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Stop Obsessing Over Keywords


Lauren Siler: Hello, and welcome to an episode of Consider This. I’m Lauren Siler.

Holly Fong: And I’m Holly Fong.

Lauren Siler: Welcome back, Holly. I didn’t scare you off the first time around, huh?

Holly Fong: I was going to say, what did I do right to get blessed to come back?

Lauren Siler: It’s a great honor to have you here, thank you for agreeing to show up for another episode. No, last time was fun. I enjoyed it.

Holly Fong: It was.

Lauren Siler: And this time, we are going to be focusing on a topic that comes up quite a bit, which is how we think about keywords strategy when it comes to content marketing. A lot of clients, when they are trying to focus their content and decide on what topics they’re going to choose for their content plans, ultimately decide how they’re going to approach that messaging for those various topics; sometimes, they’re starting first with keywords.

So, we wanted to take some time today just to talk about, well, what role does keyword strategy really play in good content marketing? Do we start with keywords or do we not? You know, where in the process does that tend to fall?

Holly Fong: I would say don’t start with keywords. Let’s just skip to the end, here. Don’t start with them.

Lauren Siler: Shortest podcast episode ever. We’re done and we’re out. No, no, I agree with you. Okay, so we say don’t start with keywords. Why?

Holly Fong: Well, you know, Google used to rely on keywords a lot more than it does now. The reason it doesn’t do that anymore is because people took advantage of that, and there was keyword stuffing, where they basically put that keyword as many times on the page as they could.

Lauren Siler: Right.

Holly Fong: In all of the different tags available, right? And ultimately that’s not how Google is determining whether it should rank you for those terms anymore.

Lauren Siler: Mm-hmm.

Holly Fong: That’s one reason.

Lauren Siler: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. Ultimately what would happen is sometimes Google would just be deciding what keywords they wanted to possibly rank for in this universe, and they would be including it in those tags, whether or not it was related to the content at hand, which is why Google stopped putting any weight on those keyword tags in the first place.

Holly Fong: Exactly.

Lauren Siler: But I would also say, starting with keywords can get you into trouble from a writing standpoint, because if you go in to approach a piece of content with a set of keywords in mind, and those are in the back of your head while you’re also trying to figure out how to frame the context of your argument, then you’re trying to do too many things at once.

Often what happens is it becomes a little bit too formulaic. You think you’ve got five to seven keywords that need to be inside of this article, six to eight times and placed in the just the right buckets or paragraphs or whatever, and ultimately, you’re losing sight of what the content was going to be about in the first place- and how to best communicate that content based on your own expertise- because you’re so wrapped up in the keywords.

Holly Fong: Exactly. And ultimately, you know, what Google’s going to rank is how often people come to that page and stay on it. If it’s not written well and it’s not actually answering the question that someone came there to get, no one’s going to stay on the page, and you’re never going to end up on any of the search engine results pages.

Lauren Siler: Right. So, it’s not that keywords don’t matter, necessarily, but I think that starting there and not first focusing on writing good content- that is intended to attract the right people, and then engage them long enough that they are going to be spending time on the page, and that Google is going to see that and ultimately rank it higher than pages who aren’t achieving those same metrics- is a bad place to start.

So if we do think about where keywords do matter, let’s maybe think about metadata. When we’re referring to the metadata, we’re just talking about the way that the page is structured on the site; and that still matters, right?

Holly Fong: It does, yeah. And, you know, when you were talking about keywords not mattering, I almost wanted to go as far to say key terms don’t matter anymore. Right? Long tail keywords matter, and how you’re structuring your data in the meta tags matters, to an extent, that’s going to help you- but a term isn’t really going to get you very far.

Lauren Siler: Because they tend to be too broad.

Holly Fong: Yeah, exactly. And those are already taken by the big players in the game, right? The sites with really high domain authority- and you’re just never really going to get there. So don’t try to rank for marketing.

