SEO for promoting rich, in-depth & complex information

SEO 10 commandments… For those publishing rich, complex and in-depth information

This week I had a long conversation with a client on the topic of SEO. These conversations are relatively frequent, and often driven by a desire to find a cheap way to ‘touch’ and attract a larger number of interested individuals.

There is a dual challenge here:

  1. Myths and dreams about the ease of and results attained via straight SEO
  2. The differences in approach between straight SEO and SEO for website publishing rich and complex information

I captured some ‘highlights’ of our conversation and translated them into commandments – universal approaches / advice for anyone publishing complex information and with a desire to increase visitors from search engines.

1. Thou shalt know your target audience and what they are looking for
I often find myself encouraging clients to think about their target audience problems, not the solutions that they have to those problems. If people knew the solution they would not be searching for it.

2. Thou shalt lower your expectations and ready the elbow grease
The days of gaming search engines are over, and even if they could be gamed there are thousands of people out there that are better at gaming than us. SEO is not a get visitor’s quick scheme, so get ready for an extended period of hard work, but also see below for insight into your natural advantages…

3. Thou shalt know the basics of site optimisation, but not much more
Yes is it important that you understand the basics of SEO (title tags, keyword selection, on page optimisation etc), but do not get distracted by the rest your time is better spent elsewhere

4. Thou shalt-not get caught up in and distracted by excruciating detail and technical jargon
Related to 3 above… Beyond the basics you will face a “Pandora’s Box” of ever changing and debated details that will suck you in, leave you confused and distract you from the real work to be done…

5. Thou shalt focus primary efforts on creating great content
The real work to be done is creating content that is original and adds value to the world. Generally people communicating in-depth and complex information have this in spades… BUT for various reasons it can be difficult to publish. Focus your efforts on getting through this challenge.

6. Thou shalt be aware of your natural advantages focused quality content, respected partners
Search engines love rich and niche information, and this is what we (you) have! Be aware of this and ready to drive it home. Typically those creating such ‘primary’ or original information also are surrounded by respected peers and institutions, use these online as you do in the real world, to establish credibility and authority.

7. Thou shalt be aware of keyword miss-matches (attract first and educate second)
A significant issue we come across is a tendency to want to optimise for the technically correct before the popular decisions, I call this a Lead Vs Follow strategy. This approach is fine on a website or in literature, but not so successful as an SEO tactic. As a rule of thumb attract first and educate later, so speak their language via search engines where possible.

8. Thou shalt endeavour to have at least one outstanding and talkable element to your website
This approach is something of a marketing trick, but works well for rich and interesting topics. Generally it is relatively easy to create a real standout element to a website by converting key content into something interactive and interesting. This ‘object’ can then become a focus or talking point for people; it gives them a reason to link to you or reference via social media. Take a look at our engagement claw for more on this.

9. Thou shalt measure everything, but actively track but a small number of key goals and metrics
It is critical and easy to measure everything associate with SEO and website visitation; however this level of data can quickly be a distraction or confusion. So define and set key goals (preferably before the SEO work begins) and set up tracking for them; use these as a starting point for drill down, asking questions like “why are we not attaining NNN goal” or “where are we losing people”.

10. Thou shalt give before receiving
And finally… remember the web is just a front for people communicating, so be nice (or at least as nice as you would in the real world). I am not suggesting that you give it all away, but rather you collaborate, thank, and add value. This way, people will enjoy and value your contribution and are much more likely to share and reference it.

Good luck out there on search engines, and remember that if you are communicating rich and interesting information you do have an unfair advantage to drive home if you do it well.