What’s a website without great content? It’s a site that’s of little interest to search engines and thus hard for customers—and potential customers—to find. Great content is critical for making your site discoverable to the world.
Let’s start by defining content. For our purposes, content is text on the page, videos with closed captioning or transcripts, downloadable files, blogs, and forums.
In the rest of this post, I’ll tell you what we mean by great content: content that ranks well in search returns and increases customer traffic. And which content attributes you should prioritize to improve search engine optimization (SEO).
1. Create original content that adds unique value
Original content might seem kind of obvious (like don’t copy someone else’s material), but there’s a nuance here. What I mean by original is writing about your product or offering in a way that it’s never been written about before. Throw away that boilerplate text—don’t repeat a single phrase that you’ve seen before.
Here’s an example of adding unique value that resonated with me. Far too many Facebook postings drive me nuts—but why? I hadn’t been able to figure that out. Then I found Tim Urban’s post, 7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook. An aha moment for me: he beautifully describes annoying Facebook posts in a way I’ve never seen before. And even though we’re not talking about writing for Facebook, there are lessons here for all of us. Namely, be interesting or helpful. (Talking at length about yourself, your product, or your company is rarely either.)
Be creative. Be innovative. Be completely original. Find that new and compelling context that no one has described before—that’s the unique value.
Got a product? Talk about how someone accomplished something unique and exciting with it. Show really cool things created with it.
Better yet, tell an interesting story that ties into your product in some small way.
Here’s an example. A friend lost his phone in the Clark river. Six weeks later, someone called him to tell him they’d found it—and it still worked, thanks to its waterproof case. Isn’t that more interesting than just talking about the specifications of the waterproof phone case?
And here’s a tip from my favorite SEO pro: Search for content similar to what you’re trying to create—and then create something better.
2. Publish content that others want to link to
If you create content that is original and unique; helpful, informative, or amusing; and clear and clean (free of typos and grammatically correct), authoritative websites or bloggers with an interest in the subject are more likely to link to it. Publishing content that other credible sources link to is one of the most important things you can do to increase your ranking in search results.
When you publish a new piece of content, make sure all those credible sources know about it. Announce it on all of your channels—especially your social media channels—to help get eyes on it and links to it. (And, referring to that earlier note about insufferable posts, make that announcement interesting, helpful—even intriguing. Don’t just say “Hey, I wrote this article. Here’s a link.”)
3. Know your audience and speak their language
Research words and phrases your audience uses for your product and use them in your content. Don’t make assumptions. If you don’t use terms your audience uses when they’re looking for information on your product or offering, your content won’t be returned in their search results. This article provides some good tips on how to do keyword research for SEO.
Just as important is understanding searcher intent: what question are searchers trying to answer? What information are they trying to find? Search engines are optimized to return searches that match a user’s intent—so that should be your goal in content, too. Here’s some good information on addressing user intent with your content strategy.
Search engines recognize synonyms and word variations, so you can write naturally about your product, using the full variety of terms that may apply, throughout your content. For example, if you’re selling electronic books, you can write about electronic books, e-books, and digital books—if your audience uses any of these terms to search and your content contains them, there’s a good chance your content will show up in search results.
4. Write for usability to improve SEO
What’s good for usability is good for SEO.
One way to improve content usability is to divide content into sections which are separated by compelling headings that contain relevant keywords. Your audience can more easily scan your content, and search engines will respond to the keywords.
Another usability tip is to put your most important information first: readers may not get to the end of your content, so front-load the critical information. For example, in this post, the most important things you can do to improve SEO are at the beginning. So even if you didn’t get past the first couple of sections, you got the most important information.
5. Keep content fresh
This is especially important for a new site. Search engines favor sites that publish new content regularly—it means you’re paying attention and staying up to date.
Create an editorial calendar that supports serving up relevant content on a consistent basis. And update your home page frequently to keep it topical.
6. Blog regularly
Blogs give you a bit more topic flexibility than your regular website. You can post about things that you wouldn’t cover on your website, giving you a chance to talk to your audience about areas where your product can add value—and to potentially attract a bigger audience. If you blog, create new posts on a regular basis—fresh content! And remember to be interesting, helpful or both.
In summary, develop original, one-of-a-kind content that others will want to link to, make sure it addresses audience intent, and keep it fresh.
Resources Online can help you plan, create, and publish content that brings visitors to your site—contact us today.