Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Good content is important, but it also needs to rank high on SERPs if you want to reach a wider audience with it. Here’s how to create search engine-friendly content.
Quality is always important when producing new content, but it’s the SEO that can boost your efforts of reaching a target audience.
SEO-friendly content doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, provided that you understand how on-page SEO can work alongside your content.
Here’s how to create content that both your audience and search engines will enjoy.
Create original content
There’s no point in creating new content if it’s not authentic enough to stand out. Even if you come up with an idea from a different source, it’s still up to you to offer your unique perspective that will add value to the particular topic.
Copyscape is a plagiarism checker that can help you test your site’s content for its originality. Duplicate content, by and large, is not appreciated by search engines and it won’t help you rank higher in SERPs.
If you find it difficult to come up with new content ideas, here are 21 quick ways to find inspiration for your next topic.
Optimize the title
Your headline is among the first things that users will come across when carrying out a search. This makes them important, and it’s useful to brainstorm as many variations as you can until you land on the best candidate.
Using your focus keyword in the headline can also be a good idea, but don’t try too hard to include it. Use power words and avoid redundancy to create a clear and appealing result. Aim for a headline of 55-60 characters, as this is what Google will display on the SERP.
Also, make sure that your URL is relevant to the title, rather than a sequence of numbers that only makes it more complicated.
Focus on structure
It’s not just the content, but also its structure, that helps search engines decide on the results they’ll display first. Thus, a clear structure with headings and paragraphs that facilitate reading are preferred both from a user perspective and also from a search perspective.
Headings also help search engines get a quick overview of your content, which is why it can be beneficial to feature your focus keyword at least once.
Whether you follow the structure of H1 to H6, or simply add H2 and H3 headings at relevant points throughout the text, consistent structure in your pieces of content is appreciated.
Keywords are less often used nowadays as the first signal to indicate what your post is about, but they are still helpful to offer an overview of the topic you’re focusing on.
Keyword research is still useful when trying to decide on the most interesting topics for your audience. Keywords can still be part of your content, provided that they are added in context and at the right balance. There’s no need to sacrifice the quality of your content to include more keywords, as keyword stuffing can lead to the opposite of the result you want.
Moz Keyword Explorer
Aim for readability
The readability of your content has to do with the simplicity of its language, the lack of grammatical or syntactical errors, and the sentence structure.
Online readability tests allow you to learn the “reading age” someone needs to understand your content, and they depend on:
- sentence length
- number of syllables per words
- frequency of passive voice
Despite the different readability formulas, you can still gain valuable insights on your writing that become even more useful if you want to target a wide audience.
Is your content suitable for the audience you want to target?
Include internal and external links
Internal links can help you prove your authority in a particular field by creating a logical sequence from one post to the other. This may lead to a series of posts that offer additional value, making it easier for search engines to understand your key topics.
External, or outbound, links indicate that you are well aware of the topics you’re writing about, to the extent that you’re ready to use further sources to support your content. It’s more useful to link to reputable sources, as these links have bigger credibility.
Beware, excessive linking, either internal or external can lead to the exact opposite results. Make sure that every link serves its own purpose in your content.
The optimization of your images provides an additional opportunity to show up in search results, this time in image search.
As visual content becomes more and more prominent, it cannot be left out of SEO. Luckily it’s not time-consuming to optimise your images. All you have to do is keep in mind a few simple tips:
- Always keep the file name relevant
- Be careful with the file sizes, as they affect the page speed
- Don’t forget to add alt text, or else a title for your image
- Think like a user when naming your images
- Focus on quality images and avoid generic ones
Focus on the user
Every piece of content should have the user in mind. This also applies to SEO. You can’t create your next piece of content, or carry out keyword research, without knowing your audience.
What does your audience expect from you?
How can you enhance the user experience?
Does your site sabotage your content?
All the questions above can be answered by paying closer attention to your site, your content, and your target audience. Google rewards pages that focus on user experience, so never underestimate the power of the user.
If you want to create SEO-friendly content, here’s what you need to remember:
- Focus on user intent
- Be authentic
- Come up with the best headlines for your content
- Pay attention to the content’s structure
- Use keywords wisely
- Edit, proofread and aim for readability
- Use both internal and external links to add further value
- Optimize all your images to gain new opportunities for search ranking.
Content marketing can be very effective in increasing traffic, generating leads, enabling sales – and contributing to SEO. So how can businesses use it to improve their search rankings?
When done well, content marketing can contribute to boosting a site’s position in search rankings.
Although this may not seem like the most obvious benefit to a successful content marketing strategy, it’s an effect that no business can ignore.
Here’s how to take advantage of your site’s content to rank higher in the SERPs.
1. Create fresh content
A site can never have enough content. There is always an opportunity to create new pieces of content, and the newness – or ‘freshness’ – of content is also one of Google’s ranking signals.
