It’s a tale as old as time: content and search engine optimization (SEO). When you marry the two perfectly, your web traffic will skyrocket. As a result, you’ll increase brand awareness and leads for your business. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Okay, it’s not that old of a tale. The term SEO actually originated around 1997; and back then, it was still a fairly new concept. And even today, digital marketers and experts in the field are continuously learning new things about how to optimize content for search engines.
Since the 90s, SEO has evolved significantly. Now, several things go into building a website that ranks high in search engines, but content has always been high on the list. Understanding how to write content for people and for search engines is a never-ending learning process. And, once you’re an expert, you have to continue producing content to be successful.
If you’re still new to the content marketing world and need to learn how to write SEO-friendly content, here’s what you need to know.
What Is SEO?
When is the last time you navigated to page two of a search engine results page on Google? You probably can’t remember, because most users don’t like to dig this deep to find the answers they’re looking for. According to Moz, only 5.59% of clicks are from page two or three. The first five results account for 67.60% of all clicks, and 71.33% of searches result in a page one organic click. This is why SEO has become so important for businesses—all businesses want their website to be the first result that populates when a user performs a relevant search.
What is SEO? SEO is an acronym that stands for search engine optimization, and it is the process of optimizing your website to increase the quality and quantity of traffic from a search engine results page. SEO is important because it ensures that your website shows up for users on search engine results pages when they search key terms for your specific industry and the services that you offer. SEO efforts drive organic, unpaid traffic to your website.
How Does SEO Work?
When you type a query into Google, millions of results magically populate. But how? Google is built in such a way that it wants its users to find answers to their questions as quickly and as easily as possible. That’s why Google has a crawler that gathers information from every bit of content it can find on the internet. Once these pages are crawled, they are indexed based on an algorithm that tries to match data with your query.
How to Build An SEO-Friendly Website
So, what is that algorithm? What is Google looking for when it crawls content? If you know this, you should be able to build an SEO-friendly website. Well, there are a lot of things, and content definitely isn’t the only one. A lot goes into building an SEO-friendly website. Here are some of the things that SEO experts do to build websites that rank and drive traffic:
Consistently write keyword-rich copy with strong headers (H1s and H2s)
Incorporate internal and external links into copy
Design websites to be user friendly and easy to navigate
Make sure websites are optimized for mobile/mobile friendly
Speed up pages (slow websites don’t rank as high in search engines)
Publish evergreen content (helpful and practical articles)
Properly tag all images across your website
And the list doesn’t stop there. There is so much that goes into building an SEO-friendly website; it takes a whole team of experts to get the results you want. But one of the most important things you should be doing for your website is writing quality content. When you are consistently producing quality content, you’ll generate more inbound leads.
SEO Copywriting: 10 Tips for Writing SEO-Friendly Content in Digital Marketing
By now, you probably know the importance of content marketing as a part of your digital marketing strategy. But writing content for both search engines and for people is an entirely different story, and it’ll require a lot of hard work. First off, it’s important to develop a content strategy. You may need to re-write your website entirely to include all relevant service pages and to re-work content that needs some SEO polishing. From there, you can update content on web pages frequently and regularly publish new blog content to keep your search engine rankings up.
Once you have an SEO-friendly website, these tips will help you write optimized content. Here are 10 tips (in no particular order) for writing SEO-friendly content.
1. Perform Keyword Research
Keyword research should always be the first step before you begin writing. Aligning the content that you write with high volume keywords is critical to ensuring that your content performs well and improves your search engine rankings. It also helps you write your content in a way that satisfies user intent. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to write content that was as valuable to potential customers.
Keyword research also tells you things like:
How many people are searching for this keyword?
How competitive is this keyword?
How difficult will it be to outrank your competitors for this keyword?
In short, performing keyword research is important because it provides you with insight and also gives you a set of key terms that you need to incorporate into your content.
2. Create a Search Engine Friendly URL
When creating any web page or blog, it’s important to make sure that you have a search engine friendly URL. What’s more likely to get clicked: a clean URL that’s easy to ready, or a jumble of letters and numbers? A URL should help the user understand what the page is about. When a URL tells the user what the content is about, they’re more likely to click on it. When creating a URL, avoid something that is too long and too complex. Opt for shorter and keyword-optimized.
3. Optimize Your Meta Title and Meta Description
Optimizing your meta title and meta description for SEO is important for many reasons, one of the most important being click-through rate (CTR). In addition to the URL, the meta title and meta description are two things that are visible to the user on a search engine results page before they click on a result. For this reason, a well-written meta title and description can be the difference between getting a click and not getting a click.
