SEO + Content: Quality over Quantity
Firstly, what is SEO, and how does it work?
JD: SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and it’s the practice of strengthening the signals that Google uses for its algorithm so that we rank our pages higher organically on Google. By ‘organically’ I mean non paid traffic.
It involves researching how people search on Google to find your pages and ensuring you have the right content to answer those queries and questions. Ultimately, we want to make sure we have the right content, in the right places so that Google can understand your content and be able to give that content to the right people.
There’s also an aspect of ensuring search engines can understand your page from a technical standpoint. Google has a crawler, like a robot, that crawls the internet on every single link that exists. We have to make sure that Google can read all our content efficiently and that there is no technical issue that affects this.
And what is content marketing, and how does it work?
Cheryl: Content marketing has a lot of definitions, and it depends on who you talk to. To me, it’s a strategy of providing timely and valuable content to attract an audience, to provide information or entertainment that they want, and ultimately to stimulate their interest in a service or product.
This content could be anything – articles, videos, GIFs, photo carousels, web pages, direct email marketing, webinars, magazines. Nowadays, it’s more digital, but content marketing still existed before the internet.
Whatever the form might be, when it’s done well, it helps make your product or service into something valuable beyond buying the actual product. It helps build a relationship between you and your audience, and that means your brand is trusted and is top of mind.
How do you work together?
Cheryl: It keeps changing, depending on what we’re working on. But as an example, we recently put together a long-form blog article on a specific course topic in nursing, namely portfolios. We met at the start and discussed how to frame the topic and structure the article while optimising for what people were typing into Google. JD also provided me with keywords that would be best to sprinkle in the content.
I went away and researched, using the keywords as a guide to help me know what I should cover. Then I wrote the article, using the structure as my guide, but without panicking about including all the keywords as I go (I don’t self-edit while I write, or the work doesn’t come out as well). I put our audience personas at the front of my mind, as I always try to do when I’m writing, and I focused on writing a strong article.
After I’d finished that, that’s when I optimised. I turned to the keywords that JD had provided and looked for opportunities to add them into what I’d written. We probably do more face to face meetings, as much as we can, and when we are working, we often use tools like Microsoft teams to communicate with one another.
What are some fundamental techniques/tools you utilise for optimal collaboration, and how do you measure your performance?
Cheryl: The key techniques we use in our role to enable effective collaboration are:
Regularly checking in about the key points and having a good plan as a foundation for the project. We want to make sure we have planned what we are doing as well as we can because not doing so can significantly impact the structure and effectiveness of the content.
Talking frankly at the start of the process about what topics are most interesting/strategic/achievable for the content team while also having search volume
Putting creative first, then optimising.
Using SEO as a guide rather than a rule. So, using it to make the content the most findable and engaging piece of content.
JD: It’s about finding the balance; we want to create something that is for the user and answers their question well. And then also making sure we have all the SEO things in the right places so that Google can see what the content is. It’s about that delicate balance.
At the end of the day, our main objective is to get student enrolments – that is our top line objective that we base lots of things on. But there are lots of metrics that we use to gauge the end result like, leads, organic traffic, keyword rankings, from an SEO point of view. And in terms of content, we can also look at behavioural metrics, like site clicks, bounce rates.
What does the perfect blog look with, from both an SEO and content perspective?
JD: A piece of content should answer a question and answer it well. Whether that be comprehensively, or easily from an SEO perspective, you want to make sure you are answering with keywords and phrases that people are using so that it creates that higher relevance from Google to understand that your content is what they’re looking for.
From a technical point, we want to ensure that we are using the right code that Google will be looking at. Ideally, the best-case scenario would be something that would make people want to share it.
Original content is key – the blog article is valuable to a reader because it’s unique and isn’t just regurgitating content that’s already available on Google. That’s good from both a content and an SEO perspective. It’s answering a question that may not be answered in the same way, elsewhere.
Cheryl: A good blog is one that has a clear purpose and no false promises of what the article will deliver. That means avoiding clickbait.
A good blog is also well laid out with clearly worded subheadings approximately every 200 words so that it is optimised for web writing.
How has Keypath aided your professional development in your respective areas?
Cheryl: I’ve only been at Keypath a few months, but I’ve already had the chance to attend some great professional development. Being in the city, it’s easier to get to lunchtime seminars, and I’ve already attended a couple of good ones on storytelling for businesses and content marketing.
In my day to day, I’m also encouraged to explore and innovate and ask questions. Our team has put aside regular time to research new creative ideas, and I am working on a proposal for some new strategies around how we do our editorial work. It’s an excellent way for me to learn new things and then bring them to the team to discuss and adopt if we want them. We can sharpen each other’s ideas and bring our expertise to the table, which aids the way we do things collaboratively in the best way we can.
JD: Keypath generally will think about your professional development and put together a professional development plan with you. So, if you want to learn a new skill or do a course, you will be able to do it. There are lots of events that we have been to – I recently got the opportunity to go to Toronto and Thailand to attend conferences to learn more about SEOs from specialists within the field.
Keypath also gives us a lot of support around trying new things, and the budget associated with that. If we have a new idea, Keypath is all for it and will give us the room and support that we need to try it out.
We’re lucky to work alongside talented people that encourage us to learn every day.
What do you see the future of SEO and content marketing looking like?
Cheryl: “Content is king” is a really bad cliché, but it’s been true for a while. The fast pace of the internet meant that pumping out content was a viable strategy for some years.
But we are already starting to see a shift into a time that people are calling “content shock”, where the amount of content out there is too much for anyone to consume, and it’s showing diminishing returns.
I think, in future, more people will recognise that content isn’t enough. In essence, it needs to be quality content, which in my view, is unique content, aligned to the business’s core mission, value-adding to the audience and discoverable. Clickbait and pumping out content for the sake of it isn’t a good way of doing business. So hopefully, that means that the content out there will be good – or at least less flimsy.
JD: From an SEO point of view, Google is getting smarter every day with every algorithm update. What we can expect is for Google to better people’s search queries more, using AI machine learning, for example. I believe that they will keep on doing that to get a better understanding of people’s search intent and having a better understanding of what content is best for the audience and delivering that.
Our job doesn’t change too much – our job is about creating the best content, or what people are looking for, and it’s about us staying ahead of the changes that are happening and the trends that are happening, and trying out the new features.