Boost SEO by Showcasing How Smart You Are

Our experts explain how positioning yourself as an expert can help maximize your site for search.

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By Jacob Hall

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The secret to online visibility can be found in search. But how can businesses maximize search engine optimization for their company websites? The solution is both simple and complex. You need content, but content that's clever, creative and engaging.

"It's all about creating fresh, relevant content," says Eric Siu of digital marketing agency Single Grain. "Everyone preaches it," he says, "but not everyone is able to actually deliver on that."

We reached out to a team of SEO experts to break down how smarter content can showcase your company's assets, boost your content quality and eventually pull your site to the top of users' search results. Here's what they suggest.

Related: 4 Ways to Get Influencers to Spread Your Brand's Message

Don't try trickery. Tactics for optimizing SEO have changed drastically and quickly. "SEO in 2014 is largely defined by quality content publication," says Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, "whereas a few years ago, it was defined by manipulative tactics," such as mass link sharing through online forums or even purchasing links from SEO agencies, which would trick Google's algorithm into ranking your site higher. Now, these methods are entirely ineffective. Content strategy has almost completely displaced the "spammy" strategies of just a few years go. "Those tactics are easily detected by Google's ranking algorithm and will backfire on companies that attempt to use them," DeMers says, resulting in penalties that will keep you out of the Google rankings for months or years

Quality is key. For Google and other search engines, it's all about pointing searches toward the best results. "Publishing low-quality content on a company blog will…not only hurt SEO efforts, but will degrade your brand," DeMers says. Ask yourself: Would you read this article? Would you share it? If the answer to either of those questions is "No,' you need to go back to the content drawing board. Look to blogs you admire and think about ideas you can borrow and build upon for your own site.

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Be consistent. Everything you post on your site should align with your brand. If it's helpful, jot down 2- 3 key words you want people to use when describing your company (words like, "positive" or "expert") and ask how many of those key words could describe any of the posts you make online. And make sure to update your online efforts at regular (even predictable) intervals to build an audience. Give people something to look forward to. "If you create quality and you continue to do it over time, you're going to see these results compound," says Siu.

Spice things up. Siu emphasizes that variety will help your site rise to the top of the search rankings. Consider a range of content options, such as blogs, short videos you tape on your phone or laptop, photos and Webinars that will drive word of mouth about your business. "People are taking more risks," he says, adding that some businesses are even creating eBooks for their readers. If you create a unique and valuable experience that actually rewards visitors to your site, Siu promises that "Google will reward you for that."

Related: 6 Ways to Retain Ecommerce Customers

Be the expert. Presenting yourself as an industry leader in your site's original content will drive SEO and improve your personal brand. "You need to be constantly reaffirming your space in the industry," says Brian Honigman, a marketing consultant. Acting like the expert you are in your presentation will continue to pay off in the years ahead. "If you clearly package your expertise on a subject, then over time, you'll be able to keep up with the search engine's constant changes."

Be a friend. Traditional link building may be dead, but the side effect of sharing links, the bonds between sites, is strong than ever. In other words, real relationships matter. "Through these organic relationships, you can build links to your site and help your SEO while achieving other goals," Honigman says. Re-post customer's photos (with their permission), link out to experts you admire and forge new bonds. "You're going to get a better bang for your buck if you combine your efforts," adds Siu. Meanwhile, you've cultivated a network of ambassadors who have a reason to drive back to your online content.

Be patient. Siu explains that SEO success doesn't happen overnight. Create a content schedule you can manage and monitor its results over several weeks, tweaking these articles once you feel you understand what your audience wants. Change won't come immediately and Siu emphasizes patience, especially for young companies. The days of buying your way to the top of the search results are long over. "You won't see results very quickly," he says. "It does take time when it comes to SEO."

Jacob Hall

Jacob Hall is a writer living and working in Austin, Texas. He writes about movies, books, games and technology.

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