Here are a few tips to follow when writing a meta title and meta description for a page or blog:
Keep your meta title less than 60 characters
Keep your meta description less than 156 characters
Meta titles for pages should be clean and follow a format, while blogs should have an enticing title that is likely to be clicked
Always include your head keyword in the meta description
If possible, aim to be informative while also using a call to action
Example of a meta title and meta description for a web page:
4. Optimize Your H1, H2s, and H3s
The title and headers on your page are extremely important when optimizing for SEO. Not only do users usually gather key information from this larger text, but search engines read it first as well. Think of your H1 as the main heading on a page, AKA the title. Make sure your H1 includes your target keyword but is also attention-grabbing for the user.
Once a search engine crawler reads your H1, it will then read your H2s and H3s on the page before crawling the rest of your content. Google likes to see high volume keywords in your headers and it likes to see that your headers all relate to one another. So, your H2 should contain similar keywords to your H1, and you can think of your H3 as a subheading of your H2 (it’s a hierarchy based on importance—the first header is most important, H2s are the next most important, and so on). When structured correctly, headers provide a ton of SEO value.
5. Use Your Target Keyword in the First Paragraph
Trying to work in your head keyword as many times as possible may have worked once upon a time, but not anymore. Keyword stuffing is a quick way to debunk your ranking nowadays. It is, however, very important to use your head keyword naturally throughout your content, especially in the first paragraph. It’s recommended that you include your head keyword in the first 100 to 150 words of your content.
6. Use Images and Videos
Images and videos help support your content while making it easier to read and consume. Additionally, if you have the means to invest in video production services, simply adding a video to a page or a blog can increase dwell time on a page.
Whether you’re incorporating images of people at your company, projects you’ve worked on, or adding a fun infographic, it’s also important to fully optimize images for SEO. No doubt, users are more likely to work their way through a page that has images and videos, but search engines read content differently than users do.
Search engines mainly look for alt text when crawling web pages. Alt text should describe the image in 125 characters and, if possible, incorporate keywords. Be as specific as possible and keep it brief; don’t start alt text with “image of…” just explain exactly what it is.
7. Use Plenty of Semantic Keywords
To rank for your content, relevance is extremely important. Google wants to see that you’re answering the user’s question and using keywords that are semantically related to each other. It’s extremely important to have four to six semantic keywords (in addition to your main keyword) for every page or blog, and these keywords should be naturally incorporated throughout your content.
8. Incorporate Internal and External Links
Internal links are another signal to Google that help show validity and relevance. If you’re writing and notice an opportunity to link to another page or blog on your website, it’s best practice to link to the page. Outbound links to other websites with high authority demonstrate to search engines that you know your stuff. It also helps search engines better understand what your content is about and it can increase trust in your website. Credibility is a huge part of SEO, and Google will rank sources that are deemed trustworthy higher in search engines. It’s best practice to include at least two internal links and at least one outbound link on every page.
9. Create E-A-T Content
The E-A-T acronym is a relatively new buzzword that has been circulating in the digital marketing world. It stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. We’ve briefly touched on each of these already, but these are the three main things that Google looks for to protect its users from low-quality content that isn’t helpful to searchers. Content marketing experts must be aware of these three things anytime they’re writing content. According to Google, every high-quality page needs a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Expertise.Your content should provide insightful knowledge in a way that engages people. You need to be an expert on your subject matter, but also know how to deliver the information in the best way. Simply put, you should be creating relevant content that your audience loves. To do that, figure out what your target audience is searching for (keyword research) and aim to understand searcher intent.
Authority.Being an expert and creating great content to showcase is a start, but it’s not the only thing that’s important. When other websites cite you as a source of information, you become more than just an expert—you become an authority. Ways to build authority include backlinking (other websites linking to pages on your site), sharing your content across social channels, being mentioned in the news, and so on.
Trustworthiness.Last but not least, Google likes to rank websites that are trustworthy. Expertise and authority definitely improve rankings, but lack of trustworthiness can quickly move you down in rankings. Positive reviews on review websites help a lot. In addition, make it clear to users how they can contact you, list your physical address, include author biographies with blogs, and make sure your website domain is secure.
Following E-A-T as a part of your digital marketing and content strategy will help you to be successful and move up in search engine rankings.
10. Monitor Performance
Last but certainly not least, measuring performance is an essential part of content marketing. Monitoring the performance of various pages on your site tells you what’s working and what isn’t. One thing you could look at is the bounce rate. If the bounce rate is high and users aren’t staying on the page long, maybe you need to make your content more engaging. If there is a lot of time spent on the page but no follow up (low conversion rate), then maybe look into adding more CTAs. Looking at performance can be extremely valuable and helps you turn your content into something you can actually use to grow your business.
Once you’re consistently publishing SEO-friendly content, you can share content as much as possible and drive even more users to your website. Having SEO-friendly content will drive organic traffic, but it also gives you a reason to post on your business’s social media channels.
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