As every SEO is aware, Matt Cutts recently made a very strong statement against the use of guest-posting. The points he made were clear and (if we’re honest) fair. Guest-posting has become more and more spammy over the past few years, and has been over-utilised by many in the SEO industry. However, this condemnation of guest posting means that many people working in content and/or outreach may now be at a loss as to what to do and how they can utilise their skills.
Luckily, this post is here to help, and will concentrate on ways you can improve your (and your client’s) website and boost rankings without spammy link-building tactics.
First and foremost, now is the prime time to take a thorough look at the site you’re working with. When was the last time you updated your meta data? Are you still using and tracking relevant keywords? Are your pages delivering good conversion rates?
If your answers to any of the above are less than certain, then it’s time to put a plan together to thoroughly update your website.
- Keywords – how can you possibly write effective meta data or even webpages without having focused, user-based keywords? Check what people are searching for and what they’re clicking through on. Adjust your keyword selection appropriately.
- Update your meta data – now you’ve got relevant keywords selected, it’s time to update all your title tags and meta descriptions. Ensure you’re up to speed with the latest guidelines for length and structure, and that you make them both keyword-rich and user-friendly (and never forgo the latter for the sake of the former).
- Update your H1s – a logical step forward from checking your meta data. Ensure you’re using the most search-friendly terms, and that everything is properly formatted. It’s a great opportunity to check for issues such as multiple H1s or even pages that are missing them all together.
- Do a content analysis – time to get down and dirty with your onsite content. Are all of your pages still working for you? Are the beneficial to your users? Are they helping to make conversions, or are they dead ends where people drop off your site? Do a thorough analysis of your website and trim the fat. If a page is no longer of any use, then get rid of it. If a page needs altering to make it more relevant to current user needs, then improve it! Make your onsite content work for you! There’s no point ranking well if your site drives users right back to the SERPs.
Your Own Content
Ok, so those are all pretty basic (but vital) things. What next? Time to be clever and focus on your own (or your client’s) area of expertise. What do you have specialist knowledge about? Do you have access to interesting statistics or useful information? Start planning out high-quality content for your own website. It’s time to focus your effort on making your site stand out, and positioning yourself as an expert in your field. Yes, I know, this was one of the premises behind guest-posting. But now it’s time to bring everything back onsite, and boost the quality of what you’re producing while you’re at it.
Start planning and creating useful, engaging pieces of content that will actively encourage people to visit your site. Ensure that they will actually be beneficial to your users, and take this opportunity to improve your brand’s image within its industry. Doing this should help to improve your user engagement, boost brand visibility and reputation, and help drive new yet relevant users to your site. It could even lead to a few people naturally linking back to your site without resorting to any dodgy or spammy tactics at all!
To get you started on ideas for onsite content, check out one of our older blog posts on the subject.
Try Something New
Ok, so you’ve improved your website; it’s up-to-date, fresh, and useful. But, as ever, the challenge is getting people to click on it in the SERPs, and then guide them through to convert. So what else can you do?
- Rich snippets. You’ve (hopefully) made your all meta data enticing and keyword-rich by now, so the next step is to make your pages stand out even more. Rich snippets are the answer! Whether it’s showing your average review rating in stars, an image, or even a video, rich snippets are a great way to grab people’s attention and get clicks. So look through your pages and think what you could add to make them jump out.
- Following on from this comes Authorship. Images of the wonderful people who are writing all your website’s great content is another good way to capture people’s attention in the SERPs.
- Next up, time for something crucial – load speed. If people click on your page they expect it to load almost instantaneously, so don’t keep them waiting. The longer it takes for your site to load, the more likely it is that people will leave it. Additionally, Google has admitted that load speed also has small effect on rankings. So what are you waiting for? See if there are any major issues with your site-load time and, if there are, get to work! Even if there aren’t, it’s still worth seeing if there are any small things you can alter that will help to improve it.
And Now For Something Completely Different…
Finally, it might be time to try something a little different. Obviously, guest-posting used to have an added benefit of pushing your brand out there and raising awareness in those who had never heard of you before. So what can you do to replicate this without annoying Google?
First, you can try to start a company newsletter. Make it weekly, monthly, quarterly – as frequently as you like. Just ensure that you make it very easy for people to sign up, and encourage them to do so. It’s a good way to push your brand out to people who may have been on your site but haven’t yet converted. It’s also a good way to bolster fresh onsite content.
Secondly, leverage the connections you do have. If people have reviewed you or your services, ask them for a link back. Alternatively, encourage satisfied customers to recommend you to others – you can simply ask, or provide incentives for them to do so, depending on budgetary restraints. Utilise those skills you developed outreaching all those spammy guest-posts and hone them into doing something much more beneficial (and debatably easier) – getting people who like you to talk about you online.
So there you are – a whole host of things that content and outreach specialists can do to improve your website and rankings in the post guest-blogging era. Have you got any other ideas for how to boost rankings without guest-posting? Or are you going to continue with blogging despite the warnings? Tell us what you think in the comments below!