In an Internet world jam-packed with flashy visuals, streaming videos, ads, links and sales pitches (not to mention the oft-annoying embedded sounds), it can be hard for the average person to discern the value in what they are looking at. To those who know how to look for it, the answer is simple. Take away all of those banner ads, special fonts and brightly-colored links, and what do you have? The foundation, and the thing that makes it all work: content.
For some sites, losing all the flashy distractions would be a disaster, because it would reveal a painful lack of useful content. For others, their content attracts visitors without the need for any hype.
You see, it’s your content that makes your site valuable.
Of course, we’re not talking about just any content, here. We’re talking about high-quality SEO content, designed to appeal to both humans and search engines.
Why does it matter? It matters because “SEO” is not just a buzzword—it’s a finely-honed technique for drawing attention to your site by ensuring that your pages are properly indexed, read by people and passed around. This allows more potential customers to find your site and check you out.
As you may know, search engine algorithms have become more sophisticated over the years, and this means that SEO is not really just about getting the search engines to notice you anymore. Today, it’s much more about the interdependent relationship between you, your readers and the spiders that crawl around looking for you. Your readers affect the search engine results in the same way that search engines affect how many people will see your site. So, in order to get them both to find you (and not your competition), you need to understand what high-quality SEO content can do for you, and how to create it.
Writing optimized content has gone beyond the keyword-stuffed fluff of the past. Here are some tips for creating effective SEO content:
For search engines —
1. Research keywords – The importance of choosing the correct keywords cannot be overstated. This is how search engines find you and index you, so you need to let them know who you are and what you’re about. Use Google AdWords to find the search terms that people are most likely to use to find you. Check for competitiveness, and try some long tail keywords that will help you reach a more targeted market.
2. Tag properly – Your titles should include the keyword, a variation or a related term, at least most of the time. The thing to remember about titles and headers is that they should be interesting to the reader, always. If you can’t make the keyword fit, or you have a great attention-grabbing title that won’t sound right if you force a keyword into it, by all means leave it out. Just make sure that your title accurately reflects the body of the text.
Another tip: bold your titles and subtitles. This makes them more visible to the search engines.
3. Use good keyword density – Place your primary keyword toward the top of your home page, article, blog, etc., but don’t overdo it in the body of the text. A 1% density works well, with related terms and variations sprinkled in.
4. Link your content – Use both outbound and inbound linking to increase rankings. Linking to other sites, for example, will invite other sites to link back to you, thus drawing the attention of search engines. Internal links (links to other pages on your site) give you additional opportunities to rank for your search terms.
For humans —
1. Offer something of value – Feel free to frame this and put it on the wall. If your content doesn’t answer questions, solve problems, offer tips, etc. it will be of no value to your readers. Keep in mind that optimizing content means that you appeal to people, so that they will see you as an authority, learn to trust you and recommend your site to others. This will increase your rankings naturally.
Of course, this means you should leave out the sales pitch. High-quality SEO content is not about hard selling—it’s about building the relationships that lead to sales.
2. Write well – Good grammar, good sentence structure and editing go a long way toward making your SEO content (and thus, you) look credible. Most people will not put up with poorly-written content and will click away before they get too far.
3. Be approachable – Even the stuffiest topic can benefit from a conversational style. In fact, people usually prefer it when searching for information. Leave out the industry jargon and write as you would as if talking to a friend or acquaintance. Blogs are a great example of optimized content that work much better when written in a natural, relaxed style.
4. Allow comments – Whenever possible, allow reader to comment on your content. Why? There are two good reasons for SEO purposes. First, comments allow readers to engage, which makes them more likely to become interested in you and recommend you to others. Second, because each comment is another opportunity for you to rank. If comments contain keywords and related words, they link right back to you.
These are just a few of the many ways you can optimize your content for better search engine visibility. The value of SEO content for your site lies in the power it has to build your reputation, your brand and your authority. Achieve this, and you are well on your way to achieving all of your other goals.
For more articles about content, take a look at the Your Content section
About the Author:
Beth Hrusch is Senior Editor at Interact Media, an seo content development service.