How to Make SEO Friendly Content for Your Audience
Why SEO Friendly Content Is So Important
Your in-house team are the experts on what you do, and so are well placed to write in-depth, knowledgeable content for your website. The trouble is, despite the content quality, it isn’t really performing, and your site isn’t growing in terms of visibility or traffic.
So, why is that? Why aren’t your target audiences finding your carefully created content in their droves? After all, it has all the information you know they need. The truth is that while writing great content is absolutely vital, it’s just one piece of the puzzle, and this particular puzzle needs all its pieces to be aligned in order to be effective. Great content simply can’t leverage itself.
To draw in more of the right traffic, raise your search visibility, and boost your rankings your content needs help, specifically Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) help. SEO and content go hand in hand, and with careful thought, planning and know how, it is possible to use content on your website to drive the right traffic at the right volume to your site, and see it convert there.
The key is understanding your audience, their challenges, and the way in which they are searching for solutions. SEO is a broad discipline with a lot of moving parts so it’s easy to get it wrong. This article explains what good content looks like, how to evaluate your content in terms of its SEO value and elements to consider when writing new content to drive traffic.
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, it’s the practice of helping web content or a website rank in a higher position on search engine results pages (SERPS) when someone makes a search for something. The higher up the rankings your web pages are, the more likely you are to attract new customers to your business. Of course, SEO can only do so much. If your landing pages aren’t up to scratch, that could have a negative impact on conversions. To learn more about SEO, why not read our Everything You Need To Know About SEO guide?
What Makes Good Content?
Good content can serve two important masters equally well. With the right breadth and depth of detail, delivered in an accessible, well-presented attractive format, it complies with SEO best practices, and also meets user needs and search intent, providing the search result content they were looking for.
Today’s audiences are accustomed to finding what they need online easily and quickly because what they need is typically ranked well in SERPs when they search. Consciously or not, they also respond more to content that has been written to resonate for them. By that we mean, content that has been written to address their specific situation, needs and challenges more directly. Marketers are able to determine these needs by understanding the market and identifying accurate and rich audience personas. If you think that it’s time to rethink your audience personas, check out our article for more.
Planning is key to great content and while the quality of the writing is obviously paramount, it will only be of value to the target audience if it is aligned with their challenges, pain points and problems to be solved. Making assumptions about those things can cause you to fall at the first hurdle. Use your data to make sure you really know what your customers, prospects and target audiences actually need help with. Make the data work for you and delve into your Google Analytics to extract insights on what pages on your site perform best and where your visitors spend their time. Implement a content audit to assess the value of your existing content, how it can be made to perform better and where the gaps are.
You should also consider keyword research to help inform your content strategy. Writing content without knowing the why, where, who and how of what it is intended to do and for whom is essentially wasted effort, and who has resource like that to waste?
Why Does My Content Need To Be SEO Friendly?
While a well-researched content strategy that responds to your content audit findings and is aligned to creative keyword research is a great place to start. What are the things to consider when you actually set out to make sure your content is optimised for SEO?
The crux of the matter is that your content will only be visible online to your audience if search engines can crawl and index your page. Only then, will your content be served to your potential customers. However, if the search engine bots deem your content unhelpful then it’s unlikely that your content will make it past the crawling stage.
What is Crawling?
Search engine bots are constantly scouring the internet to look for more pages, they find them by following the links on web pages to discover new URLS. Through this process, they are able to find new content and add it to an index which is basically a massive database full of all of the discovered URLs on the internet, ready and waiting to be retrieved when a searcher is looking for information that the page content is a match for.
What is Indexing?
Indexing occurs after a page is discovered and the search engine bots try to understand what the page is about by checking the content for uniqueness and evaluating the quality. During this process, various elements are also checked such as the layout and the content. The bots use the page metadata, heading tags and other factors to analyse the purpose of the page and align it with relevant search topics and keywords.
What is Ranking?
Ranking is the relevance search engines assign your content against the keyword(s) it is optimised for. For example, if Google thinks a page is the best possible page to explain a search for 'What are the months of the year in Spanish', that page will be ranked at position 1 in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) for that search. Search engines take a lot of factors into consideration when trying to match a user’s query with a relevant website page and rank pages accordingly. These factors are broken down into On-Page and Off-Page factors.
- Title tags (H1 tags)
- Heading tags
- URL Structure
- Meta Data
- Alt Tags
- XML sitemap
- Building links
- Guest blogging
- Brand mentions
The key takeaway here, is that for your content to rank and be seen by your target audience, your content must have a purpose, be informational, and be relevant to the potential customer’s pain points nd comply with SEO best practice.