Lauren Siler: Right. Or even better branding for healthcare. You know, I mean, there are a gazillion branding firms out there in the healthcare space, as just an example. Even if you think that you’re narrowing the focus by throwing on a particular industry, odds are that even that’s going to be too broad at this point. Like, that wouldn’t count as a long tail keyword.

Holly Fong: Yeah. Exactly. To that, too, there’s so little space on those pages, because they’re all bought out by paid search, too. So then you’re only getting an opportunity out of five listings or something like that.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. And long tail keywords have their place- because there are so many people looking for very specific information and education around their specific brand challenge- and when you think about the way that we all use Google: we go to Google and we ask very specific questions; we type in very specific queries. It’s kind of rare, I find, at least for myself, that I’m going in and I’m searching something that’s two to three words long when I’m looking for detailed education about a particular topic.

Holly Fong: Totally. Definitely agree. And that’s interesting because that’s changed, right? If you remember when search engines first came out, you would just type one name in there. “George Washington.” Right? And now it’s like, “What were George Washington’s teeth made out of?” And that is really what you’re looking for.

Lauren Siler: We have found the source that you used to write your history reports. Just go to Google, type in “George Washington,” see what comes up. I’m getting a tough stare from Holly right now.

Holly Fong: I hope my teachers aren’t checking my work now.

Lauren Siler: I think you turned out okay. Yeah, you’re right, though. I mean, the way that we search has evolved, and Google is smart enough to evolve its algorithm accordingly, right?

Holly Fong: Mm-hmm.

Lauren Siler: So not being shy about trying to own these more detailed, longer form keywords. But, how do you get to them, right? And I think the initial question that we posed at the beginning of this podcast was, “where do you start with keywords- or do you start with keywords- or do you write the article and then do keywords? Do you do it somewhere in the middle? When do keywords come into play here?”

I think the best advice I can give on this is: when you’ve got a particular topic in mind, that you have thoughtfully considered, within the context of your expertise and your personas, et cetera, write that topic to the best of your ability without thinking one minute about keywords. Just disregard keywords for the moment, and then at the end when the content is developed, go back and read it or listen to it or whatever kind of format it’s in, and determine what the appropriate keyword is going to be to best describe that content; because there are people out there looking for it, if you are thoughtful about the topic ideation in the first place.

Holly Fong: Yeah, and you know what’s funny, though, is you can go through your content, and you should be looking for it, but you probably want diversification in those long tail keywords still. Right?

Lauren Siler: Right, across all of the different meta tags.

Holly Fong: Exactly, across the different meta tags, but even within the article itself, right? You don’t necessarily need to say, especially because long tail keywords are longer now, so that might be a sentence, almost. You don’t need to say that sentence; it’d be weird. Right?

So, you need to think of different ways of saying the same thing, ultimately. You know? It has to fit within the context of the article, to your point.

Lauren Siler: Yeah, and what I’ve found is when you approach your messaging with the authentic consideration of, “I just want to teach the reader about this topic, I just want to say this in the right way, and I want to educate this reader in the right way,” then you’re naturally going to be phrasing these things in different contexts.

When you just naturally communicate, or when you write something in an article, you’re rarely saying the same sentence multiple times- or the same key phrase over and over and over again. I think when you are effectively framing your content- just because you’re trying to be a good writer and you’re trying to be a good teacher- that happens almost organically.

Holly Fong: Yeah. I’d agree with that.

Lauren Siler: But to your point of diversifying these terms, that does come into play in the meta tagging. Shall we talk a little bit about just, I mean, briefly because we talked about this before on our other podcast, but what are the main areas inside of metadata that need to be optimized, and why should they be diversified?

Holly Fong: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So the reason that we recommend they be diversified has to do with the different queries people might be searching for, right? So, if you match in your H1 or your H2 or your meta description for one of those queries, more directly, you’re going to be more likely to show up on the SERPs. Does that match what you would say as well?

Lauren Siler: Mm-hmm. Yeah. It’s helping you cast a broader net, because different people who might be interested in accessing this content might be searching for it in different ways.

