When formulating a content strategy that will catapult your website or blog to the top of Google’s search engine rankings, you may wonder what’s more important — implementing tricky SEO tactics hoping to gain favor with Google’s search algorithm — or writing for real-life human beings who come to your webpage in search of information.
In today’s digital age, the best way to build your online audience is to understand that readers always come first. Once upon a time, Google was easily manipulated by clever SEO tricks of the trade such as keyword stuffing, backlinking, directory submissions, and more. However, as search engines have evolved, the rules for ranking have shifted as well with almost all best practices now focusing on user intent. That means old-school SEO maneuvers are no longer adequate, and in many cases, can actually hurt your position. Instead, the best ranking strategy is to develop content that people actually want to read. With that said, consider the following guidelines for SEO content that will ensure a great user experience:
Most websites have several target audiences, so not all webpages or blog posts will be designed to attract every user. For each webpage, consider first whom you’re targeting and select your topic and message accordingly.
Content-rich sites get more traffic, and reference content gets more leads. Strive to write good quality, in-depth content that truly educates your readers so that, over time, users recognize your business website as a reliable source of information.
Consider what questions your readers may have about your topic and make sure you answer them in your copy. Remember, people aren’t always typing in [keyword], [keyword], [keyword]. They may be asking Google a question. Writing content that answers your readers’ questions will help it rank for question-oriented queries – e.g., “What are the top digital marketing firms in DC?”
This has been important since the early days of SEO, and it remains true today. When writing copy, include keywords and phrases that support and ‘prove’ relevance to the main topic of your content. Use keyword research tools like Google’s Search Console and AdWords Keyword Planner to find popular keywords and phrases that support your topic. But, remember, keywords will only get you so far. It’s the quality of your content infused with those keywords that counts most.
Keywords should be incorporated in your content, especially in the title, header, sub-heads, introduction paragraph, and conclusion paragraph so that users have a clear understanding of your subject matter. Top-ranking pages may include the keywords in the body of the text, but those words are almost always featured in the top and bottom of the post.
If you find yourself writing a list-like sentence, use bullet points instead. Your readers will thank you by staying more engaged with your site, and search engines will in turn reward you with a higher ranking.
While CTAs won’t get users to your site, they will facilitate engagement and generate leads. That said, avoid leaving your readers at a dead-end by inviting them to do something at the end of your content. At a minimum, include the following phrase at the end of every page or post: “To Learn More about [topic], contact us today.” Invitations for newsletter-signup, social media engagement, and documents downloads are other ways to engage your readers.
With an increasing number of users relying on their mobile devices, it’s imperative that your content is searchable and useable on laptops, tablets, phone watches, and smartphones. In fact, on April 21, 2015, Google published an update to its algorithm that promised a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results. To align your content for mobile users’ needs, make sure to present long-form content in a way that’s easy to absorb. You may serve up shorter headlines, but don’t strip away high-quality content on your mobile interface.
While SEO trends will continue to change over time, user-centric strategies are here to stay. By following the guidelines above to develop user-friendly content, you’ll not only provide the best possible user experience, but gain increased traction and rankings for your website or blog. For more information on how to optimize website and blog content for search engine optimization, please contact us!