SEO Friendly Content Checklist
The first rule of SEO friendly content is to never start writing until you know why. Understanding the persona it is targeted at, their stage in the buyers journey or intent and the relevant keywords are all vital to developing effective content. The keywords that you use need to be correct, or you run the risk of the wrong audience being driven to your site. The downfall of this is that they won’t find what they’re looking for, this will impact the bounce rate, engagement, and conversion rate of your site which will in turn negatively affect your page ranking in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
In order to rank for a specific keyword, you must match the correct keyword with the correct pages of your site. This is called Keyword Mapping, and it’s important to note that you should only match one keyword to one relevant page and optimise your webpage for this term appropriately.
If you begin to optimise your content pieces for similar terms, it’s likely that your rankings will be affected by Keyword Cannibalisation. Simply, this means that articles on your site have the ability to rank for the same search engine query, which effectively means that your content pieces will be fighting each other for a chance of ranking. When this happens, search engines won’t be able to identify which page should rank higher, sometimes leading to a piece ranking higher than a priority piece.
Is Your Headline Front Page News?
Your headline is like your elevator pitch, if you fail to capture their attention then you’re heading to the next floor on your own. So, what’s in a headline?
How Many H1’s Should You Have?
You should only include one H1 or main heading within your content. Not only does your H1 directly impact the ranking and visibility of your website on SERP results, it’s also your one and only chance to catch your reader’s attention and give them a clear indication of what your page contains and whether it will solve their problem. More than one H1 means search engines cannot properly understand what your pages is about and so it is harder for it to rank effectively.
It’s imperative that your headline contains a strong keyword aligned to the term you are optimising that page for. The advantage of this is twofold; it helps search engines understand what your article is about and in turn allows your page to be indexed and ranked effectively. The other advantage is that when a user is making a search query based on the relevant key term, it helps the search engine rank and serve your content as an appropriate match.
Observing the Hierarchy
People often overlook how important the heading tag hierarchy is. Heading tags are used to structure and organise headings and subheadings on a webpage, this helps search engines to read and understand content as well as whether your page gets indexed and in turn ranked.
Heading tags range from H1 to H6 and create a hierarchy to the webpage, H1 is the most important heading down to H6 at the lowest. However, they are also key to engaging with a reader. If your title heading doesn’t capture their interest, then they are unlikely to read the full piece or engage with the calls to action on the page.
Search engines view the H1 as the most important heading tag, as it tells the search engine what the content is about. To ensure that search engines can understand your content, you need to make sure that there is only one H1 heading on each page. This heading must be clear, descriptive, and include the relevant keyword.
It’s ok to have more than one H2, H3, H4 title tag etc but the hierarchy of the titles needs to be remembered to ensure that readers and search engines alike can use the titles to accurately understand and find the content on the page as well as how it is arranged in terms of importance.
The descending headings help to organise the content which gives the reader a sense of what’s coming next. If the reader can’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily or understand the structure of your article, they will probably leave your site and find another source. This will lead the search engine to downrank your piece because it won’t be seen as useful information.
Is Your Meta Data Optimised?
Meta data is a short précis of your content, stored in the back end of your website, that search engines use to understand the purpose, topic, and scope of your page. Writing great meta descriptions for your pages is different skill to writing the content itself but is equally important. Poor meta data means the search engines serving your pages to users will not get an accurate idea of what your content is about and who it is for and so are more likely to serve it in the wrong search results, or even not serve it at all, leading to a low click through rate which will indirectly impact ranking. You can read more about how to optimise meta data effectively in our blog.
Is Your Content Optimised for SEO?
How can you tell how SEO friendly your content is?
There are a lot of ways to analyse how SEO friendly your content is, we’ve created the list below to note just a few of the most effective ways to check if your content is working effectively to attract the right traffic and drive conversions on your website.
Put simply, duplicate content is content that appears in multiple locations across the internet. The problem with this is it causes search engines to be unsure about which webpage to rank higher in the search results, meaning that they could rank all of the webpages that contain this duplicate content lower in favour of other webpages. Aside from being penalised by search engines, duplicate content can have a detrimental effect on a company’s reputation.
So, how do you find out if your content is duplicate content? There are a myriad of tools across the internet that can help with this, but one of the quickest ways to check that your content is original is to take a small portion of your content, place quotation marks around it and pop it into a search engine. If the same or similar content is found, it will show up in the search results.
