How can you ensure that your branded content always complies with the latest SEO trends?
As a marketer, you are probably already familiar with the statistics about headlines. Eight out of ten people will read your articles’ headlines when they see them on social media channels. However, only two of those ten people will actually read the article.
Too often, social media won’t deliver the readership you need. Even worse? This can be especially true for branded content.
It’s why publishers need to make sure their content is effectively optimized for SEO.
First, What is Branded Content?
Branded content started gaining popularity a few years ago, seemingly arriving at the perfect time.
Media companies and other publishers were floundering for new sources of revenue and brands were struggling to reach an audience that had grown tired (and skeptical) of in-your-face advertising.
With branded content, companies could create their own content and place it on high traffic sites thereby increasing the size of their audiences. It all seemed perfect… until engagement analysis firms started to dig-in to how readers were actually engaging with branded content versus editorial content.
Several years ago, content intelligence firm Chartbeat’s CEO, Tony Haile, was already writing about how, while only two-thirds of readers engaged with editorial for a measly 15 seconds, branded content drove even worse engagement rates. The percentage of engaged readers of branded content plummeted to only one-third. And, less than one quarter of readers bothered to even scroll down the branded content page.
The key to keeping readers engaged with your content, whether it’s editorial or branded, is to provide them with relevant information in a scannable format. You can make this happen– and do it without sacrificing alignment to SEO trends.
Current SEO Trends for Branded Content
Of course, before you can think about keeping your visitors engaged, you need to think about how visitors will find your site in the first place.
You can write the best content on the internet but if no one can find it, then you’re just wasting your time. Follow these tips to make sure your articles are SEO-optimized
Make the Switch to HTTPS
The Google search algorithm now prioritizes secure sites that are on HTTPS servers. As of the writing of this blog post, visitors to unsecured pages that collect user information display a warning icon in the in field and it’s right next to the URL. Hover over that icon and a visitor sees this.
Secure your site. SSLs are easy and inexpensive.
Are You Listening?
The number of voice searches increased by a whopping 35x between 2008 and 2016. Last year’s forecast was for 130% growth over the previous year. More importantly, voice searches and virtual digital assistants (VDAs)– like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri– are expected to continue this explosive growth. Statistics resource website statista has a eye-opening chart. In a nutshell, the U.S. market 2018 revenue trend shows $5.2M. In only two years, that revenue forecast is $12.1M. Remember, this is only for the American market!
What does this mean for you? Content marketers now need to ensure articles are optimized for natural-sounding long-tail keywords. Here’s why. Think about what you type into a search engine versus what you ask Siri or Alexa. There’s a big difference isn’t there?
Content marketers will need to optimize content so that it can be found by both kinds of queries.
In 2018, Google reintroduced its Featured Snippets element which, first launched in 2014. The Featured Snippet appears as larger text in a box at the top of the search page. These snippets can take the form of different types of media and often appear in queries asking “why”, “what” or “how to”.
The featured snippet is often taken from the first organic result but not always. The site Google’s search engine chooses as the most helpful, i.e., the Featured Snippet, is based on a page’s description and is also geared, (some would say “skewed”) to mobile and voice searches. Let that sink in…
Mobile Comes First
While the desktop is far from dead, mobile internet usage continues to surge in popularity, overtaking desktop usage in the raw number of overall visitors on the internet.
While is has been a couple of years since mobile users passed desktop users, Google stayed the course with its indexing tilted to desktop. In other words, it continued to index sites based on desktop performance, not mobile.
Finally, earlier this year, Google officially announced that desktop-first indexing would no longer by the device-type standard. Instead, after first testing mobile-first indexing for 18 months, it would be rolling out mobile search as the new standard. While this change in indexing criteria doesn’t mean desktop users (especially those at work) have disappeared, it does mean this:
The mobile version of your website is now more important than the desktop version.
Another trend in recognition of the dominance of mobile internet usage is that Google now gives priority to websites that quickly load on mobile. According to Kissmetrics, 16% of mobile users will abandon a page after just 1-5 seconds. “16%,” you may think, “That’s a number we can probably afford to lose.” Maybe you’re right. However, what if we shared this?
46% of mobile users abandon your site after waiting less than ten seconds.
Clearly, mobile content needs to load lightening-fast if it has any chance of being seen by visitors to your website.
We recommend using the Accelerated Mobile Page (AMG) platform when building your site. The AMP platform has been endorsed by Google and those deploying it are often ranked higher for mobile search queries.
Brand Authority will now be based on not just backlinks, but on measures as well. One of the ways that Google and other search engines determine the authority of a website is based on the number and quality of websites that link to it.
This has led to a surge of SEO experts dedicating time to building backlinks through guests posts and other means.
Now, your page can gain that authority from the mere mention of your brand on another page’s site. Although Google has yet to confirm that mentions have now been built into their algorithm, investigations into Google’s Panda patent show that this is now the case.
The User Experience
Along with speed, there are other factors that go into the user experience. Can visitors easily navigate around your website on mobile and desktop?
Are there dead-end pages? Or, is there always a link bringing visitors to another page or the option to return to the homepage? Is content easy to read and attractive?
While these things are more under the purview of the design team, it is worth it for SEO experts and content marketers to also consider these aspects of the website design. Search engines are constantly indexing websites and being convenient to use has a direct impact on bounce rates. In turn, those bounce rates impact SEO ranking.
Content Is King
I know, I know… we started these tips by saying that your content can be amazing but that doesn’t matter if no one reads it. Well, that is true.
But the quality of your content still matters.
Many websites have tried the trick of posting repetitive articles that are stuffed with keywords and lack substance. The days of engine algorithms falling for that old tactic are long gone. And, as consumers become more and more discerning, the strategy is doubly-doomed to fail.
What’s Next for SEO?
It’s a constantly changing landscape for SEO with consumers evolving and government legislation (perhaps) over the horizon.
For now, online consumers are spoiled with choices. Some two million new articles are being posted per day. More and more, internet searchers are demanding detailed, well-researched, visually appealing content that will help them find solutions to a problem.
Get your Free On-Site SEO Audit from Bear Fox Marketing and find out how you can improve your content marketing strategy.