So you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. But do you know how to optimize your content for the web and search engine optimization (SEO)? Here are the top 5 ways to make sure your content engages both users and search engines alike.
1. Have a strategy
This is perhaps the most important advice of all, your website content must be part of an overall marketing strategy. A great topic will always engage readers, but how does it add value to your brand or company? Likewise, how are you going to make readers aware of this new content? To make sure that your content is part of a strategy, it should always be part of your overall social media calendar.
A social media calendar will also help avoid one of the most common content creation mistakes: a sudden inundation of content followed by a period of inactivity. This is an all too easy pattern to fall into, you find you have some extra time so you create several posts, then become overwhelmed with other activities and content creation gets pushed to the back of the line. These periods of inactivity can make your website appear abandoned and lead users to believe you either don’t keep up your website, or even worse, aren’t in business any longer. By writing content to support a social media calendar, you will know what you need to create when, in fact, this can help you work ahead smarter: you will have a road map of exactly what you need.
If you are writing your content in the format of a WordPress blog, the scheduling feature can further assist you in working ahead and avoiding the content void by setting future publication dates of your posts. To utilize this, simply click “edit” next to the “Publish immediately” option in the right hand menu.
Next, just chose the time and date that you would like the post to be published, click “OK”, and publish it’s as simple as that! You will want to be sure that you do have some variability in your post times and days so that it looks as though you are organically updating the website on a regular basis. For instance, if your last post was at 4 PM on a Monday, you may want your next post to be at 10 am on a Thursday.
2. Know your keywords and how to use them
Did you know too many instances of a keyword is just as harmful as having too few? We have all seen content that has gone overboard. Not only does “website design company providing website design for individuals in Wilmington needing a website design company” look terrible to readers, it also looks terrible to search engine rating “bots”. In short, it looks “spammy” and like a lazy way of trying to beat the system. In general, you will want to use your keyword 3% of the time. For example, in a 1,000 page post, your keyword should repeat 30 times.
More importantly, you need to be sure that your keyword (or main keyword if you are using multiple keywords – but keep in mind it is always better to target one per post or page) is in the page title, the URL, at least one of each used Header type, and displayed in bold as well as underlined. It is also beneficial to add images where both the image name and any alt text include your keyword. Finally, make sure your keyword is unique. That is, you haven’t used it already on your website. If you are using the same keyword multiple times, it is probably best that you update the original content. New pages should only be created for unique users or topics. In general, you will want to be sure that these links open in a new window so the reader keeps an open table on your website as opposed to internal links which should open in the same window for a fluid website experience.
3. Make sure your writing style is readable and enjoyable
This may seem obvious, but make sure you write to your audience. Every author has their own voice, and it is easy to write to your strengths versus to your readers. If you are writing a tech blog for industry insiders, jargon may be fine. If you are writing the same blog for the general public, you will want to describe the concepts in more general terms.
Generally, companies will have guidelines as what grade level you should write to. However, the commonly accepted Flesch-Kincaid level for general content is 8.0. Once again, there are plugins to assist you in finding out which level you are writing at, including Yoast, and the best level will dependent on your target reader and client’s industry.
It is also important that your content be the correct length. For SEO purposes, your content should be at least 500 words and, in general, content such as blogs should range from 500 words to 1,200. For example, a post about office news may be 500 words whereas a “how-to” post would be closer to a 1,000 words or more. And remember, the most important thing is to keep your content engaging (more on that later).
4. Use links to your advantage.
For SEO purposes, you will want to include both external and internal links in your website content. Be sure that internal links send your readers through a conversion funnel. That is, while it is great that your content brought in readers, you need to provide a way to convert those readers into clients or customers. If you are writing content for a stand alone, non-business related, website, this could be a simple as presenting the reader with the option to sign up for a mailing list alerting them to future content or site updates. For a business, you may want to lead them to the sales item related to the post.
External links can be used to create relationships with third party websites and boost your search engine ranking. For instance, you may reach out to fellow content creaters and see if they are willing to provide backlinks to your website in exchange for linking to theirs. In this mutually beneficial relationship, not only are you able to share in each other’s audience, but the external link they provide will increase your own SEO score. Bloggers, especially those known as influencers or early adopters in your industry, are particularly beneficial and any link from an .edu website is rated above and beyond any other URL type by SEO engines.
5. Only create useful content that is on message.
Similar to making sure you write to your audience, make sure your topics are engaging your readers. Your brand has a message and it is important that you reflect it in your content. That is not to say that you won’t create somewhat “off-topic” website content now and again, but they should be the exception, not the norm. A social media calendar can be beneficial here as well, by scheduling your posts, you can be sure that you are covering a wide breadth of topics while staying on message overall.
Likewise, it is important that even your “off-topic” posts link back to a brand message. For instance, if you are writing for a dental practice, you may from time to time create content about office news that isn’t related to dentistry. Let’s say you want to share that an office member recently had a new baby. This is hardly your regular message. However, if you share that information, and tie it back the baby’s smile, early childhood dental health, or what service that employee provided, you will be able to make this “off-topic” subject tie in with the overall industry and brand of the company.
While these are general guidelines, each website is different and the best method may be different than what we have recommended. It is always important to be flexible while taking the steps to ensure that you provide superior content. Not sure that you want to take on content creation? We have several expert writers who are able to provide you with any content you may need. Contact us today for a free consultation!