INBOUND 2018 marked six years attending the conference for me. And besides the improvement to the food (I’d wait in line for Roxie’s Grilled Cheese all day), we also saw changes across the board in how content marketing is contributing to the success of website rankings.
In the past, your website could rank if your content was strategically optimized in the 5 key on-page areas for your target keyword. But that’s all changing.
So, how can your content strategy change to positively impact your SEO in 2018 and beyond? Here are the top three takeaways:
INBOUND Takeaway #1: The Format of Your Content Matters
We’re not just talking about the design of your website, although that can play a huge part. With the emergence of structured snippets – or “Position Zero” as some SEO experts are calling it, it’s more important than ever to ensure your content formatting follows a strategic, consistent structure. If you need a reminder, structured snippets are search results that populate answers right on the Google search results page. Structured snippets can be formatted as:
- Unordered lists (bullet points)
- Numbered lists
- Paragraph answers
- Tables and charts
- YouTube videos
Although, we believe that Google is experimenting with other types of snippets as well.
Why is it important to rank for Position Zero? Because in many cases, the snippet takes up a majority of the search results page, sometimes pushing organic results to the bottom half of the fold. This also makes it significantly harder for your content to rank in Position 1, as the snippet will also take that spot, too.
When writing blog content, first go to Google and search for your keyword / topic / blog title. Ask yourself:
- What content is already ranking?
- How long is the content?
- What format is it? (Blog post, infographic, video, etc.)
- How can I create something that’s BETTER?
Then, ensure your post follows best practices for header tags, meta, and other on-page areas.
INBOUND Takeaway #2: Utilize User-Generated Content
As content marketers, we often feel it’s our responsibility to write, produce, and promote our content ourselves. But that can sometimes narrow our content view. User-generated content is content that your customers, clients, or users create for you. And it’s likely already available to you.
Here are some ways you can take advantage of UGC:
- Customer Reviews – Head over to Yelp, Capterra, G2 Crowd, or your review site of choice and find some of your best reviews. Then, take the entire review, or a snippet of it, throw it in a nice Instagram template, and share it on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Easy as pie!
- Instagram – If you’re a B2C business, it’s easy to encourage your customers to use hashtags. Warby Parker created #Warbyhometryon. With every delivery of glasses, there is a post card inviting customers to take selfies with their glasses to get feedback from friends while using the hashtag #Warbyhometryon. It has since generated more than 23,000 unique organic Instagram posts. What hashtag could your customers use, and how can you encourage the use of it? B2B businesses can benefit from this practice, too!
- Video Content and Contests – Think about ways your customers can use video to share their story, experience, or feedback. Or get competitive by creating a video contest from which you can share the results.
- Influential Bloggers – Give your product or service for free to industry leaders that have prominent blogs. And invite them to write honest feedback about your product or service on their website. Then link to that content, and promote it.
- Tweets to Instagram – Convert Tweets to Instagram or Facebook Image posts.
- Employee Content – Ask or invite your employees to share photos / videos of them working from home, having fun in the office, meeting with clients, or sharing their employee experience. Glassdoor is a great place to get organic employee feedback.
Why is UGC making such waves in the content world? Here are some stats:
- 92% of buyers say they trust word-of-mouth more than any other type of marketing.
- 64% of buyers read online reviews before buying.
- UGC has 4x higher click-through rates than ads.
INBOUND Takeaway #3: Keep on Testing
One of the biggest takeaways from INBOUND is that SEO changes all the time. Seriously. Google’s algorithm continues to use machine learning and AI to improve and adjust rankings. What does that mean for you? It means that best practices may be known at a high level, but something that worked for one website may not work for yours, and vise versa. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of changes you make to your content and to review the results.
What happens when you update a blog post publish date? Do the views go up or down over time?
What happens when you change a template from a text-heavy to a video-heavy template?
How does changing your title tags impact your ranking?
Always take the time to review what’s working well, and what isn’t, to find trends that apply to your unique website and content.