Content freshness as a ranking factor is not just judged by the publication date of the page, but can also include:
- updates to the content
- new pages
- an increasing number of links towards a page
- an increased level of traffic reaching the page
These criteria show that older posts can still be valuable, especially if they offer an in-depth analysis on a topic, are evergreen, or have been regularly updated to keep them relevant. Which leads us on to…
2. Repurpose old content
There’s no reason to ignore the older content you’ve published in the past, especially if it still gains a significant amount of traffic.
As content marketing evolves, it is more beneficial to go beyond the written posts to new formats that allow you to broaden your value.
That’s why repurposing content can help you analyse a topic in more detail, by allowing you to create multiple types of content without losing their value or becoming repetitive. This saves you time spent coming up with new content ideas, and also gives you a regular supply of fresh, valuable content to boost your ranking.
Going beyond blog posts, here are other types of content you could create from your older material:
- How-to posts
Your target audience might be more receptive for example to infographics rather than a blog post, or you may discover that you can achieve higher conversion rates through a presentation rather than a podcast.
Every content type serves its own goal and as every audience has different needs, experimentation can be very useful, until you discover which formats work best for your business.
3. Test headlines
A headline is usually the first thing we notice when accessing a search engine, and this reminds us that a headline should be:
It may seem as if some of these points contradict each other, but the trick is in striking a balance between informativeness and length, or relevance and complexity.
Keywords can also be used as part of a headline, and this requires further planning on finding the best way to be SEO-friendly without sacrificing the flow of the headline.
Moreover, there’s a thin line between a click-worthy headline and clickbait, which is why it’s important to bear value to the reader in mind when creating a headline.
CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer is a very useful tool that can help you explore all the possible ways to improve your headline. Once you add your suggested headline, you receive a quick analysis, along with a score and tips on how to improve it.
4. Create visual content
Although visual content can be considered part of our earlier point on the importance of testing new content types, it deserves a special mention for its powers of grabbing the user’s attention.
Visual content has become very popular on the internet due to our own ability to process an image faster than any written text. This wins the first impression and it can be very powerful within the context of a page.
Previously used mostly to accompany written content, visual content has reached the stage where it’s now considered a form of content in its own right, standing on its own to increase awareness, engagement and leads.
On top of this, it can be optimized for search, offering a new opportunity for a business to stand out from its competitors via images and videos. The optimization of your visual content can lead to surprisingly positive results, provided that you follow a series of small steps that ensure that they are SEO-friendly.
Keep in mind, search crawlers cannot “read” images, only the text that accompanies them. This means that it’s important to focus on:
- Image title (don’t upload an image with a filename 4fogowr.jpg, but rather rename it to something more relevant, e.g. contentforseoguide.jpg
- Alt tags (the tags that describe the image for screen reader users, or if the image fails to load)
- Image size (large images affect a page’s load time, which can have a negative effect on your search ranking)
5. Choose the right keywords
Keyword research can turn into a useful ally, especially if you bear in mind that you don’t always need to target the most obvious keywords.
Targeting highly sought-after keywords can make it harder for you to rank higher in search, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t become an authority on a topic by using different phrases for the same concept.
How about picking words and phrases that are less competitive but still high in rankings? Find the keywords that best suit your content, and think outside the box when deciding on the focus keywords you want to target.
6. Create link-worthy content
Link building helps your content reach a broader audience, increasing both your site’s visibility and its authority. Moreover, it can grow your search traffic, as the number of unique domains linking to your site helps search engines understand whether your content is informative enough to rank higher in the SERP.
Not all links are equal, as high-authority sites contribute more heavily in this regard. This means you should aim for more reputable mentions – but without snubbing any lesser sites that might link to you, as it all adds up. It’s easier for a source to link to your content if it’s authentic, interesting and well-researched, so always aim for quality over quantity.
It is useful to come up with a link building strategy that will help other sources discover your content and feature it if they find it relevant enough for their target audience – without losing sight of the need to create valuable content, of course.
7. Discover the connection between content and user experience
What’s the connection between content and user experience and how does that affect your rankings? We’ve talked about user experience and SEO in the past, and come to the conclusion that the more usable and readable your content, the more it is likely to boost your search ranking.
A Google-friendly website is valuable, appealing, and functional. Your readers should not struggle with reading or accessing your content, and search engines expect the same from each page they crawl.
The quality of content extends in this case to the page and how it helps the user experience with minimal effort. For example, have you tested the load time? Are your images hurting your site’s speed? Is your content too difficult to understood from your audience? Is your structure helpful both for your readers and for search engines?
The main aim of your content should still be to provide value and relevance for your target audience, but this doesn’t mean that it can’t be slightly more SEO-focused.
As the ultimate goal is to get more readers to your pages, an improved ranking on SERPs can help you tap into a new audience that will appreciate your content.
There’s no need to obsess over SEO throughout the whole content creation process, but getting into the SEO mindset can offer useful insights into how to make your content more effective from now on.
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Images drive traffic, backlinks and a whole lot more. It’ll be a game changer for your SEO strategy in 2015 and beyond.
The post How to Use Image #SEO to Build an Unexpected Advantage by @jboitnott appeared first on Search Engine Journal.