Do you know your target audience? Are you marketing to them on your website and social media? Yes? Good.
Now, who else could you be reaching on social media? The short answer—everyone.
Research from Pew Research Center, shown in the graph above, indicates that more and more people of all age groups are using social media. That’s right. All age groups. Approximately 89% of people ages 18-29 and about 43% of people aged 65 and older used social media in 2013. So in 2013, almost 90% of young adults and almost 45% of the people young adults tend to make fun of for not knowing how to use new technology were using social media. That is a huge increase from the 9% of young adults using social media in 2005 and the 1% of people over 65 using social media in 2006. Imagine what it’s like now, two years later.
It means you need to think about your audience more carefully. Your target audience might be people over 50 who need hip replacements or other surgeries, but your secondary audience might include their children, who might be helping their parents research good doctors.
Your audience has expanded, and you’re not entirely certain how to target them. You need to get them from social media or Google (or any other search engine) to your website so they can learn more about how your organization can help them. (If you don’t have a website, you need one.) The most important thing you can do to improve your SEO and reach your audience on social media is to consistently post quality content.
It’s complicated. Luckily, Forbes broke it down to 12 main indicators in their article. The 12 main points are summarized below:
Google prefers longer, more in-depth content. To rank higher on Google, write 1000+ word stuff.
Mobile users prefer mobile-friendly, easy to read content. To appeal more to them, try using lists, proper headings, and fewer words and try linking to other mobile-friendly content.
People prefer content that isn’t just text. They spend longer on the page, link to it more, share it more on social media, and engage with it more. The more people link to your page, the more they share it, the better your page is ranked on Google.
Nothing kills credibility like poor grammar and spelling and incoherent content. People aren’t likely to trust your content if it’s written unprofessionally, and Google doesn’t want to show people content that they won’t trust.
People tend to scan and skim online more than read, so make your content “scannable.” You can (appropriately!) use lists, headings, bold or italics, white space (also called negative space), and concise sentences and paragraphs.
Quality content needs to be readable and understandable. You can check your content’s readability score using a fancy site like Readability-Score, or you can use Microsoft Word 2013 or 365 (perhaps earlier versions as well). See our next journal post about how to check your readability score using Microsoft Word.
According to Google’s leaked Quality Rater Guidelines, “High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic”.
So who’s writing your content and do they know what they’re talking about? Make sure they’re qualified to write about that topic. If the only person you know who’s qualified to write about it can’t write, consider hiring a technical writer. They generally work with Subject-Matter Experts to write concisely and precisely (see point 3) about technical topics, and the good ones can write content for any audience.
An author’s credibility improves as they write more high-quality content for trusted, authoritative publishers. And remember, Google and people like credibility.
If you’re looking to hire an author, look at the other content they’ve published and where it’s been published. Check out how their other content ranks in Google. If it ranks well, Google likely already considers the author credible.
Google says they don’t factor social media shares into their ranking algorithms, but it makes sense that the more shares a piece of content gets, the more people are aware of it and link to it, and inbound links are definitely a factor in Google’s rankings. So, at least indirectly, social media shares affect your content’s SEO.
Links from your content to spam sites or other such places kill credibility—for people and for Google. Google also doesn’t like excessive internal linking.
Inbound links are a core factor in Google’s ranking algorithms. If reputable sites are linking to your content, Google is more likely to see your content as credible. If there aren’t any links to your content, or if the links are from unknown or spam sites, Google might consider your content less credible.
Low-quality content surrounding high quality content can lower the ranking of the high-quality content. So look at the pages the content links to (see point 9) as well as the other pages on the site, like the home page and other articles.
A high number of thoughtful comments on your content can indicate that the content is higher quality than content without thoughtful comments.
Comments that are spammy and link-filled can lower the credibility of a site. (If you allow spammy comments, are you really concerned with the quality of the rest of your site? Doesn’t seem like it.)
Value is really the ultimate factor in determining quality because it matters most to people, and search engines want to rank content that people want.
Search engines aren’t people and can’t understand what content is valuable, so they rely on the other points to determine whether or not content is valuable.
Sounds easy enough. But wait, you’re a busy person. Everyone you work with is busy. Everyone you know is busy. How are you supposed to find time to post all the time?
First, don’t post all the time. You’ll overwhelm yourself and your audience.
Second, figure out when your audience is most likely to read or engage with your content. This may be different for your website and for each social media site you use. And that’s okay.
Next, decide when you’re going to post. You want to post to each place when you’ll get the most engagement, but that doesn’t mean you should post every time you might get high engagement. For example, Twitter is fast-paced, so you might want to post or retweet something once a day, but if you did that on Facebook, the people who liked your page might see your organization as spammy and annoying, and they’ll unfollow your page.
Then, post your content. Use a social media manager like Hootsuite to schedule posts ahead of time so that you won’t have to worry about whether content is being published on time.
Remember, with social media and its increasing use among all ages, your audience has expanded. Reach your audience by consistently posting quality content.