No digital-driven business can reap the rewards of content marketing without SEO. And vice-versa. Both play distinct roles in exposing your brand to relevant prospects and turning them into lifelong customers. But, strapped for marketing resources, small and mid-sized businesses often fail at one — or both. Whether you’re a one-man marketing team or ageny content writer, applying these 2017 SEO trends to your content marketing strategy will boost your ROI.
2017 SEO Trends for Content Marketers
As a content marketer, there’s nothing worse than pouring hours into a webpage or blog post and no one visiting it.
These emerging 2017 SEO trends will help you attract more visitors to your content and spark engagement:
If You Want to Rank, Be Better
Creating on-site resources like blogs and FAQs enable your website to expand keyword targets and drive more traffic to your site. But effective blog optimization goes beyond keywords. Your content must be better. And search engines are placing a greater emphasis on content quality in 2017.
So what does that mean? We’ll discuss content quality and density in more depth later, but think original, robust and relevant information. To get information that will set your content apart, take these steps before you write:
- Research what’s out there. It’s no secret the Internet is teeming with duplicate content. And peddling regurgitated information not only compromises your credibility; it also wastes your time. Search engines have evolved to know what’s unique and what’s blasé.
Take a few minutes to Google your topic, analyze the top search results and identify potential gaps your new page could fill. You could take a new angle or tailor the topic to speak to a targeted audience segment.
Tip: If you find that search results are saturated with content from reputable sources when Googling your topic, it’s not worth your time.
- Schedule recurring meetings with your thought leader: Your boss or client gets pulled in a million directions every day, and content isn't a top priority. But to differentiate your content, you need unique insights from the source.
To keep your content calendar on track, schedule a recurring weekly (or monthly) meeting with your internal thought leader, and send an agenda before each interview. If you come prepared with specific topics and questions (and do your research beforehand), you’ll come away with richer information and eliminate the need for followups. Strive to save the thought leader time, and everyone will benefit. (Learn how the best company blogs use employee-generated content.)
Focus on Content Density — Not Length
Refining your topic and gathering research and interviews are only the first steps to creating quality content. Your writing also affects how search engines perceive your content.
So how do you satisfy the reader’s appetite for bite-sized content with the search engine’s craving for rich, meaty information?
Content density is one way search engines differentiate valuable content from bloat. Sam Oh defines content density as “per word value.”
Sure, you could write a 2,000-word blog post on a topic. But if another page adds more unique context, relevance and takeaways in fewer words, that content will rise above. Don’t write to hit a certain word count. Choose words wisely, and eliminate anything that distracts from your core topic.
Tip: Invest in content editing. Great content editors swap bloated phrases for punchy words that perfectly encapsulate your meaning. Send your content to an experienced editor to eliminate errors, improve readability and engagement and — most importantly — earn the respect of search engines.
If you don’t have access to a content editor, online tools like ProWritingAid, Grammarly and the Hemmingway App can also point out grammatical errors, readability issues and more.
Optimize Content for Google Answer Box
Known as featured snippets or Google Answer Boxes, this type of search result pulls an answer to queries from first-page results and displays it above organic results. For example:
Only about 17% of search queries return a Google Answer Box, according to research from cognitiveSEO. You’ve probably noticed that irrelevant (or sometimes shady) websites appear in the Google Answer Box. This spells opportunity for brands and content marketers to “dethrone” weak results. The trick is to not reinvent the wheel.
Use tools like Moz to identify low-hanging opportunities for ranking in Google Answer Boxes, and optimize existing pages for these terms. (For more specifics, check out these tried-and-true tactics for appearing in Google Answer Boxes.)
Invest in Video Marketing and Video SEO
If you attended HubSpot’s INBOUND 2016 conference, you heard Gary Vaynerchuck hammer on the importance of video in inbound marketing. Unlike traditional written content, video SEO is its own beast. (At Human Marketing, we love this resource on YouTube SEO.)
Here are some critical YouTube SEO best practices:
- The video file name matters! Include your keyword in the video file name before uploading it to communicate what the content covers.
- Write a lengthy, keyword-driven description. Your video description weighs heavily on SEO. Summarize the video, and apply SEO keyword optimization best practices to add more context. (Backlino suggests you shoot for at least 300 words.)
- Mention your target keywords and natural variations in the video. Yes, YouTube is listening. If you’re attempting to rank for “sweat proof undershirt” in your video, be sure to discuss the topic in depth in your video.
Note: Before you can start ranking for videos in YouTube (and Google), you have to make a video! Don’t let expensive video production equipment scare you — you can start with just a smartphone and cheap stand.
Marry Content & SEO for Success in 2017 & Beyond
Of course, these 2017 SEO trends just scrape the surface for what’s in store this year. More overarching trends like mobile-first optimization will surely shake up the SEO scene this year.
But the point is simple: If your content marketing efforts aren’t rooted in SEO (and vice-versa), you’ll have a tough time outcompeting others with content.
By optimizing content for Google Answer Boxes and video now, you can win big early on — before competitors flock to the scene. As with anything in digital marketing, early is better.