By Jeff Kline

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Content Optimization, Part 2: Content SEO

Thursday, February 21, 2013

6 Tips for Writing SEO-Friendly Content

google search engine web crawlerLast week, I discussed how to write content that resonates with your human readers. You learned about the importance of developing personas, providing valuable, educational content and defining your voice.

But there’s another audience you must keep in mind. After all, there wouldn’t be any people visiting your website if they didn’t first find your site in the result pages of a search engine.

In today’s post, I’ll discuss 6 important strategies for optimizing your website content for search engines. But first, it’s important to understand how search engines read and process your content.

HOW SEARCH ROBOTS READ YOUR CONTENT

While people use critical thinking and emotions to read your website, Google and other engines use algorithms to crawl and index your content. Search algorithms are designed to provide searchers with the most relevant, valuable, up to date information.

First, the search engine sends web crawlers (search engines robots) to crawl all over your website and collect data. Your website data is then categorized (indexed) into keyword-specific datacenters. Later, when a search query is performed, search engines can quickly pull your website from the right datacenter. And that's how your website ends up in search engine results!

6 TIPS FOR WRITING SEO-FRIENDLY CONTENT

Current search algorithms are designed to rank pages based on keyword relevancy, site structure, and the freshness and quality of a website’s content. With that in mind, I would like to share 6 content SEO strategies that will greatly improve your website’s performance in search engines.

gold key1) Identify your top keywords.
The most important step in your Content SEO strategy is identifying your organization’s best target keywords. After performing the initial research, you can begin to implement your top keywords across your online presence.

Here are the steps to identifying and using keywords:

  • Ask yourself, “What is my organization?” and “What services do we provide?” The answers to these questions are your starter keywords.
  • Plug your starter keywords into the Google Keyword tool, and identify additional keyword ideas that are relevant to your organization.
  • Export your keyword ideas into an Excel spreadsheet, and sort based on Monthly Search Volume and Competition. Eliminate words that are highly competitive (.85 or higher) and have low monthly search volume (less than 500).
  • Identify your top 15 keywords – the ones with low competition and high search volume. These will most likely be very specific, long tail keywords.
  • Optimize your content by including your top keywords in blog posts, social media status updates, whitepapers, ebooks and news articles. By spreading the same keywords across multiple channels, search engines will determine that your organization is a leading industry resource.

2) Improve the “crawl-ability” of your website
Since your goal is to optimize our web content for better performance in Google search results, it only makes sense to consider what Google has to say about making your content visible and easy to crawl. 

These best practices for site structure come straight from the horse’s mouth:

  • Build a site with a clear link hierarchy.
  • Repair broken links.
  • Use text links, not images, so crawlers can read them. When you do use an image as a link, be sure to include alt text.
  • Provide a site map with links that point to the important parts of your site.  
  • Optimize each page’s <title> and <h1> tags with target keywords.

3) Be original
Be sure the content you are publishing is original, high quality output. DO NOT duplicate your own content or copy content from other sites. When you content gets crawled, the originality, relevancy and quality of your content plays a huge role in how high your page will rank.

4) Publish fresh content on a regular basis
Search engines like to share the latest, most up to date information. Post new content at least once a week, whether it’s a blog post, a news article, or even an update to one of your web pages.

evergreen content5) Create Evergreen Content
Developing Evergreen Content - content that remains relevant and valuable for a long period of time – is another highly efficient SEO strategy. You only have to publish it once (and maybe make a few minor updates every so often), but your evergreen content continues to draw in traffic days, weeks and months later!

Examples of evergreen content are tutorials, top ten lists and product reviews. Items that include time-sensitive material like statistics and current trends are NOT evergreen content.

Develop a balanced mix of evergreen and time-sensitive content to keep your content dynamic and leverage different aspects of SEO strategy.

6) Build Your Google Author Rank
Author Rank, Google's latest addition to its search algorithm, allows individual content writers to connect their Google+ account to everything they publish online. In search results, your Google+ headline and byline will appear next to the listing. 

The Author Rank algorithm will rank content based on the credibility of the writer, and content with no verified author will be pushed to the bottom.

By connecting every item you've published across the web, you can begin to build up your "author rank." The more quality content you produce, the higher your ranking power!

Check out this article by Pubcon for the simple steps to optimizing your content for Author Rank.

using google to search

The interesting thing about your two audiences – people and search engines – is that one doesn’t exist without the other. There are different tactics for appealing to these two audiences, but in the end, there’s really only one strategy to SEO success...

Vanessa Fox, author of Marketing in the Age of Google, sums it up nicely. “Google’s algorithms are always evolving to better reach their goal of providing the best possible results for searchers. Focus on creating pages that are the best possible results for your audience and you’ll always be building to long term success in search.”

UP NEXT: AMPLIFY YOUR CONTENT

Join me next week for tips and best practices for sharing your content across the web!

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