In auditing your content, you can track performance, study the strengths, weaknesses of your content as well as identify gaps in your content that offer opportunities to gain visibility and ranking for additional key terms. Additionally, a content audit allows you to drill down into your content and see if you are correctly targeting your chosen personas and whether your pieces correlate correctly with your buyers' journey. For example, one of your pieces may be geared towards the consideration stage of the journey but has a conversion centric CTA such as ‘Click Here to Get Started’ – the problem with that is that your reader isn’t ready to convert, they were simply looking for information, so it is likely that the page doesn't convert effectively. To understand What Content Audits Are and Why Are They Important, why not take a look at our handy guide?
Identifying Your Target Audience Personas
Who are your ideal customers, the people you want to sell to? The typical customer for each of your product and service groups? Using qualitative and quantitative research data to determine accurate answers to these questions helps you develop a portrait or persona of the people you are targeting, their needs, challenges, pain points and the problems they need you to solve for them. Determining demographic factors about your target personas, like geographical, attitudinal, and psychographic attributes is invaluable when writing SEO friendly content for them. It allows you to dig deeper and create content that really resonates with the groups of people who buy from you most.
Keyword research enables you to match content to keyword and ensure that you are serving relevant, useful, and informative content to potential visitors. Understanding what keywords/terms your target personas are likely to be searching for, along with the volumes and competition for those terms, enables you to more effectively plan your content strategy and understand where best to focus your content resources to deliver maximum impact.
There are many tools that you can use to find how SEO friendly your content is. Some are free online, and others require subscription. Leading platforms include SEMrush, Screaming Frog and Moz. They offer useful functionality that facilitates keyword, organic, and competitor research and deliver valuable analysis on ranking, visibility, site errors amongst other things.
In terms of content quality, tools like Grammarly help ensure that your content has a high readability score and is error free. Quality of prose is important, even though most search engines state that they don’t penalise sites that have spelling/grammatical mistakes. Contrarily, they do also say that those high-ranking sites do not contain any errors of this kind. Also, it’s not just search engines you need to please with accurately presented content. Your readers will be turned off by mistakes because they directly reflect on the professionalism and ability of your business. After all, if you can’t write accurately and readably, why would they believe you have the skill to help them?
As with many things in life, you often don’t know for certain what will work until you try it. You might have many ideas about what your content should touch on, or how it should look. Should you use CTA A or CTA B? Split or AB testing allows you to test 2 options concurrently.
Planning New SEO friendly content
Analysing your existing content effectively will offer huge insight into where new content is required, what keywords need to be addressed and the personas and stages of the buyer’s journey that the content should be matched to. However, to ensure you have a comprehensive content strategy it is useful to plan any new content. Not only does this allow for efficient use of resource but also prioritisation of the most vital content gaps that you’ve identified.
As with auditing existing content, understanding your target audience personas, their buyers’ journeys and the relevant target keywords is essential. Once in place, creating a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) content plan is the best way to identify and deliver the content your audiences are looking for.
Planning content is key, knowing what needs to be posted and when will provide an opportunity to capitalise on your success. Is there a key event in your field coming up? Is there a key date that fits with your brand that could be written about? Research is one of the most important stages of SEO friendly content creation.
You should also take into consideration the results of your content audit. Are there any gaps in your current content that can be filled? Can these pieces of content align with the stages of your buyer’s journey? Why not take a look at your keyword mapping, are there any additional keywords that you could target to solve customer problems? There are a variety of factors to consider when creating a content strategy but the overarching concern is always, what are your target customers pain points and what are they searching for to help solve their problems. Your job is to develop useful, reliable and accessible content in the appropriate styles and formats to solves those problems.
Get in touch to start a conversation about developing a comprehensive content strategy that connects you with your target audiences effectively.
Measurement & Analytics
It is vital to track the impact of your website content, as knowing how it is performing allows you not only to adjust and improve it based on real data, but also to use that insight to drive even greater improvements the future. SEO is not a one-time or static discipline. As search engines and users change and evolve, so must your content and the way you develop and present it. Measuring performance, understanding what the peaks and troughs are attributable to and leveraging that insight to update existing content and produce new content is the key to using SEO friendly to scale results from your organic search investment. There are a variety of tools that will track the performance of your content, providing data for your to analyse and interpret to generate insight. They include Google Search Console, SEMrush, Screaming Frog and Moz but most rely on integration with Google Analytics. The key is to ensure that whatever tool you select is installed, set-up and integrated correctly so that they can accurately provide the data you need.
Ensuring Your Content is SEO Friendly
In summary, SEO compliance is an essential element of any effective content strategy. Without it, your content is unlikely to be able to deliver the impact in terms of targeted traffic and conversions you are aiming for.
Innovation Visual are digital marketing experts who understand the value of well-optimised content and the importance of best practice SEO in delivering digital results. Why not talk to us about making your website content a more effective revenue generation tool?