The term SEO is dying a slow, painful death, not the practice so much as the term and what it represents. Quite unsurprisingly, the past few years have shown that SEO has become nothing less than spam, due to the often unethical practices of “black-hat” SEO practitioners who in their sneaky ways try to rank top in Google’s search engine results. As a result, Google cracked down on these websites that these practitioners used and gradually the consumers turned towards other avenues (social media sites, blogs, aggregators, etc.) to find content, so now SEO has risen again with a much broader set of considerations that are a necessity.
But that doesn’t mean that you should discount SEO completely, because of the rising importance of all forms of content, many of the best practices which are legitimate as well ensure that SEO isn’t just relevant but highly effective too. So the best bet would be to incorporate it into a newer and more wide-ranging outline which acts as a roadmap to the necessary approach that content marketers should adopt in order to build and promote content effectively.
You need a more holistic and goal-driven approach to content marketing. As it stands now, SEO’s focus is narrow and doesn’t address all the avenues through which the present day consumers discover content and to make matters worse, content creation itself can be negatively influenced by the binding constraints of SEO.
And this is why we’ve got this article to highlight various strategies and guidelines to show how you can optimize website content for SEO, discovery, and conversion.
For modern SEO, effective content marketing is the vehicle which will propel it towards success.
Without only wheels and no engine, you’ll be left pedaling; in a digital marketplace in the absence of an SEO strategy, content will fail as it can’t keep up. And similarly in the case of an engine that lacks wheels; without content, SEO becomes a shiny machine that is stuck and can’t get anywhere.
The internet today is an unmanageable mass of mediocre blog posts, all the more reason why content needs SEO to stand out in this din. Google says that “content” is one of the top three ranking factors for organic search.
In this clogged up internet world, high-quality content is rare to come by. And unfortunately, search engines don’t hand out checklists or guidelines to follow to ensure “high-quality content” is published every single time, and most probably they never will. What you need is a comprehensive guide to creating “high-quality” SEO content and exactly what we’ll help you achieve by the time we’re done with this article.
In the coming months, the amount of content created and published will continue to grow and content optimization becomes increasingly important. Because even if you’re probably armed with great content, there is no way it’ll produce the necessary results unless your audience finds it.
Prioritize your audience first and Algorithms second
You might have noticed that Google’s algorithm keeps changing these days and each time dozens of different changes are implemented in it. This was done with the sole intention of lessening the spammy content that those sneaky SEO practitioners come up with, content that adds value to your product and makes sense to the consumer is preferred to content that is written with the intention of achieving a good rank on Google. Your focus should actually be on producing content that is suitable and serves the audience and helping in conversions for your business, if instead you keep pandering to those changes that appear often on Google’s algorithm you’ll end up constantly picking up the pieces when Google cracks down on our website and this can prove quite costly indeed and creating quality content is much cheaper and rank worthy than indulging in such malpractices. Yes, quality content is hard to come by and creating it is even harder, and in search of high search engine rankings those malpractices might even seem tempting but it’s definitely not worth it.
And recognizing the qualities of a good content which matches all of Google’s ideals and still ranks high is quite the gargantuan task as search engines do not have out checklists where you can check your content to see if it’s “high-quality content,” and in all probability, they never will come up with it. So it’s up to you and our team to go all nerdy, study Google Analytics and create a checklist that acts as a comprehensive guide to creating “high-quality” SEO content.
Step 1: Optimize your content strategy for SEO
Marketers these days often ignore the role of SEO as a promotional tool until the content created. They tend to focus on the content that is created, try to decipher why it was created and then stuff in a few recognizable keywords and links forgetting that Keyword and user intent research should be the start of a successful content marketing strategy. You need to understand what the consumer is searching for, their queries or the kind of content they are on the lookout for and then ask yourself the same question before designing the kind of content strategy that answers these questions and budges them forward to conversion and sales.
Your high-quality content should tick these points:
- Your content should be framed based on an understanding of your audience, as well as keyword and user intent research. The content should be such that it answers your audience’s queries in language that they can easily understand.
- Yes, the longer and more thorough your content (word count of 1000 or more) it ranks better in organic search results, but you can’t ramble on and lose focus. Your content should be focussed on getting the reader to complete a specific task, take action!
- Once you’ve understood their buying journey and profiled your readers, you can create content that makes them search for more and this will definitely be the next step as it entices them into taking an action.
Step 2: Creating quality content
You need to aim at designing high-quality content that reaches your audience and keeps them engaged, more of your content will be read and they will reach out, interact and share it when the content is more appealing to the consumer.
You can debate endlessly on what particular characteristics make for great content and though they are all worthy considerations, having just a few if not all of them checked on your content will make it read-worthy:
- A clear and concise content that is easily understood and backed by concrete evidence.
- A unique article with credible/valid sources quoted in your article where applicable makes it more trustworthy.
- It should pander to the reader’s emotions and be an entertaining read as well.
- Make it an article that educates the audience on the topic and set an inspiring tone.
- Relevance of the article is an absolute must. An article that is deep or thorough makes it more educational.
- Practicality is a trait that your article should never veer off. Keep in mind that your article is aimed at people and not search engines.
- Your high-quality content should tick these points:
- Your content should be created with the audience in mind and so the language should be easily understood. Lesser the jargon, better the readability; but then again don’t mistake them for simpletons.
- Your content should make the audience want to share it and provide them with buttons on the web page to share it easily. So design your content around the fact that you want it to reach a wide audience, and social sharing is the way to reach that audience. So interesting, educational, relevant and practical are what your content should be.
