Spoiler alert: Nope!
Search engines used to need a bit of direction to find new sites, but, fortunately, this isn’t the case anymore. Search engines have evolved; they crawl the web, follow links, and find you. You can help them along by getting out there and spreading the word about your new site, as those links make you easier to find.
At one time, you totally needed to submit your site to search engines to get it indexed and added to search results. But there are quite a few articles around a decade old, including this one, that make it very clear that search engine submission is a thing of the past – since 2001, actually.
However, not needing a search engine submission service doesn’t mean SEO content just happens – you need to follow SEO best practices. Sure, sometimes someone gets lucky and ends up whipping up a post that is accidentally pretty successful in scoring organic traffic, but generally, an SEO content writer has to work at creating content that is valuable and optimized.
SEO best practices are an art and a science, and those who are the best at it have some secrets to their success. So what are these secrets? We can’t spill them all, but here are a few to get you started.
Don’t stuff as many keywords as possible
While it might be tempting to “stuff” your post with keywords to raise your search page rankings, it will end up hurting your SEO. Like we always say, providing value to your audience should be your top priority – and keyword stuffing won’t get you there.
A better approach would be doing some keyword research to find the appropriate long tail and short tail keywords that fit with your post’s main point. But don’t treat long and short tail keywords the same! They should each be used accordingly.
Try not to use the keyword as-is
Keyword phrases that come up in your SEO research might sound good on their own and can often make sense for search, but they could be a nightmare grammatically. If you pick a clunky keyword, maybe let it shine in all its awkward glory in the URL and image tags, but slice it up and shuffle it to be grammatically sound in the copy.
Use keywords (and the components that make up the keyword) in a logical, natural way. Google and all other search engines are smart enough to “understand” what your page is about.
And even if your keyword makes sense, don’t keep repeating it over and over the same way in your copy. That makes for a dull, stiff read–which is what you want to avoid when following SEO best practices. Mix your keywords up a bit and give your audience content with value.
Use optimized anchor text
If you’re creating content to help a site link for “stupid keyword advice,” linking to that phrase in your copy isn’t the most natural, and the search engines could see this as an attempt to game the system.
Linking to the name of the site, the URL, or a longer phrase could be better. Quicksprout has more info on this and some of the other crappy SEO writing tips suggested here.
Provide value to your readers
We’ll repeat it: always provide value to your readers. A high-value piece is one that gives a reader all the pertinent information without drowning them in self-promotion or advertisements.
You should also know who your audience is. You should have some buyer personas, or at least have put some thought into who you want as your ideal audience, BEFORE ideating your content. And you should create content that speaks to them. Generic content that is meant to be applicable to all types of audiences won’t resonate with potential buyers in the same way that 101-level content won’t resonate with more advanced visitors.
If you reference another site, talk about a product, or drop a contentious stat, link to it. People shouldn’t have to stop what they’re doing and go search for supplementary information–it should be right there for them. Don’t take this too far and beat a dead horse, but your readers shouldn’t have to look far for related information.
Learn what’s up now with SEO
There were a lot of “old school” SEO practices that weren’t good for UX at all. For instance, layering keywords under the background can slow things down and can look like total crap if the page doesn’t load correctly. Figure out what’s out so you can lose all those “strategies” that don’t do anything for your user’s experience (and that could hurt your search rankings).
If you need help creating killer content and following SEO best practices, check out our Killer Content Strategy eBook!