If you work in digital marketing, or are familiar with the concept, then you will likely have heard the term ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ or ‘SEO’. For those less familiar with the term, SEO is a tactic used by content marketers to ensure that their content ranks highly on search engines for organic search terms. These tactics include but are not limited to:
Using targeted keywords and phrases strategically placed within your content Building a range of internal and external links Expertly crafting metadata. …I’ll let you in on a secret – even the above bullet pointed list is a calculated placement that helps boost this post onto search engines.
75% of people will only look at the first page of search results. For digital marketers, this highlights the importance of ranking as highly as possible for certain keywords or search terms; if you fall to that second page on the search engine, your target audience, and potential customers, are likely not seeing your content.
SEO works because robots, known as Web Crawlers, scan the pages on your website for tidbits of information – and when someone types in a search term, it will display the most relevant content based on what it has found. While this appears to be a simple thing to implement, in reality many businesses struggle to find the balance between high quality content that entices the audience to your brand, product or services, and strategically applying these tactics to appeal to the Web Crawlers circling your site.
AI produced content – does this negatively impact SEO? In 2023 specifically, AI tools have skyrocketed in popularity. In the field of digital marketing, the use of these tools to produce AI generated content for websites and campaigns has been discussed at length. Historically, the general consensus has been that AI generated content is ‘bad’, and is likely to rank poorly on search terms. There are several reasons why this has been generally accepted as ‘truth’ by digital marketers, some of which are highlighted below:
The EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) signals for AI generated content tend to be lower than that written by a ‘human’. Though the AI tools are extremely intelligent – the content they produce lacks an element of ‘fact-checking’, and so it can have a tendency to pull together factually incorrect information. Content produced by AI tools can be mediocre, and lacks an element of detail compared to content produced by ‘humans’. However, a recent tweet by Google has capsized this view. They stated that if content is “helpful and created for people” then it does not matter whether it is written by a human, or generated by an AI tool.
Consider your audience – writing for humans vs. robots As discussed earlier in this article, digital content pieces need to include a variety of strategically placed elements to be flagged by Web Crawlers as relevant pieces of content in relation to a search term. That being said, throwing together a nonsensical piece of content that simply uses all these tactics will not produce the desired results.
As mentioned above, content needs to be “helpful and created for people”. Creating content that will appeal to the humans reading it is the main priority for digital marketing, and SEO enhancement (or writing for Web Crawler ‘robots’) should come as a [high] second. Finding the balance between these two elements is key.
The prize is in the finer details Now that you have your expertly crafted content (whether it be AI or human generated), that is written with humans in mind – it is time to fine-tune your content, and focus on the smaller details. This is where we can strategically tweak the content, and insert the elements that will be of interest to the WebCrawlers.
Keywords For every search term, there are several key words or phrases that relate to the topic. Sprinkling a combination of these keywords throughout your content will usually notify Web Crawlers that this is relevant to certain search terms, and will therefore rank this content higher than others. Often keywords placed in certain places – such as the title, the first paragraph, and the meta description – rank higher than if they are within the general body of the text.
There are several online tools that can be used to research which keywords are trending, for certain niches and topics within your industry, at any given time. Some keywords are likely to continuously rank highly within your field, whereas others might ebb and flow throughout the year, as the trends in your industry shift. For the best results it is beneficial to use a combination of the two within your content.
Headings & HTML Web Crawlers do many clever things – and one of them is ranking the importance of the content on your page. Making sure your headings are coded correctly (H1, H2, H3 etc.) help Web Crawlers do this accurately.This is because long-form text that includes headings is usually classed as ‘easier’ for people to read and navigate; as mentioned above, writing for humans helps your content rank highly – therefore content with headings is seen to be written for humans which is why WebCrawlers flag this as useful, and boosts your rankings. In contrast, if headings are coded incorrectly, this can actually make your content rank lower, so it is important that this is not the case.
Meta descriptions Be honest in your meta descriptions. For example, don’t just insert a keyword into your meta description because it ranks highly in the overarching topic; if it is not mentioned or discussed in the main body of your text, don’t include it.
Links Including hyperlinks, that both internally link to your website, and externally link to other websites, in the main body of your content can help boost your SEO rankings. Be mindful of external links however, as links to deleted external pages can hinder your rankings.
Finding the balance Balancing the SEO scales to maximise the results you get from your content marketing strategy is not an easy task – but if done correctly it is certainly worth the effort. Remember, when using AI generated content, proof and edit it with human eyes to maximise EEAT; write for humans, not for robots; and, the finer details will not go unnoticed. Advancing your SEO strategy will take time and effort; to fast track this process, consider hiring a digital marketing agency that specialises in SEO to really nail down your SEO strategy, and outperform the competition every single time.