Like most businesses today, from SMBs to Fortune 500s, you should consistently publish fresh, quality content online, if you’re not already doing so. The potential benefits to your business are too great to ignore. And if you know how to write SEO optimized content, you increase the likelihood of seeing those benefits with every new page published.
Although search engine optimization involves strategies well beyond what we will cover here, it’s always worthwhile to get a refresher on the basic steps you can take to better optimize the content you create.
But before we get into how, you should understand the why – why you should consistently publish fresh, quality content optimized for search.
“Content is King”
In 1996, Bill Gates wrote an article, “Content is King.” He wasn’t the first, and certainly not the last, to say it. Most everyone working in SEO and content marketing will agree the phrase is overused, but I can’t imagine anyone in digital marketing today disputing its truth.
Content can set your business, and your website, apart from the pack. With informative and helpful content, you can show your targeted audience you are a thought leader and credible industry source.
In “Turn Your Website into an Inbound Marketing Tool,” Forthea account manager Roberta Higgins explains how you can use blogs and whitepapers to turn a website into a powerful inbound marketing tool. Sharing a HubSpot statistic, she says businesses with websites containing 401-1,000 pages get 6 times more leads than those with 51-100 pages. Six times more leads!
Every new page of content you publish online, whether it’s an article, blog post, news announcement, product page, or whitepaper, is an opportunity to attract a targeted audience to your site and turn the visitors into customers or leads. Video, image, and audio content provide the opportunities, too, but for this post we are focusing on writing content.
If you produce well-written, original content that informs, entertains, or otherwise meets your readers’ needs, they will spend time on your site and may convert. They will be more likely to share your content with others. Some will link to it.
Those links and shares help increase rankings in search and send more traffic to your site.
Links that Matter
Google and other search engines use links from other sites to yours as quality signals, or votes. Pages with links from related, authoritative sites rank higher on Search engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Years ago, you could get (buy/swap) links to your site to increase rankings, but those days are long gone. As Ryan Chauvin, Forthea organic marketing specialist, says in 5 SEO Tactics to Use Instead of Link Building, “the sure-fire way to get links that matter is to create premium content others want to share…Like it or not, content is the new link building, so get onboard.”
Why Optimize Your Content
Organic search remains the primary driver of traffic to B2B and B2C websites, but to get that traffic your site needs high visibility. How do you get it?
Every search begins with a user entering a query (keyword) into Google (or other search engines) in search of something. Google uses about 200 ranking factors to identify and return what it thinks are the most relevant results for that query.
SEO, or search engine optimization, helps Google and other search engines understand what your content is about and rank it accordingly. Put another away, SEO helps searchers find your content online.
The #1 Content Writing Tip
Here’s the top tip for writing SEO content:
Write for your readers, not search engines.
Create quality content that will engage your readers and encourage them to spend more time on your site, moving from page to page, eventually converting from a visitor to a customer or lead.
Make it your priority. Then use the following basic SEO tips to help give that content higher visibility in search and drive more traffic to your site.
10 Steps: How to Write SEO Optimized Content
1. Optimize content with keywords searchers use. Search engines get smarter every day, by understanding the context and syntax of search queries, but the keywords searchers use still matter. As an expert in your industry, you may use jargon your targeted audience would not. Instead of using jargon, optimize your content for the keywords your audience actually uses. You can use several (free) tools online to help research keywords, including Google’s Keyword Planner in Adwords and WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool.
2. Write a good page title with your keyword near the start. This title visible in a search bar and search results is one of the strongest on page SEO signals you send. It tells search engines and potential visitors what is on any given page. If you have a recognizable brand that would attract clicks or your primary focus in building a brand, you can place the brand first in the title, but if you want clicks from traffic searching on your keyword, put it first. A keyword placed first in a title usually ranks better than one placed at the end.
3. Include your keyword in the first 100 words or so of your page content and use related words throughout the body. If the keyword and closely-related terms are not highly relevant to your content, don’t naturally belong in it, you are optimizing for the wrong keyword. As we mentioned earlier, search engines are getting more sophisticated in their understanding of natural language, so there’s no need to use the same three-or-four word keyword 20 times on a page. Speak to the topic naturally and the traffic will come.
4. Also include your page keywords/closely-related words in your headings and subheadings (defined with H1, H2s, H3s, etc.), page URL, and image alt attributes, but don’t overdo it. Heavy optimization can do more harm than good.
5. Use structured data markup to help search engines better understand what your content means. You can read about it here.
6. Link out from your content to related, authority sites as well as to other relevant pages within your site. Rand Fishkin wrote an informative article at Moz years ago explaining 5 reasons you should link out to others from your website.
7. Ensure your content loads quickly and is mobile friendly. Mobile recently surpassed desktop in the number of searchers within 10 countries, including the U.S. Be mobile friendly.
8. Add your keyword to a good Meta description that will entice searchers to click through to your content. Include your keyword. A Meta description is the snippet you see under a page title in search. Google may or may not show the description you provide, but when it does and searchers see the keyword they used in their query in your description, they are more apt to click through.
9. Add a Call to Action to your page. Make it easy for your readers to convert into a customer or lead by adding a way to easily contact you, sign up for your newsletter or take other action.
10. Add social sharing to make it easy for visitors to share your content. Shared content is similar to linked content. It shows your content is valuable enough to share. It helps build brand visibility, can improve rankings, and sends more traffic to your site. Learn how to add social sharing.
Using these basic SEO tips will not work magic; if your content does not create value or attract the right type of traffic, SEO won’t change that. And, as previously mentioned, SEO today involves much more than these basic tips provided. But taking a few steps to optimized content you write can help your audience find it in search. With the right blend of SEO and quality content, you have a winning formula for success.