Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of getting your webpages to rank high in the organic results of search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing in an effort to attract more visitors to your radio station's website. Last week, I wrote about why SEO is important for radio stations. If you missed it, I recommend reading that first as a basic introduction to the topic of SEO.
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
Search engines like Google use an algorithm to decide which webpages to include at the top of their results when people conduct a search. Like the formula for Coca-Cola, Google's algorithm is a closely guarded secret. Google also changes the algorithm from time to time to improve the experience people have when they come to its website.
What's the best way to get your radio station's content to the top of Google's search results? Make sure it's good content. This shouldn't be surprising. After all, the best way to get lots of people to listen to your radio station is to put good content on the air. It's the same principle: if people don't like what they hear when they tune into your station, they'll stop tuning in; if people don't like the websites that Google sends them too, they'll stop using the search engines.
Are there ways to trick Google into ranking your content high in their search results even if it isn't very good? Yes. These techniques are called “Black Hat SEO.” But Google has a vested interest in making sure that these tecnhiques don't work, so they will often tweak their algorithm to thwart SEO schemers. If you are relying on “black hat SEO” tricks, you may wake up one day to find that Google has suddenly thwarted your efforts and your website's traffic has plummeted.
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Instead, focus your efforts on creating compelling content.
Having said that, there are some basic steps you can take to optimize your content for search engines which are not devious; instead, they simply make it easier for search engines to know when to include your content in the results for relevant keywords, and they provide for a better experience for the website visitors that Google sends your way. These techniques are called “White Hat SEO.”
Many companies that regularly produce lots of online content have an in-house or third party specialist who focuses solely on SEO. If your radio company is producing a lot of web content, you may want to look into hiring somebody to do this.
If your radio station is not there yet, here are some basic “white hat” SEO best practices that your radio station can use when creating we content:
Tips for Content Creators
1. Produce Lots of Quality Content
The more high quality web content you produce, the more there is for Google and other search engines to include it their results. As a general rule of thumb, I like to see radio stations publish at least three blogposts each day to generate significant traffic from search engines.
2. Create Content That is At Least 300 Words Long
Your blogposts don't need to be very long to show in search engine results. A general rule of thumb is to create content that is at least 300 words long. This signals to the search engines that there's enough here that readers will find it compelling.
3. Use Keywords in the Title
In last week's column, I talked about how your radio station can figure out its keywords. For individual blogposts, here's the most important thing: Use proper nouns in your blogpost titles. If you write about The Beatles, include “The Beatles” in the post title. If you write about the movie “Get Out,” use the movie's title in your post title.
People often type proper nouns into search engines, so the more you can use in the title, the better. For example, by including “The Beatles' John Lennon” or “Jordan Peele's ‘Get Out',” you increase the chances of your content being found in search engines.
4. Use Keywords in the URL
Search engines also use the URL for a webpage as an indicator of when it should include it in its search results, so be sure to make sure that your URLs include keywords.
5. Use Keywords in the First Sentence of Your Blogpost
Use the first sentence of your blogpost to tell people exactly what the article they are about to read is all about.
6. Include an Internal Link
As a rule of thumb, include at least one link to another page on your radio station's website in each blogpost.
7. Include External Links
Include at least one link to a webpage on another website in each blogpost.
8. Include at Least One Image
Include an image with each blogpost. Make sure that your radio station has the rights to use this image. Don't pull any old image off the internet — many radio stations have been fined for using images without permission. Consult your station's legal team if you have questions.
9. Tag the Images Properly
Search engines can't look at a picture and tell you what it depicts. You need to configure the proper tags for each image so that search engines know what the image is. Fortunately, this is easy to do if your website is built on a good Content Management System platform, such as WordPress.
The tips above are good for content creators. In addition to those, radio station webmasters can also help SEO efforts by taking these steps:
1. Improve the Site Loading Time
Nobody likes a website that takes forever to load, and search engines know this, so they take a website's speed into account when deciding how high to rank it in their results. If you can speed your website up, you may be able to increase the number of visitors you get from search engines.
2. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Responsive
Have you ever visited a website that's not mobile-responsive on your smartphone? It's a terrible experience as you are forced to zoom and pinch to read the site. Search engines know this, so they take into account whether or not a site is mobile responsive before sending people to them.
3. Include a Sitemap
A sitemap is a list of pages and subpages on your radio station's website. It makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site.
4. Use Google's Search Console
Google's Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools) is a set of tools that allows webmasters to check the indexing status and visibility of their website, and shows them how to make improvements.
5. On WordPress, Use the Yoast SEO Plugin
If your radio station's website is built on the WordPress platform, the Yoast SEO plugin is a popular tools that makes it easy for authors to optimize their blogposts. Install it and teach all of your content creators how to use it.
Search Engine Optimization is an art unto itself, and a specialist can help you take your SEO efforts even further. But these basic steps should help you increase the number of visitors who come to your radio station's site.
If you'd like help with SEO or other parts of your radio station's digital strategy, feel free to contact me.
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