Holly Fong: Exactly.

Lauren Siler: So there are ways we can do it; and the metadata is just clues that Google’s using to find out what this particular web page is about so that it can be good at its job and match that content to various searchers’ queries.

Holly Fong: Exactly.

Lauren Siler: So, we want to make sure that the H1 tag is keyword rich, but is different than say, the title tag or the SEO title, which is what gets displayed in search results pages. Both of those things should be keyword rich, but they should be different from one another. Those two items should also be different from the URL, right?

Holly Fong: Yeah.

Lauren Siler: And then, the final piece would be the meta description.

Holly Fong: Mm-hmm, which is also what sometimes shows up on the search pages.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. Mark and Chris and I got into a big debate over this in our SEO episode on expert matters, but the meta description, yeah, I think, I guess it’s less and less rendered in search results pages. Is that what’s going on?

Holly Fong: No, it’s not necessarily that it’s less and less rendered. I think, well, maybe it is less and less rendered, but essentially, the reason it’s less and less rendered is because Google’s going to pick a portion of your article that matches most closely to what the searcher’s searching for. So if there’s a portion of your article that says something that is in line with what they’re searching for, that is what it’s going to show instead of the meta description that you’re filling out.

Lauren Siler: Right, so Google is ultimately the final authority on what gets displayed in the meta description section on search results pages; but I think it’s still important to be intentional about the meta description. Has a lot to do with keywords anyway, because Google’s not really placing weight on that anymore- because to your earlier point- that’s where people were doing a lot of that keyword stuffing. It was in the meta description.

So, Google stopped really putting a lot of weight on keywords in that section; however, when you do go share your content on social platforms, more often than not the meta description is what’s automatically going to get pulled in when you share that content. So you want to have some control over that.

Holly Fong: Yeah, and I would still say it’s something that’s Google’s crawling, right? It’s still an area where you can basically diversify the cast of net that you’re sending out, basically saying that these are long tail keywords that this article’s about.

Lauren Siler: Right.

Holly Fong: So there’s no reason not to optimize it. Takes an extra minute.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. It’s not going to hurt anything by doing it.

Holly Fong: Yeah.

Lauren Siler: Okay. Cool. Well, you and I are aligned on this. We need to go talk to the guys at some point.

Okay, so we’ve touched on the keywords. Don’t start there. Wait until, maybe, you’ve already framed most of your argument, and then determine what your keywords or your long tail keywords are going to be. Then, use that to inform the metadata, and we do want to diversify our metadata.

Oh, another really interesting thing that I think would be great to cover off on is the introduction of snippets into the world. Which is kind of a silly word to say, I don’t know.

Holly Fong: Yeah.

Lauren Siler: It kind of, I don’t know-

Holly Fong: Featured snippets.

Lauren Siler: Featured snippets, which are on Google now. Basically, a lot of you listening have probably noticed: when you go to Google now, if you ask Google certain queries, sometimes it’ll pull forward this little box that gives you very clear instructions to whatever your question was. Those are called featured snippets.

You were telling me, Holly, that they’ve got a crazy high conversion rate.

Holly Fong: Yeah. The reason they have a crazy high conversion rate is because the position that they are on the SERP. So it’s very high up. It’s usually, they call it ‘Position Zero’. Right? It’s above the first ranked, basically, option, within Google.

Lauren Siler: Do they place it above the ads? I haven’t noticed.

Holly Fong: It’s rare that there are ads for questions.

Lauren Siler: Ah.

Holly Fong: So, you know what I mean? It’s rare that they’re competing, but I would have to find an example. I bet that they are below the ads is my guess. But to that point, they’re usually not competing for that space.

Lauren Siler: All right. So right now, snippets are basically only used if the searcher is typing in a question; snippets are the answer to a question.

Holly Fong: Yeah, primarily. The reason for that is because they come from voice to text. So, people who are asking a question to Alexa or asking their phone something- asking Siri something- that’s where it’s pulling from, is that featured snippet.

