Writing SEO Friendly content
Content writing takes time – a lot of it. And time is a valuable resource. So, if there was a way to tweak your writing ever so slightly to ensure that all that valuable time you put into your web content provides you with a return (i.e. web traffic) in the medium to long term rather than just whenever you share your content on social / paid channels, that would be helpful, right?
If you answered yes, then keep reading!
Caveat: Not all content necessarily has the potential to deliver lots of traffic via search engines. If there is no one searching for a particular topic, then it’s not possible to “SEO it” so that it magically starts bringing hundreds of users to your site via Google.
This does not mean, however, that you shouldn’t write “low volume” content. If you have valuable information and insights to share with our audience, you should write it, even if that audience doesn’t yet know they need it. This way you are providing valuable information to your audience which you can distribute in ways other than search (e.g. social, email, etc.) and if / when users do begin searching for this information your content will be found.
With that caveat out of the way, let’s move on to how exactly you can write “SEO Friendly” content.
Choose the right topics
If your objective is to drive organic traffic to your site, you need to choose topics that your target audience is actively searching for. Obviously, you have your key products and services pages which you want to optimize to ensure that you rank for specific searches for these specific products/services – but the thing is, your competitors all have these pages too. Try to broaden your content to include relevant topics for potential customers/clients who are not directly searching for a specific product or service. Be helpful!
Start with some keyword research to identify relevant topics (“keywords”) that meet the sweet spot for SEO:
- Search volume
- Relevance to your audience
- Relevance to your business / offering
- Realistic difficulty (if lots of other websites with higher authority than yours have similar content, then it will be very difficult to rank in the short term)
Some helpful tools for keyword research:
- Free: Google Ads Keyword Planner (limitations: broad valume ranges unless you're spending on an active campaign and vague competition scores)
- Paid: SEMrush and MOZ
Format and structure your content appropriately
Depending on the topic that you have chosen to write about, different types of content will tend to rank well. Do a Google search for your topic before writing about it and look at the first few results. How is the content formatted?
- How to articles?
- Opinion pieces?
- Product pages?
If one type of content is ranking highly consistently, then that is more than likely the most appropriate format for your own content.
Regardless of which content type you choose, Google likes easily digestible, well-structured content.
Make use of:
- H1s and H2s
- Short paragraphs
- Bulleted lists
- HTML tables
One page - one topic
We have already identified the keywords / topics for which we need content – a golden rule of SEO is that for every topic / keyword for which you would like to rank, you should have a single dedicated page. The topic of your web page should be the focus of:
- Your page title tag
- The opening 100 words of your content (and throughout)
- Your meta description
- Your page path
- Your image alt text tags
Optimising page titles and meta descriptions
Along with focusing your on-page content around your chosen topic, page titles and meta descriptions are both very straightforward ways to ensure that search engines know what your page is about (and so what queries to rank it for).
Page titles are an important SEO factor – they create value in three specific areas: relevancy, browsing, and in the search engine results pages. When more than one page on a website has the same title tag, it makes it difficult for search engines to correctly categorize and rank each page.
You should optimise title tags to be relevant (i.e. include focus topic/keyword) and tell users and search engines what the main content on the page is. Ensure there are no missing, duplicate, long or very short title tags. Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag.
More often than not, page titles can be easily configured via your CMS (e.g. Wordpress, Joomla, Sitefinity, Sitecore, Kentico, etc.)
Meta descriptions give search engines extra information on the page content. Just as importantly, a well optimised meta description increases the likelihood that a user will click through to your page from the search engine results page.
You should optimise your meta descriptions to encourage click throughs and accurately describe page content (i.e. include focus keyword/topic). Make sure each page has a unique meta description that is not too long or short. Meta descriptions should be between 400 and 930 pixels (approx 70 and 156 characters).
Often, meta descriptions can also be easily configured via your CMS.
Beyond matching the words in your query with relevant documents on the web, search algorithms also aim to prioritize the most reliable sources available. To do this, our systems are designed to identify signals that can help determine which pages demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic. - Google
So, what are these signals exactly? Well.. it’s not clear exactly, but it is clear that Google’s algorithm uses machine learning to determine E-A-T of content. It’s also widely accepted that the machine learning models that determine E-A-T are strongly influenced by manual reviews of websites based on Google Search Quality Guidelines.
So, essentially, a large sample of content is continually reviewed manually by Google’s team of Search Quality Evaluators and scored in terms of EAT based on a set of (kind of vague) guidelines, then this data is plugged into the Google algorithm which attempts to rank the “EAT-iness” of the rest of the content in their wider database.
Internal linking between related articles can help to pass PageRank / authority between related pages and can also help search engines to contextualise sub-topics as part of the one core topic
Adding social sharing buttons to your blog posts / articles can encourage social sharing – whilst Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin shares don’t directly affect your sites ability to rank, they do have the knock on effect of increasing your content’s visibility and in turn the chances of attracting inbound links from other sites
- If a particular page / blog post is attracting a lot of organic traffic, try to find related topics that users are searching for by using a tool like AlsoAsked.com and AnswerThePublic.com
Hopefully this guide will help you to write great content that works to drive organic traffic to your website and justify the valuable time that you invest in content writing.
Remember - by choosing the right topics (those in the “SEO sweet spot”), formatting and structuring your content appropriately based on existing high-ranking content, ensuring each topic that you want to rank for has its own dedicated page, optimizing your meta titles and descriptions and ensuring that your content is unique, factual, useful and ideally written by someone with expertise on the topic, you should soon reap the rewards in the form of relevant organic search traffic.