A desk with computer, newspaper, phone and notepad for updating your SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the goal of all websites, but it’s a notoriously dark art with continually moving goalposts. Luckily there is one thing that us mere mortals can do to please the Google gods of the search engine rankings.

To appear at the top of the search engine rankings on a Google or Bing search is the goal of most websites. Being ranked number 2 is half as good, number 3 less so, and don’t even bother appearing on the second page of search results. But SEO is hard and or expensive.

The requirements for SEO are constantly changing and that SEO hack you picked up at a conference, or from a dude that lives and breathes SEO, probably isn’t relevant anymore. Only five minutes ago we were told to fill the alt tags for pictures with keywords – not only is that ineffective for SEO, but it’s really annoying for people using accessibility devices such as screen readers.

There is something easy you can do to improve your SEO

The easiest way to improve your SEO is to give the search engine gods what they want – useful information. The easiest way to give them useful information is through blogs.

It’s that simple. Just put blogs on your website regularly.

Of course, it’s not THAT simple! That’s why there are large, successful organisations specialising in SEO writing, website development and marketing. But regular blogs on your website give search engines an opportunity to lead eyeballs to you, and they give SEO experts an excellent base on which to build.

Why do I need so many blogs?

To understand the relevance between blogs and SEO we can go back to the early days of internet adoption by the masses. Once upon a time we’d open Netscape and type in altavista.com and tell it what we were looking for. Alta Vista kept registries of every website and roughly guided us to the information we were looking for.

In the late nineties we all started erasing Alta Vista from our favourites because Google was much better at finding those things we were looking for. In the early days of Google we learned search strings that we could add to our searches to improve them, such as ‘site:au’ to search websites in Australia.

As Google developed and improved, the search strings became less important and the search engine became better at understanding what we were looking for, by understanding the way we asked it. So today, instead of thinking of the best search words to find what I want, I simply ask Google (or any other search engine) – it’s what Google’s been telling me to do for the past few years – ask Google.

So, the purpose of your blogs, and the key to SEO success is to answer those questions.

Answer questions with your blogs

If you’ve ever sat down and thought, ‘what am I going to blog about today?’ you’re doing it wrong. Sorry.

Every blog should answer a question and those questions should be the ones your customers are – or would be – asking. That’s the best way to get your information and brand name in front of others who are asking those questions – your potential customers.

And they can be really simple questions. How many times have you typed into a search engine, ‘how do I tie a tie?’ or ‘what’s the keyboard shortcut to reboot a mac?’. Or is that just me? I’m sure you’ve got a bunch of questions that you’ve asked the search engines, and so do your customers.

Of course, blogging about how to tie a tie isn’t going to help your business, unless your business offers something to men who are getting dressed, such as a clothes or shoes retailer, or maybe a liquor shop.

Answer the right questions

If your business doesn’t offer anything more to people who arrive on your page from a search result, it’s unlikely to improve your overall SEO. Even if it’s the best blog article about how to tie a tie. If your business is accounting or plumbing, it’s unlikely that those arrivals will stop to take a look around your site.

So, listen to your customers before you put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. What are the questions they have before they commit to purchasing your products or services? What are the questions they have shortly after purchase? And what are the questions, or challenges, they have when you go back to them for subsequent sales?

Answer all of those questions and you’ll achieve two things. First, you’ll have regular blogs that answer questions related to your business. Second, you’ll have a whole bunch of resources that you can cut and paste from to answer customer enquiries.

The more specific the answer, the better

The devil of search engines and SEO is in the detail, or the long tail, which refers to the bell curve shape of the statistical distribution of search results. Most searches will fall into the middle of a bell curve and that’s were traditional products have been sold.

CD and record stores (remember them!) would stock many copies of the top 20 albums, which fell into the middle of the bell curve of customer requests. They would only stock one or two units of less popular albums as the bell curve flattened out on either side. And they could possibly order in albums that were rarely asked for, that sat in the long tail of the bell curve.

While the long tail is difficult to satisfy with physical goods, it’s easy to do with blog posts. So rather than writing a blog post on ‘how to change a tyre’, write a blog post on ‘how to remove the lock nut on a Volkswagen polo wheel’. While the second post is going to appeal to less people, it’s also going to have less competition and likely to rise higher in the search results for those people looking.

And remember to re-purpose your content to get more SEO juice out of it!

The real SEO secret is to write for humans, not for search engines

The other benefit of answering a specific question is that the people who land on your page will spend more time there, after asking their question. They may even look at your other blog posts and the rest of your website because you were so helpful. Both of these things will contribute to your SEO.

On the other hand, if you manage to trick the search engines through clever placement of keywords, but you disappoint the people who come to your page seeking an answer, the opposite will happen.

As search engines get better at understanding our questions and delivering us the right results, the need to write for search engines reduces and the importance of writing for humans increases.

So, for a simple SEO kick, be yourself and answer specific questions like a human.

 

If you’re thinking, ‘all of this sounds great, but where am I going to find the time to answer all these questions,’ Written & Recorded is here to help. We’re happy humans writing for humans and we can help you tell your story. Call James with your specific questions about writing blogs on 0425 819 662 or email james@writtenandrecorded.com.

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