Lauren Siler: Right. Okay. Although, you can get to a featured snippet just by typing something into Google.

Holly Fong: Oh, definitely. Yeah.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. Okay. Got it. And we touched on this a little bit last time, we were talking about our predictions for this year and the whole voice to text technology really coming out onto the scene and influencing the way that Google is operating.

But in any case, let’s talk about snippets, because they are becoming more and more prevalent as you do searching online. So, is there a way that we should be thinking about structuring our content- and do keywords play a role in this- when we’re thinking about how do we get our content pulled into a featured snippet on Google?

Holly Fong: Yeah, definitely. We talked a little bit about the way that content should be formatted in the last episode. I’m going to cover that, but I’m going to get into a little more detail with it. To answer your question about keywords: yes. It is recommend that the niche relevancy of the content you’re producing is there. Right? So, you’re answering really specific questions, for a really specific audience, and that’s going to get you more likely to get featured as a snippet. You don’t want to be answering really broad questions.

You want to produce long-form content that goes after to the point questions, not generic keywords.

Lauren Siler: Right, I mean, once again, positioning to the rescue here. If you’re well positioned, and you’re writing about very specific subjects that apply to a very specific audience, you’re more likely to get featured in this Position Zero of the featured snippet-rather than if you’re trying to cast the widest net possible, and get as many people who might possibly find this content relevant.

Holly Fong: Exactly. Yeah. And for agencies, specifically, if they’re thinking about, “We shouldn’t be writing an article about how to market your brand,” but they should be thinking about a very specific, “How to market X type of brand for X individual.” Right? And that is really going to get them what they want, which is the right people to their site, because they’re going to be answering the right question.

So, you know, to get people to those featured snippets, you do want to have long tail keywords; and you want to make sure that they are throughout the page. So, they’re dispersed throughout the page and they should be related terms. To the point. Right? So we’re not talking about the same word over and over again, like we said before, but it’s going to be a different variation of that word throughout.

The other things that you can do to make your content more likely to be featured as a snippet, as I said before, if you’re answering a “how to” question that needs to be in list format, so, you know- one through five or whatever that is; if you’re answering a comparison question- so, this then that- that should be in a table format. And if you’re answering a “how does” question, or, sorry, “does” question, then you want it in paragraph format.

The other things you should be doing: the paragraph should be around 45 words each, and the post is actually supposed to be close to 2,000 words, which is a bigger post, longer post.

Lauren Siler: Okay. I take issue with that first thing, though. And we’ve talked about this before: but I just can’t, I can’t seem to bring myself to get on board with the idea that every paragraph is going to be… you said 45 words?

Holly Fong: Well, it’s not saying every paragraph, right? It’s an average of your paragraphs need to be shorter.

Lauren Siler: Yeah, but 45 words is-

Holly Fong: So, the other thing that they’re-

Lauren Siler: … this is, that feels extreme.

Holly Fong: If you can’t tell, Lauren likes to talk a lot. She also likes to write really long paragraphs, apparently.

Lauren Siler: Look, I’m not the most verbose person in this office, so…

Holly Fong: You just used the word ‘verbose’. So…

Lauren Siler: I did.

Holly Fong: Yeah, so, they’re supposed to be shorter- and the reason that they’re supposed to be shorter is because they’re supposed to be more mobile friendly. And this doesn’t necessarily apply to our audience as much, because more people are searching online, right? But this is basically something that Google’s looking for when it’s deciphering which pages it would want to feature in a snippet.

Lauren Siler: But, is it just because, specifically when we talk about the “does” questions, and that’s the paragraph that’s pulling in, it just feels like a really specific use case to me. It’s like, if you want your content to be featured in a snippet and the page, or, excuse me— the topic is a “does” topic— then you’re most likely to get your paragraph pulled into that snippet if it’s concise enough to fit neatly, either in those search results pages or on the mobile screen, which is where the 45 words… But we don’t all need to transition to a method where we’re all just writing 45 word paragraphs all the time.