- People don’t like to read long, boring articles and hence skim through the important stuff. So your content should have short paragraphs, bold texts, bullet points or numbered lists, quotes, good quality pictures, and callouts where necessary to ensure it can be scanned through and understood quickly. Include stuff like results, any objections or arguments and counter arguments or time frames to make it more attractive. Your content should anticipate the reader’s hopes, reservations and answer their concerns. An aesthetically pretty content definitely draws the eyes quicker.
- Your title should be bold and strong. The more enticing your title is, the more actionable it becomes. So use keywords strategically but do not overstuff them and please keep it short; longer headlines and titles tend to discourage audiences.
- Checking out the competition is always worthwhile, review your content against pages that have high rankings and make a note of target keywords used and analyze your content for similar attributes and then work on making it better.
Step 3: Your content should be accurate
From a user’s point of view, nothing says horrible experience than reading content that is full of typo and grammatical errors. Even the most perfect grammar Nazi among us is prone to make a few typos and that is why meticulous editing skills are a must. If you think it’s ok, just imagine you’re reading a book where every page is riddled with typos and grammatical and punctuation errors, it’ll definitely make you want to throw it in a corner! And moreover, a simple grammatical error can still deviate from the topic and convey a completely different message from what you’re trying to put across. And though there’s no concrete evidence saying your rankings will plummet if you have some in your content, your audience size will definitely go down. It might also help if you include some outbound links, citing the source along with a link to it. To a search engine, this looks like you have in-depth knowledge and those links from good authorities will back your article up too and it’s also a great SEO exercise.
Your high-quality content should tick these points:
- Content should be a pleasant read without the hindrance of grammatical or spelling errors. Proofread as often as you can and edit and re-edit and get someone else to have a look at it too. You can use the help of online tools too and there are forums online where people will proofread your content and offer you suggestions to improve it.
- Content should always be backed by facts with working links to credible sources. And don’t discount Wikipedia so soon, whatever people say it’s still got a lot of credible information. Check your facts too, don’t just believe any website, dig deeper till you find the source and if it’s credible and legitimate then include it in your content.
Step 4: Keyword stuffing is very, very wrong!
Of course, keywords and user intent research are where you begin, which keywords apply to the piece of content in question is something you’ve already figured out. But how that keyword is being used in said content still needs to be seen. And trust us when we tell you keyword stuffing is very, very out and Google might even penalize you or worse. And don’t think you’ll get away with it because Google is next to GOD, you can actually call it keyword-savvy! And synonyms for keywords are also easily recognizable; we told you Google is next to GOD! This is why SEO needs to utilize them in a better way.
Your high-quality content should tick these points:
- Your content has a primary keyword and several other keywords along with it. Now you need to ensure that your content isn’t oversaturated with these keywords. Check your article for how many times you’ve repeated it and if it’s chock full of them it’s time to check a Thesaurus for some synonyms and replace the repeated words. And as far as possible try to use keywords naturally in the first few paragraphs so it becomes noticeable.
- Sure Google can spot synonyms easily, but don’t be spooked. Learn to organize your content into subsections based on primary related keywords. And your content should read naturally, like a human wrote it for other humans; so use abbreviations, plurals, and synonyms liberally. Semantics and concepts work equally well as keywords.
- Use keywords in the text for images, URL, and headings. You’ll need to have descriptive languages in strategic places like image titles, alt text, captions, and titles, but you need to ensure that it doesn’t come off as forced, so only use them where they are relevant and applicable.
Also, do watch out for these technical SEO content issues
This isn’t really very general as most technical SEO issues need to be checked across the whole site and cleaned up before content optimization, however, it would be remiss of us to ignore these few technical considerations that specifically relates to individual content:
- Ensure that the page with your content loads quickly, within three seconds if you will. If not check the images and media files which may be slowing the performance of the content. A content that is slow to load will not be read.
- Mobile is the new thing on the digital marketing play field, so our content needs to be optimized for mobile as well.
- Shorter URL’s, please. Pages that have shorter URL’s are usually ranked well than those with longer ones.
- Google should know where your page is and understand the content to rank it so your page should be included on the site’s XML sitemap.
Focus on making sure your content strategy broadly satisfies the conditions of these four ideas, the four V’s:
- Volume – Of the four this is by far the simplest; Google will get a clue of your knowledge on the subject based on the amount of material you put out about your topic.
- Velocity – The frequency matters. The more you post, your authority on the subject will seem greater to Google. Post blogs and articles often, one article per week for a year will get you noticed sooner than posting irregularly for five years. It’s how much you write not for how long you write.
- Variety – You don’t have to venture too far off topic. When you stay put on the subject and a variety of areas in the niche and post about it often Google understands that you’re something of a guru on the topic.
- Veracity – Your content should be user-friendly and when readers engage with (speak about it and share it etc.) it, it serves as a strong indication to Google to display the content from your site to other readers interested in the same notion.
This will ensure that your content will garner better search benefits for individual quality pieces than the sum of their parts.
Now you’re all geared up to create ‘high-quality content’
For your content strategy to be successful your content needs to be focused on pleasing the target audience. And keep in mind the rules imposed by Google as well when creating pleasing content. So it’s up to us to as marketers to search for terms to understand them better, test our hypotheses, study those results as well and draft a list of characteristics which are likely to please Google and satisfy its criteria (77 characteristics to be exact).
Right from the start SEO research needs to be an integral part of your content marketing strategy, get the wheels and engine in alignment and gear up for a smoother ride.