Digital Marketing 101: How to Write SEO-Friendly Content
Table of Contents
What is SEO-friendly content?
SEO content, or search-engine-optimized content, refers to high quality web content that is produced with SEO guidelines in mind. By regularly publishing SEO content, you can improve your website’s rankings in Google or other SERPs (search engine result pages). SEO is still a very popular digital marketing strategy in 2022, that can help you to attract new customers to your website and passively generate new leads.
Creating content for SEO is more than just writing a blog article - you have to carefully research and incorporate keywords that match with the user’s search queries, and come up with a piece of content that the user will find useful.
Why should you optimize your content for search engines?
Search engine updates
Prior to the update, unethical techniques called black hat SEO were commonly used to get one’s webpage up on the front page of Google. Black hat SEO included methods like keyword stuffing, misleading links, and plagiarized content. As a result of black hat SEO, low-quality pages monopolized the top search rankings, and the usefulness of the search results declined significantly.
Google therefore updated its search engine and cracked down on black hat SEO. Deceptive techniques were from then on penalized and no longer allowed to rise in the search rankings. White hat SEO, which is the practice of optimizing for higher search rankings by following the search engine algorithms and providing quality content, became the new king of SEO. As you might expect, the truly quality and legitimate content then reached the top of search rankings, rewarded for the work put into them.
According to Google Search Central
Google Search Central (https://developers.google.com/search) is a support tool that helps ensure that your content is displayed to the right users and provides resources to help your site be found in Google searches.
It states that content optimization should "make the site interesting and informative," and clearly specifies that creating useful content that meets the needs of users may have more impact on a website’s ranking than any other factor.
Synergy with social media marketing
Another factor contributing to the importance of SEO-oriented content is the wide use of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Since SEO guidelines require that you create quality content, it’s easier to get a good response from users on social media as well, in the form of likes and shares. You can expect a sort of word-of-mouth diffusion online and have free advertising for your website. Meanwhile, a blog article that you spent 30 minutes on, consisting of rambling nonsense, that you posted without any editing, is not going to be shared by anyone.
What is considered good content?
Content that provides readers with the information they are looking for
Content that understands the needs of users and directly answers common search queries will naturally get ranked higher on Google. First and foremost, Google wants to promote the content that best helps their users find the information they are looking for.
Content that offers a smooth user experience
To make the reading experience easier and smoother, it's important to format your text so that they can skim through it quickly and find their answer right away. Google takes into account whether your text is broken down into sections with the HTML headers (H1, H2, H3 and so on). You should also opt to write out lists in bullet points and share data in a graph or diagram. Meanwhile, it's also a good idea to include images and then optimize the alt text so that if they fail to load, a short text description pops up instead.
Content that is unique and includes fresh insights or data
Your content can't just be a paraphrased version of the top 5 articles. Plus, that's basically plagarism. Google looks for original content. This means you need to come up with creative ways of explaining concepts, include examples or case studies from your own company, or share survey data that you collected yourself. While the top articles are likely already all long-form with a lot of information packed in, you still need to determine what they're missing so you can add a point of differentiation which makes your article superior.
Content that Displays E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
E-A-T is a critical SEO concept to factor in, that's listed in the Google Quality Rater's Guidelines. While E-A-T is really determined by your entire website rather than a single piece of content, you always want to aim to display all these qualities- especially if you have a YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) site, which deals with legal, medical, or financial matters. E-A-T is ranked based on the clarity of your content writers' backgrounds and expertise in the subject matter, on whether the website itself is an authoritative source on the subject (e.g. a bank's website giving advice on how to apply for a loan), whether the article is pulling from credible sources, and a myriad of other factors.
Read more about how E-A-T works in this article: What is E-A-T and Why is it Important for SEO?
Content that is long-form, offering a detailed answer to the query
It is a well-known fact that Google likes long, in-depth content. Most SEO experts recommend your articles to be around 4,000+ words in order to be competitive on the front page. This means you have to devote a lot of time and care into every piece of content you publish. Also, in general, rather than the quantity of articles you have, it's much more about the individual quality and length of each one. If you can only publish one great article per week then that's still better than publishing a rushed 500 word blog every day.
How to create SEO content
❶ Keyword research
The first step in creating SEO-friendly content is to figure out what keywords to focus your content around. First, determine what target audience you want to reach with your website, and then consider what problems they might be facing and what information they might be searching for on Google.
Next, you can search up the most popular search queries and keywords by using a tool like UberSuggest or Google Adwords. These keyword research tools will give you the search volume per month and the average number of backlinks of the top-performing web pages that use this keyword. You can also get a sense of what topics are growing in public interest on Google Trends, which lets you check the rise and decline of keywords since 2004.
How to Use Google Trends for Keyword Research
❷ Competitor site analysis
Next, to surpass the content that’s already on the front page of Google, you have to create something better. This is why you need to first do an audit of all your competitors’ sites who are succeeding in SEO. Pinpoint the “keyword gap,” or the keywords your competitors have hits on Google, but your site does not, and then start using those keywords as well.
➌ Drafting an outline
The third step is to draft an outline for your content. Typically, the outline for a blog will include a title, introduction, body, and conclusion. The title should incorporate the main keywords you’re targeting, while the introduction should succinctly tell the reader what they’ll gain from scrolling through. Next, in the body, try to include the same basic sections that are in the top pages on Google, while also adding in some original content you can’t find anywhere else. Finally, the conclusion should sum up all the key points and then leave the reader with suggestions for how to put this new know-how to use.
❹ Writing the article
When writing the content, you have to make sure to think from the customer’s point of view. Explain jargon in simple terms, use analogies so the reader can easier relate to what you’re talking about, and make the reading experience easier with formatting (like with bullet point lists, videos, and diagrams). This content should not be written to promote your products, but rather to provide useful info to the customer.
Also note that you can’t slack on proofreading either! While it might not affect SEO directly, spelling or grammatical errors could lead the reader to think of your company as unprofessional and quickly bounce from your site.
Blogging for Business: How to Write a Successful Blog Post
The main point I'd like you to takeaway from this article is that SEO isn't as complicated as it seems. It's founded on the simple idea that Google wants to offer the best results to its users, and thus the highest-quality content ends up on the front page. Likely, you want to provide your customers with helpful information anyway, so following the SEO guidelines when writing new blogs is only in your best interest. However, SEO is a long-term strategy and oftentimes you won't see a rise in your rankings until a year or two have passed. The payoff is indoubtably worth it, though. Through search-engine-optimized content, you can maintain a steady flow of traffic, increase your conversions and inquiries, and generate more and more sales from your website.
Thinking of adding SEO to your digital marketing mix? Check out these related articles:
SEO Terms Every Marketer Should Know
Google Maps Optimization: How to Rank Higher on Local Maps