Holly Fong: No, I think, to your point, it’s really about, you know, shorter paragraphs for that snippet that it might be pooling.

Lauren Siler: Right.

Holly Fong: And also for the mobile screen. The other thing it’s really recommending is images throughout, and I know that you’re giving me a look about that, too. I don’t think she likes this.

Lauren Siler: No, I’m not, no I’m not! I’m still hung up on the other thing. Okay. I’ll stop arguing with you about this. One point about the mobile screen thing, I mean, people are reading books on their phones now. Are we really so resistant to having longer form content and consuming that on our mobile devices? Because I feel like, if anything, we’re getting more and more tolerant of that trend.

Holly Fong: Do you not have a Kindle?

Lauren Siler: Well, my Kindle is my phone now.

Lauren Siler: You know, I open up the Kindle app, and that’s-

Holly Fong: I agree, and you know, mobile phones have fluctuated in sizes so that people can read longer form content. That doesn’t mean that that content is the most enjoyable to read on your phone, right? And the reason that it should be broken up is because it’s going to be a little bit of an easier read if it isn’t as long, if it’s not taking up the full length of your phone.

Lauren Siler: I just feel like you’re trying to censor me, and that now my content has to be-

Holly Fong: Well, do you want me to get through the other things that we would recommend here, or do you want to fight about this?

Lauren Siler: Okay, continue, continue. Okay, so 45 word paragraphs.

Holly Fong: Mm-hmm.

Lauren Siler: And you said something about the article length: around 2,000 words.

Holly Fong: Yep.

Lauren Siler: So I’m into that.

Holly Fong: Verbose.

Lauren Siler: Okay, and now, fine. Let’s talk about imagery. So, what’s the deal with the imagery?

Holly Fong: So, it’s basically saying that the content should be broken up by images and even videos— if you have them— if they relate throughout the post. That has to do, again, with screens.

Right? The other thing that it’s telling you to do— and this goes back to what we were talking about for meta tags— is the query that you’re trying to be featured for should be the header tag of the post.

Lauren Siler: Right. So the H1 tag needs to be… the keywords that you’re using in the H1 tag are still the most important keywords when you’re framing your metadata.

Holly Fong: Yes, but it specifically should be the query that you’re trying to basically be featured for.

Lauren Siler: Okay.

Holly Fong: The other thing-

Lauren Siler: Like, verbatim?

Holly Fong: Well, yeah.

Lauren Siler: Okay.

Holly Fong: I mean-

Lauren Siler: Well-

Holly Fong: … there could be a difference in a word or two, there, but-

Lauren Siler: But, yeah, so you may be literally titling your post and setting it as an H1 tag with a question.

Holly Fong: Yes.

Lauren Siler: Okay. Got it.

Holly Fong: Yeah. You should be doing that, if you’re trying to optimize that content for-

Lauren Siler: For snippets, specifically?

Holly Fong: Yeah.

Lauren Siler: Okay.

Holly Fong: You should obviously have linked sources throughout the article that back your claims. It’s also very important that you are going and fetching and rendering the new URL of the post in Google Search Console after, and we can talk a little bit more about Google Search Console in a minute.

The last few things that are important is that the site is secure, so, Google has been saying for a while that you should have a secure site and that that’s going to impact SEO. We’re seeing that now.

And usually social engagement will help with getting your content featured, so, seeing that that page has been interacted with through different social mediums is good. Then, the high mobile friendly score, so making sure that, obviously, that site is responsive, and high domain authority is also huge.

Lauren Siler: Got it. Got it. So, we’re going pretty far down this snippets rabbit hole, but I think it’s important, because I think more and more and more that’s going to become a topic of conversation when you’re trying to figure out how your ranking on certain results pages for, at least for questions.

Holly Fong: Definitely. You know, what they’re saying is if you’re doing these things, even if you don’t get featured as a snippet, you’re going to move up in SERPs. So you might move up to position three, because you’ve done all these things, even if you’re not ultimately what’s being featured.

