If you have spent any time working on search engine optimization for your site and evaluating your previous efforts, you have undoubtedly seen a great deal of change in the past two years, specifically after the introduction of the Google Panda and Penguin updates. What were the SEO tactics of choice by most small organizations have not only been superseded by better methods, they are now causing harm to organizations they were put in place to help.
The focus is now on creating a higher quality web site experience for your visitors while at the same time optimizing your content and site. Previous to the Penguin update, it was sufficient to create content that search engines recognized and read, whereas now it is imperative to create content that your audience wants to read. In other words, rather than create pages stuffed full of keywords that you would like to be ranked high for, creating high quality content that is interesting and genuinely useful that people naturally want to share should now be at the forefront of your SEO strategy.
For Google, this fits in nicely with the increased emphasis on social sharing and social signals that are becoming increasingly important. The better the quality and more unique your content is, the more likely your customers are going to share that content across their social channels. So how as a small business with an often small budget are you supposed to create this content? Here are a couple of ways
Personalize Your Content
The personal aspect of being a small business may actually be advantageous here. Visible authorship is now very important. You have probably noticed the images of faces showing up alongside articles in a Google search. While this may look like a subtle change, utilizing the Google Authorship mark-up for your posts will give you a significant advantage over your competitors. This verification system is actually an attempt to reduce spam and duplicated content. If you take this simple step to mark your articles with your authorship, Google rewards you with additional images and links in search engine results. These enhanced search results garner a higher click-through rate compared to more traditional results because they are more visible and encourage trustworthiness. Speculation is that this personalization of content is going to become even more important in the future with regards to search rankings. Many SEO specialists suspect that Author Rank will be playing a larger role in future Google ranking metrics and that this could be linked to personal social rankings. The bonus is that it is easy to set up for businesses of any size.
Invest in Creative Content
A further important tip for small businesses is not to underestimate the importance of creative, fresh content. Creative posts stand out from the crowd, and if you are beginning to plan your content marketing strategy for 2013, you should strive to produce informative content that is also creative. Customers prefer to get to know a business through articles rather than ads. Creative content is particularly important in the social media sphere. Interesting content is among the top 3 reasons people follow brands on social media. If you consider that 67% of Twitter users are more likely to purchase from brands they follow, it emphasizes just how important and interlinked great content is.
So for 2013, while you may be feeling unnerved by the drastic changes in SEO, there are significant opportunities for small businesses to create revenue from content marketing and creating a personalized presence on the Internet.
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About the author: Helen Butterworth is a Digital Marketing Executive working for two e-commerce websites, the wholesale clothing company www.qtag.com and www.clothes2order.com which sells personalized clothing.