A digital marketer’s job is never boring. Whether you’re looking for the next great way to hack your PPC results or finding a writer whose content is driving insane traffic on social, something is always shifting and you have to adjust. There’s been a lot of discussion about the need for finding fresh new content, but only a few years ago the focus was on fitting as many keywords into the page as possible to rank for SEO. If you’re feeling a bit bogged down about which way the pendulum is swinging at the moment, you certainly aren’t the only one. Let’s dig into whether technical SEO or great content really wins the internet traffic war.
The Mythical Viral Article
It’s no surprise that marketers drool at the thought of a particular piece of content that truly resonates with their audience and “goes viral”, but how often does this really happen? Turns out, not too often — which means you’re better off finding ways to optimize individual content pieces than put all your time and energy behind a “viral hit”. With billions of pieces of content being created and posted every minute, the chances of your (albeit amazing) article becoming the next big thing are practically infinitesimal. So, if waiting for your article to be picked up by a celebrity isn’t the best way to go, perhaps it’s time to start looking for other ways to get your content noticed.
No matter how good your technical SEO is if your content isn’t good enough it won’t keep your audience’s attention. Writing for technical SEO in the past has been a slap-up job that included cramming a keyword into a short piece of content and creating dozens if not hundreds of extraneous pages on your website just in the hopes of grabbing someone via a random search term. Today, content better be engaging and interesting because one of the things that Google checks for in their search algorithm is bounce rates. If your bounce rate is too high because people follow clickbait and don’t find anything interesting, your site will suffer. That’s one of the key reasons you need to write for humans and not for search engines if you want to drive earned social and search traffic to your website. Great content isn’t the only ingredient in the recipe for a successful website — technical SEO helps make the content actionable and discoverable online.
Snazzy Technical SEO
Keeping your content well-structured makes it much easier for search engines to find and deliver the most relevant content to users. Think about it: are you more likely to shop in a store where everything is mixed up together and it’s nearly impossible to find the size and color that you really want? If you walked in and everything was fully indexed and well-marked so you could find exactly what you wanted quickly and easily, you’re much more likely to make a purchase (and return in the future). Technical SEO triggers search engine algorithms to identify and index the content available on your site, always hoping to make the search results that are returned more engaging to users. Key tenets of technical SEO include:
- Having a site that loads quickly; as bounce rates increase dramatically after 1-2 seconds of page load time
- A mobile-friendly website, as more than 50% of internet traffic is now initiated from a mobile phone
- Limited number of 404 pages (non-loading pages or broken links) and easily-discoverable site metadata that is accessible by search engine spiders
- A clear hierarchy of content on your website, so visitors are able to quickly click through and find the information they need
- An abundance of quick answers or other highly-indexed content that is available for display by search engine results pages (SERP)
- The use of hreflang tags will indicate to Google and other search engines whether the content is meant for display in a particular language — UK English versus U.S. English, for example
- Tags that show search engines whether the content is original to your site or syndicated from another location
- Finally, old-school techniques include ensuring that the right keywords are available — both original keywords for your topic as well as long-tail keywords
While keywords are indeed important, it’s critical that the content remains human-readable above all else.