Lauren Siler: Right. Right. So the topic at hand is framed as a question, and here are all these things that we can do; particularly if we want to try and get into the featured snippet zone or if we at least want to move on up in the search results pages.

If we’re not framing content for that specific area of the results page— or maybe it’s not a question at hand— keywords still are important, particularly in the metadata, particularly if you’re using them as long tail form— that you’re not going for something too broad— but I think our big takeaway here, from a keyword standpoint, is stop obsessing over keywords. Right? Don’t begin your content, any piece of content by first having a list of the five keywords that you need to be-

Holly Fong: That you want to rank for.

Lauren Siler: Yeah.

Holly Fong: Yeah. Don’t do that at all. I would say just to the opposite of that- find a list of questions you want to answer for your prospects.

Lauren Siler: Yeah, exactly.

Holly Fong: That’s where you should start.

Lauren Siler: Right, because it’s all about, again, yeah, it’s all about selecting the right topic for the right person, making sure that your expertise is being elevated for the right people. It’s not about capturing the largest volume of people. You want to make sure that they’re relevant to what you’re talking about. Those are the people who are going to be most likely to engage and move through the buying cycle, and actually progress to the stages you want them to, and ultimately get in touch with you. That isn’t everybody under the sun, so you shouldn’t be framing your content as if it were.

Holly Fong: Correct. Yeah.

Lauren Siler: Okay, so, I do want to talk more about Google Search Console, because particularly that piece of advice you just gave is really interesting, where you can go and fetch and tell Google to, “Hey, go index this new page, go crawl this page now that it’s live.” We don’t have to wait for Google to come to us anymore. We can now publish new content and proactively go tell Google that it’s there.

Holly Fong: Yeah, and you should be doing that, right? So, Search Console was formerly Webmaster Tools, owned by Google, and essentially it’s just a free service offered by Google that helps monitor and maintain your site’s presence on Google search results pages, right?

So, Google Search Console is basically, you want to tell Google when you have a site, like, “Hey, I have a site.” You want to give it XML sitemap, so it knows where it can find content, and then as you’re creating new content, you want to give Google a hint, like, “Hey, that’s here, go crawl it.”

Lauren Siler: It should be just part of the publication process at this point.

Holly Fong: It should, yes.

Lauren Siler: Right. And how long does this take to do? I mean, moments?

Holly Fong: Yeah. You can do it in under five minutes.

Lauren Siler: Cool.

Holly Fong: Or you could do it in a minute, once you get familiar with Google Search Console. It’s three clicks away.

Lauren Siler: Great. Yeah. So really just thinking of it as an extension of the process when you’re publishing content to your site is the best way to go. I mean, is this pretty popular now? I mean, most sites doing this? Are people catching onto this, do you think?

Holly Fong: I don’t think everyone’s caught on.

Lauren Siler: Yeah.

Holly Fong: With most things with search, it just takes a while for people to get it, and then search changes.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. That’s how it goes.

Holly Fong: So I think that more people could take advantage of it than currently are.

Lauren Siler: Okay. Got it. So is there anything else with regard to Search Console that we should mention before we move on?

Holly Fong: Last thing, and I touched on this before, just making sure that you’re uploading your sitemap to it. You can get that from the Yoast plugin itself.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. Yoast is a really helpful plugin, actually, across the board, when you come to framing your content for SEO, because it gives a lot of really helpful tips for each piece of metadata that you should be optimizing. So if you don’t happen to know off the top of your head how to be framing an H1 tag and how that’s different from a URL, for example, Yoast can give you some examples.

Holly Fong: Yeah. It’s a great plugin.

Lauren Siler: Cool. Okay. Well, we should take a break and then we’ll come back and get to some common questions that we hear around all this stuff.

Holly Fong: Sounds good.

You are listening to Consider This, a podcast designed to unpack common misconceptions of content marketing today. If you like what you’re hearing, be sure to find us on iTunes and give us a positive rating, and leave a review.

