SEO: 5 tips for writing effective content
Figures from 2020 show there are over six billion websites in existence – so there’s generally a huge number of options when searching for a particular product, service or source of information. In an exponentially expanding internet universe, how do you make sure your customers even find you?
SEO is all about making sure your target audience discover your website when they carry out a relevant search. It stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it’s a way getting search engines such as Google to rank your website highly in search results. If you’re tucked away on the fifth page, the chances of anyone discovering you are tiny.
You’ve probably heard about some of the dubious techniques that have been used to bring more visitors to a website – things like filling your site with keywords that have nothing to do with what you are actually selling. This used to get websites a higher ranking from search engines, but it came at a cost: the people who visited those sites left quickly, feeling frustrated and disappointed. In other words, that type of SEO was not great for bringing in real customers.
Good SEO isn’t just about winning the search engine game – it’s about ensuring you have happy visitors to your website, and the major search engines have now adopted more sophisticated methods for ensuring the most relevant, useful sites get the best rankings. One of the factors they look for is regularly updated content that gives visitors authoritative answers to potential queries they may have. Here are five ways to optimise your content for search engine success.
1. Work out what your customers are looking for
To create great content, you need to put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes. What questions may they want answered as they progress towards making a purchase? What struggles are they facing now? What solutions can you give them? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can create content that will satisfy them at every stage in their buying journey, from researching what’s available to actually clicking “buy”.
2. Decide on the keywords that will match your customers’ needs
Think about what search terms your potential customers might be entering into a search engine as they look for your product or service. The most effective keywords are not just one or two words, but short phrases that provide more specific results – for example, “holiday cottage in Scotland” is more effective than just “holiday home”. Once you’ve decided on your keywords, use them regularly in your content to attract the right people, but don’t make your content so packed with keywords that it is terrible to read.
3. Write a great headline
Writing great content is one thing, but don’t forget to create a headline that will inspire people to click through and read all that content in the first place. Make it short, catchy and relevant, and make sure it’s clear what people will get from reading your article. Putting a number in the headline (for example “five reasons to holiday in Scotland this year”) is one way to boost the likelihood that your post will be shared on social media.
4. Get your labelling right
Pay attention to your page URL; make sure it’s to the point and not too long. You need to include just three to six words that reflect the content. Your meta-description matters too: this is the short page description that appears under your search result in Google, and it’s used by search engines to understand what your post is about. It should be under 150 characters long and designed to grab the attention of your potential customer. Remember to include keywords.
5. Think visually too
Great content is not only about the words you use. Other factors that can help include great visuals. These can be graphics, logos, illustrations, photography – and maybe a video too; this can also be useful for engagement when sharing your post online.
Good content isn’t the only thing you need for effective SEO. One of the ways Google decides how to rank your page is its “authority” – and that can be gained by having a good number of links on other sites pointing to your content. Next week we’ll look at why these links matter and how to use them to build your SEO success.