Monthly Archive April 2015

Q&A: For SEO, Should I Upload a Bunch of Content All At Once?

Q: If you’ve got a bunch of content to upload to your site, should you upload it one piece at a time or put it all up at once?  

A: I received this question recently from a very active client.  I told them to go ahead and upload everything, but I might not give the same advice to every site owner.

Here’s the thing: Google certainly doesn’t want to penalize you for uploading a bunch of great content.  Your articles aren’t doing you any good while they’re tucked away in a folder on your desktop.  You should certainly get them out as quickly as possible.

However, there’s an exception, and it’s an important one.  If you don’t typically add new content — if your site is pretty much static other than the occasional update — you may benefit slightly from uploading a piece at a time.  Fresh content is usually a good thing, and a site that keeps making good content will generally do better than a static site.

Therefore, if you don’t think you can afford a content creation service (cough, cough) and you don’t have the time or skills to write new content on your own, you may benefit from slowly working through that big backlog.

On the other hand, if you’re already creating fresh content on a weekly basis, go ahead and put all of that stuff up there.  Just make sure that it’s all ready for prime time.  With each piece of content, you should:

  • Check the title and header tags.  Make sure they’re optimized and that they reasonably address a search query.  Use relevant key phrases, but don’t stuff your content with keywords to try to get a higher ranking.  That never works, or this website would be nothing but the word “SEO” and I wouldn’t have a job.
  • Check the meta description.  Yeah, yeah, Google doesn’t use the meta description in rankings, but it still shows it to potential visitors.  Write a compelling meta description that will draw people in.
  • Use relevant images.  Make sure that the images are properly tagged.
  • Promote your content.  Even if you’re just releasing a bunch of technical documents, find a way to drive some temporary traffic.  Make a press release or a blog post announcing your content.

So, to reiterate: there’s certainly no penalty for putting a bunch of stuff up at once.  However, regardless of your release strategy, make sure that your content is properly optimized.

Your Customers Have a Query. Is Your Site the Best Answer?

I hear a lot of my SEO consulting clients ask a simple — but misguided — question:

Why aren’t we ranking for our target keyword?

I hate to answer a question with a question; it reminds me of when I went to a Buddhist Zen center, and every question was answered as vaguely as was possible (yes, yes, I get the non-duality of all existence, but would you just tell me where the bathroom is?).  I know that it can be a frustrating way to start a conversation.

However, I’m not doing my job if I don’t point out the error in the question — instead of asking why you aren’t ranking, you should ask why the current top result is ranking.  The answer is always the same; it’s currently the best answer.

Re-Think What You Know About Search Queries

Let’s talk about search queries for a second.

A query is just that — a question — and it’s what web users type to find answers.  In fact, some early search engines would actually force their users to use the form of a question (I’m looking at you, Ask Jeeves).

Most business owners think of queries as magical keys for more business, but I find that you’ll get better results (very quickly, in many cases) by simply thinking of every search as a question.  Now ask: are you the best answer for that question?

Let’s work with a concrete example, because I’m getting a little too Zen for my own liking (no offense to the Zen Buddhists, but I doubt they took offense in the first place).  Say that you own a car detailing shop in Ohio.  With a few exceptions, all of your customers are in Akron.  All of your customer reviews are from around Akron.

You might want to rank nationally for the key phrase, “car detailing,” but that’s simply not happening.  People who type those words into Google are looking for car detailing services near them, or they’re looking for general information.  In any case, you’re not the right answer to that question.

Now, you probably already know that, but you might not realize that you might not be the best answer for “car detailing in Tallmadge,” which, for non-Ohioans, is a city near Akron.  There are probably plenty of detailing shops in Tallmadge proper, so Google doesn’t want to lose credibility by sending users all the way to Akron for their detail work.   There’s a good chance that you’re only a good answer for “car detailing in Akron,” at least until you do some more work.

Adapting Your Site to the Search Query

So, is your little car detailing shop out of luck?

Of course not.  Maybe you’re the best detailers around, and maybe you’re the only shop qualified to handle vintage Ford trucks.  Maybe you’re opening a new office in Tallmadge.

You need a dedicated page that’s set up to get the “car detailing in Tallmadge” keyphrase, but if you want to get to the top of the search results and stay there, you can’t just spam the keyword. Write real content about your shop — tell visitors why they should make the trip from Tallmadge to Akron, let them know about your specialties, talk about the experience of your staff.

Your website is a sales pitch, after all, and it’s a sales pitch to your customers — not to Google.  If you provide real information (and you don’t just try to copy your Akron site while replacing a few words), you can rise through the ranks pretty quickly.  In niche markets and small cities, the process is remarkably easy as long as you don’t attempt to game the system.

If you haven’t noticed a pattern yet, most of these blog posts will boil down to “make quality content,” but you also need to think about your audience — and the questions they’re asking — in order to see a return.  In the next few blogs, I’ll provide a few tips for content creation and keyword research.  And yes, we’ll get into Google Keyword Planner and Webmaster Tools and all of that stuff, but for now, focus on asking the right questions.  Unless you’re a Buddhist monk; then you’ve probably already figured this stuff out.

And by the way, I apologize if you found this blog post by searching for “car detailing shop in Ohio.” We, uh, don’t do that here.