If you’ve got a content marketing question you can send it to us via Twitter, @considerthispod, email us at, or submit your question through Facebook. Now, back to the show.

Lauren Siler: All right, so, for the question part of this episode, there are two big questions that we get all the time when it comes to framing your content for good SEO. The first is: once I’ve done what I’m going to do, I’ve written the content, I’ve published it, how long does it take for me to start seeing results?


Holly Fong: This is always tricky to answer, because it totally depends, right? Sometimes you see results immediately, and sometimes it takes months to see results. The short answer is, it really depends on your domain authority. So, the domain authority is essentially a score that Moz actually came up with to predict how well your website will rank in SERPs. It’s really looking the number of backlinks from high authority sites. That’s what is most directly impacting your domain authority. So if other sites are referring your sites, and especially other sites that get a lot of traffic.

But, it’s also looking for social signals- so other social sites that might be going to that website, the website structure, and you know, technical SEO, so that you have everything set up in Google Search Console, those sorts of things.

Lauren Siler: Does it also have to do with how well your site has performed for that type of query before? Like if you’ve been ranked highly for that type of content or that type of keyword in the past, then you’ve already gotten some of the SEO equity from that term, and then, that’s likely to elevate this particular post that you’re writing on, with that same kind of keyword?

Holly Fong: Yes, yeah, when you’re answering that original question. Sorry, I thought you were talking about domain authority for a second. Yeah, definitely. So, if you have content about that topic and it’s done well for you in the past-

Lauren Siler: Right. Exactly.

Holly Fong: … then, you’re going to be more likely to be able to write to that content again, and get shown earlier in Google, because you’re considered an authority figure, right? On that topic.

Lauren Siler: Right, because you’ve been writing on it and putting out expertise about it for a while. I mean, content marketing is just about the short game. It’s not the kind of thing that you should be expecting overnight results. Yeah there’s the occasional example where somebody posts something and then a week later it’s just supremely successful, but for the most part, that’s not going to be what happens. Site authority is earned. Moving your way up through the ranks on Google’s results pages is earned. It takes time, and it takes energy and effort to continue to write about these topics that you know so much about.

Of course, you want to be framing things the right way infrastructurally, and that’s where the keywords and the metadata and the backlinks and all of those types of things come in, but ultimately, it’s really about putting in the energy and the effort and the time to write about this stuff regularly.

Holly Fong: Yeah, and to that point, you know, not getting discouraged when a post doesn’t become a one hit wonder overnight, right? Sometimes it will take a year before that post actually pays dividends for you. It might not be that you get hundreds of views within the first week. And that’s okay. It’s still an important resource that you should keep on your site; it just might take a little more time than you originally hoped or expected.

Lauren Siler: What would you say— I’m curious what your answer to this question’s going to be— what would you say is the minimum amount of time somebody should let pass before they start making changes to a post to try and further optimize it for SEO? Because I’ve been asked this question multiple times from my content clients, and it’s interesting, because I have worked with people who, you know, if it’s not really taking off after, say three weeks, they’re ready to completely change everything.

So I’m curious if you have in your head a minimum amount of time before we start tweaking things, and trying to raise this page through the ranks?

Holly Fong: That’s a great question. I would probably say six months. I’d be curious to hear what your response to that is.

Lauren Siler: Yeah well I was going to guess that yours was going to be longer than mine. So, six months … I think because you’ve talked to some of us on the marketing team here at Newfangled, and you’ve talked us down when we’ve gotten concerned about certain articles that have been published, and I hear where you’re coming from. I typically say three months. I like to give it a quarter.

Holly Fong: I also would say it probably depends on how much organic search you actually get to your site.

Lauren Siler: Yeah.

Holly Fong: Specifically your blog posts. So for us, three months is probably more reasonable than it is for some of our clients who get less organic traffic, and get less immediate results from the content that they’re posting.

