Understanding SEO: Part Two - Content Creation
In this five-part blog series, we’ll explore some of the primary concerns of search engine optimization and how you can use it most to your advantage. In this second installment, we dig deep into how to write content that is suited to your SEO efforts.
Does Content Really Make That Much Of A Difference?
In a word, yes. After all, what does someone use a search engine to do if not to find content? By this logic, it only makes sense that your content and your SEO strategy have to mesh.
To accomplish this, you need to make sure your content is created with the needs of both the search engines and the user in mind. Fortunately, SEO standards are largely designed to help improve the user’s experience, so the better your content is in the user’s eyes, the better it is to the search engines, and the better it will be for you.
In the same vein, you need to make sure that your content is formatted properly. Using subtitle elements like H1, H2, and H3 tags not only break your content into more comprehensible sections for a reader, it also helps your SEO efforts. Just make sure that your tags aren’t too similar to each other, as that might be interpreted to mean that your content is repetitive and therefore doesn’t deliver as much value.
Again, it’s all about the user experience. Write your content as if you are writing it for a specific client or group of clients. Break it up into small, organized chunks and get your ideas out efficiently.
Finding the Goldilocks Length
With each piece of your content, you should try to find the ideal length--not too long to dissuade your audience from reading it, but also not so short that it is disregarded. This is not to say that every piece of content should be the same length. In fact, your content should vary in length to help keep your message from going stagnant. What we mean by finding the ideal length simply refers to your content’s ability to communicate your message without drawing it out too long, or cutting it short and diminishing its value.
If your content relates in some way to other content present on your website, you should include an internal link to connect the two together. This makes it easier for a user to find more content that may pique their interest, giving this strategy some SEO benefits. However, it is also important to remember that where internal links are concerned, quality is more important than quantity. If your internal links make no sense, they will be less effective and will possibly even hurt your ranking. Filling up a paragraph with dozens of links simply because you used certain keywords from other pages isn’t as effective as helping a reader learn more about a particular subject by linking to your product or service page or a relevant blog post.
Keeping It Fresh
There are good and bad ways to fall into a routine where your content is concerned. On the one hand, it helps to produce content on a predictable schedule. On the other, your audience will likely grow bored and disinterested without some variety in the content itself, whether that variety is in the length of the content, the format it is delivered in, and so on.
Basing your content on the preferences of your audience will help you establish a reliable foundation upon which you can build your content in new ways, allowing it to stay fresh while also still appealing to your readers.
Along the same lines, your content should be updated and improved upon regularly. As your services and insight evolve, so should your content. Stagnant content can be left behind as competitors offer more value through theirs.
Writing For Your Audience
In order to keep your content directed towards your intended audience, it helps to examine this audience and establish their preferences as alluded to above. This will help you be sure that you’re matching your content strategy to the most effective means of communication.
What does your audience expect when they read your content? Are they seeking out a clinical, no-nonsense take on your topic, or are they looking for a more casual, everyman’s tone? While this may seem to be a trivial detail, it actually makes a world of difference--you want to give your content every chance of being read, so matching it to your audience’s reading habits is one of the more effective ways to do so.
Furthermore, does your content deliver the information that your readers are looking for? A blog post about subject X will do little to impress those who are interested in learning about subject Y. If your content does deliver what they are looking for, can your readers easily locate this information? Making sure your headlines are clear and descriptive will help accomplish this aspect.
In short, you need to keep in mind how important the user’s experience is to SEO rankings. The easier it is for the user to navigate, read, and digest your content, the better you will appear to the search engines.
Remember, search engines are designed to act as a user would, finding the interesting and unique parts of a website. As a result, it only makes sense to make your website as interesting and unique as possible. One method of doing so is to add your own perspective with some custom content. By sharing your unique viewpoint, you provide something that nobody else can, giving search engines something different to consider.
Your readership will overwhelmingly be perusing your website in order to find a specific piece of information, more than likely one that solves a problem they are experiencing. Your content should always have a useful purpose, whether it explains a process, clarifies current events, or even provides your own take on the matter at hand.
When it all comes down to it, your content needs to provide your audience with the value they are looking to you to provide.
Putting together content that appeals to your audience will allow you to put together content that also appeals to the search engines. Stay tuned for part three, where we’ll review some more SEO best practices concerning your meta content and on-page efforts.