altogether.

Google is constantly updating its algorithm to reflect what it believes its customers, the people who search using Google, want. Hence the drive towards rewarding sites with quality content.

To bullet point Google’s requirements when it comes to content, they are it must be:

  • Useful and informative.
  • More valuable and useful than other sites.
  • Credible.  
  • High quality.
  • Engaging.

You can read about all of these on Google’s own content guidelines, but I will also make one or two points about these myself.

When Google say credible, what they mean is that you cite references when writing an article. For example the links that are in this article are citing references. Another one that I didn’t know myself until now is an author bio. Google doesn’t want the internet to be anonymous. So expect to see a bio coming soon to my blog posts.

The other thing I wanted to discuss is engaging. Primarily your article has to be an interesting read. It also has to be free of spelling and grammatical errors. I really don’t know how they manage to determine that the content is an interesting read.. now that is scary – a computer program that can work that out.

Engaging content can also mean the use of video, images and infographics. This would explain the sudden explosion of infographics on the web. They are everywhere.

When it comes to video I must say I personally don’t like everything video. If I want to find out something, I want to be able to read it. That way I can skim through it to the parts that are relevant to me. Time poor. I don’t want to be watching a video that starts off with Britney who tells you she is from San Jose and that she’s an Aries.. and today she’s going to be explaining.. blah, blah, blah… I’m a bullet point kind of guy.

Same with infographics. If it’s a quickly digested graphic, sure. However there’s one guy on the internet, Neil Patel who lately has gone infographic crazy. He’s apparently some kind of SEO and content marketing guru. He’s got some great content tips but since he’s gone infographic crazy I can’t really follow his stuff as well. If you have to study stuff to get the message rather than skim it you lost me.

Finally, there is the question of content length. This is a hotly debated topic among people who clearly don’t have lives. Short content or long content? Four hundred words is a minimum. If you want to post your articles to some blogging sites, they won’t accept articles shorter than this. For a long while that was my goal. Now it appears I have to up that word count to 1,000 (as you may have noticed in this article).

I disagree with this very much. I believe in short, succinct and direct. I never did like the university idea where people were expected to write 2,000 word essays. It made people create essays that didn’t get to the point. It also haunts the business world, when someone writes a 40 page proposal that could have been explained in 3 bullet points. Crazy thing about this is they then write an executive summary at the front so that the busy executive can have the 40 page document explained in 200 words or less.

Anyway, whatever is my personal opinion on the subject doesn’t matter. What matters is what Google wants. Google wants image, videos, infographics, author bios. You want to rise in the rankings, you have to have that.

By the way, here’s the Google worldwide market share, just in case you were thinking you had an alternative.

 

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