Lauren Siler: That makes sense. That makes sense. Okay, and the other question that we get all the time is with regard to the tools themselves. Are there SEO tools out there that we should be making use of? One we threw out just a few minutes ago, when you’re posting your content, using the SEO Yoast plugin helps you frame things for search and that can be a useful tool. But, Holly, when you’re working with your clients and working with your team, are there other types of tools that you all use?

Holly Fong: Yeah. Sometimes we’ll use Moz toolbar. That’s more to just look at the different elements on the page. Screaming Frog is also helpful, it-

Lauren Siler: Yeah, I like Screaming Frog.

Holly Fong: Yeah, it reviews the meta robots. It will also help generate sitemaps, actually, and it can discover broken links and things like that— if you’re uploading your full site to it— which is helpful.

Lauren Siler: It is, if you want to do an initial audit to see, “Okay, what’s missing across my site?” Or, “Where are the things that I need to focus on?” So, you might notice that, “Oh, these seven pages don’t have header tags on them, and that’s important,” or, “These URLs are not optimized in the right way.”
For me, I like it because it identifies what the quick fixes are right away.

Holly Fong: Yeah. Easy things that you can do and change right away.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. Sure.

Holly Fong: And Google has really just a suite of tools, right? So there’s the Keyword Planner, which you don’t have to necessarily be using AdWords to use.

Lauren Siler: Can we talk a little bit more about the Keyword Planner? Because that is a really useful tool and I think the Keyword Planner is something that I think a lot of people are under the assumption that you’ve got to be running AdWords Campaigns to access and to use, but that’s not the case. Can you just give a brief overview of how it works?

Holly Fong: Yes, you have to have an AdWords account. That does not mean you have to be actively using that AdWords account. So you could set up an AdWords account and basically, what you would want to use the Keyword Planner for, is seeing— for certain search terms— how often those things are being searched for.

Lauren Siler: Right.

Holly Fong: So, it gives you an idea of, “Okay, that term,” or, “Those words together are searched this often.” But it also gives you a list of like terms, which is really helpful.

Lauren Siler: So helpful, yeah. You’re not only learning how competitive a particular keyword is, but then it’s just giving you keyword research to say, “Hey, people who are searching for this term also use these other types of terms.”

Holly Fong: “And, here’s how often that’s searched for.”

Lauren Siler: Right.

Holly Fong: Which is great.

Lauren Siler: And that’s really useful when you’re starting to think about how you might want to optimize the metadata for your particular post so that you’re using keywords that are maybe less competitive, and more easily attainable.

Holly Fong: Yeah, definitely. Search Console, again, I think it’s just an underused tool that Google has, where you’re going to be able to see the queries that people are typing for to get to your site. You’re going to be able to see how many pages of your site are being crawled. That sort of thing. So that’s a really important tool that I think a lot of people just underutilize.

And then, you know, obviously Google Analytics too.

Lauren Siler: Analytics. Yeah, yeah. That’s the other big one which I think most people are pretty familiar with.

Holly Fong: Yeah, but you need to make sure that you have Search Console set up within Analytics to get a lot of the query data, and so a lot of people get stuck there, because they’re like, “I keep clicking on search queries and it’s not allowing me to see anything,” and that’s just because you have to give it permissions from Search Console.

Lauren Siler: Got it. So, you get inside of Search Console and grant those permissions.

Holly Fong: Mm-hmm.

Lauren Siler: Got it. Cool. Okay, I think that about covers it for the questions that we wanted to answer on this topic for today. If you do have questions that you’re interested in hearing us answer in future episodes, know that you can get in touch with us online; so, you can submit questions through Twitter, @considerthispod, you can submit questions through Facebook. We’ve also got an email set up. It’s, so you can get in touch with us there if you’ve got a content marketing question that you’d like me or Holly to answer in a future episode, we can definitely do that.

And of course, if you’re enjoying the show itself, please be sure to tell your friends and colleagues about it, go to iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts and give us a positive rating and a review, that definitely helps us spread the word.

Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Thanks.